Interview: "Grace and Fury" by Tracy Banghart
Tracy Banghart’s debut novel, Grace and Fury was released last month. It is the story about two sisters living in a patriarchal society that limited all women’s rights and their fight to find their place and voice within the world they live in. She was kind enough to answer some questions from our writer, Teralyn, discussing her debut novel, writing, and more.
Tracy grew up in rural Maryland and spent her summers on a remote island in northern Ontario. All of that isolation and lovely scenery gave her the time to read voraciously and the inspiration to write her own stories. Always a bit of a nomad, Tracy now travels the world Army-wife style with her husband, son, cat, and sweet pupper, Scrabble. She wrote Grace and Fury while living in Hawaii. Its sequel will follow in July 2019.
Tell us a little about you as a person!
I’m a mother, an Army wife, and a nerd! I love rom-coms, superheroes (especially Wonder Woman), Legos, baking, travelling, and reading of course! I have two fur babies—my dog, Scrabble and cat, Mia.
How did you first get into writing?
I’ve been writing my whole life. It began with reading, of course. I grew up on Robin McKinley, Madeleine L’Engle, Cynthia Voigt, L.J. Smith. Their books gave me a place where I felt like I belonged and a dream to someday write my own stories. I started seriously writing with an eye to publication in 2009.
What is the most amazing thing about being a writer?
Having someone say they read my book. Every single review is precious to me, even the ones where readers hated the book. Because THEY READ IT! I am so honoured every time someone spends their precious time with my characters. It’s absolutely the coolest thing.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I’m not sure that publishing changed my process so much, but I definitely write my books differently now than when I first started out. I used to be a pretty big pantser—I’d know where I wanted to start the story, and where I wanted to finish, but the middle sort of figured itself out as I went. Now I plot a lot more. Publishing HAS sped up the timeline a little, so I don’t have the luxury of meandering through the plot trying to figure it out. I also LOVE deadlines. I know that sounds nuts, but they really help me stay on task. I’m much more productive when I know someone is waiting for my work.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I don’t read them all, but I admit I do sometimes glance through Goodreads and Amazon. As I said earlier, just HAVING reviews at all, seeing that people have read my book, is amazing. The positive reviews are obviously lovely to read, and I have a couple of favourites that I’ll go back to if I need a pick-me-up. In terms of bad reviews, I still value that the person gave my book a chance, so I appreciate them.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
To keep writing. And to keep reading.
Grace and Fury has an intriguing premise. Where did you draw your inspiration from?
I love writing stories about girls finding their own agency and making their lives their own. With Grace and Fury, I wanted to kind of take that to the extreme. I also wanted to explore the idea of sisterhood. I don’t have a sister myself, but I am a sister to my younger brother, and I have close friends who feel like sisters. I wanted to explore that dynamic and how important it is. The setting of the book was inspired by Italy and the Big Island of Hawaii—both places I’ve been and loved.
How did you create your main characters, Serina and Nomi? What inspired each of their personalities?
Serina and Nomi are both inspired by feelings I had growing up. As the eldest sibling, I was the responsible one, with a lot of expectations heaped on my shoulders, which is all Serina. But I also felt the desire to rebel against those expectations, the desire to be my own person, whoever that was. I felt trapped and powerless, just like Nomi.
What was your hardest scene to write for Grace and Fury?
It was difficult to write Serina’s early scenes because at the beginning of the book, she buys into the patriarchal dictates of her life. I hated that she was so submissive and that she wanted so much to be a Grace. But I had to write her that way—it was realistic for my world, and it was necessary so that she’d have room to learn and grow.
What made you write a book based in a fantasy world but with no magic?
I like making up my own rules. That’s where the fantasy comes in. But I like my stories grounded too, which is why I tend to stay away from magic.
What can we expect from Grace and Fury?
Courtly intrigue, bloody battles, and fierce sisterhood. Oh, and a volcanic island prison. You know, for fun.
What can you tell us about the sequel to Grace and Fury without giving any spoilers?
I’ve already finished it, and I know who lives and dies. *evil laughter*
Lastly, do you have any book recommendations for us?
Always! Here are some fantasies I’ve recently read and LOVED: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton, The Diminished by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson, Court of Fives by Kate Elliott, and Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova.
*This interview is also featured on The Nerd Daily!