Saturday, April 28, 2018

Beautiful People - Favorites Edition

The Beautiful People blog link-up is saying farewell (for now, at least). I've had such fun joining in over the last few years, exploring my characters and getting to meet those of other writers. It's sad to see this meme go, but it's been a great ride, hasn't it? To wave goodbye, the inimitable Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In are doing a throwback edition with a bunch of favorite questions! Let's jump right in.

Favourite genre to write in?

FANTASY. Really, I love almost everything under the wide umbrella of speculative fiction, but fantasy is my literary homeland. (In fact, I wrote a whole post last summer about why I love it and why it's important, which you can read HERE.)

What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?

Well, if we're talking about the characters of my sort-of-WIP* The Brightest Thread, then Luci should read The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood by Charles Perrault. For obvious reasons, of course. She might find hope that her sleeping curse can be broken.
Hadrian, on the other hand, should not read that fairy tale, because Perrault's prince barely has to lift a finger to rescue the princess, while Hadrian has a long and difficult road ahead of him. Instead, he could try Raven's Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet. I think he'd find much common ground with the main character, King Cal-Raven.

*I say "sort of" because I've barely had time to work on it lately, and yet I still claim #amediting on Instagram, so . . . ?

Favourite piece of dialogue you’ve written?

Hw can I answer that? Dialogue is one of my favorite things to write, and there are way too many fun snippets I could choose from! But for the sake of continuity, let's stick with The Brightest Thread, and I'll try to find something not too spoilery . . . Ah, how about this one from chapter one?

Queen Riar pressed closer to the cradle. "We thought you were"

"Dead?" Vyntyri wove between tables toward the front. Commoners shrank back on all sides.

"Or locked in enchantment," Riar replied. "You've not been seen in fifty years."

Vyntyri laughed, a smile on her pale lips. "How happy for you then, to discover neither tale is true. Still, was it not . . . rude of you, Riar, neglecting to invite me to your daughter's christening?"

Riar's face tightened. "Forgive me. I am not in the habit of inviting dead people to parties."

What did your character want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?

Luci just wanted adventure out in the rolling green mountains of Iror. She wanted dragon flights and travel and the freedom to roam. Instead, she spends decades trapped in sleep, with only the warped adventures found in other people's dreams to keep her occupied. They are stranger adventures than she might find in the waking world, to be sure, but they aren't real.

Prince Hadrian wanted to grow things. He wanted to grow his garden and grow his kingdomand to marry the two goals by helping the sick and oppressed in Bauglind with the medicinal plants he nurtures. But Bauglind is in pretty bad shape, and there are those who would make it even worse if they got the chance, so he becomes strong, noble, and unyielding. He becomes king material, even if he doesn't believe he's ready for the crown.

[via Pinterest]

Favourite character name(s)?

I love finding the perfect name! Okay, correction, I don't always love the searchthe poking and twiddling and combing through baby name sites, the dictionary, and Google translate—but I love it once I've found the right name that clicks with the character.

In TBT, I'm quite fond of Luci's name. First, because I find the shortened version sweet and simple. Second, because her full name, Alucinora, is actually inspired by the Latin word alucinor, which means to dream/wander in the mind.

I also like Reverie, because it's as whimsical as her character. And Queen Riar, because it's a bit like briar, as in Briar Rose. And Aleida, just because. Also Hadrian just because. How about we say that pretty much ALL the character names are my favorite?

What makes your character feel loved, and who was the last person to make them feel that way?

Luci feels loved when she's understood and truly seen. The last person to make her feel that way was either Aleida, her kingdom's fairy steward and her dearest friend, or Hadrian (depending on which point of the story we're talking about). But after certain spoilery events, Luci has trouble even letting herself be seen, and so closes herself off to love in all of its forms.

Hadrian, too, feels loved when he's understood, but also when he's believed in. There aren't many people who make him feel that way. Reverie, who is his kingdom's fairy steward, believes in him wholeheartedly. And a doctor in the slums of the capital city shares his vision of a better kingdom, and thus believes in him too. But Luci becomes the only person to truly understand his heart.

Favourite character you’ve ever written?

Gosh darn it, WHY would you make me CHOOSE? I have favorite protagonists, antagonists, side characters, allegorical characters, favorite everyone!


If I must . . .

