Monday, May 26, 2008

Interview with T. Renee Albracht


Author Pen Name: T. Renee Albracht

CA: What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?

TRA: I do not like to limit myself to one style. My book, Child Eyes, has been classified as graphic fiction, Christian/Spiritual fiction, social fiction, and fiction literature.
Because it is a story that graphically portrays abuse and rape while at the same time showing how the main characters struggle with their own spiritual lives and relationship with Jesus Christ because of these issues, it is difficult to pigeon‐hole.

The novel I am presently working on is about an Air Force fighter pilot during the Vietnam war
era. It tackles issues such as race relations. I never intended to write another socially conscious
book. I could never join the Air Force because I am partially deaf. This new story started as a way
for me to live out my childhood dream of being a pilot. However, you can’t write about life in
the 60’s and 70’s without getting into sensitive issues such as racial discrimination.

I also write non‐fiction. I have written articles on everything from politics to suicide to religion. I
do not and cannot restrict myself by writing simply one sort of thing. Writing for me is tonic. If I
do not write whatever is on my mind, (whether a fictional story or an opinion piece about an
article I read in the paper) it will haunt me for days and even weeks or months. My mood begins
to sour and life seems useless and hopeless. Then, I write and all is well in the world again.
I often quote Ray Bradbury and F. Scott Fitzgerald to describe myself as a writer:
"Writers aren't people exactly. Or, if they're any good, they're a whole lot of people trying so
hard to be one person." ‐F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Last Tycoon

"Not to write, for many, is to die...I have learned, on my journeys, that if I let a day go by
without writing, I grow uneasy. Two days and I am in tremor. Three and I suspect lunacy. Four
and I might as well be a hog, suffering the flux in a wallow. An hour's writing is tonic. I'm on my
feet, running in circles, and yelling for a clean pair of spats."
‐Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

CA: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

TRA: When I was in the 7th grade, I took a class called speech and drama. As a class, we had to writeand star in our own play. I took a very active role in this and had a wonderful time. That same class, the same year, we had to creatively describe the plot of a book called I Juan De Pareja. My partner and I chose to write a poem. The teacher was so impressed that she sent it to the author, never expecting to hear back. A few months later, the author, Elizabeth Borton De
Trevino, wrote to let us know how impressed and grateful she was.
I had many such experiences in school. I knew I had a gift, but I never thought about pursuing it as a career until I was in my first year of graduate school. My professor had me terrified. He told the class that we were all at the top of our class in undergrad, but some of us would not make it
in this environment. Grad school required a new way of thinking and, thus, writing. He predicted half of the class would fail the first paper. Even though I had won awards for writing in school, I was terrified.
I sat at my computer, trying to write the first paper and not a word would come out. I stared at a picture of my parents and started writing about it. The beginning of Child Eyes was born that day because of that paper.
(side note, I made a B on that paper) I haven’t stopped since then.

CA: Who or what was your inspiration for writing?

TRA: This may surprise many people, but I was inspired by a musician and not another author. I have been a diehard fan of Bon Jovi since I was 10 years old, 22 years ago. I absolutely loved their music. Being a shy, timid, depressive child, their music meant so much to me. It inspired me to keep going. I wanted so bad to be able to touch somebody the way they touched me. I wantedto pull emotion from others the way they pulled emotion out of me. I believed their words.

When they sang lines like, “Stick to your Guns,” I felt like they were singing just for me.
I thought I had to be a songwriter to be able to be like my heroes. However, songwriting is too
much trouble when you rely on others when you don’t play an instrument yourself. It wasn’t
until I first shared my fictional work that I learned I could be like my heroes without being a
songwriter.

So many people tell me how Child Eyes touched them or taught them something new. So manytold me how they could not help but cry. In my own way, I succeeded in becoming like my
heroes.

Now, I take inspiration from my literary heroes, Fyoder Dostoyevsky and John Irving.
Dostoyevsky was a different kind of writer and earned very little respect during his lifetime.
When publishers and agents turn me down because of my new style, I take comfort in the fact
that Dostoyevsky was treated the same way. I think of John Irving, my favorite modern writer,
when I think I may be way out there and may need to reign myself in. Some of his stories will
shock the pants off you, especially Hotel New Hampshire. If he can find success being different, then there’s hope for me yet.

CA: What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

TRA: I don’t have a schedule. I write whenever the mood strikes. I work full time and my job can be pretty demanding, especially at the beginning of each new semester (I work in a college). When I am working on a novel, I try to set aside one day a week, usually Sundays, to write for a few hours. That way, no matter what else is going on during the week, my story still continues to develop.

CA: Your book is about to be sent into the reader world, what is one word that describes how you feel?

TRA: Terrified. I become so close to my work. My characters become a part of me. It is like putting myself on display—as if I was standing on a pedestal for all to see and to gawk at and to criticize. The book is like my child—I feel like a parent sending her baby off to college.

CA: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

TRA: I love to read. I love to sit outside, preferably by the ocean or another body of water or pool, and read. I also love movies, Bon Jovi, and playing with my dog.

CA: How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?

TRA: I have completed one, Child Eyes. I am working on my second one now. The first is near and dear to my heart because it is my first. However, when I’m writing, the characters become such a profound extension of me. It’s as if I really am the people I write about, even though they are fictional. They are me and I am them. When the book is finished, they leave me and become
more like a long lost friend—a great memory. Therefore, I would have to say that the one I am
presently working on is my favorite if only because it is so alive in my at the moment of creation.

CA: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

TRA: Child Eyes was based a lot on real people. I have found that most author’s first novels turn out this way. I didn’t set out to write like this, but the nuances of friends and family throughout my life really came to life in the story.

The book I am working on now is not based on anyone I know. However, there is a lot of me in
all of the main characters. I can’t help that and I am sure this will never change. My main
characters are biased by my own belief systems and interests.

CA: How can a reader contact you or purchase your book?

TRA: Readers may email me at albracht@childeyes.com. They can also visit me at
http://myspace.com/reneealbracht.
They may go to my website at http://childeyes.com and click on the link BUY THE BOOK for
ordering options. They may also visit http://www.amazon.com.

2 comments:

Crystal Adkins said...

Hi Renee! Hope you're doing well. Do you have any exciting news?

albracht said...

Thanks for the interview. I am actually working on a new project right now. I'm not at liberty to talk about it now, but let's just say it's different. I have been asked to help a woman write her story. I have never written with anyone else before and I have never tried to remain true to a real story. But, it's exciting and I can't wait for the finished project. It's sure to be very entertaining as well as eye opening.