Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at www.thevertexfighter.blogspot.com.

Monday, June 5, 2017

"Mr. Right or Mr. Rich?"/ "For me, writing is really an agony"

Sept. 13, 2016 "Mr. Right or Mr. Rich?": I cut out this article by Joanna Goodman in the Globe and Mail on May. 30, 2012:

It’s always a delight to stumble upon a chick-lit novel that is smart, well-crafted and witty. Such is the case with Kim Izzo’s The Jane Austen Marriage Manual, a debut novel that brings class to the genre.

I’m not going to lie. At first I was skeptical of the premise: A single, 40-year-old woman goes on a mission to prove that she, and others like her, can “make a good marriage” in modern times. In other words, she throws her scruples out the window and sets off on a mercenary mission to marry for money. But in the spirit of the Jane Austen novels from which this story is inspired, I decided to keep an open mind and set my skepticism aside.

I’m glad I did. When we are first introduced to Kate Shaw, she is an acting beauty editor for a fashion magazine and living at home with her mother and grandmother. In rapid-fire succession, Kate loses her job, her beloved grandmother dies and her mother’s gambling debt forces them to sell their family home. In the bleak landscape of the recession, Kate finds herself jobless and homeless.

This is where the reader is asked to suspend belief: In the perfect storm of Kate’s grief, poverty and midlife crisis, she accepts a freelance assignment inspired by her heroine, Jane Austen, and sets out to answer the question of whether it is possible in this day and age to marry well.

But not only does Kate intend to write the article, she intends to live it as well. In her delusion, she hatches a plan to prove that a 40-year-old woman can find a husband for the sole purpose of financial security, and in so doing, solve her own family’s financial crisis.

It is at this point that Kate’s principles, independence and integrity are suddenly supplanted by those of an unrecognizable, calculating gold-digger.

To her credit, Izzo’s writing is so breezy and engaging, I was happy to buy in. Lady Kate (as she’s now known, thanks to the title her best friends bought her for her 40th birthday) travels from New York to St. Moritz and London, chasing and being chased by a cast of male characters ranging from the repugnant to the ravishing, seamlessly infiltrating the high society to which her future rich husband belongs.

Once Kate’s in Europe, the story really hits its stride. Izzo has either done her research or is well acquainted with the polo crowd. Her observations are wry and often hilarious, and the narrative flows briskly, as though Kate is an old friend confiding in us about her adventures traipsing across Switzerland.

She quickly hones in on Scott Madewell, a wealthy, attractive older man, but there’s a glitch in her plan in the form of sexy, antagonistic Griff Saunderson. (Didn’t see that one coming!) Kate is so focused on becoming Scott’s wife, she ignores the obvious mutual attraction with Griff, and the reader is left in suspense as to whether Kate will choose “Mr. Right or Mr. Rich.”

Kate is a mostly likeable character; she’s smart, self-deprecating and determined. In spite of her book’s few clichés and the inevitable neat and tidy “happily ever after,” Izzo has mastered structure and pace, and the result is an enjoyable, entertaining ode to Pride and Prejudice.

Love or money, that is the question. Original? Who cares? The point is, we do care about which man Kate is going to choose and whether, indeed, “happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.”



"For me, writing is really an agony": I cut out this article by Alexandra Fuller in the Globe and Mail on Feb. 21, 2015:

Alexandra Fuller is the author of several acclaimed works of non-fiction, including the memoirs Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness. Her latest book, Leaving Before the Rains Come, which was published last month, details the collapse of her marriage and her relationship with her father. Born in England and raised in southern Africa, Fuller studied at Acadia University in Nova Scotia and has lived in Wyoming since 1994.

Why did you write your new book?

I look around and pay attention to what around me is not being talked about, and then I talk about it with as much humour and honesty as I can. All my books have been that way. So this latest book is the story of arriving at my mid-40s with two children nearly grown, with another child under 10, and of my looking back to a childhood in Zambia and Zimbabwe for answers at how best to cope with the solitary confinement of a 20-year-long marriage in stalemate.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I am not sure this is advice, so much as a philosophy. My father once said to me, “The problem with most people is that they want to be alive for as long as possible without having an idea whatsoever how to live.” So I suppose it sent me on a mission to figure out how to live, which in turn took me to the philosophers and thinkers, and ultimately to those impulsive radical sages who move societies toward greater environmental and social justice.

Like Subcomandante Marcos of Mexico’s Zapatista movement who gave us this easy direction: “Abajo y a la izquierda está el corazón.” (“The heart lies below and to the left.”)

What question do you wish people would ask about your work (that they don’t ask)?

For me, writing is really an agony. I feel as if I have a huge, luminous idea that has the potential to be really profound, and then when I set it down on paper, I find the power of the idea has been hugely weakened in the process of transmission. So I might spend hours – sometimes days – crafting a single sentence, and yet very few people ever ask about that. Mostly I would like people to ask other writers about the craft of their writing, so we could learn from one another. We ask movie directors why they chose to use certain lights and angles and speeds of film, but most of the time we ignore the craft of a writer.

What scares you as a writer, and why?

I think I am like most writers – that one day I will wake up and find that the essentially mysterious inspiration will have left me, and I won’t know how to say what it is I want to say at all. And then once you have splattered the page with a few ideas, and sentences, and a story is starting to take shape, I am always terrified I won’t have the stamina to carry on.

The only process that comes close to the process of writing a whole book, in my experience, is childbirth. There is this moment when you think you can’t possibly labour for another moment and that, paradoxically is when you have to push hardest. I guess I am always a bit frightened that the day will come when I don’t have it in me to push all the way to the end.

Which book do you think is under-appreciated?

Artful by Ali Smith.




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