This sounds like a copout answer, but it's trueLuci and Hadrian, individually and as a couple, are among my favorite characters ever. That's one reason I still love TBT, even after almost three years of working on it off and on. They each carry a little piece of me, pieces I never intended to plant within them but somehow did anyway. Each took on a life of their own, until they felt like living, breathing people in my mind.

If your character were permanently leaving town, what would they easily throw out? What would they refuse to part with? (Why?)

Luci would throw out her harp. She hates playing music anyway, even if she's fairy-gifted to be perfect at it. She'd refuse to part with the little model dragon hanging from the ceiling of her room, because it's ugly and imperfect and represents freedom to her. Plus, she'd probably want to take along the roughest, hardiest dress she could find. After all, if she's leaving home, she's bound to encounter some adventures for which her royal attire is not suited.

Hadrian would gladly throw out any of the fancy trappings of princehood, but he'd keep his sword, his plants, and his gardening notes. The sword because he enjoys swordplay (but not the real reasons that demand using itthose times are unwelcome necessities); and the plants and notes because he's just a plant nerd.

Favourite tropes to write!

Any trope involving dragons. Royalty, lost or otherwise. The power of true love, but in a non-cliché way that's actually grounded in a genuine relationship and meaningful sacrifice. Good vs. evil against a sweeping fantasy backdrop. Shapeshifters. Elemental powers. I'm also still attached to the stigmatized Chosen One trope, guys. (In the back of my mind, I've been brewing some ideas for how to subvert that one and make it more believable and interesting. Nothing's fully formed yet, but I will return to my poorly-named Journeys of the Chosen series one day.)

Which story has your heart and won’t let go?

The Brightest Thread, absolutely. It's the kind of story I love, full of so many story ingredients that excite me, populated by characters who (as I mentioned before) feel real, and so naturally I'm head over heels for this thing!

But the Journeys of the Chosen series (you might remember me chatting about The Prophet's Quest and The Prophet's Key many, many moons ago) won't let me go either, no matter how many times I put it aside. I know I'll return to it one day, and I know that when I do, it's going to be the biggest, baddest, awesomest rewrite in my entire writing history! It's a humongous project already, so it will take a lot of work to tear it down, find the gold in the rubble, and rebuild it from the ground up. Honestly, that's what it needs. And I think it has the potential to be one of those passion projects or soul-works or whatever you might call an idea that's so big and so close to your heart that it makes you gulp.

[via Pinterest]

Favourite relationship between characters you’ve written?

Luci and Hadrian are just too precious for this world and I adore them together! But since all I've been doing is gushing about TBT, we'll just keep moving right along now.

Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?

So many! I could write a whole post about this topic! But here's a short version:

  • I want speculative fiction that feels REAL. I think that's one reason tropes become tired and wornbecause they're presented in a flat, two-dimensional way with little care given to what it might really feel like to be a "chosen one," to be a superhero, to be sent to another world, to fight in a battle, or anything. I want all my senses engaged, I want the emotion to pop, I want the world to be so beautifully balanced that I forget it's the product of the author's imagination. This kind of cohesiveness is a tall order, but it's often the missing ingredient in books I read.
  • I want more family relationships. Parents and siblings are usually missing, dead, or dysfunctional.
  • I want characters to stop withholding information for no other reason than to increase the tension. #guiltyofthisone
  • I want fantasy with lower, more personal stakes. You don't have to save the world every time. #guiltyagain
  • I want clean, yet gritty, books that take mainstream YA by storm. Yeah, Christian authors, I'm talking to you! I want you on the NYT bestsellers list, I want you to be the talk of the bookish community, and I think it's possible for you to get there without being preachy or weird. Without slamming people who disagree with your worldview, and without feeling the need to write a conversion story in every single book. (Although there is a place for that.) (Okay, I really do need to write a post on this, because I have ALL THE THOUGHTS.)

Favourite pinterest board / aesthetic for a book?

I made this collage for The Brightest Thread while participating in WIP Joy on Instagram this month!

Favourite time periods & settings to work with?

Eheheh . . . medieval fantasy? It's a comfortable, fun setting to work with for me, but I want to keep broadening my horizons and finding new cultures to inspire my fantasies too! I deviated a little bit with Mirrors Never Lie by writing a primitive Nordic-inspired culture.

Real historical time periods intimidate me, because you could lose yourself in research for months! Modern day North America is easier, but I'm still learning how to make things sound probable and authentic. (And how to research real settings better.)

