Friday, 3 August 2012

Interview with Tracie Banister

Hello everyone - it's Friday and it's sunny. What's going on? Don't worry - already here in Glasgow yesterday we had warnings on the motorway overhead signage reading Heavy Rain Saturday - I do love how they like to build us up!

So, to counteract the prospect of a wet weekend, let's have a great Friday, starting with my fun interview with Tracie Banister, author of the chick lit novels, Blame It on the Fame and the recently launched In Need of Therapy.

Tracie's from Georgia, USA.Her career as personal assistant to a local entrepreneur lasted for 12 years.  When it ended, she 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 has followed that up with the fun summer read, In Need of Therapy. 

Let's see what she had to say for herself:-

You have written two novels.  Are there any parallels you can draw between the two?
Both novels have humor and romance; they just vary in tone.  The humor in my first book, Blame It on the Fame, is more biting as that story is set in Hollywood where there's a lot of competitiveness going on.  And in In Need of Therapy, the humor arises more from the situations the heroine, a psychologist, finds herself in both personally and professionally.  I'd like to think that books one and two are equally fast-paced and fun.

Both novels have been largely classed in the Chick Lit genre. Is this what you like to read? If not, what do you like to read?
I'm a fairly eclectic reader.  I like just about anything that has a hint of romance in it, whether it be Chick Lit, Light Mystery, Young Adult, Paranormal, Historical Romance, even Steampunk!  I just wish I had more time to read because my TBR pile is huge at the moment!

Would you like to write in other genres in the future, If so which ones and why?
I dabble in other genres.  The first novel I attempted to write over 20 years ago was Historical Romance.  And the first Chick Lit novel I wrote (the one that got me an agent) had a strong Mystery element to it.  I started a YA novel a year or so ago that I envision as a series.  The novel I'm currently working on is a Regency in the vein of Jane Austen/Georgette Heyer.  So, yeah, I like to genre-hop.  It keeps the creative juices flowing.

In In Need of Therapy, what drove you to have a Latina girl as your heroine?
I like to mix things up and give all of my heroines unique and interesting qualities.  When I decided to set In Need of Therapy in Miami, it just seemed natural for my lead character to be a Latina as there's such a large Cuban population in South Florida.  I had a lot of fun writing for a heroine who had a different type of background and family dynamic than any character I'd created before.

I’ve noticed on your FB posts that you have been able to show photos of stars whom you indicate your characters are similar to, in In Need of Therapy, although not actually them of course!  When you imagine your characters, do you eventually need to be able to see them as a person who already exists whether famous or just an ordinary joe?  Or are you quite happy just to know their physical characteristics and imagine the rest in your head?
There are usually one or two characters in my books (not always the leads) who are "inspired" by a particular actor or actress.  But for the most part, my characters exist in my head looking as I describe them, not like Sandra Bullock or Johnny Depp.  The casting on my blog is just a fun thing I do when I release a book because readers always ask me who I'd want to play certain characters from my books should they ever make it to the big (or small) screen.

Did you visualise your Blame it on the Fame characters in the same way, ie In Need of Therapy, you have posted that Pilar is similar to Eva Mendes.
You would think that since all of the Blame It on the Fame heroines were actresses, I would have envisioned the five of them as real-life movie stars while I was writing, but I didn't.  The only character in that book whose physicality was based on an actual person was Scottish bad boy Miles McCrea (I actually looked at photos of Gerard Butler while writing scenes that Miles was in and I heard Gerard's voice in my head saying Miles' dialogue.)  
In Need of Therapy is a laugh a minute, with so many funny characters. Which is your favourite funny character and why?
I'd say that the character in In Need of Therapy who made me laugh the most when writing for him was Pilar's persistent ex, Victor.  With all of his impassioned declarations of love and over-the-top romantic gestures, he was like the hero in a really bad telenovela (for the record, I adore really bad telenovelas.)
Which is your favourite overall character (if different) and why?
I'm going to have to go with my girl, Pilar, on this one.  In Need of Therapy was written from her point-of-view, so she's the character I spent the most time with and the one whose happiness I was most invested in.  Plus, I just liked Pilar.  She's the kind of woman I'd want to be friends with in real life (good-hearted, funny, principled, but still flawed enough to be relatable.)
Did you prefer writing Blame it on the Fame or In Need of Therapy?
Writing both books was challenging and rewarding, each in its own way.  I'd probably say that I "preferred" writing In Need of Therapy just because it was a shorter, less complicated book, so I was able to complete it in a shorter amount of time.
Which of the two books was most important to you?
Probably Blame It on the Fame, as it was the first book I published.
What is your favourite scene from In Need of Therapy?
It's a toss-up between Pilar's mother's birthday party (I had a blast writing that sequence  because it was the only time in the book when all of Pilar's volatile family members were gathered in one place) and I, also, got a kick out of Pilar's blind date with Tony (I can't reveal why I enjoy that scene so much because I don't want to spoil anyone, but suffice it to say, that Pilar's thought process during that disastrous date makes me laugh every time I read it.)
If you had to liken your novels to those of another author or authors, whose would it be?
I'd say that if you're a fan of the works of Candace Bushnell, Lauren Weisberger, or Jackie Collins, Blame It on the Fame would be right up your alley.  In Need of Therapy bears a closer resemblance to the fun, fizzy books of Sophie Kinsella. 

