I read Tracy James Jones's book Secret and Lies sometime ago. It was not a subject I expected. I really liked Tracy's work and began following on Facebook. As I did, I got to know Tracy, as we all get to know people we meet through social media via posts, comments and, of course, our online conversations. Tracy stood out to me as more than just an indie author. Tracy gives a voice to the gender non-conforming community. I have watched Tracy face bravely so many things from family and community pressures. I admire these efforts from afar. Tracy made me think about how I see equality and the uniformed ideas I was carrying around about transgender issues and non-conforming gender. I didn't even know about non-conforming gender. My greatest hope it that some day we will meet in person and swap stories as writers and human beings who share this beautiful thing we call "LIFE." I asked Tracy to answer my BIG TEN and was graciously rewarded by the thoughtful responses. So, introducing....Tracy James Jones!
1. What is the first thing you remember writing that made you realize you were a writer/author?
A very long-winded poem I wrote in high school called “Who Am I?” If I remember correctly, it was a time in my young life that I was becoming more aware of who I was as a person and wondered what direction my life would go. Plus it had something else to do with a love/crush I never had the heart to face for more reasons than one.
2. What sparked your muse for your book Secrets and Lies?
A. Secrets & Lies started in a dream that was initially written as a short story. Once that was done, I realized that I had one character who had a lot more to say and do with the story and another who was ready for her story to be told.
---you can grab your copy of Secrets and Lies at Amazon
Torn was a bit of a hard challenge and came from the fact that most jail/prison stories are told from a str8 male point of view. Switching the lead character to someone who was gender non-conforming made it possible for that type of story to be told from a point of view that most people would not know or believe possible. Some people tend to believe that if you are not like them, then everything about you is wrong and that is just not true. The tagline I initially had in mind for this was “Shawshank Redemption at Brokeback Mountain.”
---you can grab a copy of Torn at Amazon
C. The Crush?
The Crush was written one month prior to my high school class reunion. The idea started because of all the chatter for that event and who would likely attend. Thinking on that, I found myself remembering those many days and years of my life and my thoughts landed on my first crush. Once I had the introduction to it, the rest of the story simply fell into place. As short as it is, it is still one of my favorites. That crush was able to make the event and I found him to still be the sweetest person. Crush still in place. This story is featured on the Huffington Post and has been requested by the International Baccalaureate Organization to use as Teacher Support Material for their middle-years language and literature classrooms, worldwide.
---get a peek at Crush
3. Do you have any rituals you follow when you write? Do you listen to music? If so how do you choose it?
A: My writing comes to me in steps. Sometimes in a rush, so I have to close off the world and write everything down. If I don’t, the story will not let me rest. Depending on the mood of the scene, especially emotional scenes, I love string instruments and horns. When I was writing “Secrets & Lies,” I had the soundtrack to “Meet Joe Black” on repeat. That is the most beautiful music ever.
4. How did you come to write from acting? Tell us everything you want us to know about it.
From childhood, I loved watching musical films (Sound of Music), variety shows and the like. Loved them all, so I wanted to do that. I started singing in the children’s choir at my church and continued to sing into adulthood. The acting thing was about meeting actors and learning the craft. I was lucky enough to get some good parts as an extra and stand-in for some truly great films. I had fun working on a local stage play as well. All of that sort of disappeared when I failed my first screen test. Returning to writing is what I felt better suited to do.
5. Who is your favorite poet/favorite poem?
Uh-oh. I don’t actually read much poetry. (Did I just hear someone scream?) I mean, I have read some and even written some, but with all the different elements of writing that I do read, poetry is just not one of them. I know they can be some of the most beautiful words put on paper, but poetry often invokes thought, and when I read I am only interested in a straight forward story.
6. What fascinates you about life?
People, in general, used to fascinate me a great deal. Good people. Kind people. Now that I am older with a little life experience behind me, I’m not so much impressed. With social media taking over the world, I see so much hatred and violence and unnecessary cruelty, that I’ve just about lost all faith in humanity. What fascinates me now... Writing, reading, films and being the best person I can be in the face of the madness.
7. Why do you write?
Initially, I thought I wanted to write because I loved reading and figured I had something to say. Later, it occurred to me that my writing gives a voice to those who are barely seen, heard or understood. I think all of us have something to say, and I am proud to be able to speak up for those who haven’t yet been given the chance.
8. What message would you like to give about equality?
The message is simple. As human beings, no matter what type of life we live, everyone deserves the exact same rights. I have no idea why some people find that so difficult to understand. Nothing about one single individual makes them any better worse than another other than the deeds that they do. That’s it.
9. If you could only read one book over and over again stranded on a desert island, which book would you choose? Why?
I have never read a book beyond the second or third time other than the Bible, and that is mostly about finding various scriptures from time to time over the years of my life. Just one book? Couldn’t do it.
10. At the end of all days, what do you think is the only thing that’s real?
In the end, the only thing that is real and matters for me is that I have done enough of the right things to get into a happy afterlife. Life is sometimes hard and we all make mistakes, but faith is the answer. I know that if nothing else.
Find Tracy at the following places:
Amazon's Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0067T760U
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+TracyJamesJones/posts
The Transcending Gender Project: http://www.transcendinggender.org/
· Guest Judge for the 2013-15 RONE` (Romance Novel) Awards
· Featured in the 2013-15 International Indie-Vengeance Day Author Event
· Guest Judge for the 2014 HuffPost50/AARP Memoir Contest
· Guest Judge for the 2014-15 Rainbow Books Awards
· Photo Featured in the Transcending Gender Project (Since 2014)
Tracy has since been involved in the independent film Between the Shades, which explores the common knowledge of what it means to be gay, or what we think about who is what...
Tracy's inspiration is all about love :) and Meet Joe Black...