October 21, 2011

Friday is for the Guys: Author Interview: Scott Tracey - Witch Eyes

Friday is For the Guys is the time I step back and focus on books or authors that would be great for guys!  I have no problem finding books for the girls I teach, but it's not always true for the boys I teach.  I want to make sure I'm looking for and highlighting books for both!

Today I got the chance to interview Scott Tracey author of Witch Eyes.  I was excited because not only is it a possible book for guys, but it's writing by a guy! There are not enough guys that write young adult.  Middle grade yes.  YA not some much!

First about Witch Eyes
Braden was born with witch eyes: the ability to see the world as it truly is: a blinding explosion of memories, darkness, and magic. The power enables Braden to see through spells and lies, but at the cost of horrible pain.

After a terrifying vision reveals imminent danger for the uncle who raised and instructed him, Braden retreats to Belle Dam, an old city divided by two feuding witch dynasties. As rival family heads Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe desperately try to use Braden's powers to unlock Belle Dam's secrets, Braden vows never to become their sacrificial pawn. But everything changes when Braden learns that Jason is his father--and Trey, the enigmatic guy he's falling for, is Catherine's son.

To stop an insidious dark magic from consuming the town, Braden must master his gift—and risk losing the one he loves.

Now for the interview! Welcome to The O.W.L. Scott Tracey!

For Witch Eyes - what part/character/event are you most excited/proud about?One of my favorite parts of Witch Eyes is the visions themselves. Whenever Braden takes off his sunglasses, he sees the world as it truly is, full of memories and pain, magic and darkness. In describing what he sees, and how it all floods together, I ended up writing something that was very "stream of consciousness." One thought bleeds into the next. Example:

"Lavender air wafted down the path he shouldn’t have taken if he knew what’s good for him leaving me for that dark angry sun red hate working here everyone’s so rude with their cowboy hats and expensive jade ambivalence like anything really makes a difference anyway, you’re never getting out of the darkness."

Those are my favorite parts of the book. I'm incredibly proud of how they all turned out.

Tell about your writing process. How long did it take you to Witch Eyes from idea to finish? Please tell about revision is you can!The idea for Witch Eyes came in several parts. I knew I wanted to do something with a Romeo and Juliet in a small town situation. The actual 'power' that became Braden's curse of witch eyes, was something I randomly wondered about - if you were allergic to sunlight, and this was something that was supernatural, where would it have come from? The rest came from there.

From start to finish, it took about five months (September through January). I had several stops and starts, though, when I realized that something wasn't working. Originally when I started, the book was in third person. I got to about 60K words and it felt like something was off, so I went back and changed the first chapter to first person, just to see what the difference would look like. My critique partner looked at those five pages, and said "this is it, do this." Over the course of switching from third to first person, I ended up cutting about 25K words from the second half of the book, and going in a different direction altogether.

I did several rounds of revisions with different critique partners (doing some revisions, sending the new version to someone else, then repeating the process). Revising is hard, because you don't necessarily want to change EVERYTHING that someone points out (because sometimes, two different critique partners have opposite opinions about something), but you definitely want to consider all the points brought up, and then decide what YOU want to do.

Is the story and/or characters based on anything/anyone in your real life?Alas, I didn't spend any of my formative years growing up in a creepy, supernatural city filled with witches, so the story is definitely a work of fiction. There are parts of characters that are based on people I know, but only in the loosest sense. Riley, one of Braden's friends that he meets in Belle Dam, is very energetic and excitable and has a smidge of one of my own high school friends in her. Braden is sarcastic, just like I am, but he's a bit wittier about it (the joys of having several drafts to hone the perfect insult). Some of the family issues are based on things I've seen or knew about, and one of the parks that the kids run through is modeled after the park near my house growing up. But all little things.

THIS ONE IS FOR THE GUYS FOCUSED: You are a male YA writer. Tell a little what it's like to be a "minority" in the field and why you chose to write YA. When I was a teenager, I was fascinated by YA novels. Christopher Pike, Lois Duncan, R.L. Stine, I read everything they wrote, sometimes several times over. The stories were fun, the adventures were fascinating, and it seemed so glamorous. Which is probably why I wanted to write YA. It's also because there are so many different stories that can be told, because being a teenager means you've got so much stuff going on already.

