Tracy Chevalier

American writer

Tracy Rose Chevalier (October 19, 1962) is an American-British historical novelist and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Tracy Chevalier (2007)


  • I have huge respect for short stories—I just find them much harder to get right than a novel. A novel is a lot baggier and it gives you more leeway to go on for too long or to make mistakes. Whereas in a short story, every sentence, every word, matters—and that’s very hard. I think it’s easier to write too much than it is to write exactly the right thing.
  • Usually, I take great pleasure in finding a notebook that’s going to match the subject matter. And this time, for some reason, I was in a hurry. I hadn’t found the right one, I had started my research, and I couldn’t wait for the perfect notebook. So, I just grabbed one that I had. It’s the first time though, and it felt a little sad.
  • I live with them for a long time in my head. When I first start writing about a character, I don’t know them that well. It’s through the process of writing of putting them in scenes, and contemplating them—when I’ve spent more time with them—that they take on more flesh. When I start writing, I have a lot of characters that I’m not sure what their place in the novel will be…And some characters recede as I put more flesh on them. I think I don’t really need them; they’re not giving me anything. Or they’re there for a particular effect, and that’s it.
  • There are times when I'm hoping the reader will feel slightly sympathetic. She's in a marriage she should never have made and she's kind of stuck in this swamp. And she is, yes, self-centered and a terrible mother; but she also is misunderstood, I think, at times, and frustrated...
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