I’ve loved mysteries since I was a kid. My first ‘big girl’ books were the old Nancy Drew mysteries that my school library had. I graduated from those to Sherlock Holmes and I’ve been reading mystery ever since. The idea of writing small town stories grew out of my experiences moving away and then returning to the small town where I grew up. There is something comforting about coming home, because everyone knows who you are. But at the same time, it can be very stifling, because everyone knows who you are. The mystery element comes organically from that because tall tales, mysteries and horrors make for good stories in the South.
Writers like Tennesee Williams and Flannery O’Connor called it Southern Gothic. To a certain extent, there are oddities that are allowed to exist and perpetuate in the southern experience because pointing them out would not be polite. Some writers play up the grotesque aspect of that. I use it for comedic impact in my books.
Have you ever had a paranormal experience?
In my day job I’m a reporter. That type of training makes me skeptical when it comes to the paranormal. A closed mind isn’t fertile ground for a paranormal experience. That being said, I have scared myself silly walking up the driveway at night and letting my imagination run wild.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release?
Bride of Tranquility is a murder mystery set in a haunted hotel during a Renassance wedding. It’s a classic whodunnit that was inspired by the story behind the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It features the oddball townsfolk from Tranquility Arkansas along with renaissance wedding planners, alien researchers, paranormal investiagors and ferrets running amok.
Do you plot your stories out or do you just start writing?
I usually have a loose plot in my head to keep me going. It’s never very detailed. Just about a paragraph per chapter of my story. I end up hitting walls if I don’t have a detailed plot of some kind. But once I have an outline, I rarely look at it. For the book that i’m ediing now, the outline states that one character is a boy named Elvis. The actual character ended up being a girl named Becky Sue.
What was the funniest thing you learned about your hero/heroine from writing
The character that I’ve had the most fun writing was Lord Valentine, the wedding planner from Bride of Tranquility. Lord Valentine was an amalgam of a handful of people that I knew from my days as a scadian. He is basically that guy who uses fantasy as a way to escape from his munane life. But he is also more sly and sneaky than he lets on. Especially when it comes to adding money to a wedding bill.
Which of your characters is most like you and which is least like you?
I think all good writers put different aspects of themselves into all of their characters. I can look at each character I have and point out different things about them that I also do. Dr. Dave from the tranquility series worries like I do. Rachel the vet is stubborn like I am. Celeste Ingram, the reporter from my short story Fish Story that appeared in Esther Freisner’s anthology Strip Mauled is quirky the way I am. She also has all of my character flaws to an exaggerated level.
Can you describe your office or where you normally write?
Since my husband is a computer programmer, we have a huge home office with computer desks in opposite corners of the room. Mine is stuffed with so many knick knacks that there is hardly any room to write. I have a couple of fantasy prints and awards on one wall, antique cameras on shelves and books stuffed into every available space.
Which came first the plot or the characters?
For me the characters come first. I have a feel for their personality more than their looks. For Jake, the officer from the Tranquility series, I envisioned Russell Crowe as the sheriff from the move Mystery Alaska. I just finished reading an Anita Blake detective novel when I got an idea to write Celeste Ingram as a character who was determined not to use magic under any circumstances.
Have you ever gotten stuck while writing a scene or chapter? How did you
I’m currently stuck right now in a scene from the next Tranquility novel I’ve basically set up all of my plot threads, and realized that they are not complicated enough to make an entire novel the length that I want. The solution is to cook up more plot. Or possibly cowbell. I’ll figure that out tomorrow.
What is the wackiest thing that’s ever happened to you since you started
I actually had wackier things happen to me In my previous job as a newspaper photographer. The worst thing that ever happened was that I was pulled behind a speeding boat in freezing rain to take a picture. I’ve shot (photographically speaking) two presidents and a vice president, I got to ride in a hot air balloon and I got to meet my favorite baseball pitcher and quarterback in the same day.
Since I became a writer full time, I get to sit in front of a computer in my pajamas. But it beats getting dragged around by a speed boat.
Since you are published in fiction and essays, do you find one easier
to write than the other?
BIO:racy S. Morris is professional writer, which means that she is fortunate enough to be paid for sitting in front of a computer in her bathrobe each morning. She is a self-described kamikaze speller and when not writing she spends her time as a photographer, gardener, herbalist and enthusiastic reader. Tracy lives with her husband Ryan and her two dogs in Fort Smith Arkansas.
Bride of Tranquility may be ordered from Yard Dog Press at http://www.yarddogpress.com/Bride%20of%20Tranquility.htm
Or at Baen Books in E-Format at http://www.webscription.net/m-9-yard-dog-press.aspx