Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Edgy, Brow-Lifting, and Maybe with a Twist of Authenticity ... Hold the Sugar Please

Meet Tracy Krauss, folks. You'll be glad you did.

Tracy Krauss is an author, artist, playwright, director, worship leader, and high school teacher of Art, Drama and English. Originally from a small prairie town, she received her Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. She and her husband have lived and worked in many remote communities in Canada’s far north, pastoring for part of that time while raising their four children They currently live in Tumbler Ridge, BC.

SDC: A few things about you interested me before we even made plans to do this interview, Tracy. Your love for drama, your style of book writing, and how you might find the time to write, since you are also busy teaching classes at a high school.

Tracy: At the moment I am still ‘recovering’ from my latest drama production which opened March 9 called ‘A Midterm Eve’s Phantasm’. My troupe of young actors has grown to 34 members this year and we just finished four shows to record crowds and rave reviews. I usually write, direct and produce my own material for the troupe, which is a huge commitment in terms of time and energy – this show was six months in the making. Sometimes I wonder if I’m digging an early grave with so much going on in my life, but I love, LOVE, LOVE working with teens and believe that their involvement in theater has such lasting value that I can’t imagine giving it up.

As for my writing style, which has been termed ‘Edgy Christian’, I suppose I just try to be authentic. I know there is a place for sweet romantic safe novels, but that is not what appeals to me and I don’t feel it is what I have been called to write. I prefer a good twist and I don’t mind delving into topics that might be slightly more risqué than the usual Christian fare. This is not to say that my work is graphic or contains gratuitously explicit content. It is probably just not what most people would expect coming from a pastor’s wife. (But then I never did fit that mold very well.  I hate baking and entertaining, I enjoy a good rock concert, and I’m perfectly fine with body art like tattoos and piercings if tastefully done.)

How do I fit it all in? I’m not sure exactly! Now that my children are grown I have more time for my writing than I used to. I guess I’m just a compulsive ‘doer’. I don’t sit around much. When I am passionate about something, I just do it.

SDC: Tell us about the influence your books and witness have been on your readers and your students.

Tracy: Since I work in a public school, I am not free to share my faith with students in the regular setting. However, my writing is a way to witness to people about God’s faithfulness in a non-threatening way. I think it also helps people realize that being a Christian does not mean you have to be some kind of ‘faker’ or ‘goody-two-shoes’. Christians are people just like anyone else. A lot of people are turned off by what comes across as hypocritical piousness. Part of what my writing does (I hope) is de-mystify faith in God. My characters are real, flawed human beings who find redemption despite themselves. Hopefully, the stories are intriguing enough that readers will enjoy them for what they are – fiction. However, I can’t help including the ‘faith’ element because that is who I am. I have to be authentic. My first book AND THE BEAT GOES ON brings up a lot of evidence for creation, so that has had a pretty big impact in terms of getting people to question their own beliefs about evolution and the origins of the universe.

SDC: How do you weave faith into your stories?

Tracy: So far, redemption has been a very strong and recurring theme in my novels. I suppose you could say it is the central theme.

SDC: How has your publisher helped you with your writing experience?

Tracy: I have had nothing but good experiences with my publisher, Strategic Publishing Group. They have remained in constant communication with me from the moment I signed my first contract until now and walked me through every phase. I am currently in the production phase of my third novel with them.

SDC: How do you receive strength from Christ in a way that greatly intensifies your writing experience?

Tracy: One of the things that I do is play the piano and sing worship songs. I am the worship coordinator at our church and also lead worship quite a bit, but I enjoy just sitting down when I am alone and playing and singing to the Lord. I also do a lot of prayer journaling. I find that when I ‘write’ my prayers I am more focused on the Lord and His voice, although they are often almost impossible to read afterwards because sometimes I get going so fast! Lastly, I have purposed to say a prayer – even just a quick one – each and every time I sit down at the computer to write.

SDC: Do you attend or teach women’s bible studies of any kind? And does your interaction with others give you creativity with your writing imagination? And also what books do you read that have helped you that you would suggest for others?

Tracy: For many years, especially when my children were younger, women’s Bible Studies were my life line. Right now I am enjoying a mixed group. I guess we all go through different seasons and this is where I’m at right now. The group that feeds my creativity the most at the moment is a local artist’s group that I attend that also just happens to be mostly made up of Christians. I’m finding that same sense of kinship and camaraderie that I used to enjoy at women’s Bible studies, only this time it is more like an evangelistic group. Because so many of us are Christians, we are able to witness through our lives and some wonderful opportunities have arisen because of it.

As far as books go, I think variety is the spice of life. Good writers also read and take note of stylistic differences etc. I love classics like Jane Austen and George Orwell, and I also enjoy the bizarre with a good twist - Sci-Fi, fantasy, mystery, thrillers … and maybe even some romance. (Nothing too sweet )

SDC: Tell us a little about this book that you are hoping to share with us today and that you want to offer up to one of our readers. And if you could ask our viewers anything what would it be?

