Today as part of Best I've Read 2011, I'm featuring another book and author off my Top Seven of Eleven list: Scott Tracey, author of Witch Eyes. Witch Eyes is Tracey's 2011 Debut that introduces us to Braden, a teen with an amazing and awful power: Witch Eyes. Braden was raised by his uncle and when his uncle's life is threatened, Braden jumps into action to keep him safe. Braden heads straight for the creepy town of Belle Dam, determined to deal with whatever is threatening his family. What he finds is a magical family feud, paranormal happenings and a boy that he could easily fall in love with. But life is never easy in Balle Dam.
Without further ado, here is my interview with the always entertaining Scott Tracey:
I have to say that I was READY for Witch Eyes even before getting my ARC at BEA. From the moment I read the blurb, I knew that I HAD to read this book. I don't think I could have loved it more!
How did you come up with the premise of Witch Eyes? The world is so unique in its magic, paranormal aspects and general normalcy. Braden is also a wonderfully refreshing main character. Reading his story is a breath of fresh air after book after book with female leads that I, personally, can rarely connect with.
First off, thank you so much!
There were a couple different ideas I was playing around with, and they ended up merging together. I had this idea to do a sort of modern day urban fantasy Verona: Romeo and Juliet but with two boys. The feud came out of that idea of the families that don't get along, have never gotten along, and a lot of times people will hate something just because they don't know any better. At the end of the day, though, I really just wanted to get into some Verona-esque shenanigans.
The idea of the witch eyes came to me because I was looking into people who suffered from light allergies (photophobia) and I started to think about it in terms of the supernatural: if you had this problem, and there was a supernatural cause, how would that work? So then I started looking at the pros and cons, how it would help as well as hurt, and the actual power evolved from there.
Are any of the characters in Witch Eyes based on real people? All of the characters are so rich and vivid that it feels as if they could walk right off the page!
They're not. I think the people I know would kill me if I based any characters around them, haha.
There are sometimes bits of behavior that I draw from people I know. Riley's carriage: the way she carries herself, is based on someone I used to know who was frenetic and bouncy. Catherine is based a little on the Emma Frost/Amanda Woodward archetype (I know they aren't real people, but it's the closest I've got).
You and Leah Clifford (author of the amazing A Touch Mortal) are roommates. You two seem to get up to a lot of shenanigans if your Twitter feeds are any indication. Does living with another writer help create a "perfect storm" for writing or does it lead to more procrastination than writing?
I think the idea of living with another writer is kind of like the idea an everyday person has of what it's like to be a writer. On the surface it's interesting and glamorous, but in actuality, it's a far cry from glamour. There's of course the days where it helps to have someone around to bounce ideas off of, or when someone can confirm that the line you think is awesome really IS as awesome as you think. But there's also the days where you're both on deadlines, stressed, over-caffeinated, and just busy.
For me, personally, I like having my own space, and I'm a quiet person by nature when I work. Leah is the exact opposite, she needs a crowd and to be loud. But we try to make it work. Plus, it's nice sometimes to have someone so different from you.
What has been your general experience as far as feedback from readers on Braden? I think that the world needs more books with main characters like him. Are you find that to be the sentiment across the board or are people hesitant or averse to Braden?
The reaction I've gotten has been really diverse. Of course there are the people who feel that I was cramming an alternative lifestyle down on them, or I ruined the book by making the character gay, but for most people it was delightfully a non-issue. They liked the fact that Braden was comfortable with who he was, and where he was coming from.
Most of the feedback I get is more along the lines of Braden's choices through the novel. He's a smart kid, but he's also incredibly naive in some ways, so part of his journey is about making a lot of stupid mistakes. That's been the part that some people seem to take exception to. Which I don't really mind - no book is going to be universally loved. And it gives me something to work on for the next one.
Do you have a favorite moment in the book- one that you are the most proud of?
There's a moment towards the end where I was writing that came out of nowhere, and it's really one of the moments in the book I think is really honest (even though it's also twisted and evil). Near the climax of the book, Braden ends up having a conversation, and another character makes this offer, and the offer on the table was...very big.
Everything was all superficial in the scene, talking about family and friends, and boyfriends, and then this bomb dropped, and I literally had to walk away from the computer after I wrote the line, because it fit so perfectly, and I hadn't seen it coming. That one line ended up changing the way I viewed certain characters, and the direction the story was going to take.
