Friday, August 3, 2012

Q&A with Author Tracie Banister

I am thrilled to welcome to Princess With a Pen today, my friend and fellow author, Tracie Banister!  Tracie is one of my Dancing With the Stars blogging buddies, and is a ray of sunshine in my day.  She is stopping by today to chat about her latest novel, In Need of Therapy, which is patiently waiting for me on my Kindle like so many books in queue.  Sound familiar?  Everyone, give a big lovey-dovey squeeze to Tracie!

You and I are friends and author buddies, but many do not know that I love calling you my “Georgia Peach.”  Tell us about southern living!  Did you grow up in Georgia?
Although I was not born and raised in Georgia, I've been here for 27 years now, so I consider myself a Georgian through and through.  I even have the accent (or so I'm told.)  To my ear, I still sound like the Valley Girl I was during my tween years in SoCal.  Like ohmigod, gag me with a spoon.  I love almost everything about living in the south (I regret to say that humidity and I will never be friends.)  What I think is lovely about this part of the country is how warm and friendly the people are.  I am a creature of habit, so I frequent the same stores and restaurants each week and I'm always greeted with "How are you, Miss Tracie?" everywhere I go.  I love the Miss Tracie thing!  Makes me feel like I'm in Steel Magnolias or Fried Green Tomatoes.

One of the passions you and I share is the movie, Gone With the Wind.  I wore out my mom’s VHS tape watching it so many times as a teen.  Now as an adult, and a mother, I tune in only until Bonnie Blue Butler’s birth.  It’s so sad after that, and my heart cannot take it.  What is it about that movie that draws you in?

Gone With the Wind is just a wonderful story, very epic in scope with well-defined characters, wonderful plot twists, and one of the all-time great romances.  I really connected with Scarlett O'Hara as a heroine and female archetype.  Although she was selfish and imperfect, I admired how strong, stubborn, passionate, and determined she was.  Funny you should say that the ending of the movie makes you sad.  I love the ending of GWTW!  Even though Scarlett has suffered some terrible losses (the miscarriage, Bonnie's death, Rhett walking out on her) and she appears to be down for the count, she thinks of her beloved Tara and rallies, saying, "I'll go home, and I'll think of some way to get him back!  After all, tomorrow is another day!"  The music swells, the camera fades out to show Scarlett standing on the hillside that overlooks her family home, and you know that this woman will pull her life together, get her man back, and be happy again because she is a survivor.

Did you know that Cammie King Conlon wrote a memoir about her role as Bonnie Blue in GWTW?  I had no idea until I was researching for our chat!
I did not know that!  I remember reading that Evelyn Keyes, who played Sue Ellen O'Hara in GWTW, had written an autobiography called "Scarlett O'Hara's Younger Sister," but I've never read it.  I have read countless biographies of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, though!  And I have all sorts of books about the making of GWTW, trivia about the film, etc. lying around.

I am so excited about your new novel, In Need of Therapy!  How did this story evolve?  How was writing this novel different for you than your first, Blame It on the Fame?
      In passing, my mother said, "You should write a book about a female psychologist" and a light bulb went off over my head.  I've always been fascinated by psychology and took several courses on the subject in school, so I knew that writing a book from the POV of a newbie psychologist was something I could have fun with.  All of my books have humor in them, so I took a lighthearted approach to the shrink thing and had a blast coming up with all of Pilar (my heroine's) patients and their issues, as well as how she interacted with them in session.  Deciding to set the book in Miami and making the character a Latina who had a demanding, over-the-top family and a disastrous love life helped me to flesh out the characters and sub-plots in the book, and then I was off to the races. 
      Writing In Need of Therapy differed from writing Blame It on the Fame in a couple of ways.  First of all, Therapy was written as a first-person narrative, so the focus was all on the heroine (her thoughts, her feelings, her perception of things.)  In Blame, there were five heroines, which meant a third-person narrative with me having to establish strong, distinctive "voices" for all five, so the reader would be able to identify the characters quickly and easily.  You'd think that the book with the five lead characters would be the harder one to write, but I found writing in first-person to be challenging.  In a good way, of course, as I like to try something new with each book so that I can keep myself on my toes and continue to hone my craft.  Another big difference between the two books was the tone.  Along with the humor, there was some major high-stakes drama in Blame It on the Fame as all five of the heroines were competing against each other for the Best Actress Oscar while dealing with a variety of personal problems.  I had to be true to the Hollywood setting of Blame, which meant getting a little racy with the language and love scenes.  With Therapy, the lead character is very grounded and nice (something I can't say about most of the characters in Blame!)  And the focus in Therapy was on romance and falling in love while in Blame most of the characters were already in long-term relationships, so the focus was more on marital discord, steamy hook-ups, etc.  I view Blame as one of those glitzy, steamy celebrity-packed mini-series that used to air on TV back in the '80s (i.e. Bare Essence, LaceI'll Take Manhattan) while In Need of Therapy is like one of those fun, date night, romantic comedies you'd see a young Sandra  Bullock or Reese Witherspoon in. 

