Q&A With Tracey Devlyn

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Q&A With Tracey Devlyn

Tracey Devlyn is the USA Today Bestselling Author of contemporary and historical suspense which has elements of mystery, romance & environmental crime. Some of her many series are Steele Ridge: The Steeles, Steele Ridge: The Kingstons & Steele Ridge: The Blackwells. I have the honor of doing this Q&A with her today.

Q: So Tracey, what is it about contemporary and historical suspense that you enjoy writing so much? Out of both genres, is there one genre you enjoy writing more than the other or you can’t choose?

A: First off, thank you so much for inviting me to chat today! Oh, that’s a tough question. I love writing historical and contemporary suspense for different reasons. My historicals are complete escapism. No phones, no computers, no cars, no 911, and no proper toilets! The protagonists have to depend more on their wits and/or their circle of friends to help get them out of sticky spots. I also enjoy the formality and social etiquette of the Regency period, the chivalrous gentlemen and melt-your-heart, flawed-to-the-bone rogues, and the feisty, break-the-rules ladies. It’s all great fun, especially when I put them up against an especially nasty villain. Writing contemporary novels allows me to curse, play with guns, and share my love of nature, all while terrorizing my protagonists. I’m able to delve into different vocations and specialties like the FBI’s art crime team, hacker, wildlife biologist, ethno botanist, Delta Force operator, etc., which really feeds my thirst for knowledge and adventure.

One thing my historical and contemporaries have in common is the exploration of family, all its beauty and messy bits.

Q: When did you know that being an author was your calling in life and who in your family and friends were your biggest supporters of your writing goals and talents?

A: My passion for becoming an author came much later in life. When I look back, I can see hints of interest while I was growing up, but I never had that thought “I want to be a writer.” It wasn’t until I started visualizing, in great detail, alternate endings to some books I was reading that I began looking into what it would take to write one myself.

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful support group—my husband Tim, stepdaughter Sarah, mother-in-law Helene, writing pals Adrienne and Kelsey, and colleague Betsy. There are many more who have bolstered my journey along the way, but these are the folks who have consistently helped me get through the rough spots and celebrate the bright ones.

Q: If you are currently writing your next book, is it a part of your many existing series, the beginning of a new series or a standalone novel?

A: I’m days away from completing the draft for the fifth and final book in our popular Steele Ridge: The Blackwells series, featuring FBI agent Ash Blackwell and his nemesis Kayla Krowne. These two have been circling each other for four books. It’s been great fun developing a story where they’re forced to work together in order to solve a murder of someone close to Kayla. Lots of sparks—in more ways than one!

Q: Where do you get the ideas for your many books? Do you create characters and places loosely off of people you know and places you’ve been?

A: My answer isn’t a sexy one. I developed the Steele Ridge-verse along with my two writing pals Adrienne Giordano and Kelsey Browning (Kelsey stepped away from writing to focus on family, so now it’s just Adrienne and me). Whether it’s two or three writing partners, our process hasn’t changed much. Prior to the writing The Steeles, we held our annual plotting/brainstorming retreat in Asheville, NC. We visited different towns to see which one would suit our world best. Steele Ridge is a wonderful combination of Waynesville and Hendersonville.

Now, I live in Western North Carolina and have visited the places we talk about in the books quite often. I think having personal knowledge of a location gives the stories a touch more local flavor and depth.

During our retreats, we always figure out which family we’re going to write about next. What makes that family interesting and unique? For example, Steeles—with baby brother Jonah’s billions, they turned Canyon Ridge into Steele Ridge, then took over the town, but in a good way! Kingstons—every story contains a foodie element, even the book titles. Blackwells—mysterious black sheep cousins no one knows much about, but rumors about them run rife through town.

Although we didn’t plan this out, each series has a strong matriarch guiding the family.

Q: Where is your favorite place or places where you sit down to plot, write and edit your work?

A: My process has changed over the years. When I had a full-time job and wrote mostly at night and on the weekends, I spent all my writing time at the computer in my office aka spare bedroom. Sometimes, I would get stuck and just sit there for what seemed like hours, waiting for inspiration to strike. Then I heard the amazing Susan Elizabeth Phillips talk about what she would do “unstuck” herself. She would pull out a yellow legal pad and pen and let the ideas flow until she worked through the problem. I tried her method, and it worked! After a while, I started each new book with a notebook and pen until I got the feel of the story, then I’d switch to writing on my laptop.

When the pandemic hit, everything changed. Literally, everything. I had moved from Chicago to Asheville, gave up the day job to write full-time, and our writing partnership went from three to two. My eleven-year-old Doberman’s health declined significantly, as did my ninety-five-year-old mother-in-law’s ability to be self-sufficient.

Now, I write sporadically throughout the day, wherever I can find a quiet moment. I also primarily write on a remarkable tablet, which then coverts my handwritten words to text. It’s been a great wrist saver, plus thoughts seem to flow more freely from my brain to my pen. I think it reduces the editing my brain likes to do when I’m writing on at my computer.

 Q: Does Hollywood currently have any interests or rights to your work? The entertainment industry needs new original content again instead of the constant remakes, sequels, prequels, reboots and spin offs all the time.

A: No interest from Hollywood yet, but we’d be thrilled to see our Steele Ridge characters come to life. I always thought the Christmas Capers would make an amazing twelve-episode season during the holidays. 😉 Bianca, thanks again for having me! Great questions!