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Interview With Tracey Bateman

It’s my pleasure to chat with Tracey Bateman and talk about her new book, Thirsty

Tracey, thanks for giving your time to ACFW for this interview. You’ve written a lot of books over the years, spanning genres and topics. Thirsty is without a doubt, a very different kind of novel. It’s been touted by Publishers Weekly as ‘a page-turner with a compelling vampire character that will set evangelical Christian readers talking.’

Can you share a little about how the book evolved, and what made you decide to write it, and was it your intention to create a story that could be considered as the ‘Christian’ version of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series?

It was never my intention to write the Christian Twilight and if it had been I’d have failed miserably. The stories are night and day.☺ I am a huge fan of suspense and some vampire stories, Twilight being one of the series I enjoy. But I knew that as a writer for the Christian market, I had to stay focused on my message, which is very much a Christian worldview. I wanted to offer hope and that for me came in the form of paralleling an alcoholic with a reluctant vampire.

How do you feel Thirsty has been received thus far?

There’s been a lot of criticism and a lot of praise. Lots of differing opinions. Not too many are lukewarm on this one. Opinions run hot or cold.☺ But here’s the thing. I can’t focus on pleasing man. Even though ultimately of course my fans determine sales and sales determine success, I have to rest in the knowledge that God led me to write this and have received letters from those who have and are struggling with addictions. God is using the story. And to me, that matters most.

What do you say to those who believe Christianity and vampires don’t mix?

Nothing. It’s not my place to try to change anyone’s mind. We all have to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. I’m a huge believer that people need to have the right to make up their own minds. Many Christians are skeptical that God would lead me to write about vampires and that’s ok with me. They don’t have to agree. But the bottom line is that I don’t answer to anyone but God for what I’ve done with the gift He’s given me.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey, and how were you ultimately led to write Thirsty?

The opportunity to write Thirsty was interesting. I got a call and was given a chance to do a proposal for a vampire book. It took a few attempts before finding the right story. But eventually, the fine-tuning process worked and I was able to find a plot that worked for me and for my editor. But it took a lot of prayer and soul searching. I questioned myself a lot whether I could really open my heart enough to be honest about my own past and my own struggles. And ultimately I surrendered to the process because I felt like it was God and something I needed to embrace.

You’re a wife and a mother of four. How do you balance writing time and your publishing commitments with your other responsibilities?

My kids are older, (the youngest is 12) so it’s not quite the struggle it once was. Usually. Some days I struggle and struggle and finally realize it’s better to just put the book away and do something else. Let one of the other responsibilities take the lead. Other times I have to toss out a big piece of meat and let the boys fight over it while I run off into my office for my writing time. I am not a good multi-tasker. I need to focus fully on the task at hand. Finish and then move on.

How does your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling? Did you anticipate any rough waters with the publication of Thirsty within the Christian community, and how did you plan for that?

My faith is clearly the lead off. It’s where my theme comes from. Having said that I don’t always have a lot of spiritual content that shows and shines within the words. It’s more like that ray of sunshine that slips in through the blind. People can decide to be ministered to or entertained. Both are there.

I didn’t plan for Thirsty in terms of Christian community. I knew some folks would like it and some wouldn’t. I think the judgment comes in more from the idea of a “Christian” vampire. Which is silly. My vampire isn’t a Christian. It’s a Vampire novel for the Christian market.

It makes me happy to know that God has allowed me to write this book. I love it. I think it’s my strongest writing, deepest thematically, and I am not ashamed of it. But it’s not for everyone and to be honest, I won’t discuss it with someone too narrow minded to at least read it before they burn it. ☺

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?

The call I got from Becky Germany of Heartsong Presents telling me they would like to buy my first book, Darling Cassidy (Which by the way is one of my favorites still) and rush it into publication. God had shown me that book in a dream from the cover to the title. So to learn it wasn’t just wishful thinking was pretty surreal.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?

For a long time, I wrote for the market. What was selling was what I wrote and that got me a ton of different genres. But it also gained me a lot of experience in experimenting with different styles and techniques that I believe have made me a better writer.

Now, I don’t write it unless God leads me to. I know a lot of people have criticized me about writing the vampire books, implying I only wrote them because Vampires are what is selling in the secular market and I’m just trying to sell books. But the opposite is really true. I knew it was a huge risk to my career for me to step out and write this book. This isn’t for the secular market and when members of my own church family said they’d never read it because it was vampire, I knew I was up against some major religion and would need God’s grace. So I have pretty much thrown myself on his mercy in a freefall. I can smile at the naysayers and keep my mouth shut. God’s will be done with this book and the next.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?

In the spirit of staying humble, I guess I’ll let someone else answer this for me. ☺ Honestly, I don’t know if my style is unique other than the fact that I’m an individual and bring who I am into my writing voice.

Finish this question…If I could go back and change one thing about my journey to publication, I would…

Think about people’s feelings more. I have grown a lot as a woman of God since I began. Along the way I’ve broken confidences and given harsh critiques and reviews and blown off friends to hang out with the “elite”. I really didn’t see those things until later as drew closer to God and He showed me how I had hurt people without realizing. God has given me opportunities to make amends to some. But it’s important not to lose sight of what’s important in the first place, and I wish I’d done it right to begin with.

Any parting words?

To ACFW wanna be authors…hang in there. Keep being faithful and God will work out your purpose. Not all of us are called to be a NYT best seller. When our gifts exceed our character we are at risk of losing everything that truly matters. Focus on family and seek out friendships within your church to balance the solitude of the online world. It’s easy to get swept up in the hope for publication to the exclusion of other things. I learned this first hand and hid away for many years. God called me out of solitude and I’ve made many awesome friends since.

Thanks for sharing with us, Tracey, it’s been great learning more about you and your writing!

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