In writing Witch Eyes, you're addressing a need that I know I have felt in the literary world: the need for a book where a GLBT character is not merely trying to overcome adversity or trying to come to terms with their sexuality but is trying to do something more. Braden is gay but he's at peace with who he is, he just wants to keep his loved ones safe and to do whatever it takes to see them safe. His sexuality is secondary to his role as hero. Why write this kind of story? Did you set out to fill the void?
I just wanted to read something where the plot and the story didn't take a backseat to the issue of the character's sexuality. I wasn't looking for "a coming out story with a paranormal element" because there are already so many coming out stories. I wanted a paranormal story where the character just happened to be gay but that's not important because there's this STORY going on over here that has nothing to do with coming out metaphors or allegories.
So when I couldn't find many examples of that, I wrote one. I definitely didn't set out with some sort of grand plan about filling a void or anything like that. There was a piece of advice that I'd read, when I started trying to get published. "Write the book you'd want to read." So that's what I did.
Trey and Braden's relationship is amazing. I love that they seem to be equals and that neither is the leading/overprotective/etc character over the other. What inspired you to create Trey the way that you did and how did you decide how his character would work with Braden?
It's been interesting, because one of my goals was to write a relationship that wasn't "omg, we are destined for one another" or "you're my one true love for ever and always." I wanted flawed characters, and I wanted there to be struggles. Braden's flaw is that he's a little naive, a little too trusting, and this is his first real attempt at a relationship. Trey's flaw is that he's had almost twenty years of indoctrination into this Lansing/Thorpe mindset, and he's pretty secure in his outlook.
So I knew there would be a lot of give and take between them. Trey tries to be overprotective, and Braden resists that. Braden accepts what happens at face value, while Trey is a little more discriminating. They end up balancing each other out most of the time, even though they're not entirely compatible (at least initially). By the end of Witch Eyes, they've known each other for about a week. So I looked at their relationship in those terms: how well could you get to know someone in a week, and how different would you be by the end of it.
Your Twitter feed is always alight with hilarious one liners and even your Witch Eyes fan page on Facebook has the stamp of your sense of humor so I hope you don't mind if we delve into the silly for a moment.
Sure, why not.
Which is the greater super hero and why- Batman or Superman?
Batman, because he has cool gadgets. Superman just has glasses and a curl in his hair. Poser. Actually, Superman sounds kind of like a hipster. He's all "I was into being a superhero before it was cool." He probably has a plaid costume somewhere.
What is the one food that you could not live without?
I wanted to say something really OUT THERE like calamari or brussels sprouts, but I'm going to go with bread. Toast and sandwiches, man. Nothing beats grilled cheese on a cold day, or toast with your coffee.
If you could genetically splice together your own mythical beast with attributes of any mythical creature you wanted, what would you create?
The body and genius of the sphinx, the booty of Kim Kardashian, Zachary Quinto's head, a unicorn horn, and the cherry on top? Karsten Knight's sweet dance moves.
Two words: Un. Stoppable.
Wow. That does sound pretty amazing. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, what is your survival strategy?
Knock down Leah Clifford, and steal her strategy.
I see... well, I guess when running from zombies, you only really have to be faster than Leah. Do you have a favorite read of 2011? A book or two that you just loved?
Favorite read would probably be DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor. But there were so many books I read this year that I absolutely loved. ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD, CLOCKWORK PRINCE, LOLA, etc.
Describe Witch Eyes in 20 words or less?
Romeo and Juliet with witches in a Pacific Northwest town. Magic, mean girls, and manipulation.
Do you have a character in Witch Eyes that you just LOVE to write? One who is by far your favorite?
In the first book, Braden was probably my favorite. In Demon Eyes, though, there's a three way tie between Drew and two characters you haven't met yet. Drew gets to say the things that I would WANT to say, but would never be able to, for fear of how people would react. Luckily, Drew doesn't care what ANYONE thinks of him. And the other two are fun for a completely different reason, but I can't tell you why yet. ;)
That Scott Tracey!! Hints like that will drive me crazy until Demon Eyes comes out in 2012! While we wait-impatiently- for the next book, I have a giveaway for you all! This one is for one copy of Witch Eyes and is open to anyone with a US Mailing Address- NO PO BOXES. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below and you're done!! IF THE RAFFLECOPTER LOOKS WRONG, CLICK THE TITLE OF THIS POST AND IT SHOULD SHOW THE FORM CORRECTLY! Thanks so much!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Today on the BIR Blog, Julie Kagawa and her books Iron Knight and Iron Queen are being featured!