Today’s Spotlight features fantasy author Traci Robison
Storytelling has been been part of my life from the beginning. I tagged along to eavesdrop whenever my older brother and sister traded ghost stories with their friends. I listened to my Grandpa’s perfectly-timed jokes and his vivid recollections of childhood adventures and tough times during the Great Depression. As soon as I could read, I had my nose in a book all day.
Being surrounded by stories and storytellers, I developed the unshakable urge to create my own. When I was about six, I began writing and illustrating my first horror stories–filled with haunted houses, monsters, and occasionally horses (what can I say, I was a sucker for Black Beauty and Scooby Doo). I’ve been writing ever since.
When I’m not writing or working the day job, I love to spend time with my husband–playing with our dogs, gardening, and messing around with my camera.
Tell us about your latest Work in Progress
“Gates the Hours Keep,” the third novel in my Tales of Malstria Series, will be released in early 2016. Set in the time of Alexander the Great, it combines elements of historical fiction, dark fantasy, and mythology.
As an apprentice priest to the god Aplu, Leures Vethna has learned to read omens in myriad objects and events. The moment he sees Diomedes of Thebes, he knows the Greek mercenary was sent to take him from his Etruscan homeland to a greater destiny. Fate leads him to the farthermost regions of the known world, where he and Diomedes fight in Persian forces opposing Alexander the Great. But, no matter how far he travels, Leures can’t escape the curse he’s carried from his youth. Broken in battle and dwelling in a camp where men are dying nightly, he feels death dogging his heels until a strange, willful woman resurrects him. When Diomedes senses she’s not what she seems, Leures must choose between his beloved friend and the woman who holds his future.
I’ve really enjoyed writing this one. I loved the challenge of researching the time period and battles from both the Persian and Greek perspective. And, (guilty confession) Leures is one of my favorite characters. Through his struggles, “Gates the Hours Keep” explores friendship, destiny, and mortality.
Where did the idea for your latest novel come from?
I’ve been fascinated with Etruscans since I first learned about them in a freshmen art history class. Over the years, I spent a lot of spare time learning about their language, culture, and history. When I began writing the first book in the Tales of Malstria Series, I knew the series’ storyline would be rooted in ancient Etruria. I knew it began with a boy raised to believe he had a great and mysterious destiny. And, I knew life tripped him up and twisted his expectations. Beyond that, writing became a process of discovery.
Many elements in “Gates the Hours Keep” sprang up from tidbits I came across reading or visiting museums and ruins. Thesl, the city at the novel’s beginning, was named after an inscription on a coin I saw in a book. The shark-tooth necklace Leures gives Diomedes is inspired by a pendant I saw at the Met. The everyday objects and artwork are items I encountered at Etruscan sites in Italy. (That trip was my single bucket-list wish fulfilled).
Weaving my Etruscan obsession with my fiction has spoiled me for other settings. Luckily, I have one more to write in that time period.
How do you deal with rejection?
Rejection stings–there’s always at least a momentary sadness. And, that’s okay. It’s better to acknowledge the disappointment and let it go than to beat yourself up for “feeling down”.
So, I let myself move through the disappointment and look at what I can learn from the rejection. How can I improve? Is the story as tight as it could be? Could the synopsis have a better hook? Or, was I aiming at the wrong target? My focus becomes on moving forward in a positive way.
I find it helpful to write down what I’m feeling and thinking. The experience then becomes fodder for future stories. My characters will surely feel disappointed, and I’ll know exactly what that’s like.
What type of books do your read for fun?
I haven’t done this recently, but I used to wander library aisles and pick books randomly. Nineteenth and early twentieth-century novels are among my favorites. When I would happen upon an author I liked–Edith Wharton or Thomas Hardy, for example–I would come back for more and more.
I also love mysteries–especially those set in other cultures or time periods. Imogen Robertson’s novels and Sharan Newman’s Catherine LeVendeur series are a couple contemporary mysteries I’ve enjoyed.
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one book, which one would it be?
I would take Bulfinch’s Mythology, or really, any large collection of folklore. Myths and folklore could keep me entertained a long while–not just with reading but shaping new stories from them.
What is your favorite TV show? Why?
Right now Vikings is my favorite TV show. The characters are engaging–consistent, and yet, fluid enough to keep me wondering what they might do next. The sets and costuming create a sense of a real place that is dynamic and contemporary rather than frozen in the past.
How can our readers find you?
to join readers group: http://eepurl.com/bj9Ryz