This is where it all began. In a worn, wine stained chair, with the family dog, Chloe by her side, Tracey Garvis-Graves began chasing her dream.
“I’ve always been a reader, a complete bookworm,” says Garvis-Graves.
She wrote a few short stories in college, which her professors liked, but then life happened. She got married, had two children and put her dream of writing a book on hold.
“If you ask my family, they would say that would be the first thing I would choose to do.”
So in 2010, she gave it another go.
“I’d usually be writing by about 5:30 in the morning. I’d write until about 7:00 or 7:30 and then I’d go to work.”
Her first novel is a love story that unfolds on a deserted island in the Maldives.
“I was always a huge fan of “Lost” and “Cast Away,” says Garvis-Graves.
But unlike “Cast Away,” two people are stranded “On the Island” – a teenager and his tutor.
Garvis-Graves says the characters lived in her head. It took more than a year to write the book. When she suffered from writer’s block, she says it was usually due to a lack of information about the subject matter.
“It wasn’t always easy,” says Garvis-Graves. “But I always enjoyed doing it. I still do.”
Writing a book is one thing. Getting it out to the masses is another. Garvis-Graves wrote 14 query letters to agents, hoping they would like “On the Island” and pass it on to a publisher. She received 14 rejection letters.
“Nobody wanted to read it, at all – no interest.”
With encouragement from her husband, Tracey decided to publish the book herself. Thanks to websites like Amazon, authors can now self-publish on the internet. Tracey hired a developmental editor, a copy editor and a digital formatter. Two months and $1500 dollars later, “On the Island” was ready to go on-line.
“And then you hit publish,” says Garvis-Graves.
And then you wait – wait to see if anyone buys it. At first sales were sluggish. But then, people started talking about the book. The word of mouth pushed the on-line version onto the New York Times and Wall Street Journal best seller lists.
“And that’s when things got crazy – in a good way.”
The tide turned. Agents started calling her. So did production companies, hoping to purchase the film rights to the story.
“And then a month later the deal was done,” Garvis-Graves laughs.
And later this month, her dream will come true. She will see her novel on bookstore shelves.
“It’s overwhelming. I really haven’t processed it, I guess.”
She won’t divulge exactly how much she’s being paid for “On the Island” or her second book, “Covet.” But she acknowledges, it’s “life changing.” She quit her full-time job. She no longer worries about bills or her kids’ education. And she celebrated by buying herself something that might have once been considered an extravagance – a designer purse.
“That was kind of my treat – and some sunglasses might have jumped into my bag too while I was there,” she says with a smile.
But the greatest reward?
“It’s a dream come true.”
The On the Island author is appearing at Beaverdale Books on July 12th.