We are very lucky indeed today for not only has the lovely Tracy Buchanan popped over for a cuppa and a cake but she has brought one of the nicest looking cream cakes we’ve ever seen. So pop the kettle on, take a napkin and tuck in with us! Just mind that you don’t end up with the infamous cream beard ….
Your book The Atlas of Us really captivated us here at BookTrail towers and as well as a interweaving story of love, hurt and betrayal, it is a fascinating story that takes you all across the world from San Francisco, to Serbia to Thailand. Subjects such as the 2004 Tsunami and the hurt and frustration of infertility are explored and portrayed by main characters and the mix of everything is quite a stunning mix!
Thanks for the cake! it looks lovely doesn’t it?
Right cake first now I have some questions for you!
Wanderlust is so hard to put into words but this is something you must have felt as a travel writer as indeed did your character of Claire?
I did feel a sense of wanderlust, that desire to devour as many countries as possible, the sights, the sounds, the tastes. But Claire, one of the main characters in The Atlas of Us, definitely has more of the travel bug then I ever did, that yearning inside her to hop from one place to the next. I prefer to be rooted in one place so I can return to it again and again.
Your travels sound amazing – the countries you have ‘seen’ and experienced really jump off the page. which country or place really sticks in your mind and why?
I think Finland really resounds the most. It’s so beautiful with its pink skies and fluffy white snow. I adore snow (my friends and work colleagues will confirm this, I talk non-stop about it in the winter, hoping and praying it will fall in bucket loads!). So to be in such a winter winterland turned me into a child again, looking around me in awe. I loved zooming down icy roads on sleds (only way to get to the bar the bottom of the hill) and watching the northern lights. Such a beautiful place.
You have an amazing ability to show us and allow us to experience a country or setting through yours and your characters eyes. How hard was it to write of the Tsunami and the Serbian events?
Thank you! Yes, it was very difficult writing about both events. First from a personal point of view, I remember being deeply affected by the Kosovo war while watching it unfold on TV as a child (my mum, like me now, is an avid news watcher) then the horror of waking to the news of the tsunami nearly ten years ago one Boxing Day morning. So it brought back memories from those times. As a writer too, it’s difficult tackling such subjects. You want to do it with the utmost sensitivity so it takes a lot of thought to ensure you get the emotions and the events right.
Louise and Claire are great characters. I particularly liked Claire for her writing career and admired Louise for her determination to find her mother. Did you base these strong characters on people you’ve known or met?
Neither character us based on anyone, they just appear to me out of nowhere! Claire has elements of me in her, her desire to travel and her experiences with infertility. Louise is a culmination of all the wonderful mothers I know, mainly full-time mums who sometimes get this sense they lose themselves. They’re both so very different but alike in the way they will fight and never give up on those they love.
Where would you like to write about either as a travel feature or a book where you haven’t been before?
I’d love to go to and write about Russia. It feels like such a romantic dramatic country, with such a rich history and, of course, snow, lots of snow!
Which books do you like to read and where do they take you?
I like to read all sorts of novels, especially books set in other countries. I loved After the Fall by Charity Norman which is mainly set in New Zealand and really evokes the lesser known parts of that country. The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall is a fantastic read too, taking you into the sultry summer of the Hungarian countryside. The Snow Child is divine too, set in the deep wintry lands of 1920s Alaska. I like a novel that can transport me into a new place and that has a love story at its centre, whether that be romantic love or family love.
Which traveller or writer would you like to meet?
I’d love to meet Angela Carter though sadly that would be impossible now she’s passed away. But she’s one of my favourite writers and I’d love to pick her brain about how she manages to write such strong imagery.
Who is your favourite fictional traveller?
Vianne Rocher from Joanne Harris’s novels Chocolat and The Lolipop Shoes. I love the way she sweeps into different towns and changes them from the inside out.
What do you recommend about ‘walking off the map?’
Not following the path society tells you you ought to. It’s so easy to get pulled along by the crowds and do what’s expected of you, go to the places that are expected of you. But sometimes you need to break out from your gingerbread cookie cutter mold and do something different.
Wise words and a lovely sense that there will be a novel full of snow bound mysteries coming very soon! Ah thanks Tracy – for the cake and for the amazing novel with such a rich tapestry of travel insights as well as the darker themes you look at. Capitvating and Booktrailer highly recommended!