Do you do a lot of people watching, to get material for characters and if so, do you go to bars, cafes, where?
I've always been an observer.  So, I do watch people when I'm out in public and often make mental notes about things (clothing, mannerisms, voice, how the person relates to whomever they're with.)  And I do the same when I'm in my own sphere with friends, family, neighbors, etc.  Little bits of these observations will sometimes make it into my stories, but I really rely on my imagination more than anything when I'm creating characters.
Therapy is obviously a key theme throughout In Need of Therapy, how did you research this to make it as believable as it came across?
I'm in the unique position of having looked at the therapist/patient relationship from both angles.  Back in my school days, I toyed with the idea of becoming a psychologist and took some really interesting courses on the subject.  I, also, read Psychology Today religiously for years.  As an adult, I've listened to my friends' stories about their experiences with therapy and I've even been to a few sessions myself.  When I decided to write a novel about a psychologist, I did plenty of research into the various disorders that are mentioned in the book (Hypochondria, Sudden Wealth Syndrome, etc.)

Fun stuff
OK, I know you are a big Rupert Penry Jones fan – which is your favourite RPJ work?
Definitely Whitechapel.  I think he is brilliant playing DI Joseph Chandler, a cop who's trying to head up a unit that handles violent crimes all while dealing with an often-crippling case of OCD.
I read that your fave actor is Michael Fassbender – really, more than RPJ?
No slight intended to dear Rupert, but I can't help but be wowed by Fassy's charisma and talent every time I see him on screen.  The man is just riveting in every role, and he's such a risk-taker with the projects he chooses.  I see an Oscar in his future.
Fave classic movie
Easy.  Gone With the Wind.  I've been madly in love with that movie since the first time I saw it on TV when I was 11 years old.
Fave actress
Meryl Streep.  Such an amazingly talented and versatile actress.  And I love that she's such a down-to-earth, funny lady in real life.  She's never let the praise and adulation go to her head.
Favourite song
I love the oldies.  So, for me, favorite song would be a tie between "Beyond the Sea" by Bobby Darin and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" by The Platters.
Fave rom com
Ooooo, that's a toughie because I adore so many rom coms.  I'm tempted to say "Bridget Jones's Diary"," but I hate to be predictable.  So, I'm going to dare to be different and pick the Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell classic, Overboard.  I've seen that movie so many times I've lost count and I can quote lines from it all day long.  "Are you going to bring me my lemon or do I have to squeeze it from my hat?"
Destination you’d like to be stranded on with Rupert Penry Jones?
I do not like the idea of being stranded on a desert island with anyone as I'd have a third-degree sunburn by the second day.  So, I'm going to steal an idea from my book, Blame It on the Fame, and say that I'd like to be stranded with Rupert in a mountain cabin during a snowstorm.  Of course, this mountain cabin would have a fully-stocked fridge and a fireplace with an endless supply of matches and dry wood so that we could stay nice and toasty warm.
Fave place in the US?

