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Hardwick-born and raised author Tracey Ryan recently released “Wicked Nemesis of the Hunted,” the fourth book in her Massachusetts-based “Wicked Game of the Hunter” series. Worcester Magazine’s Last Call caught up with Ryan to talk books, writing and things only locals know.
Can you tell us about “Wicked Nemesis of the Hunted”?
It is the fourth in a row. The series is called “Wicked Game of the Hunter” and “Wicked Nemesis of the Hunted” is the fourth book in that series.
It has many of the same characters as the first three books, but is really about three main characters, Emma Sharpton, Hunter Logan and Ryan Donovan, who are also forced into a murder mystery with some corporate espionage. I won’t give away any spoilers, but Emma finds herself being stalked in the first three books, and this book picks up where they left off.
What is the premise of the series in general?
There’s a cancer prevention drug that Hunter Logan’s company is developing, and it’s a race against whoever tries to steal the formula for the drug. As I said, Emma had been kidnapped and stalked in the first three books, and Hunter and Ryan have been working to find out who is really the culprit behind all the shenanigans.
It’s all about this cancer prevention drug that Hunter Logan and his company are developing. The “stalker/killer” in the book is paid to do these evil things, so they don’t know who is really behind what is happening, but the attempts on Emma and Hunter’s lives are about this cancer prevention drug and stealing the formula and components.
Can you talk about your writing? What is your process like?
I’d say it’s a little more on the dramatic side. It’s definitely exciting, fast-paced. I tend to delve into the character profiles so you really get to know the characters throughout the book, which I’ve been told by many of my readers helps them relate. I had one person tell me that it was like the characters were now their friends. I do a lot of detail around making sure people understand the psyche behind the characters and the actual story.
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My process is to bring pieces of real life into my books. The places in the book are real. Many businesses in there are real, like the wine I talk about in my book, which is actually my friend’s winery. I try to bring in real life, even though it’s a fictional book of course, because to me it makes it more real to the reader.
For example, my hometown of Hardwick is in there and it was very important for me to put that in there. It’s a very small, sleepy cow town in central Massachusetts that no one has really heard of, but now, with these books, people in Canada are asking me about it. The house I’m talking about in Hardwick that Emma grew up in is the house I grew up in. If you can’t bring real life into fictional books, then readers won’t relate to it.
Does the “Wicked Game of the Hunter” series take place exclusively in Massachusetts?
It is set in Boston, Hardwick, down the Cape, Waltham. One of the scenes in the first book is in the house I grew up in, which is a 250-year-old colonial house. It is built on a stone foundation, not like the houses today. Needless to say, it’s a little freaky down there. I drew from that growing up because it was always creepy in the basement, and that’s where they make a big discovery related to the cancer prevention drug, hidden in the depths of the basement.
In the recent book, “Wicked Nemesis,” there is another house in Hardwick that belonged to someone I grew up with. I knew that house and how it was set up and I drew on the cool aspects of that house. It’s set up as an estate, and it has this long, long, long driveway lined with trees, and it set the stage for what was going to happen in “Wicked Nemesis.” It’s a secluded but exclusive home that people envy, but there are definitely secrets hidden in that house.
What other aspects of your life inspire your writing?
I joke with my friends, “Be careful, you might appear as a character in the book.” The company that will be acquired by Hunter Logan in the books is based on a company that I worked for. There are different places and people in there, especially the people, where some of the names are 100% fictional, but half of the names are real people that I know and was able to incorporate into the book.
You grew up in central Massachusetts and have lived here most of your life. What is your experience of the area?
When I was older I spent a lot of time in the Worcester bar scene. My cousin and my uncle are part of the Worcester Fire Department, so I’ve definitely spent some time in the city. I don’t think Hardwick will ever change drastically. People move there to be in very quiet rural surroundings.
There are no more farms like there used to be when I was growing up, but Hardwick doesn’t like change. In one respect it’s great, but in another they lose enough opportunities. Hardwick still has the oldest country fair in the United States, every year, the third week of August, and like clockwork, it’s the same type of event. Very, very little change is happening there, which is actually nice to some extent.
What is your background as a writer?
It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, and I actually started writing the first book about ten years ago now. The catalyst was my father’s passing and it helped me cope with that loss. Immersing myself in a fictional world, something I had always wanted to do. When he passed, it gave me the push I needed. Life is too short and if I want to do something, do it. I started writing.
I always wrote short stories. My mother joked that I spent more time in the library than I did in my own house. I have always been an avid reader, mostly loved mysteries. Since I read so much growing up, my favorite classes in school were always creative writing classes. Whether it was journaling or writing short stories growing up, and then having the opportunity to translate that creativity into books, it’s definitely very cool for me.