Tracey Odessa Kane
This week we had a chat with Tracey Odessa Kane, public speaker, community development specialist, MA student and proud independently published author about what keeps her busy, where she finds her inspiration and why she talks to trees...
Who are you? tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Tracey Odessa Kane. I am married to my best friend Philip Andrew Kane; we have six grown up children and six grandchildren. I am a Professional writer, artist, and an independent author with several published books. I am JNC qualified in Youth and Community Work with Applied Theology. I have a degree in Creative Writing. I am an itinerant preacher and a public speaker. I have worked extensively with children, young people, and their families, from very wide and varied backgrounds, in both formal and informal educational settings throughout a 30-year career.
Much of my work has been centred on the marginalised, the disengaged, the disadvantaged, the hard to reach, and the forgotten in our society. As a trainer I have written, developed and delivered several courses on this, and on my work within community cohesion, interfaith and the rights of women and children. I have volunteered for a wide range of organisations, these include The Church, Live from Worktown, Healthwatch, Bolton City of Sanctuary, Fairtrade… I speak at community venues and events on a wide range of subjects including Black History month, Stop the Traffik, Human Rights… I also help run and deliver creative writing groups/sessions throughout Bolton and Greater Manchester. In addition, I also run Creative Communication sessions and workshops.
I have stood three times in local elections and hope to do so again once I have finished my MA in Community Development and Youth Studies. I believe that equality, empowerment, education, and freedom of choice is the absolute right of every man, woman, and child, and to this cause I have dedicated my life and my work.
I genuinely believe that life works best when we communicate with one another, when we work together, support one another, when we share our varied skills and expertise.
I leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Henry Ford:
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
What first inspired you to start writing?
There are two things that first inspired me to start writing. The first is a love of nature and animals. I always loved going for walks as a child, playing in the woods, climbing hills, swimming in rivers; I loved being outside. I also passionately love horses and did a lot of horse riding as a child and I have always had pets. I always dreamt of owning my own cow, I still do.
The second thing that drew me to writing was my family life, my mother was very violent and abusive and as children we all suffered greatly under her care. Thus, writing for me from an early age became a lifeline, a way to escape (and try and understand), all the pain, guilt, and shame of family life. I had a shed at the bottom of my garden, and it is in there that I first put pen to paper, my first ever poem was about horses. It was also in that space that I began to think about the people I wanted to write for, even as a six year old child I used to think about the sort of things I could write to help others, to help people like me in difficult circumstances, with no help or ability to speak out, as I grew so to did this desire to reach out with words. I knew books could potentially get into the hands of even the most isolated souls and help them understand that they are not alone, that they do not have to deal with whatever they too had endured alone.
What made you want to work with Rowanvale and be published?
First and foremost, it is Cat’s (the Managing Director), passion, dedication and ethos that drew me to Rowanvale Books without a doubt. From the moment we met over social media, I loved the way in which she wanted to create a platform for independent authors that not only did everything it said it would on the tin, but one which understood that the world of self-publishing seriously needed a shake-up if it was ever going to be taken seriously. What Cat has done with Rowanvale Books and the incredible team of outstanding women who help form the team is inspiring to say the least and it is one of the greatest honours and privileges of my life to be a part of the Rowanvale Books family.
Publishing itself for me was a natural progression I think after running a very successful blog for several years. Using my writing throughout much of my community work created a demand and so meeting Cat when I did felt like serendipity was at work and the rest, as they say, is history.
When you are not writing what are you reading?
I read a wide range of books to be honest, everything from the classics to contemporary works, from the bible to politics. I love most genres and apart from the novel, I have tried my hand at writing in every style. At the moment I am doing an MA in Community Development and Youth Studies (education is another love of mine), and so I am reading lots about policy, education, inequality, poverty (relative and absolute), and the issues and barriers children and women face because of these things locally and globally.
Which work are you most proud of?
When God Isn’t Enough without a doubt! My faith in God is so important to me and has been the foundation upon which my life has been built for over 30+ years now. I am from a non-religious family and it was only when I had a brain tumour at 23 that I came to faith. Since then my life has changed dramatically, God has been my rock and although life has been hard in many ways over the years, it is the love of God and many answers to prayers that has helped me to keep going. This book was to fulfil a promise I made; it was my way of saying thank you for always being there for me. It was also my way of shining a spotlight on (and hopefully starting a conversation that will hopefully help bring about change) many of the wrongs within institutionalised religion, of which there are many.
What is your best advice for writer’s block?
Find yourself a tree to talk to. Trees are great listeners, they are also incredibly wise and tell wonderful stories. If you cannot find a tree, go to your local library an immerse yourself in the atmosphere there; allow the silence to speak to you. It is the same with art galleries and museums, spend time reflecting on the stories all around you, the stories captured on canvas… it works every time for me.
What is the one thing you always have with you when you are writing?
Spare pens, water, and a dictionary (I am not the world’s greatest speller). There is nothing worse than getting to a really important bit and your pen runs out, believe me I know lots of writers to whom this has happened. Also, I tend to get so caught up in writing I forget to hydrate if I am not careful, so I always make sure I have plenty of water.
What is the one book you would take with you if you were stuck on a desert Island?
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, it is one of my all-time favourite books and it is quite long so if I were stuck on the island for a while, I would be okay. I would also sneak a couple of notebooks (and pens), a copy of The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho and my little pink bible, but don’t tell anyone!
What is the best part about being an Independently Published Author?
I would like to say it is the entrepreneur in me, but it’s not. I think I enjoy being able to control the content and cover design and help with the editing… I think being an independent author gives me greater autonomy as a writer, which is something that appeals to me. Although having said that, I do value immensely the support and guidance Rowanvale gives at all stages of the process, I enjoy very much our working partnership.
What is next for you?
I would like to publish my first collection of short stories, which I am extremely excited about. Finish my MA and possibly think about doing a PhD based on the findings of my current research. And I would love to walk the Camino de Santiago.