Author of Tracker220
Joining me today is the American author, Jamie Krakover. Aerospace Engineer by day and author of a Young Adult Sci-Fi novel, Tracker220 by night!
Welcome Jamie. From reading your bio, I’m amazed you even have time to write, so Tracker200 is a very special book, tell us a bit about it.
Jamie: My book, Tracker220 is a Young Adult Sci Fi that released in October 2020. It is about a society where everyone has tracking chips in their head and can access anything or anyone in the blink of an eye. But that technology is also heavily monitored and the authorities know everything you do on the network, everyone you talk to, and everywhere you go. The story starts shortly before 16 year old Kaya Weiss’s tracker glitches and she has to deal with the consequences of having a device that doesn’t play by the rules. After discovering what the authorities do to people with glitchy trackers, she has to choose if she wants to continue on with the technology and deal with being treated like a lab rat or embrace her life and explore her Jewish identity without the confines of the tracker but give up on the only tech she’s ever known.
Helen: What an interesting premise. Technology is consuming our lives, how far we are prepared to trust it will no doubt continue to be debated. Is there a special meaning behind the book title, Tracker220?
Jamie: The tracker part of the title comes from the tracking chips and tracker network in the story. The 220 has a special meaning in the story that I won’t spoil, but I picked 220 because it’s my birthday.
Helen: Can’t wait to read it, you’ve peaked my interest! What made you decide to write a novel?
Jamie: I’m not one of those authors who always knew she wanted to write. In fact I hated writing. In first grade they used to send home story starters and I’d sit at the kitchen table and cry because I thought all my ideas were dumb. Then in high school I took a science fiction English class and they assigned the book Ender’s Game. It was the first book I’d been assigned that I enjoyed enough to read ahead. From there I dove into more sci fi and fantasy. I read Harry Potter, and found another series called The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. After I read that series I started playing with the meanings of names and symbolism and writing some stories. Then I got an idea that just wouldn’t let go and made me write the whole thing down. That manuscript is sitting in a drawer but when I was editing it, I got the idea for TRACKER220 which grabbed hold and never let go.
Helen: I love it when I idea insists it be written, though I find it does interfere with the day job and I have to tag a day onto a long weekend to get it out of my system. I suppose with your day job, it’s not surprising you write Science Fiction?
Jamie: I write MG and YA sci fi and fantasy. Mostly because that’s what I read, but also because I’m an aerospace engineer and it allows me to leverage my STEM background and infuse some of it into my writing
Helen: It is brilliant to find an author supporting women in STEM, and writing books that encourage girls to go into a STEM career. With the recent Women’s International Day on March 8th, I believe it is so important to demonstrate by example, and encourage young women to follow career opportunities in the sciences. With such a busy life, how on earth do you fit your writing in?
Jamie: This is a tough one. I work full time as an aerospace engineer and have a toddler so that doesn’t leave much time for anything else including sleep. Nap time on the weekends is usually when I get the most writing done. Sometimes I’ll write in the evenings after bedtime. Pre-covid I used to meet up with some local writers to write once a week in the evenings. I miss those tag ups it was great for my productivity and to work through plot bunnies.
Helen: Yes, writers group are a great support, and meeting up is irreplaceable for bouncing off ideas and solving plot problems! Speaking of ideas, where do you get your ideas for novels?
Jamie: As a STEM nerd, I love the question “what if”. What if I never got lost again? That’s the question that started Tracker220. But what if leads me down a lot of interesting paths and is how most of my stories start. And I just keep asking what if until I dig deep enough to find an interesting conundrum.
Helen: As an engineer, how does your creativity flow? Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you like to plan or write free form? Do you prefer writing or editing? It seems authors tend to prefer one process or the other.
Jamie: I’m a plotster. I like to outline on a chapter level but I usually only write a sentence or two about what I expect to happen then I let the characters do the rest. I have pantsed my lastest WIP and it was a complete mess so my current WIP is back to some semblance of an outline. My engineer brain needs some organization in the chaos.
Hands down editing. I hate the blank page. The blinking cursor mocks me. I find it so much easier to mold something even if it’s bad then to work from scratch. I love taking the words on the page and shining it up until it’s something amazing.
Helen: For some reason I am not surprised! In Tracker220, who is your favourite character?
Jamie: Oh this is like asking me to pick my favorite child (luckily I only have one in real life). Let’s see I love my main character Kaya for her determination and her artwork because I always wished I could draw better than I do. I love Bailen for his tech skills and his sweet nerdiness. I love Peyton’s sass. She’s super fun to write and I love watching her walls crumble. And Jake I love because I have a soft spot for siblings.
Helen: Another creative piece of the self-publishing puzzle is the cover art. You have a striking cover; how did you choose the design?
Jamie: I honestly had no clue what I wanted my cover to be, but I knew I wanted a girl and something with a brain and some neurons and the tracking chip. Beyond that I was lost. I did a lot of searching stock images, and when I found the one that ultimately became my cover I instantly knew it was the right image. I worked with Jennifer Stolzer my amazing cover artist and gave her some incoherent babbling about a tracking chip and some neurons and a few other details and what she created was my beautiful cover after a few minor tweaks. It’s really stunning and I’m so happy she was able to decipher my nonsense.
Helen: It has been lovely chatting with you, Jamie. To wrap up, tell us what you are current reading.
Jamie: All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban. It’s a locked room thriller where six teens are locked in a room with a syringe and a bomb and they have to pick one person to poison with the syringe or they all will die. I’m not quite 100 pages in but it’s already pretty intense.
About Jamie Krakover:
Growing up with a fascination for space and things that fly, Jamie turned that love into a career as an Aerospace Engineer. Combining her natural enthusiasm for Science Fiction and her love of reading, she now spends a lot of her time writing Middle Grade and Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Jamie lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband, Andrew, their son, and their dog, Rogue (named after the X-men not Star Wars although she loves both). When she isn’t being a Rocket Scientist by day and a writer by night, she can be found catching up on the latest sci fi TV, books, and movies as well as spending time on Twitter (maybe a little too much time :-P). And no, the rocket science jokes never get old!
Through Snowy Wings Publishing, Jamie is the author of Tracker220 (October 2020). She also has two female in STEM short stories published in the Brave New Girls anthologies and two engineering-centered nonfiction pieces that published in Writer’s Digest’s Putting the Science in Fiction.
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