It's weird, because I never actually ever think of myself as being some sort of "minority" in the YA field. I look at it as being one of a large number of authors. Many of them happen to be women, sure, but I don't think that makes either one of us any lesser. Men dominate LOTS of different genres of fiction, so to me this is a non-issue. But people ask me all the time about being a minority, so I guess I must be, haha.

I think it's been more of a minority to have a male-narrated novel up until recently. When I was looking for an agent for WITCH EYES (and later looking for an editor), many people said that books with a male protagonist wouldn't sell, or won't be read as much. So it was a risk for me to tell Braden's story the way I did, but it was the story I wanted to tell, so I kept to it.

FOR THE GUYS: I find getting boys to read as they get old is harder than getting the girls to read. What do you, as an author, think can help motivate boys and how does that come into your writing.
I think, on the one hand, it's about showing boys the books that will appeal to them. And that's going to depend on the boy, with no one "boy book" fitting all. It's about knowing that there are books out there ALREADY, and pairing the right book with the right boy. Some books might like the sports oriented books of Chris Crutcher, and some might like Holly Black's Curse Workers series.

I think marketing plays a big part in it. Books with iconic covers are more likely to be picked up by boys than covers that are clearly geared towards the female demographic. Look at The Hunger Games series - they have iconic covers and are equally loved by boys and girls. If the cover was Katniss and Peeta kissing, I don't think the same could be said. I definitely think that paranormal romance as a sub genre is skewed towards the females, which is why I say I write urban fantasy. (And don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with paranormal romance, but it's just not my cup of tea most of the time). Romances happen in my books, but they're only one element of a much larger story.

And I think ereaders are going to help a lot with this. Boys will be free to read what they want, without fear of being judged for a book's cover, when they're reading it on their ereader.

And because it's the owl my standard question always is: WHOOO do you admire when it comes to writing? Whoooo are your favorite authors now and when you were growing up?When I was growing up, I read a lot of Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine and L.J. Smith, all of whom were big influences on my writing in one way or another. My current favorites are probably Cassie Clare, Holly Black, Laini Taylor, and Stephanie Perkins. Each of them does something so different - Holly Black's Curse Workers series is one of my favorites because it takes two concepts: magic, and the mob, and makes a story that is totally magic, and totally mob at the same time. It's also got a male narrator, and I think is the perfect kind of 'boy book.'

The Mortal Instruments is one of my all-time favorite series (although I think the Infernal Devices might be taking the lead soon), and Cassie herself is so generous with her time and her fans. Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone is FANTASTIC, and one of my favorite books of the year. She has such a grasp of language that I sit back in awe when reading her books. And Stephanie Perkins writes the kind of stories that slip right under my jaded exterior and tug at my heartstrings.

Thank you so much Scott for joining us at The O.W.L. today and thank you for sharing your story and thought!!!!

AND! Scott just got some great news about Witch Eyes!  He now has a book deal to tell more of the story.  CONGRATS Scott!
Check out his post on the deal.

Go check out the book!  If you want to know about Scott, check out his website at:

1 comment:

  1. YAY YAY YAY! I LOVED this interview!
    I've wanted Witch Eyes since before it was even out and it's still on my WL and every time I go to B&N I pick it up and carry it around. I just cannot spend the money right now and it's KILLING me! I want it SO bad! I know I'll cave one day very soon and buy it anyway.

    I recently have been thinking about 'boy books' in YA. Personally I love a male narrator and seek them out. And I feel like there's just not enough guys (or boys) that read. Or maybe I just don't know them... but I'm pretty sure that less boys then girls read. And I agree that the cover has LOADS to do with it. And the ereader definitely has to help with that issue.
    I also agree with his list of favorites. I LOVE Laini! (Just went to her signing the other day!) Also a huge fan of the others, especially Stephanie Perkins.
    I plan to have a boy week featuring boy books. One of these days anyway. I met Matt de la Pena the other day and some of the discussion really got me thinking... so I'm definitely on the look out for all the YA boy books and authors I can find!

    PS. I do think there's lots of boy middle grade and not so much YA. Shame on the pubs for that :(

    OH! And the conscious thought writing- LOVE it! Although I haven't read this one yet, I did recently read a book with it and absolutely was IN LOVE with the writing.