Tracey Glasspool is the final category winner of the Hysteria Writing Competition 2014. She has been writing seriously for about three years now and during that time has had stories for adults and children published in magazines, short story collections and online. She is addicted to entering competitions and has been lucky enough to win or be placed in several. As well as the thrill of winning Hysteria 2014, she has also won first place in the Choc Lit winter competition 2013, Exeter Writers Short Story Comp 2013/14, plus a win with Writers Forum magazine and a second place in Writing Magazine, amongst others.
The Tracey Glasspool Interview
What is one thing that people would not normally know about you?
One of my ancestors, George Wombwell, ran a famous menagerie in the 19th century, with royal performances, some in front of Queen Victoria. He is buried under a magnificent sleeping lion in Highgate Cemetery in London and my sister and I used to be taken there for days out when we were children. It was a real treat for us and we loved it – so spooky!
Do you have any hints or tips for aspiring writers?
I’m still an aspiring writer myself. My main tip would be don’t be scared of your writing – particularly that first draft. When I’m starting out on a story I do let myself just write in a ‘stream of consciousness’ kind of way and I don’t edit at all until the first draft is down. If I sat there worrying about the perfect sentence I’d never get anything done! There’s always a lot to do afterwards but I’m often surprised at how coherent the first draft actually is, and how much of it can stay. Try to ignore that little voice that says everything you write is rubbish. It’s just jealous.
Then you’ve got to be brave and send stuff out there. Brace yourself for the inevitable rejections because they will come but NEVER give up. If you think a story works then it probably does, you just need to find the right home for it. And nothing beats the feeling when you do have some success.
Finally, read, read and read.
Who would play me in a film of my life?
I’ll go with my husband’s suggestion of Dustin Hoffman.
What is the book that you wished you had written?
There are so many! Anything by Kate Morton, the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness, Enders Game by Orson Scott Card…
But perhaps the book that I return to most is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I first read it in my late teens, in one sitting. I remember feeling so sick with nerves and anxiety during the scenes of the fancy dress ball that I had to have a lie down! That ability to make your readers react so physically to the writing is incredible.
Are there any habits you wish you didn’t have?
In writing – probably being a bit over-sentimental. I also start a lot of sentences with ‘and’ and ‘but’ and have to cut back. Plus I tend to omit conjunctions a lot. I find it works if done sparingly but again I have to be careful not to overdo it. I’ve learned the name for it now – Asyndeton – so that makes me feel a bit better about it.
Out of writing – obsessive worrying and looking up medical symptoms on the internet.
How did you choose a title for your story?
I find titles absolutely the hardest part. I never start with a title and my laptop is filled with stories called ‘The one about the ring’ or ‘The story with the cat’. I’ll often finish editing a story and not send it out for ages because I haven’t hit on a good name for it. It’s interesting that the stories that I’ve had most success with are the ones where the titles have come more easily to me. Usually I try to find a phrase within the story that works to grab the reader’s attention as I did with ‘Drowning in Lemon Juice’.
Tea, Coffee, Water, Juice, Wine or Beer … which do you prefer when writing?
Tea during the day. It’s a little treat – fifteen minutes more writing then pop the kettle on, plus a biscuit or two of course. I do like a glass of wine in the evening no matter what I’m doing, and it certainly helps with freeing up my imagination.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I think like a lot of writers I have the fear that I’ll never have another idea ever again. But inspiration comes from all over – conversations, news items, chance remarks I overhear, other writing. The difficulty is in turning that little spark into a coherent story. I’ve got lots of little notes which I read through every now and then in the hope of making use of them. I’m getting better at making sure I write ideas down now. I used to just think ‘oh, I’ll remember that’ and of course I didn’t and now despair of all those lost little gems. I’ll write on anything that comes to hand – the back of till receipts and car-park tickets quite often. My husband is also great at throwing out ideas at me.
What is the best experience you’ve ever had in your life?
Undoubtedly scuba-diving at the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve been lucky enough to do it twice, once many years ago and again last year with my husband and sons. For someone who is not at all at home under the water, it is at once terrifying and just breathtaking. I also have to mention my oldest son who I dived with. It was his first dive and I managed to knock his breathing regulator out of his mouth with a flailing arm. He popped it back in and cleared it without missing a beat – a true professional. It was difficult to see his eyes through his mask but I’m pretty sure he was rolling them at me.
Where can I find more about Tracey Glasspool?
Hysteria 3 – the anthology of winning entries from the Hysteria Writing Competition is now available to order in Kindle format on Amazon here:
Where you can find other work
www.alfiedog.com – short stories for young children
www.exeterwriters.org.uk – winning short story 2013/14
www.write-invite.com – several winning stories from 2013. This is a great idea for writers, if a little scary! Three themes are posted every Saturday at 5.30pm and you have half an hour to write and submit a story. Results are announced the following week. I had a run of wins in 2013 and I’ve been developing several of the ideas into longer pieces.