Click HERE to purchase from Amazon

     You won tickets to any play, past or present, on Broadway and the best part is you’re taking me!  What are we going to do while in NYC, besides stalk Matt Lauer for my daughter, Gracie, before the curtain rises?  What show are we going to hold Playbills for in our hot little hands?
      Well, I am currently obsessed with seeing the upcoming revival of The Heiress, which will be playing at The Walter Kerr Theater this fall/winter.  The cast is filled with some of my favorites, Jessica Chastain (Loved her in The Help!), Dan Stevens (So dreamy in Downton Abbey!), and the always-amazing David Strathairn.  So, that's the play I'd be thrilled to win tickets to!  ***GWTW tie-in: Olivia de Havilland, who played Melanie Wilkes in Gone With the Wind, won her second Oscar for the lead role in the 1949 film version of The Heiress.*** 
      As for what you, Gracie, and I could do while in NYC, we'd have to go to some museums (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum - Gracie could get her picture taken with Matt Lauer there!)  We'd have to stop by FAO Schwarz, which is just as much fun for adults as it is children!  And we could take the ferry out to Ellis Island and see the Statue of Liberty, which is something I've never done in all of my trips to New York!  

      What’s next on deck for you in the world of writing?
      As I said, I like to challenge myself and do something a little different with each book, so next on deck for me is a Regency Chick Lit.  Yes, that's right.  I've made up my own genre! :)  I've always considered Jane Austen to be the Mother of Chick Lit with her wonderful books, which were comedies of manners about young women looking for love.  So, I wanted to write something in that vein.  I'm hoping that my Regency book will be the first in a series as I introduce several supporting characters in this one whom I look forward to focusing on in future novels.  For now, I am working on telling the story of the eldest daughter in an aristocratic family who is making her debut into society.  You'll all have to read the book to find out what happens to her, but let's just say that a bad case of tonsillitis, handsome men (some suitable, some not), chicanery, a pregnant Spaniel, and a matchmaking aunt are involved! 

      Some readers may not realize that you and our gal pal, blogger Michelle Bell, baptized me into the world of Dancing With the Stars earlier this spring.  So much so, we began blogging together about it this past season and will return with comments and play-by-play this fall.  What is it about the world of ballroom you adore? 
     I grew up watching old, black-and-white Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers films on TV late at night, so I've always had an affinity for ballroom dance.  And there's just something so campy and fun about Dancing With the Stars - the sparkly, neon-colored costumes, the Latin and Ballroom routines set to totally inappropriate modern-day tunes, all of the fighting between the C-list stars and their tantrum-prone professional partners - that's Must See TV for me! :) 
Thanks for having me on Princess with a Pen, Jen!  I had a great time! 

I love spending time with you Tracie, thank you for stopping by!  Tracie would love for one lucky reader to win a copy of her new book, In Need of Therapy!  Below are the official rules!

For anyone who'd like to be entered to win an e-book copy (ePub or Mobi version) of my romance and comedy-filled Chick Lit novel, In Need of Therapy, please leave a comment below telling me what your favorite summer vacation spot is.  Please leave your email address as well so you can be contacted, otherwise your entry will not be valid.  WINNER CHOSEN ON AUG. 10!  Good luck to all!   

