Ty Tracey, Author of ‘Three Days In Ashford’ talks to Kendall Reviews

Ty Tracey is an author with a passion for horror, science fiction and fantasy. He resides in Massachusetts with his beloved wife and rescue pitbull. When Ty isn’t writing he is likely landscaping his yard, playing with his dog, reading, hanging out with friends or spending quality time with his wife.

KR: Coffee?

KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

I am a 38-year-old man who resides in Massachusetts with my wife and rescue American Staffordshire Terrier. I love writing although it is not my main profession. By day, I work in the software development universe and by night I write horror, sci-fi and fantasy.

KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

Most of my free time is spent writing. Writing is kind of what I enjoy doing when I’m not working. I do manage to find time to spend with my wife as well as our dog. I enjoy the occasional video game time (I wish there was more of it). I also enjoy landscaping, I’ve done a number on my own yard and while I don’t have a green thumb when it comes to growing vegetables, I do have some fantastic looking flower beds.

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

I adore all the Hardy Boys books. I began reading them when I found one in my parents’ basement and shortly there after HAD to read as many as I could. Interestingly, I am not terribly enamored with the pure ‘mystery’ genre anymore, a lot of that early interest does tend to play a role in my story development in my writing.

KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

I am a child of the 90’s. My favorite album of all time is likely Follow the Leader by Korn. I could take or leave much of the ‘nu-metal’ genre but Korn, for whatever reason, really seemed to speak my language back in my younger years. You know what they say: Rock n Roll is defined differently by everyone based on whatever they listened to when they were 18, and I suppose I am no different. It absolutely plays a role in my writing. I like listening to some of Korn’s music when I know I am writing a more ‘action-packed’ portion of a manuscript.

KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?

There are so many. If I had to choose a favorite horror movie, I would have to pick: The Exorcist. I still believe, all these years later, that it is the most terrifying film ever made. I love the fact that it scared people based on the premise which I personally think has a far more lasting effect on an audience. Most ‘horror’ movies nowadays rely so heavily on cheap pop-out scares and oftentimes don’t even bother building a premise around whatever is happening. This, and this is just my opinion, comes off as cheap to me. What scares me, personally, are well thought out, well executed horror films where the scares arise as a result of the premise not from a man popping his head up outside of a window that the protagonist had no business being so close to anyway.

I think James Wan has recently done a really nice job. It seems he is attempting to produce horror films that harken back to the ‘old days’ of scaring via premise.

KR: What are you reading now?

I am re-reading The Stand by Stephen King because my next novel is going to have a larger scope than I am used to—global problems. I generally write stories that are contained to a town or maybe a slightly larger community, so this next novel will be my first foray into a vast, national/global catastrophe. I wanted to re-read The Stand to gain an understanding of how King handled that, how he paced the story underneath such a vast scope. I think it is helping but at the same time, it’s intimidating because, well… Stephen King is Stephen King for a reason.

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I am also reading Neverwhere—London Below by Neil Gaimon. I know it is not horror per se, but I find the way he writes beautifully minimal. I read him more out of admiration than anything I could ever hope to replicate. I just finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane by him and I was floored. I think he is one of the great literary talents of our time.

KR: What was the last great book you read, and which was the biggest disappointment?

The last great book I read was The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaimon. From the first chapter he immerses you in a story that seems otherwise mundane with his ability to story-tell. And then it just ramps up from there. Once it is to a point where the story has you, you aren’t putting it down until the story is finished. His character development, ability to create an immense, fantastic world out of thin-air, develop conflict that is his own type of terrifying, all within the confines of his minimalistic prose, to me is incredible. I would highly recommend this book to any fan of fiction.

As far as the most disappointing: Artemis—by Andy Weir. I loved The Martian so much and looked forward to his follow up. Maybe it’s unfair to compare anything to The Martian, as amazing of a sci-fi novel as it was. However, I was disappointed that a lot of the science that had clearly gone into The Martian, and made it such a thrilling, interesting story, was basically abandoned in Artemis. The protagonist in The Martian basically had to science his way out of trouble in many different MacGyver-esque fashions—distilling rocket-fuel in order to produce water for example. Then, in Artemis, our protagonist is basically just blowing things up on the moon. I don’t think anyone expected him to write something that approached The Martian, but it would have been nice if his follow-up had hit some of those same marks.

