TRACEY GEMMELL is a British writer, recently returned to Exmoor, England, after thirty years in the USA. An obsessive search for home finds her ricocheting through countries like a malfunctioning satellite navigation system. It also leads to fiction that focuses on location, where the ‘right place’ transforms lives. Tracey has been featured on BBC Somerset Radio and received an honourable mention for her short story ‘Scooby-Doo and Hobnobs’ in the Jade Ring Contest, 2018. Her former lives include autism research, literacy and special education programs as a speech-language pathologist, and volunteering with refugee programs focused on teaching English. She is the author of two novels: Dunster’s Calling, a runner up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition, and More or Less Annie.
The making of me …
I grew up in a chocolate-box village in England (my excuse for life as a chocoholic) but I read too many books about other places to appreciate it. I knew by the age of seven I wasn’t the type to stay in one place for long. I’d watch the planes fly over my house, then empty the moneybox and count the places I could go. Darn that sweet shop! So, I had to make up stories about the people on the planes instead.
Luckily, my dad loved to drive. I mean REALLY loved to drive. I’d seen a lot of Europe by the time I left the nest — mostly from the backseat of Dad’s car over the top of Mum’s beehive hairdo. Dad liked driving, not stopping—the beginnings of my rolling stone existence, maybe?
Horses became my passport to the world. My skills with a pitchfork led to many foreign adventures in Europe, New Zealand and the United States. I eventually galloped right into the arms of my American-born husband. Who didn’t like horses. Or chocolate.
But we had something in common: he wasn’t very good at staying in one place either. We moved around a lot. How I ever found time to raise two children, study linguistics, get a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, and conduct autism research, I’ve no idea.
Then, an opportunity to leave all that behind (except the being a wife and mother bit) to write full-time. I love writing as much as I love travel, horses, gardening and Exmoor—a stunningly beautiful corner of England. I relocated home to Exmoor a few months ago after thirty years in the USA. You can read about just how much fun relocation was during a pandemic on my blog but I just can’t shake the place my soul calls home. And why would I want to? Feeling a sense of home again is worth all the chaos.
I read voraciously. Location is an important factor when I’m choosing a book. I relate to characters who seek adventure out there in the wide world, even as they long for home, or long to escape from home, or finally find home.
I know where my soul sleeps the best and breathes the deepest. But no matter where I am, I think about other places, just like that little girl who watched the planes fly overhead. If this is you too, bon voyage!