When Novels Choose You

glassesI recently finished writing a new novel. I wrote the whole thing, all nine drafts, since May of 2015, the same time it takes to make a child. It was a relief to complete the book and I planned to take at least a few weeks off to rest, to recover from my late nights and sleepless days. Someone said recently that writing a book is like running a marathon. It’s nonstop adrenaline until you’re done. And when you are done, you’re left still energized, still revved up. Crossing the finish line does not convince your body to instantly change gears. It takes a little time to slow yourself down, get your heartbeat back to normal. Get used to walking again, or in my case, get used to living a regular day where characters are not running lines in my head 24/7.

So I looked forward to a month or so of peace. And even then I’d planned to compile a short story collection, not a novel. Maybe I’d wait six months to start a novel because I need downtime in between them.

Image015Last week though I took a trip to Fillmore, California. It’s a small (14,000 residents) town, with an old downtown area, a one screen movie theater, and an adorable train station. The whole town is only a few miles across. The houses are mostly old, mostly worn. It’s there that I had my first case of homesickness for New England. To me, it was any old town in Massachusetts, being Taunton where I grew up, or Easton where I spent several years, Middleboro, where I bought my quaint brick home, or Bradford, where I ended up before relocating to sunny Southern California. Here everything is bright and shiny and clean. Often I feel like I’m in Disneyland.

Abby_1_fnlIt’s an understatement to say I overreacted emotionally to Fillmore. I literally cried on the way home, something I rarely if ever do. I HAD to live there. We HAD to buy a house there. I didn’t care about my boyfriend’s long commute or the low property values, or the fact is was wicked far from Burbank and Glendale and the places I visit all the time, or Santa Monica where I work when I’m in the office. I HAD to live there. I threw quite a little tantrum.

In a day or two I calmed down but not before writing an extensive brainstorming sheet and outline about a new novel called Homesick that I would set in Fillmore, or a fictional version of it. No sooner did I write the outline, and start envisioning characters and events that were filling my brain faster than I could write them down, that I started feeling panic, exhaustion. It’s too soon! I thought. I can’t already be writing another book. I’m not ready. I need to sleep. I need to spend some time as Tracy, not immersed in all these people that will invade my house and thoughts and life for the next nine months like unwelcome bossy relatives.

imaginationNow that I’ve had a few days to absorb it though, I’m okay. Writers do not always choose their next book or topic. Sometimes it is chosen for them, by the characters, by the emotions they feel, by events that are surely laid out before them by a God who wants them to tell a story. I took out six research books from the library last week and tomorrow I will spend the day in Fillmore, walking down the streets, visiting the Town Hall, eating lunch in one of the little restaurants. I’ll take pictures for my book file and imagine my characters in this location or that. I’ll overhear their conversations and watch them as they live the lives I’m destined to record.

Welcome to the next book, I say as I prepare to give over my life to the new characters.

Happy writing!




The Proteus Cure-Official May 1st Release Date


The Proteus Cure is a chilling medical thriller I co-wrote with NY Times bestselling author F. Paul Wilson. The formal release date is May 1st, but if you subscribe to this blog or just happen to come across this post, congratulations! You can buy this before everyone else! Here’s a bit about the book, which we’ve kept super secret until now.

“Paul Wilson and Tracy Carbone have penned a winner. The suspense is razor sharp and the characters masterfully drawn. Paul Wilson is at the top of the game, and Tracy Carbone is a welcome addition to the genre. You’ll love The Proteus Cure.” – Michael Palmer, NY Times best selling author of Political Suicide

In medical ethics, the line between right and wrong is often blurred. Who is to decide what is for the good of humanity?

Changing the world. One person at a time…

That is the mission statement of Tethys Hospital, run by Dr. Bill Gilchrist and his deformed sister, Abra. VG723, their revolutionary stem-cell-based therapy, appears to be capable of doing just that for the cancer patients who come to Tethys. VG723 is often their last hope. But if they match the protocol, they’re virtually guaranteed a cure.

Dr. Sheila Takamura, a young, dedicated oncologist, is proud to be involved in the clinical trials. Once the FDA approves it for widespread use, VG723 will revolutionize cancer therapy. That is why she’s alarmed when former patients return with bizarre syndromes. Yes, they’re cancer free, but they’re experiencing dramatic changes in their hair and skin and general appearance. When she investigates a possible link to the protocol, those patients start dying. As the body count grows, Sheila finds her own life in danger. She comes to suspect there might be a literal meaning behind the Tethys motto – but can she learn the truth in time to save herself and millions of others?

“Wilson is one of the masters of the medical thriller.” – Larry King

Please visit Tracy’s website for details about her other works and upcoming signings.

The Fictional Town of Bradfield

snow2_tracy_SplaterEven though I’ve spent almost my whole life in Massachusetts, except for a stint in Rhode Island from five to nine years old, I have always searched for a place to call home. There have been a few towns I’ve been fond of, where I planned to spend my life. But then things changed, and I moved. I’ve been in Bradford MA for over ten years. It’s a charming locale but I suspected several years ago that life would change again and eventually I may have to say goodbye to the town. Sometimes I feel like the  character of Caroline in Chocolat.

I knew I needed to memorialize Bradford so it could always be my special place. To that end, I’ve made a point of setting almost all my stories and novels in the fictional town of Bradfield, Massachusetts. Several authors have made a practice of this but until I did it myself, I never understood why.

When you write a story, screenplay or book, you usually start with fresh characters and settings. You may or may not know at the outset what will happen to them, or where or how they will end up. But one thing is a constant. Your characters become a part of you. Their stories change your life. Their locales and experiences become your memories and vice versa.

I’m a homebody and crave security, and have always had this fantasy where I was born and raised in a small New England town. Birth to death all in one place. A town where over the course of my life I would come to know all the residents and hear their stories. There was a terrific dark book by Jonathan Carroll called, Land of Laughs, in which a character/writer created an entire living town of his characters. Silly as it sounds, it was a book that altered my life a bit, at least from a literary standpoint. It made me want to live in a town where I knew all the characters.

And so I created the town of Bradfield. To date, ten of my stories (maybe more) and four novels have been set there. I’ve featured Bradfield Books, Bradfield Antiques, Bradfield Elementary School and probably local spots I’ve forgotten. My town has children and adults and pets. Murderers and magic, ghosts and revenge and kidnappings. Snow angels, a cutting edge cancer enter, attics filled with spirits, and one time had a raging flood which altered the landscape for years. I can picture the fictional downtown, have walked its streets, know which meals are good in the diner and which to avoid. With each story and novel, I meet more of the residents, and Bradfield becomes slightly more real.

I hope you read my stories and novels someday so you can talk a walk through Bradfield and experience the magic it offers.

Happy writing!


Check out Tracy’s writing on AMAZON.