Do you know Tracy Clark? If not, you should. Although her Cass Raines series has only just hit two books, this Chicago-based author is already winning accolades, from CrimeReads and Kirkus as well as garnering Lefty and Anthony noms. If you’re looking for a strong female private investigator to follow on her cases, check out Tracy’s books – and say hi to her here!
How does a book start for you?
Each book starts with a WHAT IF. Something will spark my curiosity and I’ll turn it around in my head for a while, trying it on for size, seeing if I can craft a story around it. For my latest novel, I said, “Well, that’s how it’s supposedto go, but WHAT IF somebody did this? What if some twisted sister motivated by greed or hate or money or even a perverted sense of love did that? When I have my characters and I know what the story is about, I start writing.
Who in your latest book has surprised you most – and why?
Sister Barbara Covey always surprises me. When I came up with her, I was just looking for a secondary character my protagonist could bounce off of, but Barb would not be sidelined. She’s a nun, one of the central characters who act as ballast for Cass, but she’s no shrinking violet. Barb’s opinionated, sly, gentle, tough, smart, fearless and funny as all get out. I like putting her in scenes just to see what she’ll do. She always zigs when I think she’ll zag.
When and/or where is your latest book set, and is there a story behind that setting?
Borrowed Time, book two in my Cass Raines Chicago Mystery series, is set in Chicago. No story behind it. I live in Chicago, so Cass lives there. Writing’s difficult enough without complicating matters by trying to research a strange city, at least for me. For the Chicago mysteries, all I have to do is hop in my car and ride around for a bit or take off walking until I run into something worth writing about.
What are you working on now?
I just finished rewrites on my third Cass Raines novel, “What You Don’t See.” I’m waiting now for my editor to tell me what he thinks about it. This phase of the process is kind of like taking a final exam and waiting for the teacher to grade it. I hope I passed. I think I did. Maybe I did. No, I passed. It’s all good. And this is why some writers drink.
What didn’t I ask you that I should have?
You didn’t ask if I had any special skills or hobbies, like playing the flute, tap dancing or collecting “Dr. Who” memorabilia. No to the flute; I’m a klutz, so no to the tap dancing. I do have replicas of a Tardis and Daleks on my bookshelf, and I own a sonic screwdriver. I fly that geek flag proudly.
Tracy Clark writes the Cass Raines PI series. Set in Chicago, the series features ex-homicide cop turned PI Cassandra Raines, a hard-driving African-American protagonist who works the mean streets of the Windy City dodging cops, cons, killers and thugs.
Her series debut, BROKEN PLACES, made Library Journal’s list of the Best Crime Fiction of 2018 and was short listed in the mystery category on the American Library Association’s 2019 Reading List. CrimeReads also named Cass Raines Best New PI of 2018. The novel also received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, a rave from Kirkus Review, was selected as a TOP PICK by Romantic Times and was nominated for a Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel for 2018, the 2019 Anthony Award for Best First Novel and the 2019 Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel.
Book two in the series, BORROWED TIME, was released in May 2019.