Floating Underwater was inspired by personal history and sheer imagination. Having suffered through two miscarriages myself, I wanted to write about how a character deals with that particular loss. I added the narrative elements of magical realism and supernatural phenomena because I believe loss and grief can make our day-to-day reality too difficult to bear without the hope that something more is beyond this realm.
I also grew up fascinated by all that is “weird” and “wonderful.” When I was a child, my beloved British grandfather claimed he talked to ghosts while having midnight tea inside his Devonshire farmhouse. His mother, too, was known to have psychic abilities, predicting people’s futures by reading their palms and tea leaves. And, ever since I can remember, I’ve been drawn to stories of the unexplainable and otherworldly. So, it felt natural, then, to include the supernatural in this novel.
I’ve been inspired by a plethora of authors throughout my life. Listed below are three of my favorite authors who rock the weird and wonderful genre of magical realism:
Ray Bradbury. (Note: Although Bradbury is one of the most famous science fiction writers of all time, his stories are infused with magical realism.) When I was in junior high, an English teacher assigned a book called The Illustrated Man. I had never read anything like it. A series of short stories starting with “The Veldt” about a virtual reality nursery—Bradbury was way ahead of his time—with a sinister twist, and ending with “The Rocket” where a junkyard dealer saves up money to send one family member into outer space and the sad ramification of familial resentments.
Reading Bradbury’s work opened my young mind to the possibilities of what could be. To this day, he remains one of my favorite authors.
Isabel Allende. My mother gifted me The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende when I was in my early twenties. Set in postcolonial Chile, The House of Spirits is steeped in magical realism as it dives into the backdrop of political upheaval and the personal division and love among three generations. The story starts with a young woman who has paranormal powers and predicts an accidental death in the family. I was hooked from the start—plus who wouldn’t be intrigued by that title!
An amazingly gifted author—she’s written over twenty titles so far—Allende continues to inspire.
Alice Hoffman. I found a signed copy of Illumination Night in a used bookstore. It became one of my favorite stories. Dealing with severe anxiety myself, I sympathized with one of the main character’s irrational fear. I also loved how Hoffman weaved her tale with magical realism, family drama, and hope. Hoffman has written over thirty works of fiction, including Practical Magic and The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Hoffman remains on the top of my list for overall favorite authors.
Author Bio: Tracy Shawn lives and writes on the Central Coast of California. Her debut novel, The Grace of Crows, won several indie book awards. Floating Underwater is her second novel. Tracy Shawn’s short stories have appeared in Literary Brushstrokes, Psychology Tomorrow Magazine, and Steel House Review Literary Journal. She’s written numerous articles for print and online publications and is currently working on her third novel.
Praise for Floating Underwater
From Marlene Adelstein, author of USA Today bestseller Sophie Last Seen:
“One woman’s mystical journey to move forward while confronting a troubled, mysterious past.
Beautifully written; an ethereal, eloquent pleasure.” Marlene Adelstein, author of USA Today bestseller Sophie Last Seen
STARRED REVIEW With BlueInk Review:
“The author delivers spot-on dialogue, believable and enchanting characters, and surprising twists. It’s easy to imagine the novel as a talked-about book club selection…” BlueInk Review by Reviewer Patricia Moosbrugger
Star Rating 5/5 with San Francisco Book Review:
“A mystical journey that will take its readers on a whirlwind tour of beautiful imagery and meaningful life adventures…” Manhattan Book Review by Reviewer Kristi Elizabeth