Friday, December 8, 2023

Q&A with Tracy Clark




Tracy Clark is the author of the new novel Fall, the second in her Detective Harriet Foster series, which began with Hide. Clark, also an editor, is a Chicago native.


Q: Did you know before you wrote your first Detective Harriet Foster thriller that you’d be writing this second one?


A: Yes. When I sold the first Harriet, it was for a two-book deal, so I knew Harriet and her team would survive, at least, through two books. I’ve since contracted for two more, so there will be a Harriet three and four!


This is great news for me. I really love following characters through a series. I like to see what makes them tick. I want to see how they evolve and grow, or not. I’m nosey. I want to see how they get by. A series lets you do that. 


Q: How do you think your character Harriet has changed from one book to the next?


A: Harriet doesn’t change too drastically from Hide to Fall. She’s still dealing with the same traumas, guilt, and self-doubt that she has been unable to overcome.


But she’s putting one foot in front of the other every day, like real people must do. She’s getting better. She’s moving forward. She’s a brilliant detective with a great deal of inner strength. She won’t give up.


And as the series progresses, we will see glimpses of the old Harriet emerging. She’s healing. She’s coming back. I believe the Harriet we see in book four will be so different from the Harriet we met in Hide.


Q: What inspired the plot of Fall?


A: I don’t plan a lot. At the start of a new book, I do a lot of thinking about what the story might be about. I read a lot of newspapers. I fish around for characters and possible crimes my detectives could solve.


I write about Chicago, so there’s always something weird and almost impossible to believe going on. In Fall, Harriet and her team are searching for a killer who is murdering local aldermen and leaving 30 pieces of silver (dimes) on their bodies. It’s biblical, but oh so Chicago.


Our local politicians don’t enjoy the best reputation here or anywhere else. Chicago is kinda known for being a pretty corrupt town. Chicago has about 2 million citizens, which means Harriet could potentially have 2 million suspects.


I narrow it down for her, though, otherwise it would rival James Michener’s Hawaii in length.


Q: Without giving anything away, did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it?


A: I did not know how the novel would end when I started. I don’t know anything when I start. Basically, all I normally have is my cast of characters and whatever the crime is. I start with the crime and the body discovery, and then it’s off to the races.


The cool thing about crime fiction is that it kind of has its own linear progression. Cops don’t make things up on the fly. They operate from procedure. It’s step by step, witness by witness, interview by interview, clue by clue.


So I drop the body, the cops arrive, and then they do what they do. It’s almost like having an outline, if I knew how to write one. LOL. I just follow the cops, and then toss in a few fiction razzle dazzle elements to keep it interesting for the readers … and myself. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I am working on book three in the Det. Harriet Foster series. No title yet, but I’m well into it. It explores the difference between what we think of as justice and what we see as vengeance.


Two similar deaths 30 years apart. An eye for an eye? Maybe. Or is it something else? It’s all set at a private college in Chicago. I’m having a lot of fun with it.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: About me? Nah. I’m pretty uncomplicated. I read. I write. I hang out with my writer friends. I walk the streets watching people be human, then I write about them. Then I rinse and repeat.


But did you know that an elephant can eat 350 pounds of vegetation in a day? Eighty percent of an elephant’s time is spent eating. Is that the life, or what?


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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