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

E-Book. Although I do read a lot of paperbacks still, mostly when I need/want to go back and read something I purchased before the E-Readers took over. I never really had money for fancy Hardbacks, so I’ve not read many books in that format.

KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

So many. I love horror, so I have had a lot to choose from over the years. I am a big fan of Stephen King just because he is so good at what he does. The way he writes/thinks is not something that can be duplicated but certainly strived for in some regards. I am a huge fan of Michael Crichton as well. Everything he’s written is backed by so much research and when he creates his story it is crafted around plausible science, yet it remains every bit as terrifying.

To me, the plausibility he wrote into his novels makes them considerably more terrifying. Consider his novel: Prey. You wouldn’t think a cloud of Nano-particles could ever become self-aware and murderously terrorize a top-secret facility. But, by the time you’re done reading that novel, you will think otherwise because of how Crichton interweaves real life examples around the direction that the Nano-particle field is headed in the real-world.

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

Once I have an overall idea for a plot, I do the old-fashioned outline  rough draft  second draft  manuscript. I wrote my entire first novel (never published) using the ‘just see where an idea takes me’ method and failed miserably. I am sure it works for some people but for me, I guess, I need to take a more structured approach if I want to come away with a product that I can take pride in.

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

An absolute ton over the course of months/years and all throughout the writing process. I probably read 3k pages of text around spirituality and soul hierarchy and metaphysics to name a few subjects, before I began outlining Three Days in Ashford. I had the idea for the basic story initially, but I needed a way to add that plausibility to the premise and doing so, required a great deal of research. I really enjoy doing that kind research.

KR: How would you describe your writing style?

I think it is unique to me and maybe not something you find in the horror genre as much. My pacing is closer to a Dan Brown than it is a Stephen King. I like to move the narrative along—very few wasted paragraphs that aren’t germane to the underlying story. I do try to adhere to many of the unwritten rules—the adjective is the enemy of the noun, etc, but I tend to be a bit more liberal about it than some. I place a premium on character development over just about anything else. In horror especially, where terrible things are going to be happening to people, that character development pays dividends. If you can get a reader to care when something bad happens to someone, that adds an entirely new, organic element to your story.

KR: Describe your usual writing day?

For me, it’s usually: Work for 9 hours, come home, eat dinner, then write in my office (with lots of caffeine and lots of Hans Zimmer in my headphones) until around 1:00 AM. Then rinse and repeat the next day.

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?

When I was much younger, I wrote a lot of short stories (never with the intention of publishing anything). My favorite of them was called: Operation 1551 which was basically about a shadowy government agency weaponizing paranormal energy—essentially, they built a bomb that could be dropped in an enemy location and instead of exploding it would charge the surrounding area with paranormal energy, haunting the living hell out of it. (KR: I like the sound of that) It became the premise of my first (never published) novel. It’s tough though to wrap plausibility around something like that. But, I still, love that story-line even though it is probably not particularly marketable.

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

I do—every one of them. I am inexperienced enough in this business that I crave any feedback I can get, positive or negative. I genuinely want to be great at what I do, and I want to produce a product that people will love. Therefore, it is a massive help to see how people feel toward my work, even if some of it involves tougher love.

KR: How do you think you’ve developed as an author?

I can only take you through how I’ve developed between my first (never published) novel and Three Days in Ashford. In a phrase: A giant leap. The most beneficial bit of development is my approach to writing. Instead of ‘winging it’ and just trying to write a manuscript out of thin-air, the fact that I now go through the labor or outlining and drafting before-hand, was a major step in the right direction for me. I have gained a bit of knowledge over the years around prioritizing what’s important when writing a horror novel. I didn’t know anything prior to my first attempt, so it’s really been a trial and error experiment for me. For instance, character development has gone from something that I previously approached a bit half-heatedly to something that is now my top priority. I have a better understanding of pacing and how changes to pacing work between normal and scary parts of a story. I have gained an understanding around mood and how altering the mood between prose written around your antagonist versus your protagonist can really enrich the story for the reader. There’s a lot, I could go on for days on this question. Honestly, I am not sure it’s possible to learn many of these things without reading and writing for yourself—trial and error.

KR: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?

