Xlibris Publishing is very proud to present Tracey Lee, author of What Remains.
Briefly Describe Your Book
My book is called What Remains. The protagonist is Lily O’Hara, a young woman in her twenties, who is a curator and historian. She lives in a rural area near the Australian capital, Canberra. She is content with her lot in life and stoically ignores the tragedies that befell her family when she was only months old. She embodies the ‘ignorance is bliss’ mode of living. But the past always has a way of rising and so it does for Lily. To begin living, really living, she has to confront the complications of the past and acknowledge that these cryptic events have shaped the woman she has become.
Literary Influences, Subject, and Style
I studied literature at university. I read, and read and read. I think everything I’ve ever read has probably influenced my writing. I love works that not only explore the depths of human emotion but also simply tell a story. I think Bryce Courtney is a wonderful contemporary example of this, Tim Winton and Alice Munro too. But as a teenager I read Jane Eyre a dozen times and dreamed of writing sweeping epics such as Charlotte Bronte creates in this story. I’m a huge fan of crime fiction, and have read all the Scarpetta novels by Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs series and the Nicci French books. I also read my mother’s Agatha Christie books when I was a kid and agonised over the author’s frustrating method of crime solving, but loved the revelations scenes all the more for it.
I love people who are compassionate, introspective, hopeful and resilient. I think I have been significantly influenced by those people in my life who relish the small joys and give more than they get. My parents and other family exemplified this way of life. We didn’t have much, but what there was could always be stretched to include a few ‘spares’ at the table. We ate predominantly what came out of the backyard garden and happily participated in a communal sharing in a neighborhood full of characters.
But it was far from idyllic. There were issues. Things that in the 1960s and 70s were not popular topics of conversation. The keeping of secrets, particularly about mental illness, impacted on many lives; some things just weren’t spoken about and only in my adulthood was I able to decipher the mysteries of some events that happened in the past. This is a driving force in What Remains. And the subsequent Lily O’Hara books.
Inspiration and How Long to Finish
This novel was created from an unpublished short story that I had written three or four years ago. It now serves as the final chapter of the novel. I took a year’s leave from my teaching job to write this book. But with the interruptions of substitute teaching, overseas holidays and moving house I realistically probably only had eight months of intensive writing time. I tried to write every day; some days it was just a shopping list! Others were a bonanza! With What Remains once I had the first 30,000 words written I became more confident and committed. I’ve talked about writing a novel since I was in high school but a lack of self-belief got in the way. As it began to take shape as a bone fide book I developed the courage to say “I’m writing a novel”. I think in the early months I was more surprised than anyone that it was actually happening.
If there’s a book in you, its realisation is a turning point. One day you are ‘in the closet’ (a secret writer). And then you have a manuscript, which becomes a book, which is in the hands of strangers who say, for better or for worse, I’ve just read Tracey Lee’s first novel.
Xlibris Publishing will return with Tracey Lee in Part 2.