Tracy Townsend holds a Master’s degree in Writing & Rhetoric from DePaul University and a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing from DePauw University, a source of regular consternation when proofreading her credentials. She has served as chair of the English Department at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, an elite public boarding school, where she currently teaches creative writing and science fiction & fantasy literature. She has been a martial arts instructor, a stage combat and accent coach, and a short-order cook for houses full of tired gamers. Now she lives in Bolingbrook, Illinois with two bumptious hounds, two remarkable children, and one very patient husband. Her short story, “Late Arrivals,” was published by Luna Station Quarterly in March 2016, where she now writes monthly columns on sff story craft and world-building.
Tracy Townsend FAQ
I read a lot as a child, which is a pretty standard answer a lot of authors give, and so I wrote a lot, too, mostly by hand, notebooks full of what would be called “fan fic” today — James Bond stories (yes, I read Bond when I was far, far too young to know what I was getting into), and Elfquest stories, and stories set in Ed Greenwood’s Faerun or Roger Zelazny’s Amber. When it came time for me to seriously think about college, and where I should study, and what I should study there, it dawned on me I’d never really taken anything as seriously as I had writing. And so, I majored in creative writing, then got my Master’s degree, and have been lucky enough to always be able to pay the bills by teaching wordstuff. As for how I began writing The Nine specifically, that was the result of an actual dare. But that’s a story fit for an entire blog post.
There’s a scene about a quarter of the way into the novel that I began writing in 2009. It just popped out at me — a girl, half-recovered from some hardship, has to go to a shop maintained by a legendary and fearsome alchemist character. I wasn’t sure what had happened to her, or why she had to go to this place. But I suddenly had this image of her standing on the threshold and walking in. The process of getting Rowena to walk across the threshold and into The Stone Scales changed a great deal as I built up the scene and, more slowly, the novel and series concept surrounding it. But that scene where Rowena speaks to the Alchemist for the first time in his shop remains today, the first thing I ever wrote in The Nine, and strangely, it’s still very much intact after years of revising and shaping.