I’ve said this before, and I can guarantee you that I’ll be saying it again, but one of the best things about having a literary blog is that you get to talk to some of the most amazing people. Interviewing Tracy L. Carbone is no exception.
Tracy is not only a fantastic dark fiction writer, but she’s also a member of the New England Horror Writers (NEHW) and the editor of Epitaphs–the NEHW’s first anthology. It was a pleasure to interview Tracy for Underwords, and she has quite a lot to share. We hope you enjoy the interview and that you check out Epitaphs, which has received a lot of positive critical attention.
How long have you been writing and/or editing?
I’ve been writing my whole life but only started getting published about six years ago. Since then I’ve been selling stories pretty regularly and recently sold my first novel. Epitaphs was the first anthology I’ve edited.
Who are some of the writing icons or role models who have most influenced your own work?
I love F. Scott Fitzgerald, Wally Lamb and Ray Bradbury. I confess I’ve also read a bunch of Danielle Steele, Jodi Picoult and Meg Cabot. I’m a fan of Oprah books as well, all the “girl” books and classics like Secret Life of Bees. I don’t think there was an one influence but many very good writers who encouraged me.
You’re primarily a dark fiction and horror writer. What is it about this genre that inspires you? What other genres have you explored?
I’ve dabbled in mainstream and literary but even that always has a dark side. I’ve got some stories that are mainstream tearjerkers. Witnessing human frailty and weakness inspires me to write about it and that results in dark fiction. On some level, I suppose I want to write away the real life darkness to justify how people and situations can be so unfortunate.
Can you tell us a little about the New England Horror Writers (NEHW)? Are there other regional associations for horror writers?
NEHW started off many years ago as a regional branch of the Horror Writers Association. We were HWA NE. They have regional groups all over the country available on their website. A couple of years ago, the HWA became more stringent with their requirements of branch members so we elected to step away and become autonomous. Many of the NEHW members are still HWA, including me, but our group is more informal.
For readers unfamiliar with Epitaphs, how would you describe the anthology?
The only theme we assigned to the anthology when we were setting forth submissions was that it be dark and that it be “damn good writing.” We have an array or straight classic horror, comedy, mysteries and everything in between.
The NEHW hs been batting around the idea of an anthology for several years. But we’d alwayss come up with a huge list of why we couldn’t pull it off. March of 2011 we’d recently changed over most of the Board and all met for our quarterly meeting. The topic of an anthology came up again, as it always did, but this time, with the new energy we finally decided we’d just do it, and it would work. We decided not to accept defeat. We gave ourselves a tight deadline, to have it in print in less than 8 months for a debut at AnthoCon. Working hard as a team and with some wonderful submissions we were able to get it done and get a Stoker Nomination.
Was this your first editing experience? Was there anything about the process that you wish you knew before you started the process?
This was my first editing experience. If I had it to do over, I would have had the stories stripped of names so I didn’t know whose I was reading. I picked the very best stories but there were some hurt feelings and resentment.
What has been the most rewarding part of the Epitaphs experience?
Renewing my love of short story reading and writing, and giving some great writers a spot were the best parts of the project. I was impressed by the submissions, and the quality of stories inspired me to start writing more.
It is said that learning to write well is like experiencing a series of never ending writing related epiphanies. If you had to pick one, what is the most important lesson you have learned, so far?
There have been a bunch but here are a few: write everything down. You think you’ll remember it later but you won’t. Also, if you think you’ve written the best thing ever, STOP, put it down and reread it at least a day or two later. If it’s still great, then send it out. Most times, you’ll find typos or inconsistencies that were missed because you were so excited to write the story. Finally, no matter how much you hate someone, don’t submit whatever vengeful fiction you’ve written about them until you calm down. And when you calm down, if you still hate them, cloak the characters more. Then by all means, send it out. It’ll make you feel better. And it will have lots of passion.
For readers looking for more Tracy Carbone fiction, what new projects are you working on? Where can they find you?
My middle grade mystery The Soul Collector is available on Amazon. I have several short stories on the Kindle as well. In the coming months I will be working with a new publisher and will release a collection of dark stories including many never seen before, as well as a women’s thriller novel.
Updates and information on my books can be found on my website www.tracylcarbone.com.