Monday 23 September 2013

A conversation with Tracey Garvis Graves

What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else? 

Covet by Tracey Garvis Graves Penguin eBook £7.99, 17th September 2013 PB coming 24th April 2014

Tracey Garvis Graves      Tracy ~ thank you so much for taking the time to answer questions about your latest book ~ Covet

Your new book Covet explores the temptation of an emotional affair. What inspired you to write this story? Do you think many readers will identify with Claire and her situation?
My inspiration came from a real‐life event. In the fall of 2008, my husband was in danger of being laid
off. He was a valued employee and had been with his company for over fifteen years, but the recession
was in full‐swing and none of that mattered. I was a stay‐at‐home‐mom at the time so the threat of
losing our only source of income weighed heavily on my husband and me. Fortunately, he did not lose
his job, but we knew many couples who weren’t so lucky. Most of my books start out as a question, and
Covet was no different. I wondered, “What if my husband had lost his job? What if he wasn’t able to find
another one? What effect would that have had on an otherwise strong marriage? The answers to those
questions became the basis for Covet’s storyline. I just had to know what the outcome would be.
Men tend to internalize their feelings and withdraw when they’re under pressure. As much as Claire
loved her husband and wanted to be supportive, she was extremely vulnerable to an emotional affair
because her needs weren’t being met at home. I think there are many, many women walking in Claire’s
shoes right now.

The chapters alternate between the points of view of the three protagonists: Claire, her husband Chris, and police officer Daniel. Was it difficult to switch back and forth? How did you get in character?
I knew my characters’ motivations so I tried to really focus on how each character would react in the
situations I put them in. The challenge was to portray their actions realistically, even when they did
things I didn’t agree with personally. I think writers are naturally very observant, so getting into the
character’s heads was based on paying attention to what was going on around me, in real‐life situations
I’d either witnessed first‐hand, or heard about from someone else.

Did you do any research for Covet?
Yes, but nothing as extensive as the research I had to do when I wrote On the Island. Because I live in the
Midwest I’m fairly familiar with Kansas City. And I live in a suburban neighborhood so the setting was a
place I knew very well. I interviewed a police officer so I’d have a good idea of his daily routine. I also
learned everything I could about type 1 diabetes, including sitting down with a gal who used an insulin
pump to manage her diabetes.

What would you like for readers to take away from Covet?
I hope that they find the story relatable. I also hope they find the story realistic and hopeful, with a
thoughtful cast of characters who are doing their best considering the situations they find themselves in.
I think Covet will inspire lively book club discussions based on readers’ personal experiences.

You’ve had an amazing journey from self-published author to bestselling Penguin novelist. What surprised you the most about the process? What did you learn during the process that helped guide your writing of Covet?
The thing I’ve learned the most since I’ve begun writing is to trust the actual process of writing. When I
started writing Covet the manuscript was a mess, with false starts and deleted scenes and plot points I
wasn’t sure how to handle. I’d been through this stage before with On the Island, but for some reason it
really had an unsettling effect on me the second time around. A writer friend of mine had once said,
“The only way to get through the early stage of writing a book is to trust the process. The rest will
come.” She was right and I had to remind myself of that. And if something I’m writing isn’t working, no
matter how much I try to figure it out on my own, I now have a trusted editor who will listen and offer
advice and feedback along the way. That’s a great feeling.

What was that first moment that you realized you wanted to become a writer?
When I was almost done revising On the Island I knew I never wanted to stop writing. Watching a
horrible, messy first draft turn into an actual manuscript was the most fulfilling creative experience I’d
ever had. There is simply nothing like watching a pile of words turn into a story, and I knew I wanted to
do it again and again and again.

Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
During the school year I like to get my kids on the bus and my husband out the door before I settle down
to write. Ideally a workout would come first, followed by a quick shower and my comfiest writing clothes
(yoga pants and a T‐shirt or sweatshirt, depending on the weather). I check Facebook and e‐mail one
last time and then I write until the kids get home from school. But more times than I care to admit I skip
the workout and I’m still in my pajamas when the kids walk in the door. I’ve learned not to mess with a
good thing when the words are flowing.

What authors, books, or ideas have influenced you most?
Jennifer Weiner is an author whose work I greatly admire. I remember reading Good in Bed and
connecting instantly with the book because it put such a fresh spin on women’s fiction. I buy every book
she writes. I also love Kristin Hannah, Emily Giffin, Allison Winn Scotch, and Jane Green. As far as ideas
go, I’m definitely influenced by my love of romantic women’s fiction. I love combining romance and
women’s fiction because at the end of the heroine’s journey, I want to see her get the happy ending she

What’s your next writing project?
My next book is only in the research and development stage, but it’s probably my most ambitious
writing project so far. It’s a fast‐paced, plot‐driven story with an element of mystery. The heroine has a
three‐year‐old son from a previous marriage so there’s a “Jerry McGuire” feel to it that I especially love.
I’m really excited about it.

My Thanks to Francesca at Penguin for the chance to feature this conversation with Tracey

My 5 star review

Chris and Claire’s marriage is fragile. Chris needs to support his family but his new job means that he spends long periods of time away from home. Claire is lonely and responds to the friendship offered by Daniel, a local police officer, who always seems to be there when Claire needs a friend. What then follows is the dissection of a once successful marriage which highlights the effect that social pressures can place upon relationships. The notion that non-physical friendships between men and women can be successfully navigated is perhaps where the book is strongest.

Once I started to read Covet, I really couldn't put it down and probably read the complete book in an afternoon. All the characters are sympathetically portrayed and the story really emphasises the choices that needed to be made both by Chris and Claire whose shared history as a couple meant that they had so much to lose if the marriage failed. And yet, I couldn't help but be drawn into Daniel’s role in the story ~ he comes across as a really lovely guy and one who you know would make a good choice as husband and father.

But throughout Covet, the rocky road of marital infidelity is always bubbling under the surface and the question whether or not men and women can ever be just ‘friends’ forms the basis for a fascinating and powerful story. I really enjoyed it.

This book is currently available as an ebook. With the paperback coming out in April 2014.

My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin for my digital review copy.


  1. I love when a book grabs you like this, thanks for the review, good interview



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