Oh, gosh, that's tough as I have a lot of favorite cities in the US (Charleston, Manhattan, Las Vegas, Washington DC.)  But if I had to pick one, I'd go with Boston.  I visited Boston in the autumn and loved everything about it - all of the history, the amazing seafood, standing on the bridge and watching the scullers rowing up and down the Charles River, I even loved the mass transportation in Boston!
Have you ever been out of the US? If so, where and what did you like most about it?
The only place I've ever been to that was outside the US was Toronto, Canada.  Unfortunately, the weather was terrible when I visited (cold and rainy), so I didn't really get to enjoy the city as I would have liked to.
Any obsessions (excluding RPJ!)
My obsessions are the internet (I start twitching if I'm away from it for more than a few hours), competitive reality shows like Dancing With the Stars, Project Runway, and Top Chef, salt and vinegar potato chips, and checking the sales numbers on my books repeatedly throughout the day.

Favourite takeaway food

I got hooked on eating bison cheeseburgers a few years back when I was trying to find ways to get more iron in my diet (I suffer from chronic anemia.)  I can't abide ground beef, but I read that bison had more iron than beef and less fat than chicken.  So, I gave the bison cheeseburger at Ted's Montana Grill up the street from my house a try and was wowed by how good it tasted.  Now I pick up a bison cheeseburger from Ted's every Friday night.  It's my end of the week treat!
Are you a sporty person and/or do you like to watch sport?  What do you play/watch?
Although I work out every day, I do not consider myself to be a sporty person at all.  I don't play any sports and I very rarely watch them on TV.  I did go through a period of being really into tennis because my roommate at the time was a tennis player, and she got me into watching the big tennis matches (Wimbledon, French Open, et al.)  She explained all the ins and outs of the game to me, so that made it more fun to watch.
Will you be watching the Olympics?
Probably not.  I’m more of a Winter Olympics fan.  I really love figure skating, especially pairs and ice dancing.

Describe your ideal man
Tall and in good shape, dark hair, blue eyes, great sense of humor, even-tempered, doesn't drink heavily or smoke, loves dogs, intelligent, kind, and financially stable.  Bonus points if he has an accent (English, Scottish, Irish, Australian, French - they're all good), is left-handed (I've always been attracted to southpaws for some reason, perhaps because they tend to be creative?), or wears glasses (Lasik surgery really ruined this predilection for me.)    
Three things we couldn’t possibly know about you
I used to write fan fiction for genre shows like Roswell and Smallville.
I am a terrible cook, but a great baker!
Although they say that Tuesday's child is full of grace, I am the world's biggest klutz.  I have broken both of my arms and had to get stitches three times because I've slipped or fallen.

Any talents apart from writing
My only talents are related to words and language.  I was a champion speller in school, I do four crossword puzzles every day, completing each in less than 5 minutes (Yes, I time myself!), and I'm a wicked mimic.  I don't even realize that I'm doing it most of the time, but whenever I'm around someone with an accent or unusual cadence to their voice, I will start talking like them within minutes.  My high school French teacher thought I had a French relative at home because she said my accent and pronunciation sounded as if I came from the country myself.
Thanks Tracie for taking time out of your current busy schedule, post-launch, to answer my questions. As you Americans say, 'It's Been a Blast!' Sooz
You can buy In Need of Therapy at:
You can also keep track of Tracie via the following methods:- she's one to be watched!


  1. Thanks so much for having me on your fabulous site today, Sooz! I had a great time answering all of your questions!

    1. hi hon - pleasure to have you! Have a break and then get writing that next one, so I can invite you back! All the best with In Need of Therapy! Sooz

  2. Very interesting interview, ladies! :)

    1. ah Terry, well, she was a very interesting subject! A bit like your good self! Sooz

  3. Those are some great questions, definitely out of the normal.
    I loved the interview!

    1. hi Michelle, glad you liked it. Yes, I get fed up seeing the same all questions and answers - I like to shake things up a bit!! thx for checking in - Sooz

  4. What a fun interview! You know we might come to blows over Fassbender...sigh. Congrats on "In Need of Therapy" - can't wait to see what's next for you!

    1. hi Natalie - yes, you and Tracie can fight it out over Fassy! I will stick to Rupert Penry Jones. Am sure great things are ahead for Miss Banister! thx for taking the time to stop by, Sooz