Our chat with Tracey…
I stopped writing in the sixth form. I was doing English A level and I felt overwhelmed and discouraged by the gap between the brilliance of what I was reading and the clunky awkwardness of what I could write.
That stop lasted a long time. Apart from some short stories in my twenties, I wrote nothing until about thirteen years ago. Then a number of things fell into place at once. Working for a music summer school I ended up writing last minute song lyrics; it was a playful job and it gave me a rush of my old pre-A-level English enthusiasm for writing. I thought of the pivotal point of a plot and lay awake for a week, dreaming it into a children’s story. My youngest daughter was due to start school in the autumn; I would have a few free hours each day. I had what I like to think of as motive, means and opportunity: a renewed impetus to write, a plot, and time. In the course of that school year, I wrote what would become the first volume of the Assalay trilogy, A Fragment of Moonswood.
I always re-read childhood books with trepidation, because some of them just don’t have the same magic when you revisit them as an adult. I’ve re-read all of these, though (some many times!) and still enjoyed and admired them.
That said, I would advise anyone starting out to cultivate both stubbornness and humility. Know the heart of your story and be fierce in sticking to it, but take advice; find wise comrades whose intelligence and honesty you trust, and listen when they tell you why the story that you’re trying to tell isn’t working.