THE AUTHOR BEHIND THE WORDS SERIES: MEET TRACEY FLETCHER
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Tracey Chizoba Fletcher is a Nigerian-born Briton, based in Lagos, Nigeria. She is an Author, Award-winning writer, Columnist, Voice over artist and Editor. Currently, she is promoting her published works so far which are Feminine Shades, The Chase, The Wrong Turn, and Love and Money.
In this series of interviews, Zaftyg will share with you the stories and the people behind the words of talented artists.
What’s your career’s highlight until now?
My first book was published September last year. And between that time and now, three more books have joined the bandwagon, and I have won a few awards. The feeling is very surreal.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Think. I take time to reflect on issues and dig deeply into them. I feel a great writer is one who is able to feel and think deeply, in order to understand what makes others tick.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
In 2016, as a christian, I went to God in prayer, because I needed direction on what to do with my life. When he told me to be a writer, I didn’t think I could do it professionally. In 2017, I went back to him, and it was the same feedback. At that point, I surrendered and gave in to his will. And I must say, that I feel fulfilled toeing this path.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first book in secondary school. It didn’t get published because the manuscript was stolen. I was ten-years-old.
Where do you get your ideas from?
When I decided to start writing professionally in 2017, I got ideas for the first two books I wrote from my dreams. My first published book, Feminine Shades, was birthed when two stories I had submitted for different competitions didn’t pull through. I realized they both resonated around the same theme: female gender. Others sprang from events around me.
What is your writing process like?
When an idea comes, I create the outline and pretty much know how I want it to turn out, before I start writing. My 6 books are novellas, so I dedicate a chapter to a day, before plotting for the next chapter. When I am through, I type out the manuscript on my laptop, and effect changes.
Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?
No, I haven’t. I absolutely love my name, and I have used it as my pen name for all my published works, even though they are of different genres. My name is a representation of the two cultures I originate from, and I want the world to know that.
What do you think makes a good story?
A plot without plot holes, that is properly edited, alongside an in-depth characterization of the characters, and good world building.
What difference do you see between a writer and an author?
A Writer engages in literary work, while an Author has his written works published and out to the public.
What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?
A lot of quiet; so I can concentrate.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It’s both actually. The experience can be different at different times. Sometimes, you feel on top of the world, and sometimes totally knackered after divesting your mind of all the great ideas and conversations.
Do you play music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite?
No, I don’t. It will distract me.
What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?
If I am on a deadline, I stick to a chapter a day.
What is your kryptonite as a writer?
My world now revolves all around writing, and I barely have time for anything else.
What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
That will be translating my ideas into written form as accurately as I have imagined it.
What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
The plot. I have always been a plot person. I want to see how a book starts and ends. But just recently, I have began taking the time to shine the light on my characters.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
By outlining them, and planning how I want the plot to be, and how my characters should react.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Because I am trying to promote and create awareness of the beauty of the Nigerian culture, I prefer using Nigerian names in my books.
Are there therapeutic benefits to modeling a character after someone you know?
Yes. I realize that it helps to see in a better light what that person went through and how the person overcame, and how that success story can help someone else. Life is a repetition of the same events. Nothing new really happens. When you learn how someone else did it, it makes it easier for you, and makes me happy.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Not doing enough research on the subject matter before publishing, be it fiction or non-fiction. It is damaging to your career. Also, wanting to write exactly like others. We can’t all be Stephen King. Realize your strength and work on it to create “Your Voice”.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Through social media, I have made friends with writers, both home and abroad. Apart from the support system, they draw my attention to certain lapses, in order to further perfect my writing.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
That was when I watched the adaptation of the movie Tears of the Sun, from celebrated Nigerian Author Chimamanda Adichie’s novel, Half of a Yellow Sun. She told her story using the Nigerian civil war as the backdrop, but the world loved the story, irrespective of that, and the Igbo language was spoken in parts of the movie. I was thrilled by it.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
To never have dropped my pen.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have two unpublished books. But there are no half-finished works.
If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?
I try to portray characters who are clearly human with their faults and weaknesses, and the process they undergo to be better versions of themselves. So yes, I will say that I am proud of how they have worked hard to be better versions of themselves.
How do you want to help moving humanity forward?
I believe my writings is a medium to reach the world, in order to provoke thoughts of inspiration, positivity, self-confidence, and self empowerment.
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