Whether it has been interior decorating, writing her first novel or cooking for her family, Tracy Madden is a woman with a creative eye. Having successfully directed an interior design business for over 16 years, Tracy is known for her ability to tell a superb visual story. While her reputation for decorating precedes her, Tracy’s latest tale is of the literary variety. Inspired by an intense love for family, food, travel and a long lived love affair with the ‘City Of Light – Paris’, Tracy’s debut novel The Essential Ingredient – Love launched in November 2010.
Born in Brisbane in 1960 Tracy grew up in an intensely creative environment. Her interest in design was heavily influenced by the work of her father, world-renowned landscape designer Don Monger. Tracy’s literary ability developed organically, through a pure passion and thirst for the craft. Tracy’s first novel is testimony to her belief that everyone has a story to tell.
“I always knew that one day when the time was right I would write and become an author. In my mind I thought it would be when my children married and I was on to the next stage of my life. Well that time came faster than I had expected, and suddenly floundering in a sea of emotion I began to write. I’ve always had a lot to say and this was no different – It poured out.”
Tracy lives in New Farm Brisbane with her husband and childhood sweetheart, Chris. She has two adult children Fleur and Nicholas and is grandmother to baby Hunter. Tracy is currently writing her second novel.
Describe yourself in 3 words… Passionate, energetic and enthusiastic!
What is your life motto? To expect only the best!
When did you start perusing your career and how long did it take to become successful? It took me two and a half years to write my novel, The Essential Ingredient- Love and six weeks to have two offers of publication. As a novice author I am working extremely hard now. I liken it to an avocado tree. After you plant the seed, you must nurture it for seven years, before it bears the most phenomenal fruit.
How many hours did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? I can only say many, many hours. Each day sees me visiting bookstores, doing signings, book clubs, guest speaking at functions, answering readers beautiful letters, and blogging, plus I am also writing my second novel Love Is the Answer. Many evenings I am still working at 11.30pm at night. However, I look at it as a wonderful opportunity.
Describe how difficult the business really is? Had I had known the statistics of how many fiction novels actually get published, I might have never written. Dream or no dream! Being oblivious to the facts meant that I expected to be published. There are many clever authors with magnificent manuscripts who never get the chance I have had and I am extremely grateful. I had unwavering passion that a publisher would want to publish my book.
What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? Never to write 300,000 words ever again! It is a huge amount to edit and it becomes hard to see clearly.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date? My father encouraged me to be hard working and passionate.
In your mind, is formal training essential? Not in every instance. I had never written anything before writing this novel, nor had I attended even a one hour creative writing workshop. However, not only do I always have a lot to say, I have a vivid imagination and a keen eye for detail, and this has worked extremely well for me in my style of storytelling.
Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? Queensland Writers Associations offer this and it is a wonderful asset, although I did not take advantage of it. However, because of the success of my book and knowing how hard it is to become published, I have been happily sharing my journey and offering words of wisdom with other aspiring writers, encouraging them to be passionate about what they do.
What are some further steps emerging talent can take to start/further their career? To start with, many novice writers just need the encouragement to actually begin. Those few paragraphs they write the first day may not even end up in the book. However it is a starting point. For me the writing was the easy part. Once the book was published the hard work began. If you do not want to take yourself totally out of your comfort zone, visit bookstores, introduce yourself and your book to the managers, hand out business cards, send emails with any PR you have managed to get, have a banner made, sit out the front of stores smiling at strangers while you hope someone will buy your book so you can sign it, all for minimal money in the beginning – then don’t attempt to be published, just write for the fun of it and share it with your friends.
What kept you going when you felt like giving up? When my first manuscript arrived back, 800 pages of hard copy, with strange squiggles and symbols written all over it, I very nearly gave up. I actually told myself that I could not do it. However after meditating upon it I realised I could take baby steps and see where it led. Meditation became a wonderful tool for me. Firstly visualising a publisher wanting my book, then I moved the parameters to a publisher with great distribution… Pan Macmillan distribute my book… next I saw it on bookshelves in bookshops and also airports… yes Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth airports all carry it, and because of this it has been found on a bookshelf in Paris and many other wonderful places around the world… then I visualised best seller!
Do you believe that making it is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? I believe we make our own luck by being positive, hardworking and passionate and often that leads to being in the right place at the right time.
Tracy’s book is available through Pan Macmillan Australia www.panmacmillan.com.au