My guest today is an author whose story touches me because I know the struggles she went through: Tracy E. Banghart had no problem getting offers from agents and yet her books could not find a home in the traditional publishing world. Today Tracy is the award winning author of SHATTERED VEIL, the story of 18-year-old Aris Haan, a talented wingjet flyer who decides to follow her soon-to-be fiancee Calix to war. The book placed second in the IndieReader Discovery Awards and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly:
"What starts as a tale of star-crossed romance quickly evolves into a gripping page-turner, with gender roles and identity explored and questioned at every turn."Shattered Veil is now on sale at $0.99 through June 7, so you better get your copy fast before the sale ends!
EEG: Congratulations Tracy and welcome to CHIMERAS!
TEB: Hi Elena, Thanks so much for interviewing me! I'm honored to be joining you on your blog today.
EEG: I guess the first question I have for you is to tell us your experience with agents and editors just because it's so similar to mine that it kinda makes me feel better to know that I'm not alone in this "I'm gonna prove them wrong!" battle.
TEB: You're not the first person to tell me our stories are similar. Like most authors at the time (back in 2009), when I first started pursuing publication I went the traditional route. Indie publishing hadn't really taken off yet, and I wanted the validation and expertise of a traditional publisher. I'd heard time and again that the tough part was finding an agent, and after that you're golden. NOT my experience. I received three offers of representation on my first novel within a couple of months of querying. I loved my agent -- we had a great rapport and she was super organized and good at her job. I was convinced we'd sell in no time. And. . . we didn't. Three books later, I realized that as much as I loved my agent, we weren't finding success with one another and it was time to part ways. I also realized around the same time that I'd become SO desperate for that elusive book deal that I'd been selling out my vision. I would have done anything to catch an editor's eye, even if it meant changing the fundamentals of my books. I decided to go indie because I wanted to find readers however and wherever I could. . . and because it gave me control over my career and writing in a very real and tangible way. I took another look at my three books. I reworked and revised them again, focusing on what I wanted the story to be. And I'm thrilled because it seems to be paying off! I have a lot of really exciting things happening behind the scenes right now (if you want to be among the first to know about the awesome, sign up for my newsletter!). I'm so blessed to have readers -- and I will stay committed to producing material for them, whether it's through indie or traditional publishing avenues.
EEG: How long have you been writing and what inspires your stories?
TEB: I've been writing since I was a kid. Honestly, I can't remember not wanting to be a writer. But I didn't start writing seriously (i.e. for publication) until 2009, when my husband and I got married. As for my inspiration, it's definitely varied. A couple examples: one of my books, BY BLOOD, was inspired by my homesickness for Oxford, England, where I'd gone to grad school. Another, SHATTERED VEIL, began from a dream I had when my husband was deployed to Iraq.
EEG: Tell us about your latest release, The Shattered Veil, and your vision for this new series, The Diatous Wars: what inspired it? In particular, your heroine flies wingjets, which play an important role in your story, so I'm curious: do you do any of the flying/gliding sports and if not, where did you get the idea?
TEB: SHATTERED VEIL is a YA/crossover sci-fi adventure about a girl who joins an underground network of women in disguise in her country's male-only military. She does it at first for the wrong reasons, but soon comes to have a wider understanding of the war and finds new reasons to fight. Or, rather, pilot wingjets. As I mentioned before, it was in part inspired by my husband's deployment. He helped me a lot with the military aspects of the story. It was a great way to bond while we were so far apart. As for the flying, I've never done much in the way of flying/gliding sports, but I've spent a lot of time boating, which I think inspired some of the flying scenes a little. But more than that, Aris and her flying skills were born out of my respect for the female fighter pilots of WWII, particularly Russia's "Night Witches‚Äù. The Night Witches were a squadron of female pilots that dropped bombs on German troops; they were known as Night Witches by the German army because of the noise their rickety plywood planes made as they swooshed overhead. These women were incredibly brave, and I found their story really inspiring. As soon as I read about them, I knew Aris needed to be a pilot.
EEG: Do you have a release date for the next book? Can you give us a little sneak preview?
TEB: I don't have a release date -- yet -- for book two of the series, but it will release sometime before the end of the year. I'm hard at work writing it! As for sneak peeks, hmm. Well, how about this? My current favorite line:
"He reached for her hands, gently taking them in his own and inspecting them, as if he could see in her palms the invisible scars she still bore."Where the first book really delves into the war in Atalanta and what it means for the women who give up their identities to fight as men, the second book will explore more of what's going on in the enemy country, Safara, showing how that will come to bear on Aris's understanding and experience as the war progresses.
EEG: You have an MA in publishing -- with that as a background, how do you feel about the changes the publishing world is going through? Do you foresee a future where every successful author is hybrid, or do you see either indie or traditional prevailing over the other?
TEB: Ooh. Tough question! I think what's happening in publishing right now is simultaneously exciting and a little terrifying. Because it IS a brave new world. I don't think anyone really knows how it will all shake out. I am loving the rise of indie publishing, because it empowers authors. It gives us more opportunities to share our work and find ways to make a career as a writer financially viable. I don't think traditional publishers are just going to disappear, but I think their models are going to change, and, maybe more importantly, the cache' of traditional publishing is going to shift. This is already happening. I think the big change we're going to see is in how and by whom books are judged. What will be the new standard of quality? I don't think traditional publishers have a lock on the "best" books anymore, and readers are picking up on that. They're finding indie books of similar or better quality than traditionally published books, and that's changing the way they find and choose what to read. I would love to think READERS will be the taste-makers in future, not publishers. But I'm sure there will always be entities helping readers find their way. I'm just not sure the gatekeepers of quality are traditional publishers anymore. Maybe it will be bloggers. Or professional reviewing bodies like Publishers Weekly or Booklist.
Overall, I think the more choices an author has in connecting their work with readers, the more power he or she has. A publisher offers a crappy contract? Rejecting the contract and self-publishing is now a viable option. That gives an author more bargaining power and more control over his or her content. And that is never, EVER, a bad thing.
EEG: I couldn't agree more, Tracy. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us today!
TEB: Thanks so much for having me!
Find out more about Tracy on her blog and follow her on Twitter at @tracythewriter and on Facebook. And remember: Tracy's award-winning novel Shattered Veil is now on sale at $0.99 through June 7!