Author Bio:  An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist Scarlett O'Hara.  Her work was first seen on the stage of her elementary school, where her 4th grade class performed an original holiday play that she penned (Like all good divas-in-the-making, she, also, starred in and tried to direct the production.)  Her dreams of authorial success were put on the backburner when she reached adulthood and discovered that she needed a "real" job in order to pay her bills.  Her career as personal assistant to a local entrepreneur lasted for 12 years.  When it ended, Tracie decided to follow her bliss and dedicate herself to writing full-time.  Her debut novel, the Hollywood-themed Blame It on the Fame, was released in January, 2012.  And she's following that up with the fun summer read, In Need of Therapy.  

Book blurb:  Lending a sympathetic ear and dispensing sage words of advice is all part of the job for psychologist Pilar Alvarez, and she’s everything a good therapist should be:  warm, compassionate, supportive.  She listens, she cares, and she has all the answers, but how’s the woman everyone turns to in their hour of need supposed to cope when her own life starts to fall apart?

While working hard to make a success of her recently-opened practice in trendy South Beach, Pilar must also find time to cater to the demands of her boisterous Cuban family, which includes younger sister Izzy, an unemployed, navel-pierced wild child who can't stay out of trouble, and their mother, a beauty queen turned drama queen who’s equally obsessed with her fading looks and getting Pilar married before it’s “too late.”  Although she’d like to oblige her mother and make a permanent love connection, Pilar’s romantic prospects look grim.  Her cheating ex, who swears that he’s reformed, is stalking her.  A hunky, but strictly off-limits, patient with bad-boy appeal and intimacy issues is making passes.  And the sexy shrink in the suite across the hall has a gold band on his left ring finger.

When a series of personal and professional disasters lead Pilar into the arms of one of her unsuitable suitors, she's left shaken, confused, and full of self-doubt.  With time running out, she must make sense of her feelings and learn to trust herself again so that she can save her business, her family, and most importantly, her heart.

Purchase In Need of Therapy at:

 Have a great weekend!


  1. I have only one question. Can Pilar make a decent cup of Cuban coffee? How I miss that from my Florida days!!

  2. Great interview, loved the questions. I've already read and reviewed In Need of Therapy & given it 5 stars, but now, having read this interview, I really want to read Blame it on the Fame! I loved Lace, when I was a kid back in the 80s! And, Tracie, no offence love, but get your butt over to Ellis Island. I'm Scottish and I've been! I even have little Ellis Island Christmas tree decorations! Sooz

    1. Lace was such a scandalous mini-series back in the day and I loved every minute of it!

  3. Great questions, Jen! And just as great answers, Tracie!
    I just finished In Need of Therapy last night and absolutely adored it!

  4. I LOVED BIOTF.... Can't wait to read about Pilar and her fabulous life in my town. FYI: I LOVE Aspen, Colorado in the summer.
    xoox cindy roesel

  5. Disney World, Disneyland. Any Disney theme Park. I love Disney!


  6. Fantastic interview (and so much "Gone With the Wind" trivia!) Thanks, ladies!

  7. Fantastic interview! I've already bought In Need of Therapy and can't wait to read it. Blame It On The Fame is one of my favorites!

  8. Awesome interview - love the premise of IN NEED OF THERAPY, Tracie and looking forward to the third Regency Chick Lit! :)

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  10. My favourite holiday spot is Shillingstone in Dorset. I moved away from my family 16 years ago for a Nanny job, so now I love going back to spend time with them. I'm there at the moment and having a wonderful time :-)

    My email is:

  11. My favourite holiday spot is Helensburgh, Scotland. It's the first place I went with my partner John.

    My e-mail is:

  12. Hi everyone and THANK YOU for stopping by to spend time with Tracie! According to the Random Number Generator, the winner is Kat!! YAY! Kat, I will put you in touch with Tracie to receive a copy of her book, In Need of Therapy! Congratulations XOXO

  13. Thanks! So pleased thanks Jen :)