Friday, May 24, 2013

Tracey Sorel on the Casting Couch with Sheila Claydon

 Zinfandelity by Tracey Sorel

(March 2013)

What better way to think about a new book than over a glass of wine. And that's what Tracey did when she started to write Zinfandelity. At the time she lived in the lovely wine-infused area of Livermore where she quickly discovered what wine tasting and living in a wine region was all about...and from this came Zinfandelity. One look at the picture on the cover is enough to draw the reader into a story that's about women supporting one another while not forgetting that they need romance (and wine) in their lives.

I am so pleased you agreed to sit on my Casting Couch, Tracey. Now I want to hear all about your latest book.
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What prompted the idea for this book?

I was standing in line at a Wine festival in Northern California, waiting for a bus to take my friends and me to the next winery for a tasting, when we began to pass the time by coming up with fun names for wine labels. One thing led to another and the Zinfandelity title became the jumping off point for the first book in my Wine Country Vixens series. And I just love the idea of writing about a group of friends who gather a few times a month to taste wine and chat about their lives. The tag line “Debbie Macomber meets Desperate Housewives in wine country” kept haunting me too! What could be better than combining those two elements into a series?

I absolutely love your jumping off point for Zinfandelity, Tracey. And I'm sure all the women I know would agree with me. Wine, chatting, girlfriends, and thinking about the next book...what's not to like! Did you work through the plot first and then cast the characters, or was it characters first?

The characters came first. I knew Zinfandelity was going to be about a woman in her early thirties faced with her husband’s infidelity. I also had an idea for a group of women by her side helping Beth survive her marriage breaking up.

Marriage break up and infidelity are not easy subjects to write about. Which characters were the hardest for you to develop and why?

I think the hardest thing for me was not creating the characters so much as coming out of my historical voice and developing a contemporary one. I’ve been published in historical romance for over a decade under my real name Tracey J Lyons. Having written with the mid-1800s as the setting for my books and then having to jump forward to the present day was a challenge for me because I had to think in the present. And believe it or not, every once in a while I’d find an historical phrase or two popping up in my contemporary work!

I could see how that would be a problem because I know I would have a real difficulty making a move in the opposite direction. How did you decide how your characters should look? Did pictures inspire you or did you just rely on an active imagination? Maybe you even based them on someone you know or someone you saw walking down the street. Do tell!

I think, as writers, there are certain characters we develop and right away we know how they will look. For me I do have a general idea of hair color, eye color, height etc., but to make a character stand out I might add a scar, or think about skin tones to set them apart from the other characters. And yes, sometimes I do use characteristics from people I know. Everyone has a family member who stands out from the rest and would make a great model character! I have also gone straight to magazines, particularly when developing my hero, Peter O’Malley. I do have issues of a certain magazine’s most beautiful people in my office right now!

That sounds a distracting magazine to have around. I won't ask how often you have to have another peep at it. How did you develop their character traits? I know some people use Tarot or Astrology. Others produce detailed life histories. One writer I interviewed is so organized she even uses a Goal, Motivation and Conflict chart. What about you?

I’ve tried charting and am not organized enough to keep it up to date! I do keep a note book for each book or series that I’m working on so all of the key elements are there, easy to find…when I can find the darned thing in the pile of stuff on my desk! Seriously, I think writers will always take traits from people they’ve met, or even live with, and use them in their work. And let’s face it, some of those traits we know very well and they don’t need to be kept track of because they just flow from our consciousness naturally.

I certainly agree with that. If we weren't interested in other people's characters then we wouldn't have chosen to be writers in the first place. Characteristics are one thing though. A character's goals are another entirely. Can you sum your characters’ goals Zinfandelity in a word or two, or are they multi-layered? Did they keep to their original goals or did things change as you wrote the book? If they did, then please give some examples.

Beth Chadwick has a clear goal from the get go; to flesh out her husband’s cheating ways. Then she sets out to prove to her family that she can stand on her own. She knows that once she proves her husband has been cheating on her that she won’t do what her mother and grandmother did, she will not “stand by her man”.

Just learning that she has to fight her mother and grandmother as well as her husband makes me want to read the book right away. No wonder Beth needs her friends. One of my usual questions is about motives because they drive a character, but I guess Beth's are fairly obvious. How did you deal with developing them as you wrote the book?

Beth’s motives are pretty clear cut from the beginning. In the revision stages of the book, however, I realized they needed to be more defined. I don’t want to give any spoiler alerts, but she does learn she has the strength to stand on her own two feet.

Seeing the heroine grow throughout a story is always good. See, I haven't read the book yet and I'm already rooting for Beth. So, on to the last question, do you like the characters in your book? Are they people you would want to spend time with and if so, which one is your favourite, and which one would you most like to meet and why? That might be the same person of course, but there again, it might not!

I love all the characters in Zinfandelity. Okay, maybe not the husband, Dirk, and sometimes not Beth’s mother. I really want Beth’s best friend, Madge, to be my best friend! She’s fun and pretty, but most important she’s loyal and nonjudgmental. If I weren’t so in love with my husband I’d like to meet the hero of this book, Peter O’Malley. Then again aren’t all of our heroes based on the men we love? So maybe I’ve already met him….

Thanks so much for sharing the back story to Zinfandelity, Tracey. And for letting us know that it is the first book in your Wine Country Vixens series. I hope another one will be out soon. A group of women supporting one another over wine and chat is something I can certainly relate to and I am sure others can too.  You had such a great idea when you wrote Zinfandelity. I hope it's on sale in the winery that started it all.
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An avid lover of books and wine, Tracey has been writing romances for almost thirty years.  She holds membership in Romance Writers of America, Novelists Inc. and Liberty States Fiction Writers.  Tracey and her husband live in downstate New York with two dogs and four chickens. When not busy writing, and wine tasting, she is busy making her husband crazy with renovations on their 1800’s farm house.  To learn more about the Wine Country Vixen series visit

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Tracey is also published in historical romance. You can learn more about these books by visiting

You can find my books at


Sandy Cody said...

An irresistible cover and a charming interview. I feel like I know both of you better, Tracey and Sheila.

Beate Boeker said...

Thank you for a very interesting interview, Tracey and Sheila!