I recently caught up with Tracey L. Pacelli — friend of Teen Writers Bloc and author of the new paranormal YA novel Time Warped.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a writer? What did you do before you “officially” became a writer?
In 5th grade we were given an assignment to write a sci-fi short story. My teacher chose mine to read in front of the class, declaring it the most inventive. I never forgot the thrill it gave me to be singled out that way. Afterward, my best friend said I was talented and that was basically it for me. I knew I was a writer and would someday follow that path.
Before writing, I chased those “glamour” positions that pay very little, working administrative type jobs at CBS, HBO and the NBA, all in New York. It was fun, especially HBO, but I could barely pay for the Upper West Side closet my landlord creatively called an apartment, so I jumped ship and headed to a financial office in a little place called The World Trade Center, building #7. Beautiful area, but I didn’t mesh very well with the Trump wannabes. So, I fired myself and headed for Charleston, SC, with my new hubby. In Charleston, I worked for a scary police chief in the paralegal dep’t and about a year later I was a ballroom dance instructor at The Fred Astaire Dance Studio. The ballroom had no bathroom, and the students had to go across the street. After only one month of lessons, I was expected to teach! I wasn’t ready, so I headed for that bathroom across the street and never came back.
What made you want to be a writer? Do you write full-time now?
Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek made me want to write. Since I couldn’t actually share in the crew’s adventures, I had no choice but to imagine myself on the Enterprise as a red-headed, Venusian navigator in love with Captain Kirk, and penned many exciting episodes for myself over the years.
Can you give us a quick synopsis of Time Warped? How did you come up with the concept for the book?
Time Warped is about a troubled teen, Lanie Landry, who wakes up one day to find herself in an insane asylum, back in 1969. There she meets her biological mom for the first time and falls for a mysterious inmate.
I’d just seen Shutter Island and knew immediately I was drawn to the setting of an insane asylum. Call me crazy–and many do–but I thought, how about we put a teen in one who didn’t actually belong there, and I’ll add some Twilight Zone twist to the story. I’ve always been fascinated with time being a man-made construction and I like to fool with the idea of taking that construction apart, till it no longer makes sense. In other words, I think time travel is really cool.
What’s your writing process? What does a typical writing day look like? Where does your inspiration come from?
It used to be I’d spend the larger portion of my day writing and leave the marketing, cleaning, preparing meals and listening to my daughter and husband’s rants, for my evening chores. Now, everything’s basically gone to Hades, including my family’s basic needs, and I find myself knee-deep in the gorilla marketing trenches, unable to climb out. Of course, the novel only just launched and there’s a need for me to push it out into the world, much like a newborn. But it’s a labor of love, and I actually am enjoying finding ways to hammer my book over the heads of unsuspecting readers. Hmmm…wonder if Vistaprint sells hammers with book image? Must look into that.
As for inspiration, pop culture usually feeds it nicely. Whatever I’m watching on TV, at the movies, or reading in my daughter’s teen mags (don’t tell her I borrow them), becomes fodder for the muse I keep locked up in my basement.
There are a lot of pop culture references in Time Warped, which I found really helped develop the character of Lanie and grounded us in a real place and time. Did you do this intentionally or was that a happy accident?
Funny, I just answered your question. Must be psychic. I really do love pop culture, which is probably why The Gilmore Girls is my second all-time favorite show, right after Star Trek. Lorelei is a master of pop culture and I can only bow to her greatness. Rosie is another pop-culture goddess. I hope one day I may be in their league and maybe go bowling with them sometime.
What has your path to publication been like? What’s been the most surprising part of the writing/publishing process for you?
I wrote it and they came! But, first I had to walk thousands of miles barefoot over sharp rocks, swim through a feces infested moat, use my body as a battering ram to knock down the castle door, and sleep atop a thousand mattresses with this annoying pea underneath. Only then was I given the keys to the castle. Translation: As a writer I cried waterfalls of tears over the years, facing overwhelming rejection to finally land this amazing deal at Gypsy Shadow Publishing. And, I’d do it all again.
What was surprising part? To Quote Sally, “They liked me…they really liked me!”
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten? What advice would you yourself give aspiring authors?
Every rejection moves you one step closer to success!
What was your favorite book when you were a kid/teenager? What is your favorite children’s or young adult book today? What are you reading now?
Pride and Prejudice and Pride and Prejudice. I know, every girl loves that book, so why should I be any different? I’ve always loved to laugh at ridiculous people. Jane Austen had such a gift for exposing them. Though I used to think I wouldn’t be caught dead in a room with Mr. Collins, I actually now have a couple of friends who are very much like him and I thoroughly enjoy their company!
Presently, I’m reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
Do you believe in being part of a “bloc” of writers? Are critique groups and writing communities helpful to you?
I actually belong to The Royal Book Club in downtown Asheville for parents who like to read young adult books. Sounds crazy, right? But we’ve already established I’m a bit off my rocker. At the meetings, we dissect the writing to such detail, it becomes a great learning tool for me as a teen author.
What’s up next for you?
I’ve completed the first draft of a new teen trilogy I’m quite excited about called Already Gone. It takes place just a wee bit into the future and then travels back and forth to Atlantis during its final days before the apocalypse.
There’s also my littleredwriter paranormal blog, where I try to mix in a little humor with weekly paranormal news at www.traceypacelli.com.
Thanks so much for this interview. I’m a great fan of TWB and wish all the writers much success!
Thanks so much, Tracey! Time Warped is available now in print and e-book format!