I grew up in England, and knew by the age of seven I wasn’t the type to stay in one place forever. I’d watch the planes fly over my house and make up stories about where the people on them were going. I’d wonder when it would be my turn to fly away. Luckily, my family liked to travel, so my sisters and I had seen a lot of Europe by the time we left the nest — mostly from the cramped backseat of Dad’s car over the top of Mum’s beehive hairdo.
Horses were my adult passport to the world. I trained at the famous Porlock Vale Equitation Centre, which led me on various adventures throughout Europe, New Zealand, and the United States. I eventually galloped right into the arms of my American-born husband. Who didn’t like horses. But we had one thing in common: he wasn’t very good at staying in one place either. Apparently, opposites don’t always attract.
Despite being an outdoorsy, energetic type growing up, I found time to read voraciously, leading one of my early teachers to question how someone who read so well could possibly spell so badly. I don’t know, it seemed rather easy to me. Mark Twain is tenuously attributed with the quote, “I don’t give a damn for a man who can only spell a word one way.” My teacher didn’t appreciate my knowledge of other authors, either. But armed with my lack of phoneme-to-grapheme prowess, I eventually headed to college, a wife and mother in a foreign land, to study linguistics, which turned into a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, which turned into time spent conducting autism research. Which led me to Spell Check, which led me to triple checking Spell Check.
“Wait just one minute!” I hear you shout. “This sounds like a novel you wrote, except for the Spell Check bit.” Well, yes, and no. Unlike Sam in Dunster’s Calling, I didn’t grow up on Exmoor, I didn’t have an Exmoor pony, my husband never ran for political office, nor did he ever suggest I get US citizenship. And I never covered a horse in cake, jam, and sprinkles. (That’s against the British Horse Society code of ethics, by the way.) But I do completely relate to my characters in my novels as they long for home, or long to escape from home, or finally find home. The search for the place my soul “sleeps the best and breathes the deepest” seems to have been a lifelong quest for me. I continue to think about other places, just like that little girl who watched the planes fly overhead; still undecided as to geographical location and occupation. Nothing changes. Well, maybe some things change. My speeling’s beter.
Born in England, and kindly referred to as an “undecided” by her eye-rolling husband and two grown children, Tracey’s trans-Atlantic lives have included roles in professional horse riding and speech-language pathology. She travels extensively whilst acknowledging geographical indecision is costing too much. Currently dividing her time between Wisconsin, USA, and Exmoor, England, Tracey continues her quest to find home. She is a published author in autism research, and a member of the Wisconsin Writers Association and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Dunster’s Calling is her first novel.