Thursday, October 29, 2015

Nuggets of Faith Interviews Tracie Peterson, Bestselling, Award-winning Christian Author

Author Tracie Peterson
Tracie Peterson, bestselling, award-winning author, has written more than 100 books of historical and contemporary Christian fiction. Included in that number are several compilations of novellas and series of full-length novels set in Alaska.

Tracie, thank you for so graciously granting me this opportunity to interview you via e-mail for my blog. I grew up in Alaska and have read all your books set in that beautiful place, as well as many of your other series. Unlike some novels set in Alaska, yours are thoroughly researched, accurate, and true to Alaska. I have admired your work ever since I read Alaska, your compilation of four historical novellas published by Barbour Publishing, Inc.

First, would you share a little about yourself—anything 
you’d like to tell us so we can get a feel for who you are as a person?

Tracie: I’m a Christian, wife, mother, grandmother, and transplanted Montanan. I was born and raised in Kansas but have always been a mountain girl. My writing is a ministry, and I love sharing God’s Word in my stories.

What life experiences have contributed to your writing? In what way?

Tracie: I think everything enjoyed and endured has played a part in my writing. I love telling stories and everyday life is full of examples–be it in characters around me, settings, events, etc.

On your website you said that God had called you to write Christian fiction. How and when did you know?

Tracie: Since I was a little girl, I knew I was called to serve God, but I wasn’t sure how that would play out except in being a living example of His love. I have always loved writing, and when I was very young, my mother would give me a piece of paper and a pencil to keep me quiet in church. She’d tell me to “write a story” so I credit her with stirring that desire. After church she asked me to “tell my story” so I know that couldn’t help but develop my storytelling abilities. As I got older, I knew that writing was something I wanted to do, and I knew I could turn it into a ministry by including events, characters, and situations that would resonate with readers.

How long does it take you to write a novel?

Tracie: I write anywhere from 3-5 novels a year. I always write 3 of my own and sometimes write with co-authors for others. For each of my solo books I have 4 months to dedicate specifically to them.

What is your process in writing a book? How much time do you write each day?

Tracie: I usually am working on 3, even 4 books at the same time. I’m researching ideas for a new book, while plotting out the next novel, while writing the current novel and often doing galley proofs on a 4th. I write from a detailed synopsis so the first draft is written fast and furious and usually takes about a month. Each morning I read over what I wrote the day before and then start writing again. I have a goal to write a chapter a day. Sometimes I write more, but usually I just focus on one chapter. Sometimes that takes a couple of hours, sometimes it takes all day.

How do you do your research? Do you travel to the location of the setting? Have you ever been to Alaska?

Tracie: I always try to visit the places I write about. There is so much information to be had when you do that. I employ my husband as a historian, and he is able to help me dig up all the information needed for the stories. Often we visit a place, take photographs then look at historical photographs and judge how the lay of the land has changed and why. We visit local museums and talk to local historians. They are often able to steer us towards materials and information that we might have overlooked. We also love to pick up regional books and maps when in those setting locations, as well as talk to people who have lived there for a long time–even have multiple generations who lived in the area. The stories they pass along are often quite amazing.

What is your biggest challenge in writing your novels?

Tracie: Time and the rest of the world. There are only so many hours in a day, and often that gets consumed with the routine needs that every family has. It’s really important for me to plan things out and be very guarded with my writing time.

How did you find your publisher(s)? Through an agent? How long did it take? To writers who are just starting out, what would you recommend about how to get published?

Tracie: When I started decades ago, I didn’t know much about what I was doing. I did know to attend writers’ conferences and join writers’ groups, and I encourage writers to do that even today. I had a great many rejections and practice manuscripts, and then in 1992 I received my first contract. I didn’t have an agent and still don’t, however, in this day and age I think writers will need one. Again, they can hook up with agents at writers’ conferences, as well as publishers. Writers need to network and connect. Conferences and local writer groups are invaluable and a great place to start.

What advice would you like to share with me and other writers?

Tracie: Don’t give up, first and foremost. Second, don’t be afraid to learn–even when you think you know it all. Having an English degree or having written for a newspaper doesn’t equal knowing how to write a novel. I still enjoy sitting in on very basic writing classes as refreshers, but also because after 100+ books it’s good to review. Not only that, but a lot in writing is changing and will continue to do so.

This also brings up another thing–read. Read as much as you can. Read old classics; read what’s on the current bestseller list. Tear it apart to see why you think it works. Study the characters, the setting, and the plot. See how the author builds tension, resolves conflict, and keeps you turning the page.

Last of all, do your research and give each project your best. A lack of attention to detail will make the story weak, and readers love to point out where you have failed to meet their expectations or where you’ve made an error. Accuracy is needed in historical or contemporary settings and will only make your story stronger.

What is your contact information?
Tracie's newest book

Tracie: Readers can reach me through my website at, or my email,
or my Facebook page

Thank you, Tracie, for taking precious time out of your busy schedule to share all this helpful information and advice with those of us who don’t have as much experience as you.

Be sure to visit Tracie's website for information about all of her books.

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  1. One of my first Tracie Peterson novel series I read was Alaska! I've enjoyed many of her other books too, so was delighted to read this interview. Thank you for it, AnnaLee.

  2. She writes so accurately about Alaska. Her Yukon Quest series and Song of Alaska series are my all-time favorites about Alaska. Glad you enjoyed the interview.

  3. AnnaLee, thanks for hosting Tracie. I enjoyed the interview, enjoyed the encouragement.

  4. Yes, she was encouraging, wasn't she? She was a most gracious guest.