When people are done reading your book, what feeling do you want them to come away with?

I love this question! When readers turn the final page of The Brightest Thread one day, I hope they sigh and smile softly. I hope their hearts are full. I hope they feel a little braver when it comes to opening themselves up. I hope that the weary and disillusioned find some hope. I hope they dare to dream. I hope they feel noticed, seen, and loved. And I hope they feel like they've come home after a heart-pounding adventure.

Well, we've come to the end. What's your favorite character, friends? (That you've written, if you're a writer, or that you've read about, if not?) What kinds of books do you see a need for? And to Beautiful People, I bid you adieu!


  1. *happy squeals* I was soooo ecstatic to see this post on my dashboard. I was really hoping you'd join in on BP this month, because I LOVE your BP posts and IT'S THE LAST ONE. *all the tears* So this post just thrilled me!


    I think that's hilarious that Hadrian should NOT read Perrault's version of Sleeping Beauty because the prince does virtually nothing. It's so true though. XDD

    I love that piece of dialogue so much! "Forgive me. I am not in the habit of inviting dead people to parties." One of my favorite lines!

    I absolutely ADORE the TBT names. Not just the people's names, but the places as well! It all has such a beautiful fantasy flair that I love so very much! But, at the same time, they're all pronounceable which is always a bonus. XD

    That makes me so sad that both Luci and Hadrian just needed to be understood, and no one ever took the time to try to understand them and just slkdjflsjl;fjsdkjf THE FEELS!!! D':

    ALL THE TROPES YOU MENTIONED. YESSSH. I love ALL of those. Dragons (duh! ;D), royalty, good vs. evil, chosen ones. GIMME ALL THE FANTASY TROPES PLEASE AND THANK YOU.

    I think it's so beautiful how much you love your stories. And your love for them shows THROUGH them, and makes them all the better. You're totally gonna ROCK that Journeys of the Chosen rewrite when the time comes!

    Okay, but your list of things you want to see fill the literary world. *clutches heart* I NEED a Tracey post discussing these more in full because YESSSS. You're so right that speculative fiction often skips over the realism that genres like contemporaries or historical fiction get right. I'm guilty of it myself. But we need to do better! Just because a character is in a fantasy world doesn't mean they don't still have human needs and feelings and struggles!
    We also need more strong, good families. Though I'm toooootally guilty of the dysfunctional family trope...
    And withholding information. GRACIOUS. That one gets tiring. There IS a time and place, but some books take it too far. Why can't we just communicate???
    AND YOUR LAST POINT! I HAVE SO MANY THOUGHTS. I don't need to make this comment longer than it already is, so I'm just going to say a big hearty YESSS! But I'd LOVE a full post about this from you, or to discuss it. Because...ACK. YES. The Christian market needs to do better!

    *pets gorgeous collage*

    Yes to medieval fantasy! It's such a comfortable, fun setting. I can't imagine ever getting tired of it!

    Just so you know, everything you want your readers to feel when they finish TBT? Yeah, YOU NAILED IT. Even just THINKING about that story makes me sigh contentedly. And recalling all that the characters went through encourages me to be brave and push on, no matter what. That story made me feel so many wonderful things. You are magic, Tracey! <3

    1. Awww, you were HOPING I would do this one? <3333 That's so sweet of you to say!


      Perrault's version literally has the prince going, "Oh, there's a bunch of thorns. What's behind it? A princess? Okay, cool." And he waltzes up, the thorns part, and he wakes her up. Simple as that. XD

      LOL, thank you! It's remained unchanged ever since draft one!

      *huggles* That makes me so happy! Like I said, I sort of half a love-hate relationship with names, and I'm never satisfied until they FIT. So hearing that they were all cohesive like that is wonderful. <3

      I knoooow. *sobs* I don't think I'd quite hit on it until I wrote this post, actually. (Which is why BP is so wonderful and I'm going to miss it!)

      Yep, I'll just order my regular please. High fantasy with a side of dragons and extra epicness, thank you.

      Awwww. Can I just hug you again? That's so encouraging! I think I needed to hear that. ^_^

      I might just make this a blog series, actually! Arielle inspired me. (See her comment below.)
      Oh goodness, I'M guilty of not digging into the real details myself!!! I feel like I've only recently started getting better at that. XD
      But dysfunctional families lend to such great drama. ;)
      I HAVE DONE THE NOT COMMUNICATING THING. I don't know why, because it makes me frustrated as a reader when it doesn't have a good reason!
      Okay, I have a million thoughts too, so again--methinks this will be an actual blog series! :D


      It's so cozy, I love it!

