A massive welcome to Tracy M. Joyce the author of Altaica.
Tracy M Joyce is 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 characterisations 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, two cats and two (very) lazy greyhounds.
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 t does not exist. Instead what is here, in abundance, is a more primal power.
Survival carries a high price.
Welcome to Altaica.
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1. Five facts about yourself?
1 I’ve only been overseas once, but I’ve got a long list of where I want to go.
2 I grew up in the country & went to a tiny primary school (barely 20 students in the school) and a very small High School (barely 200 students in total)
3. I hate being told I “can’t” do something.
4. I’m actually shy and struggle with big gatherings of people.
5. Sometimes I’d like to throw my mobile phone in the river.
6. I dislike intellectual snobbery.
2. Have you always wanted to be an author?
Yes, I’ve always enjoyed writing stories and creating fictional worlds. I can remember at about the age of 12 being asked what I wanted to be and I answered, “A writer.” The reply to this was, “You can be a journalist.” When it was explained to me what a journalist did, I replied, “No, I want to write books.”
3. What job did you have before getting into writing?
I’ve had a variety of jobs. I worked my way through university doing everything from tutoring children, to cleaning. After university I was a practice manager for a psychology clinic, a PA, worked for the public service and ran own garden design and maintenance business. Finally I took the chance to write full time which was the best decision I’ve ever made.
4. Altaica is an amazing book where did you get the idea from?
Thank you, I’m overwhelmed and excited that so many people are enjoying it. It sounds really clichéd but I had a dream which formed the basis for the plot of what will be the second duology. After I planned that novel, I thought to myself, “Well, how did this begin? What is the history behind these characters? From that came Altaica.
5. What's the hardest part of being an author?
The hardest part of being an author is juggling marketing (social media, etc.), household stuff and writing. I also feel the weight of responsibility to my readers and publisher to do a good job on my stories and not let them down. That being said the readers who are becoming fans are simply the best part of writing by far. To know that what you write and enjoy is being loved by other people is hugely rewarding and to receive their emails and support is wonderful and I honestly didn’t expect it. I mean to say I hoped people would like it, but the support I’ve received has been amazing and I’m really grateful.
6. Out of all the characters in you book which one would you say your most like and why?
Well, I can tell you that I didn’t write any of them with the intention of having them be like me in anyway. However ALL my friends will tell you that Asha and Isaura ARE me!
7. What was your favourite book as a child?
As a child one of my favourite books was entitled “Wrigley” by Rosemary Barnes. It was the story of a young boy who meets a pixie / elf and who goes on adventures with him. It was a really old book then – some sort of family relic I think, as it was published in approx. 1920. It had the most beautiful glossy colour pictures which I adored. I still have the book, complete with the pages that I tried to colour in.
8. What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on Asena Blessed which is the sequel to Altaica. This book finishes the plot arcs with Isaura as the main character in this series of books. She will pop up later, but not as the main character. I want the first draft of this finished by the end of the year. After this will be a standalone book which takes place back in Isaura’s homeland. Following that another duology is planned.
9. Do you ever experience writers block?
Sometimes, but most often the problem I have is having several choices and not being sure of which is the best one to pursue when I write. I sometimes write out each choice or plot path and then pick which I think works best or I jump on the phone to my main beta-reader, Bronwen, and discuss ideas with her.
10. Apart from writing what else do you love to do any hobbies?
I love archery. I’m getting back into it after a couple of years off and slowly building my arm strength up. The first time I went back after the break, I swear my arms had the all the strength of limp noodles. I read, knit, cycle, and I used to horse ride, but sadly had to give that up due to health reasons.
11. How would you describe Altaica to someone that has not read the book yet?
Altaica is epic fantasy, aimed for teens through to adults. I recommend approx. 15 yo and upwards because it does deal with some fairly dark moral issues. It is classed as a crossover novel – meaning it is not strictly YA or Adult. Romance does not drive the plot as it does in many YA novels.
Isaura, the main character of Altaica is an independent young woman, born to refugees within a community that fears her kind for they are rumoured to be magic users. Isaura has few friends, but is fiercely loyal to those she does have. She is often uncertain and has a lot to learn about herself and others. She has to make some horrendous moral choices, yet she still keeps trying to help her friends. One of my reviewers pointed out to me that she is a young woman who doesn’t need a man in her life to make her “complete”. I hadn’t thought about this, but it’s totally accurate. I like strong female protagonists – there will be no swooning in my books!
It is a rollicking good yarn that works from multiple points of view. I hope it shows the effects of very serious issues war, loss, deprivation, racism while still being the kind of story you can get lost in. Several readers have told me that it is a really good introduction to high fantasy and though not regular readers of this genre that they have loved it.
12. How did you feel when Altaica was published and out there for people to buy?
The e-book came out first and I “rushed” to websites to see it sitting in there for sale. It was the culmination of so much work and waiting to be published it was a wonderful feeling. However the real impact came when the paperback landed on my desk a month or so later. WOW! That was amazing! To actually have a copy of the “real thing” in my hands. I nearly cried! That made everything feel complete. I’m so happy about it and grateful that my publisher had faith in me.
13. What was it like when you got you first review of the book?
I was really lucky as the first review was great, so I was very excited and relieved. I say relieved because when you put your book out there you know it will be reviewed and criticised and you just hope that the criticism is constructive and fair. (It isn’t always, but you lean to deal with that.) If that first review had been bad, I would have felt awful. Of course, I would have got over it, but I’m just so glad the reviews have been very positive.
Thank you so much for taking the time to let me ask you questions and its be great having you on the blog. I can't wait for you next book I thought Altaica was amazing
Here is a little bit from my review Altaica
"The book was simply Phenomenal with a completely engaging storyline and memorable characters."
Check out my full review Review of Altaica