So much, from so many people. Three Days in Ashford was a team effort on so many levels. If I had to choose something, I must credit a good friend of mine who is also an author. I was getting to point, somewhere in the drafting phase of Three Days in Ashford where I was touching on some religious ‘things’ that I thought might offend people. I was considering cutting them out, even though they’re integral to the story. I talked to my friend one night and he asked me: “Do you think Stephen King was worried about marketability or offending people when he wrote Carrie?” It was a pretty profound piece of advice—essentially telling me to throw caution to the wind and write what my heart thinks that the story requires. It meant a lot coming from his as he is a successful, well-seasoned author.

KR: What scares you?

Unseen forces, unanswerable questions, unexplained events all creep me out. I am a person of meticulous order in my professional and personal lives. So, when I become aware of things that, for whatever reason, cannot be explained, it makes me nervous, and interested. A lot of it goes into my writing. I try to transform those feelings into prose when I write to try to impose it onto my readers. For example: I’ve been following a news story, for years, out of Ohio. For some reason, people keep finding empty A1 Sauce bottles around the local library and nobody can explain where they’re coming from. They have security cameras there and nobody has ever been caught leaving them around. And they find them in places where the employees swear that they weren’t the previous day. That is the kind of thing that creeps me out and piques my interest.

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

Three Days in Ashford is my latest release and is available in E-Book and Paperback, exclusively (for now) on Amazon/Kindle Store. It follows a group of paranormal investigators as they are convinced to investigate Ashford—a rural town cut deep into the Ohio backcountry. What they find there transcends all human understanding and results in a fight for their very souls that, in order to win, requires they unravel the many mysteries that have plagued the town for decades.

KR: What are you working on now?

My next novel. I just began the outlining phase recently and it is coming together quickly. It is a new, exciting challenge for me since it takes place in a far broader scope than anything I’ve previously written. It is a horror novel but will also rely heavily on research into the science fiction aspects. My goal is to have it out in the next year or two. It is going to be quite a project, but I could not be more excited about it.

KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?

You can choose…

a) One fictional character from your writing.

Ricky Voss from Three Days in Ashford. He is funny and would therefore liven our spirits as we figured out how to overcome our predicament. He is also extremely analytical and organized and would likely be able to devise a hypothesis around where we were and how we might be able to escape. He is also on the skinnier side, so he wouldn’t need as much food.

b) One fictional character from any other book.

I would likely choose Mark Watney from The Martian. I can’t think of a better problem solver of a character who is also hilarious yet incredibly resourceful. He was a botanist by trade which would also prove useful in such an environment—preventing us from eating poisonous plants, perhaps even growing our own food in the event we became trapped there for a longer period.

c) One real-life person that is not a family member or friend.

I would choose Stephen King. While I am not sure he would be any more helpful than I would in such a situation, I would potentially come out of the ordeal with some seriously awesome writing advice from the master.

KR: Thank you very much Ty

Ty Tracey

You can find out more about Ty by visiting his official website www.tytracey.com

Please visit Ty’s Goodreads Profile here

Daniel Hallowell, by all standards, is a tough cookie. Despite growing up in a different foster home every few years and several run-ins with the authorities, he pulled himself up and put himself through college. A few years later, he became a household name as the most wildly successful paranormal investigator that the world had ever known. His success came complete with his own television show and a lucrative contract from the network that owned its rights. With his tight-knit crew in tow, the show would take him around the world to explore and document the most haunted locations the world had to offer. A chance encounter one evening with a stranger in a hotel bar piques Daniel’s interest. He reluctantly agrees to investigate Ashford—a long abandoned town cut somewhere deep into the Ohio countryside.Having become intrigued by a strangers desperate and terrifying description of a decades-long series of unexplainable events that had taken place there, Daniel and his eclectic crew of paranormal investigators clear their schedule and embark on a trip that they would come to regret for the rest of their lives. As they struggle to unravel the terrifying truth that lies at the heart of the disturbances that plague Ashford, they find that they are being hunted from within the deep, foreboding forests that surround them on every side.As Daniel slides deeper down the rabbit-hole and watches helplessly as his mind and sanity are slowly ripped away, he and his crew must embark on a journey across Ashford, across timelines and within the deep recesses of their own souls to uncover answers they otherwise would have never cared to know. Answers that will only serve to question the very psychological, physical, theological and philosophical meaning of our existence as a species.However difficult to stomach, the only way to save themselves from the unimaginably savage force that threatens, not only their lives, but the very existence of humanity, is to decipher the riddle that haunts Ashford. The town that Satan calls home.

You can buy Three Days In Ashford from Amazon UK & Amazon US

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