Find a Christian store

Interview With Tracie Peterson

Meet Tracie Peterson
Interview by Sandra Moore

Tell us a little about yourself -- age, married/single, children, how many books authored, etc.

Well, my name is Tracie Peterson and that's the name I write under at this time. I started out writing under the name Janelle Jamison, but quickly switched over. I'm married to Jim and have 3 lovely children - 2 grown daughters and a 12 year old son. We've just moved to Montana and absolutely love the mountains and dry climate. It's just about 90 miles from Yellowstone National Park and keeps us constantly reminded of the handiwork of God.

This year will see my 50th title come out. I have over 750,000 copies sold - inching ever upward to that million book mark. :D

How did you become interested in writing?

I've always loved writing and don't remember a time when I didn't want to write. I used to tell stories to entertain my friends and they loved it. As I grew older, I tried to get into creative writing classes in high school, but was told I didn't have the imagination and talent. That's why I always tell prospective writers, if God wants you in the writing ministry - it doesn't matter what the rest of the world says.

What was your biggest obstacle in regards to writing and/or getting published? How did you overcome it?

My biggest obstacle was myself. At first I thought I wanted to write secular romance. It was just becoming big and the focus of women's fiction. But God really guided me to a place where I felt I had to make my work count for Him as a ministry to others. Once that vision came through - the rest was in His hands and didn't seem quite so hard.

What has been the highest moment of your writing career?

I receive some very wonderful fan letters and several in particular stand out in my mind. One came from a woman who had been raped. For years she couldn't get past her hurt and emotions. She'd been counseled to death, as she put it, and nothing made her feel whole again. She read one of my books, "COME AWAY MY LOVE, soon to be re-released in the NEW MEXICO SUNSET collection, and finally found healing through God directing her to forgiveness. Another letter came from a mother who had taken one of my books to help her teenage son (yes, son!) to understand some of the trauma he'd experience in the loss of his father (they'd both been in an accident and the son blamed himself for living and his father dying). Her story touched me deeply because she used a simple little romance to change the life of her hurting child. Lastly, I received a letter from a woman who was one of many sisters. She had read A SLENDER THREAD which dealt with family reconciliation and bought her sisters all copies - then later wrote back to say that the book had transformed their family. Those are my high points because I see the hand of God at work in my writing and I'm so blessed, I'm usually in tears. The wonder of it all is just too much to understand.

Who/What is your greatest inspiration to write?

I could never pin point this to just one person. My mother told me to write if that's what I loved - she always told me I could do anything I put my mind to. My grandmother was a closet writer who really wanted to be able to spin yarns but the great depression, 6 children and several wars got in the way. Other writers both from the ABA market as well as the CBA market have influenced me. Kathleen Woodiwiss, Jude Deveraux, Calvin Miller, Jane Austen, Louisa Mae Alcott, Bodie Thoene, Judith Pella, Tom Clancey, Herman Wouk, Frederick Forsythe to name just a few.

Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer, or do you plot extensively before your fingers hit the keyboard?

Almost everyone who knows me, knows I'm one of those organize to the max kind of people. I plot so extensively that by the time I sit down to write the book - it practically writes itself.

What's the nicest thing anyone ever said about your writing?

That my books helped them to grow closer to God. My goal and mission is to help people fall in love with God, and they can only do that if they get to know Him more intimately. The goal of my writing is to do just that and when people tell me that's what's happened in their life - it's the very nicest thing they could ever say. Because, it's not about me - it's about Him.

Who is your favorite character in your books, and how did you come up with that character?

Two of my very favorite characters are Jordana and Captain Rich O'Brian from the Ribbons West series. They have this zany romance between them and Jordana is always causing Rich some kind of physical pain - although it's always accidental.

Another all time favorite of mine is Mattie Mitchell from A SLENDER THREAD. She's patterned after my grandmother and mother and so much of her character is a clear reminder of those 2 precious women.

Last, I'd have to say that I love my collection of characters in the NEW MEXICO SUNRISE and NEW MEXICO SUNSET series. These are a collection of 8 romances that deal with family and friends and their children. It spans 2 generations and there are serious, emotional folk and kooky, funny folk. I just love them all.

You're also an editor. What is your advice to new writers regarding the ongoing debate whether or not one should follow the "rules" of writing when submitting their first manuscript?

Like most anything in life - being new to something means paying your dues and walking a line. You have to learn the rules in order to break the rules. If you want to write for a particular publishing house - you have to learn what it is they expect of their authors. After you've established yourself you can often get away with things that new authors could never begin to get away with. However, the real importance of writing is to write the passion and story God has given you. If you do that, you'll usually find that even if it bends the rules a bit - the editor will be so caught up in the story it will be acceptable in spite of the approach.

What is the first thing you look for in a query letter/manuscript?

I look for a profession package - neatness, accuracy (especially accuracy in historical content) and a story that grabs me from page one. In this day and age we are inundated with "good" stories. What we need, however, are "Incredibly great" stories. I look for a unique approach and an adherence to the guidelines (nothing is worse to me than having the first sentence of a cover letter start out - "I know you don't usually publish this kind of story, but..." I pray over my editing work just as I do my own writing, and feel strongly, as Liz Higgs is always saying, that we ought not to do "junk for Jesus". Nothing is worse than getting a proposal/manuscript that is full of mistakes and inaccuracies and even (and yes this has happened) an apology from the author who tells me they just didn't have the time to "clean things up."

How do you balance a writing career and being a mother?

I write full-time and edit part-time. I also homeschool my 12 year old and he has a desk next to mine. My husband is the new author acquisitions editor for Heartsong Presents, so we're an entire cottage industry unto ourselves. :) The balance comes, however, in prayerfully doing what God directs us to do. God has called me at times to write classroom materials for my church, to teach Bible studies and women's groups, to do conferences and workshops, as well as keep up with my husband and son. However, when I do what God asks of me and when I truly put Him first - He multiplies the time like He did the loaves and fishes.

If you could tell a beginner one thing, what would it be?

Please don't write for the sake of writing. Don't write because it sounds glamorous or fun. Don't write because you're seeking fame or fortune. Don't write because your mother and Aunt Gladys said you were good. Don't write because you're bored and have nothing else to do. Don't write because everybody else you know is doing it. Don't write because it's something you can do as a stay-at-home mother. Don't write because you have a degree in English Lit or Journalism and what else are you going to do with it.

Write because it is the God given passion of your heart. Write because you can't NOT write. Write because God has laid it on your heart like a 10-ton weight that is only relieved by chipping away at it through pen and paper. Write because it is who you are and what God has brought you to do whether as a ministry for Him or a business and entertainment for others. No matter what market you work for, do whatever you set your hand to as for God and not man.

Would you like to share a MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT you have experienced in your writing career?

Hmmm, that's tough. Most of the time I've been blessed beyond anything I could have imagined for myself. One thing God has worked to teach me over the years is not to take myself so seriously. I think as a writer, we are constantly out there seeking approval for our thoughts, stories, purposes. Embarrassment usually comes when we've taken ourselves too seriously. Learn to laugh with yourself--with others at yourself (not in the mean-spirited way, but in that way of accepting that we aren't perfect) - just learn to laugh and realize that we're only a mist here for a short time.


You can find more information on Tracie at her website.

For more great interviews, visit our Author Interview Archives.

ACFW Members, click here to apply for an author interview!

Developed by Camna, LLC

This is a service provided by ACFW, but does not in any way endorse any publisher, author, or work herein.