“I want each of my books to stand alone because they each have a separate message to pass on to the public. They stand powerful enough on their own.” —Tracey FletcherTweet
What is your name, where are you from and what are your hobbies?
My name is Tracey Chizoba Fletcher. I am a Nigerian-born Briton, based in Lagos, Nigeria. My hobbies include having a quiet time in the presence of God, reading, and listening to cool music.
How did growing up as a writer looked like for you?
Right from the age of ten, I was drawn to books. I started off with romance novels while I longed for more depth. The first time I read a James Hadley Chase novel, I was sucked in. This is how my love for the mystery, thriller, and fantasy genre began. I wrote a collection of short stories when I was 13, but unfortunately, the person who was to publish it made away with the stories. I remember helping my class mates with their essays and end of term story assignments whenever they asked me to.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing is meant to energize you, because it’s a form of healing. There is a sense of serenity that embraces you after a writing session. However, if you don’t manage your writing schedule, you may end up being exhausted, because the brain and the eyes need to have a bit of rest in order for you to be refreshed.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
No, I have never considered a pseudonym. My names given to me by my parents greatly identify and exemplify who I am, and who I am meant to be as a person. It’s my greatest and most powerful identity.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
My book Feminine Shades was published traditionally. However, there is no greater feeling seeing your written work being transformed to a formatted copy both in paper back or an eBook version for mass reading. It shows ultimately that a dream can be turned into a reality; not by wishes, but by hard work bravely done.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
As much as writing is tagged into fiction and non-fiction, we can rightly say that fiction still has its bearing on some truths. We observe our surroundings or come upon events that jar our imaginations and cause us to build our fictional characters. What I do owe them is a sense of self-validation, self-worth, self-recognition and acknowledgement, justice, and a feeling that their voices can be heard.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I read my book reviews. A writer shouldn’t shy away from it whether they be good or bad. What a writer should realize is that not everyone will like or enjoy what you write. What you owe yourself is to accept the praise and constructive criticisms, get back to your writing, improve on it, and make it shine through.
What inspired you to write Feminine Shades?
It will interest you to know that two of the short stories that make up Feminine Shades were actually entered in for two separate competitions but they didn’t scale through. At first I was disappointed, but I soon realized that they were both talking about one central topic: the female gender, and the themes the stories were based on were quite engaging and central to the everyday life of a female. Thus, the idea grew to write on other various subjects that affect the life of an average female be you a teenager, single, married, career person, or a mother. We can rightly say that out of rejections, opportunities arise, and this is how Feminine Shades was birthed.
How do you expect your book “Feminine Shades” to connect with your readers?
I expect Feminine Shades to have a strong connection with my readers because it relates to the everyday challenges that a female be it your Mother, Aunty, Sister, or relative goes through. It is not only restricted to the female gender. The males in our lives can have a greater understanding and perception of what the women in their lives pass through after reading Feminine Shades. Where there is understanding, there is peace and growth. It will make for a better society that is considerate and sensitive to the needs of the females all around them.
What was your hardest scene to write in Feminine Shades?
The hardest scene to write in Feminine Shades was the scene in Rising from Ashes where Nneka had to visit her father. We live in a society where some fathers fail to rise up to their expectations of who they should be; but we fail to ask one very pertinent question. What has made them who they are? I don’t think anyone is born to behave badly. Several factors have to come into play to cause a child be he male or female—to grow up to become unsuccessful be it as a father, or in career, or otherwise. Factors such as the background, social pressure, friendships, habits, et cetera, build us into who we are. I had to explore and dig into the background of Nneka’s father in order to portray what had caused him to be an unresponsive, unloving husband and father, which is very different from the status quo. In reality, we see the product but not the ingredients that make a product. We should remember one of the laws of motion which says, “To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
Do you want each of the book you write to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
You should buy my book Feminine Shades because it is a book that strikes at the heart of major issues in our society today starting from the abuse of women, to women empowerment, to the value of female friendship in order to build ourselves, to the recognition of our worth be it as a single, married, or career person, and even the need to embrace the colour of our skin, amongst other central topics that make us who we are. I want each of my books to stand alone because they each have a separate message to pass on to the public. They stand powerful enough on their own.
What are the common traps for aspiring writers?
There are two common traps I feel aspiring writers should avoid. First is understanding your sense of purpose as a writer. You may be gifted in a particular sense but be drawn to what we now call commercial writing. You may attain some measure of success financially but truly, I believe that the most success you can achieve as a writer is penning down those words that are most dear to you and that give you a reason to pick up your pen each today. That is what is called a satisfaction of the soul.
Second is the fact that we all have literary giants and mentors that we look up to. The downside is that in the process of following their works, we copy too much of them and lose our own Midas touch. No two writers are exactly the same. Learn from the best to improve yours, rather than be another Stephen King, or you end up being unnoticed and undiscovered because nothing stands you out.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Considering the fact that I picked up my writing pen again a few years ago, what I would have done differently would have been to keep up with my writing rather than let go after my works were stolen when I was 13.