      CHRISTINE. <3 That just warms my heart and makes me even MORE excited to dive into editing this week! Thank you, my friend!!!

  2. I know I say this every time, but I just adore hearing about The Brightest Thread. :) Lovely post, Tracey!

    1. MEGAN! That's so good to hear, because I wonder sometimes if I talk about TBT *too* much. :D

  3. I LOVE this!! I think we're very similar--when it comes to writing, at least. =) "Clean, yet gritty." Like, YES. Also, "I want you on the NYT bestsellers list, I want you to be the talk of the bookish community, and I think it's possible for you to get there without being preachy or weird. Without slamming people who disagree with your worldview, and without feeling the need to write a conversion story in every single book. " YES.
    And Hadrian sounds AWESOME. I'm feeling over-run by snarky antiheroes right now (though they can be done SO WELL), and I really appreciate some characters who know who they are and what they want. Especially if they're love interests! (Like, how about Pretty Lady marries a guy she actually trusts and respects? That'd be a novel idea. . .) Hadrian sounds like one of those.
    "A sky full of stars and he was staring at her." Also that! So pretty. <3
    And I also love the Chosen One trope. <3 There's so much potential there! Have you seen Moana? I love the way that movie both picked fun at the Chosen One cliche, but also used it really well.


    1. Update: I just read the post you linked to that's just about Hadrian, and yes, he sounds wonderful. =)

    2. Hanna, you always make me smile. ^_^ Seriously, where are my clean/gritty books at??? It's possible to be both! I'm super glad that you guys agree with that one point, because thanks to Arielle (below), I'm planning to write a blog series on this topic. ;)

      I love me some snarky antiheroes too, but I'm hungry for some genuinely kind, respectable, yet epic characters too! ("Hungry" as in... I want to read about them. Not eat them. That came out wrong.) (Also yes, let's have our female protagonists make smart romantic choices for once!) I'm completely pleased that Hadrian sounds like that type of person--thanks for reading his post as well! <3

      I can't claim any brilliance for that stars line, since I found it on Pinterest. XD

      YOU TOO? I MUST HUG YOU. Chosen Ones get such a bad rap, and I can totally understand WHY, it's just... there's a lot about them I really love too! I did see Moana, and loved it, but it's been so long I'm a bit fuzzy on how they dealt with a chosen one. I do remember her rehearsing what she would say to Maui, though--that was cute.

  4. It was absolutely delightful to revisit Luci and Hadrian! The answers to their questions were so much fun.

    Your answer to holes in the literary world, YESSSSS. I petition you make each of the five points a separate post, if you have enough material, and make it a little series, please.

    1. Nothing delights a writer more than to hear that her characters are worth revisiting--so thank you! <3

      I AM SO DOING THIS. Thank you for the idea! I probably have way too much material (especially for that last point), but my wheels have been spinning ever since your comment popped up. ;)

  5. I love your answers. Brightest Thread was a delight to read. ^ ^ Oh Luci's name definition is really cool! :D

    1. D'awww, THANK YOU. <3 I'm in the middle of reviewing all my beta feedback, and I'm appreciating how helpful all your comments are!

      Hidden name meanings make me so happy. XD

  6. Loved reading your answers!!! (Side note... these are far more fun to read when I've actually read the story the author is talking about... I think that may just be me... but I loved being able to nod along and be like, "Awww, I love Luci and Hadrian, too!!!!")

    "I'm not in the habit of inviting dead people to parties." <---- bwahahaha, possibly one of my favorite quotes, ever!

    I loved your "things you'd like to see more of" answer, mostly because I was just nodding along and agreeing wholeheartedly with all of them!

    1. Thank you!!! (That's so sweeeeet! *hugs* I can definitely see how these posts would be more entertaining when you're actually acquainted with the characters!)

      Hahaha, probably one of my favorite lines I've ever written! XD

      Oh my goodness, I could go on that rant for a long time. I'm definitely going to be cooking up a post series on that! Glad you feel the same!

    2. P.S. I've been going through beta comments on TBT all day today, and I'm overwhelmed with gratitude again. Thank you for your contribution, my friend. <3