All this weekend I’m participating in the Brains to Books Cyber Convention. This is your chance not only to get to know me and my work better but to get acquainted with some other wonderful authors.
Meet Tracy M. Joyce. She’s an Australian author of speculative fiction. Her debut novel, Altaica: Book I in The Chronicles of Altaica, is published by Odyssey Books. Tracy has long been a fan of the fantasy genre, but particularly likes novels that deal with deep characterizations and that don’t flinch from the gritty realities of life. This and her fascination with the notions of “moral greyness”, that “good people can do bad things” and that we cannot escape our past provide the inspiration for her writing. Combine that with her love of history, horses and archery and you have Altaica.
She grew up on a farm in rural Victoria, in a picturesque dot on the map known as Glenburn. She spent half of her childhood riding horses and the other half trying to stay out of trouble – the only way she did that was by reading books and writing stories. She now lives in Melbourne with her husband, an elderly and very lady-like greyhound, a manic puppy and a long suffering cat.
Tracy holds a BA (Hons) from Monash University, spent many years in a variety of administrative roles and fortunately never gave up on her childhood dream to become a writer. In her spare time she tutors a select and unlucky group of students in English.
“Look at her – she’s Hill Clan. Even the Matyrani don’t like them…”
Isaura – little is known about her race, but much is whispered. Born to refugees, she grows up enduring racism and superstition within a community that fears her. She has few friends, and those she treasures. Trapped, she longs for escape to a different life.
Escape is only the beginning of her troubles. Having fled an invading army with her friends, Isaura is faced with heinous choices in order to survive. Secrets from her past emerge to torment her and threaten to destroy all she holds dear. Her struggles forge a bond with an ancient power – a power which may transform or consume her. Old hatreds and superstitions are renewed and at her most vulnerable she learns the true nature of those around her
Her only hope lies in a foreign land – a land rich in tradition; ruled by three powerful clans. A land with a history marked by warfare; where magic as we know it does not exist. Instead what is here, in abundance, is a more primal power.
Survival carries a high price.
Welcome to Altaica.
Get to know Isaura:
- Tell us a little about yourself. Where do you come from, your race, your homeland, Your heritage.
So many people are defined by their family histories. It forms part of their identity, their own personal ethos. I’m defined by my lack of history. I didn’t know who I was supposed to be or who I wanted to be – all I knew is I wanted out.
My name is Isaura. I was healer to a small village in Arunabejar. I’m not any longer, thank the gods. I never wanted to be one anyway. It’s weird how life twists and turns and through some strange quirk of fate or some overblown sense of duty you wind up doing something you hate to honour the memory of someone you loved. That’s a longwinded way of saying I inherited the job when my mother died. I’m an idiot really – I wound up as healer to a bunch of people who never liked nor wanted either my mother or me…me especially.
You see my mother’s people are from the Hill Clans north of Matryan. She fled from there when she was pregnant with me…She never spoke about her home. I know snatches of the language, and a few songs she’d sing me as a child, but not much else. The man most people thought was my father…was not. I don’t know who my real father is…
We never really fitted in. The village needed a healer and my mother worked like a dog to overcome their damn racism and superstitions. We’ve got dark hair and skin, they’re fair. Not only that, there’s nothing they fear more than magic and the Hill Clan are rumoured to be magic users. Gods! If I had magic then do you think I would have stayed there? Honestly the things duty drives you to. You’d think I was black as night, danced naked with demons from the underworld and sacrificed babies or kittens every full moon the way they used to look at me. Eventually they got sick of staring and commenting – it took years, but it I always knew when push came to shove it could all start up again.
It wasn’t all bad though I made had two good friends, Curro and Nic. They’re like my brothers. They taught me how to use a bow to hunt. We used to go fishing and trapping together. They taught me a little about using a sword too, even though it was against the law for a woman. If not for them I don’t think I would have lasted as long as I did.
Once we knew the Zaragarian empire was invading we hatched a plan to escape the country taking some of the villagers with us. That’s when everything changed…you know push came to shove and the next thing I was neck deep in trouble…
Now I finally know who I am, where I fit in and I’ve a new family to fight for. We ran from one war straight into another. Only now my friends don’t fit in and I do. Oh and that magic stuff…well looks like I do have some after all.
- What would you say is your greatest fear?
That I will not have the strength to fight for my freedom, my friends and the world I have now – that this could all be taken from me.
- Tell me about your greatest desire.
To belong somewhere and to protect those I love and to learn to live with with I’ve done.
- Describe your ideal partner / mate.
I knew you were going to ask this. I suppose I should say tall, dark, handsome, brave, wise, honest and all the rest of that fairy tale guff, but I’m not going to. (Too often tall, dark and handsome comes with a generous helping of arrogance, brashness and general pain in the butt-ness.)
Why is this question important? I see too many women and girls, basing their existence in terms of finding a husband. Seriously what’s wrong with them that they value their existence in terms of this? This is not how I live my life.
If love comes along – wonderful, but I don’t count on it. If I find a partner it will be someone who knows the truth about me and doesn’t want to change me; beyond that someone perceptive with the courage of their convictions, yet capable of compassion. I could probably add wise, kind and honest in – scratch that honesty is not all it’s cracked up to be – but really we’d be talking fairytales again.
- Here’s the million dollar question…How do you feel about your author?
I think we understand one another. I wanted to escape my life, my author gave me that escape, but she put me through hell to do it. She threatened all I valued and tore me apart mentally. I hated her then, but now…Well now I see why she did it. I wanted out and a new life – she gave it to me. Now I’m training to fight, learning to ride (jury is still out on that one – horses…shudder!) and I finally fit in – I have a family. (It’s a big tough family that often likes to kill people, but they really have hearts of gold.)So I guess I should thank her for most things – she made me stronger…It’s just she gave me these powers…I still don’t know all I can do and it scares me sometimes. All my author’s gifts to me came with a price – yes she made me stronger, but think I’ll have to be to survive the battle ahead.
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