Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives.
Wolf: I had the pleasure of meeting Tracie Barton-Barrett at the Baltimore Book Festival this fall. Please welcome her to Wolf Notes.
As a life-long animal enthusiast, Tracie Barton-Barrett is a speaker, Licensed Professional Counselor with a specialty in pet loss, and former psychology and sociology instructor. Buried Deep in Her Hearts is her debut novel, and she hopes it will help the reader to relate, reflect, and heal after the loss of a beloved animal. She’s facilitated pet loss support groups and presented and written articles on the subject. She and her husband live in North Carolina in the US and are owned by their two cats, Rutherford B. Barrett and Oliver Monkey.
Wolf: What was the first seed of an idea you had for your book and how did it develop?
Tracy: Buried Deep in Our Hearts is a novel that uses a dog, cat, and horse story line to celebrate our important connection to our animals, and honor their memories. As someone who has lost animal companions, the desire to write a book about pet loss, and addressing the unique, yet universal experience, was always a goal of mine. We know now that when a person experiences sadness or grief, similar parts of the brain light up as if a person were experiencing physical pain. After losing two beloved pets in grad school, I remembered what one of my professors said, “Don’t do nothing (with grief.)”
So, ever the devoted student, I delved into pet loss research, copying as many articles as I could, proud of my newfound labeled and neatly stacked folders. But, they just sat there. Collecting dust. For years. It wasn’t until the anniversary of our Kimball Kitty’s death (whose story is featured in my book) when it hit me: Make it fiction.
From the second this “a-ha moment” occurred, a new energy and trajectory took its course, and Buried Deep in Our Hearts was born. Ironically, I primarily read non-fiction for most of my childhood. I was more interested in reading books about psychology and physiology than picking a book from a fiction reading list. It’s only been in the last ten years that I’ve read and truly enjoyed fiction. I know that my book came from something bigger than myself.
Wolf: It’s hard for non-pet owners to understand the connection we have to our pets and the loss we feel when they are gone. They are part of the family. Just wondering, do you consider yourself a cat person, or a dog person?
Tracy: Yes! And, a horse person, as well as an elephant person, and a sloth person, and an orangutan person, and a swan person, and …..
Wolf: Not surprised at your answer. What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
Tracy: As a seafood lover, I thought I would try Lionfish. Yes, the beautiful, striped fish you see in the aquariums with the long spines. Unfortunately, they are upsetting the ocean’s balance because they don’t have any natural predators. So, as a seafood lover, I decided to take one for the team, and try one. Unfortunately, it didn’t end so well for me. The bathroom became my best friend the next day. Maybe the spines weren’t completely cooked out!
Wolf: Sorry to hear that. I’ll steer clear of them. If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Tracy: To be able to teleport. It sure would cut down on travel expenses! I do believe that toddlers, as well as my cats, already teleport!
Wolf: I think you’re right. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Tracy: Gladys Paisley. Eccentric, older women always make me smile. Can’t pick a favorite animal character. They’re all my favorite!
Wolf: What is your favorite body of water and why?
Tracy: As a native of Michigan, I’m certainly a “water baby.” I’m drawn to any body of water, larger than a puddle. I used to live in Virginia Beach near the ocean and would visit the Boardwalk every day, regardless of the weather. The constancy and rhythm of the waves soothed my mind, especially after a stressful day.
Wolf: I’ve always loved the ocean myself. What story are you working on now?
Tracy: This can be a trick question for an author! For me, much of the work happens even before sentences are typed out on the screen. At the moment, I’m writing a novel focusing on a girl that loves horses, but, for various reasons, can’t have one. I’m also looking into writing a children’s book based on Buried Deep in Our Hearts. In addition, there are two other books that are just in the planning stage, but all my books will celebrate the human-animal bond, in some form.
Wolf: Love the idea for the children’s book. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Tracy: Love to travel, laugh from a really good or clever joke or meme, learn about history, be near the water, listen to and play music, watch movies and Will & Grace or Friends reruns, or find a good bingeable Netflix or Hulu show.
Wolf: You really like water, don’t you. If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
Tracy: The question I asked my students: Who would you like to play you in a movie if they did a biopic of your life? Most of my students said they think Tina Fey for me. What an honor—she’s such an amazing and talented woman. Not to mention, hilarious!
The other question is: What is the best compliment you’ve ever received? Because we tend to remember negative things people say about us, also known as the negativity bias, many students needed a minute to think. Truthfully, so did I. But, when I heard my students say that something I said changed, or even saved their life, it doesn’t get much better than that. 😊
Wolf: Connect with Tracy on Social Media.
Social Media Links:
Amazon (Please buy new copies. Used copies only benefit seller) Paperback & Kindle: https://goo.gl/eXERyq
Books make great gifts.
Don’t forget to pick up you’re copy of STAR TOUCHED.