Tracey Farren Interview

The Writers Write Interview – Tracey Farren

Writers Write creates writing resources, shares writing tips, and interviews authors. In this post, we share our interview with Tracey Farren.

The Writers Write Interview With Tracey Farren

The Author: Tracey Farren
Date of Birth: 15 July 1966
Date of Interview: 4 February 2017
Place: Scarborough, Cape Town
The Book: Tess (film tie-in)


Modjaji Books is pleased to announce the publication of the movie tie-in novel, Tess, which was previously published as Whiplash by Tracey Farren to coincide with the movie release in South Africa in February 2017. We interview the South African author here.

1. Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

My current hero is ‘Noah’, a boy who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder in Maire Fisher’s new novel (to be published this year). I also have a huge soft spot for his sister.

2. What is your most treasured possession?

I have this shiny black dog who likes to run away. My heart breaks each time, then she is home is again.

3. Which living person do you most dislike?

Trump. The torture champion. (And I keep thinking how horrible it must be to kiss him).

4. What is your greatest fear?

My children dying.

5. Who or what has been the greatest love of your life?

All my human babies, born or adopted. And my fat horse, Roman who lived in our garage when I was ten.

6. What is your greatest regret?

Taking so long to see that I have my own perfect motherfatherlover within my own psyche.

7. If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?

Jesus in the bible.

8. Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

I only ever re-read poetry. For instance, Nuala Dowling’s slap of the wet sheet at the washing line as she realises that someone’s lying. (From her first collection, I, Flying). And Isobel Dixon’s moment at her mother’s sewing pedal where she drops all her pins. (From her new collection, The Leonids)

9. What is your favourite journey?

Home to the South coast of KZN with the warm sea running on my right, the bush that refuses to be vanquished and my mother fretting on the other side with her make up on.

10. What is your favourite quotation?

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

11. Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer?


12. What do you most value in a friend?

Forgiveness. For being tactless, or distracted, or chasing dumb dreams.

13. What quality do you most admire in a woman?

Powerful inner peace.

14. Which book that you’ve written is your favourite?

Homo Sapien, to be published this year. The guy is so quirky I might be the only one who gets his logic or his sense of humour. But I think I am in love with a black man from West Africa who has no tongue.

15. What are your favourite names?
  1. Malachi (the man from Homo Sapien)
  2. Tao
  3. Grace
  4. And I know a woman called Epiphany

16. What do you do as a hobby?

Surf in the Atlantic and ride my bike in the bush.

17. Which are your three favourite books?

  1. Cherry by Mary Karr
  2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  3. The Centre Cannot Hold by Elyn R. Saks

18. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

They land like a Boeing with all the characters in them. I sit quietly with a blank page and make the runway.

19. What is your Writing Routine?

9 to 1 p.m., fetch the kids. Try for two hours at night. I dream of an eight-hour writing day. Is it nice?

20. What are your Top Writing Tips?

  1. Write rough and dangerous, with no regard for grammar or embarrassment.
  2. Tell yourself this is not the real thing, these are only rough notes and you will get to the real writing sometime. This way you will put your inner critic to sleep.
  3. Never edit. Any form of improvement will rouse that inner critic.
  4. Never use exhausted metaphors or fashionable phrases. Rather make a fool of yourself for painting gawky pictures.
  5. Go forward, don’t look back. Drive in the near dark peering only at what is in front of you, so as not to wake you- know-who.
  6. Write every day if possible. The sadness that comes from losing touch is something only other writers will understand.
  7. Don’t show people your work too early, even loved ones. They are bound to rouse the sleeping critic with a word or a funny look.
  8. Go for volume. Write as much as possible so the gems can hide easily from you-know- who. You can go back and gather them at the end.
  9. Let your characters do whatever they want to, even if it is rude or criminal, or just plain despicable. They will come out the other side.
  10. Love your characters deeply, despite their transgressions. You have to live with them for so-o-o long.

Visit the Modjaji Books website to find out more about the adaptation. Follow @modjaji_bks on Twitter.

Watch the trailer for the film tie-in

If you want to read more of our interviews, click here

Posted on: 1st March 2017