Meet Martin Tracey

Somehow in my freelance writing frenzy – and it HAS been quite the frenzy over the past few weeks – I managed to forget it was Tuesday yesterday until late in the evening – when I was too tired to restart my laptop, which explains today’s appearance of this week’s Debut Author Q&A. Hmmm… Me thinks a nest of vampires might find their way to Long Island if today’s featured author, Martin Tracey, a horror writer, has his way. :)

Name: Martin Tracey

Name of book: Beneath the Floodlights

Book genre: Horror

Date published: July, 11 2011

Publisher: Authorhouse

What is your day job? Performance and Analysis Manager

What is your book about? The book features around a nest of vampires and a Birmingham soccer team who are relegated from the English Premier League. The team are seemingly rescued by a mysterious new manager from Transylvania, Professor Cezar Prodanescu, and his stable of young superstars – who also happen to be the nest of vampires! Once darkness falls and the floodlights glow, their powers enable the team to win games by incredible margins. Buried nearby is the world’s first vampire, and Cezar’s plan is to resurrect a clone from the extracted DNA of his ancient bones. But Cezar did not legislate for falling in love with human girl, Lily, or for acquiring such admiration for team captain and local hero, Johnny Knox, and the soccer team’s other human players. But as Cezar struggles with his emotions and attempts to shield his identity as a master vampire, his finest example, star striker Andrei, is eager to keep things on course.

Why did you want to write this book? Like most English boys, I have always been interested in football (soccer) since a very young age. I also have a deep interest in the supernatural, so when I decided to write a novel I wished to combine these two worlds as I have an avid interest in each, which fortunately resulted in a unique combination and original twist on the traditional vampire tale as we know it. In almost all vampire tales vampires seem to possess supernatural powers when darkness falls so it made sense that the vampires in my story would make great soccer players “Beneath the Floodlights.” Being a native of Birmingham, UK, I wanted to set the book around the area that I know and love so well.

What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? Undoubtedly finding the time. When writing novels isn’t your day job, finding time to write is a real juggling act when we have so many other commitments in life.

Did you conduct any kind of research in order to write this book? Being a native of Birmingham and the Midlands area I knew the locations of my book pretty well and could easily convert to writing from memory and personal experience. In particular when I wrote about Sutton Park, which is a truly fascinating piece of land in Birmingham – (I urge everyone to search-engine it), I refer to a Roman Road and the history of when King Henry VIII used the land for hunting deer – these are true facts about the park. The Black Sea Coast of Romania does feature in my book on a smaller scale so I needed to conduct a large amount of internet research to represent these locations. My knowledge about soccer and vampires has simply been a lifelong embedding process via movies, literature and social culture.

What motivates you to write? First and foremost, I enjoy the creative process. Before I got stuck into writing novels I wrote songs so I have always enjoyed that concept of creating a story and a journey from a basic idea and allowing it to develop.

Did you experience writer’s block? Fortunately, writer’s block has not as yet been a major problem for me, probably due to my overactive imagination! I find that my mind is most active morning time, so if I can attract that window, usually at weekends, I get a fountain of ideas just pouring out all the time.

How long did it take you to write this book? It did take about three years due to the juggling of time commitments, but now that I have one book in print I am more disciplined when writing novels.

Tell me about the self-publishing process. Was it easier or more difficult than you thought it would be? The self marketing side of things is very tiring and time consuming and ironically it does compromise the time that you could be using to write!

What would you say is the biggest misconception about writing a book? You’ll instantly sell a million, reap the rewards and be famous and wealthy in a short space of time.

What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? Just enjoying the story unfold and watching the characters grow. Like I said before, I love the creative process.

What tools/methods have you employed to promote your book? What advice would you give to writers regarding promotion? Social networking has been invaluable – it is great to hook into communities of fellow authors and it has ensured that my book has been sold as far afield as the USA. I have also undertaken book signing events and talks about me and my book. I have also utilised the local press and media including radio interviews. The power of local interest should not be underestimated. My advice would be not to get drawn into expensive marketing campaigns that are going to hurt your pocket. Check out the history of the respective marketing company’s success rate before you commit to handing large amounts of cash over.

Do you plan on writing another book? Yes, I’m working on a crime thriller with a supernatural twist that explores the underworld of religious cults. Like Beneath the Floodlights, it is once again set in Birmingham UK – although Birmingham, Alabama also features.

My favorite last question: Oprah once famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? I agree that you need to invest time and preparation in your product, but I think at times luck can play a part – for example, look at how reality TV stars become wealthy and famous without the investment in any sort of product! It’s all about timing and window of opportunity, but to find that moment of key exposure is very difficult, and if we had the foresight to see when that golden moment would surface we’d all be millionaires. The important thing is to keep plugging away and try not to get despondent at early rejection. Even The Beatles were turned down at first! I do believe though that there is some truth in working hard and making your own luck to a certain degree. John Lennon once wrote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” and George Michael once wrote, “What we learn we rarely choose.” I think both those quotes sum things up perfectly.

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