Tracy: MY MOTHER THE MAN-EATER is the story of a forty-something ‘cougar’ out to find fulfillment through – you guessed it – men. Her life gets very complicated when she tries to juggle too many prospects at one time, exacerbated by the fact that she has five grown daughters, who, unknown to any of them, end up getting involved with said ‘prospects’ as well. Meanwhile, her ex husband, a mafia con-man, is out of prison and looking for revenge. The mix ups add up to lots of humor, but there is also a dark side to the story when we finally are allowed to see into Joleen’s past. Add to that drug deals, kidnapping, murder and you’ve got an action packed story full of surprises. I’m happy to report that MAN-EATER hit the best seller lists on in the ‘romance-contemporary’ category a couple of weeks ago. Not bad for a Christian novel.

My question: What is one of the most awkward situations you have ever found yourself in? (I’ve been in lots of awkward situations!)

SDC: Interesting question that should bring some intriguing answers. Thank you so much for being with us here at A Pen for Your Thoughts, Tracy.

READERS: Be sure to answer Tracy's reflective question. I'll be selecting the winner's name at random later in the week.

Congratulations to  Linda Strawn of Manton, CA. I know you'll enjoy that book!


  1. I'll be the first to leave a comment. thanks for the fun and thought provoking questions.

  2. Oh goodness. My life is made up of awkward stuff. I couldnt think of one. Loved the interview. thanks
    Janice Ian

  3. I found this interview at the perfect 'don't know which way to go' moment in my writing. I thank you Tracy and Shirley. Shirley for your 'just right' questions, and Tracy for your 'just right' answers. Bless you both.

  4. I just want to say that I really love Tracy and am so appreciative of her. I love the premise of this book and I think it's so relative to our culture. Can't wait to read it! I'd love to win it, but if I don't I'll definitely be buying it.
    Shawnawilliams @ allegiance . tv

  5. Enjoyed the interview, Tracy. As soon as I read your question, the first thing to pop in my mind was the fiasco of a company Christmas party I planned many years ago. I had dedicated volunteers heading up location, food, and entertainment and in no time everything was set. Well, yours truly let certain people sway her good judgment because they wanted the party to be at another location. In those days I wanted to please EVERYONE and in doing so I stepped on a few toes. Everything fell apart and it was left up to me to start completely over. The party still happened, but it was very stressful. I had a lot of people mad at me and the squeaky wheels who led me astray didn't even attend. It's been over 20 years, God's forgiven me, and a few others have to, but it still bothers me to this day.

  6. Thanks for your kind comments, Nancy. One of the things I find exciting about being a Christian is the way God can use us to touch people in unexpected ways. (And without even trying!)
    I would be hard pressed to name just one awkward situation, too, Janice. Life is full of them - all great fodder for stories!
    Hey Shawna! I love you too! You know it!!
    Linda - I can really sympathize with the situation you described. the trick, I think is not letting oneself get bitter (which it sounds like you're not!) If there is one thing i have learned in my time in ministry, its that you can never please everyone. I stopped trying. It's a BIG job just trying to please the Lord.
    Blessings and best of luck to everyone!

  7. I read Tracy's first book and loved it. Looking forward to reading this one. One situation comes to mind - when I was a teenager I was with one boyfriend when another one showed up.
    I wasn't dating either one exclusively, but it was still awkward.

    Deborah M.
    debbiejeanm at gmail dot com

  8. Great question, Tracy! And yes, all of us have had them. One of my most embarrassing was when I said I was quite sure I'd never met someone. They corrected me by name AND recounted to the group exactly where we'd met. Although that was quite a few years ago, it taught me to be a little more observant when I meet new people!

  9. Thanks Deborah. Meeting an old 'flame' can be very awkward. Anne, this very same scenario has happened to me, too. How embarrassing! (And i've had the showe on the other foot, where someone I knew didn't recognize me - somewhat humiliating. I goes both ways, I guess ...)
    I'm off to a book signing now!

  10. Terrific interview. Tracy, your book has been on my to-purchase list for a while. I LOVE the title. A family member attacked me through email 10 months ago. My husband insisted she apologize, but I'm still waiting. I decided a couple months ago turning the other cheek is better than letting it eat at me.

  11. Lots of awkward moments, but maybe one of the most awkward was when I rose to be honored at a fancy dress banquest and heard a ripping sound (so did everyone else). The edge of my dress had caught on the chair. The dress was borrowed.

    Would love to read your book.

  12. The first awkward moment that popped into my head, when my sister-in-law was trying to tell me, outside the hearing of the rest of the family during a Christmas gathering, that the eggs in my refrigerator were brown. She assumed they were spoiled! City relatives... I managed not to laugh out loud and explained that our chickens layed brown eggs. :)

    twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

  13. Nice to see you here, LoRee. I've admired the unique spelling of your name for some time now! I agree, letting go is the best way. Otherwise, these things can eat away at us.
    Scribbler!!! what can i say? I think your awkward moment trumps the rest! :)
    To Pegg, I would say that your story about the eggs is very funny. I've had similar situations (not with eggs mind you) where well meaning people feel the need to explain something they know nothing about, or just down right naive people say very funny things because they don't know any better. (My niece still gets ribbed about the time she was traveling through the prairies in the days when their were still elevators in every small town. Often these elevators would have the name of the town emblazened on them along with the company logo. Her comment was, "There sure are a lot of towns called 'Pioneer'." For those who don't know, Pioneer is a grain company!)

  14. Argh! And I just used the wrong 'their' in the story above. Sometimes even we English teachers get typing too fast for our own good!(This is a pet peeve with my students so I just HAD to correct myself!)