Happy Labor Day to you all! Between your napping, travels, and/or barbeques, would you care to do a little tiger hunting with me? Yes, of course you would!
Actually, Tiger Hunting is a wonderful new adult story written by a fellow Kansan named Tracy Million Simmons. Fun fact – her niece just so happened to be my library aide last year, and it was through her that I learned about Tiger Hunting. I read the book, loved it (see my review here), and have since gotten to know Tracy. It turns out she’s awesome! Everyone should know her and read her book and beg her to crank the next one out. Oh, and also because she agreed to be interviewed by me!
Me: Did you learn anything today? If so, what?
Tracy: Today, specifically? It’s hard to tell. Sometimes lessons take a bit of time to sink in for me. I’ve been coming to the conclusion this past week that I am a much more productive girl when the schedule is packed and busy. I just made it through a rather relaxed week as far as schedule goes and rather than dedicate all my free time to writing, as I should have, I took a lot of naps.
Me: That’s okay, though. Naps help revive the brain! Where did the idea for Tiger Hunting come from?
Tracy: Tiger Hunting, quite literally, started with a dream. The opening scene to the book was something I scribbled in my journal years ago in the wee early hours of the morning as I was pulling myself from sleep. In 2009 I was looking for a fresh, new idea to work on for NaNoWriMo. I came across this description of a circus wreck in my journal and the dead dolphin on the road beside a Kansas wheat field. I decided to just follow it and see what happened. Tiger Hunting was eventually the result.
Me: I get ideas from dreams, too! What’s something about yourself that really annoys you?
Tracy: My inner critic can be pretty mean. I battle her frequently and sometimes have to resort to binding her mouth with duct tape in order to get anything done.
Me: I’ve learned that duct tape solves many of my problems. What’s the name of the book you’re reading?
Tracy: Saving Normal, by Allen Frances
The next fiction book on my to-read list is Expected, by Sarah England
Me: Pop or soda or soda pop or Coke?
Tracy: I call it soda, but I don’t drink it!
Me: Why do you write?
Tracy: If I didn’t write, I’m pretty sure my head would explode, and that would just be messy.
Seriously though, I think I write to figure out the world around me. My stories often start with things that perplex me about my fellow citizens. I make up characters to try to explain to myself why people behave the way they do.
Me: I agree with the whole head exploding thing. What’s the last song you listened to on purpose?
Tracy: Um… probably Thrift Shop. It’s got a beat that even I can dance to… and I’ve only got $20 in my pocket.
Me: HA! What makes you laugh?
Tracy: My kids. They are witty and wise and I like that they take the time to explain things to me when I just don’t get it.
Me: You just walked in the door after a long day. What do you do first?
Tracy: I sit down at my kitchen table, which is in the middle of the room our family calls “the project room” and I absorb the energy. I sit and listen and ask questions and try to catch up with what everyone is doing.
… and I eat cookies (or fill-in-the-black dessert), because there is usually someone in my house who has recently made a batch of cookies or is testing some new dessert recipe.
Me: I’m on my way to your house right now! Would you rather have hiccups for the rest of your life or feel like you need to sneeze but not be able to for the rest of your life? Why?
Tracy: Gosh. That’s a tough one. I think I’ll have to go with the sneeze because I inherited my hiccups from my mother. I rarely get them, thankfully, but when I/she would hiccup, it’s like full-blown chest spasms. I don’t know how to describe them except that they can be quite painful and for a full day after having had hiccups, I still feel them. It’s like recovering from a charley horse or pulled muscle. I can’t imagine life with them continually.
Me: They do hurt sometimes, don’t they? Do you have any strange writing quirks?
Tracy: Well… I’ve been known to summon the muse with essence of lavender, and long walks with no destination in mind often lead me to my most productive writing moments. I don’t know. Is that strange? Everything I do feels so oddly normal. My writing routine tends to change with the season and I am careful not to let myself get mired in one way of doing things.
Me: What’s the one physical object you can’t live without?
Tracy: Ten years ago I would have had an answer for this. Twenty years ago I would have given you a dozen answers. Today—while there are many people I hate to imagine my life without—I can honestly say that I could walk out the door and get by with leaving all the physical stuff behind. I’d eventually be searching for a writing instrument and a piece of paper, of course, but any old pen or pencil would do. I mean, I do have favorites, and I love my laptop, but I’m not attached to anything in particular.
Me: Would you consider yourself a pioneer or a settler? Why?
Tracy: I’m definitely a pioneer. I’ve always viewed my life as a journey. I hate to think that I might get to a destination and allow myself to grow mentally stale or stagnant. Life is expansive, and if you want to experience it fully, I think you have to keep exploring, keep looking at the world in new and different ways. Or, perhaps better said, I have always hoped that when I arrive at that settled feeling, it will be because I have decided my time here is done and I will be ready to peacefully journey on to someplace else.
See what I mean, people! She’s awesome!
Here’s a bit more about Tracy and Tiger Hunting. You should go check her and her book out!
When Jeni returns to her childhood home in western Kansas, she never imagines that she’ll be hunting a white tiger escaped from the circus or competing with an ape for the affections of the boy she once loved. While she waits for the man she’s left behind to notice she’s not coming back, she reconnects with her family and works to pick up the pieces of her life.
Tracy Million Simmons is a Kansas Arts Commission mini-fellowship winner, a Kansas Voices honorable mention, and a member and the yearbook editor of the Kansas Authors Club.