Writer Tracy Williams has a pole in her bedroom………no, it’s not the nationality of her lover.
It’s hard to describe Tracy Williams, she certainly defies being categorised, boxed, understood and made safe.
She’s been a nude model and a Hollywood actress among many other things and as I get a tour around her lonely house on the bleak moors of the Brecon Beacons I see a pole in the bedroom. The same kind of pole that young ladies perform unbelievable acrobatic feats on, usually wearing a layer of baby oil to the delight of gentlemen frequenting night spots in the cities. A bit unusual half way up a Welsh mountain. Another career opportunity maybe? I don’t pursue this line of enquiry very far……. It’s her love of writing that I’ve come here to talk about with Tracy. Maybe it’s more of a need to write than a love?
You live in the middle of a huge landscape – is this inspiring?
Very much so. I’ve been wanting to live where I now live for a long long time. It took ages for me to accept that I didn’t belong in cities like London and Los Angeles, because there’s a part of me that loves all that hyped up type living. But here, in the middle of nowhere I know I’m in the right place. Every day I look out of my window and think ‘this must be a dream, it’s too beautiful, I don’t deserve it.’ For me walking mountains, silence, or the sound of the wind whistling through the house at night is amazing, and it helps me to write. I’m not saying that’s the only way to write, I’m saying that’s what helps me as a writer, you know, grass, trees, air, peace and quiet. I get inspired to write by all kinds of things, though. And I’m not just living here because the environment is conducive to writing. I’m here because I need it, for my soul.
Do you find reading essential to being a writer?
Reading came first for me, I was taught to read very young and I was read to every night as a child. I used to love standing up in class and reading out loud. I started reading books that were way too advanced for me at a very young an age. I wanted Stephen King when I was ten, you know, and I used to read that sort of stuff in secret, or I’d be told off. By sixteen I was reading Plato. I didn’t get given these books by any one, I found them myself. It was like a sixth sense about the kind of stuff I wanted to read, I could just sense that I needed to know what was written between certain covers. I can’t imagine a life without books. Also, the more I write the more reading becomes a pleasure because it gives me permission to hang back and let someone else do the work. At the moment I’m reading Hemingway and he’s blowing my mind. But I do have to admit that whenever I read a writer who gives such good prose I often sink into despair over the notion that I can never possibly compare as an artist. That’s when I lose the faith in my own work. But it’s not painful enough to stop me from reading. I read so much, I wake up in the middle of the night and read, I can’t stop. I like music and painting and theatre and film (I don’t like television) but the highest form of art for me, the one that touches and influences me the most is literature. I can’t imagine a writer who does not read.
Blackout’s Naked Reading: What is Blackout?
Blackout is my first novel, my first child. It’s about conflict between apathy and ambition, England and Wales, and Technology versus Mother Nature. It was written out of rage and sadness, frustration and confusion over what I experienced and observed going on the ex-coalmining valleys of South Wales. Blackout is an analogy for a state of mind and a yearning for something beyond the quick-fix let’s-get-famous culture I think the generation-X-ers and beyond are now a slave to.
Why did you choose to be filmed reading the first chapter naked?
It started as an idea to combine my naked modelling with the writing. I have been posing nude since the age of 17, and when my website was being built I had this mass of photos I wanted to put on the website. We decided that I would do a reading of Blackout, recorded for the site and I myself suggested I should read it naked. I’m not sure why, still asking myself why… Some would like to chalk it off as a cheap marketing/publicity stunt and for a while I thought ‘okay, that’s what it was’ but it’s beyond banal attention-seeking, there’s something underneath the whole nude reading that even I, as yet, have not discovered. It’s not as simple as I realise. I don’t know, if I had the answer, believe me, I’d give it to you.
Did it work?
That question implies that I had an end result in mind when I got naked. But I really didn’t. It was an experiment that was highly personal. In some way, of course, I wanted it to get people to buy my book. If that was the sole reason then I would say the naked reading did not work, because the book has not sold well. But the responses I’ve gotten to the naked reading have been vast and varied. I like to take action from my gut instincts and see what the results are – I don’t usually have an end in mind. My gut instinct said, ‘read chapter one naked’ that’s what I did and the results, well…. I’m not sure if I’ll be reading naked again, but I reserve the right to change my mind.
Have there been consequences for the Naked Reading?
Some good, some bad consequences. I love the fact that it got so much attention and am nonplussed by just how intense some of the consequences were. One guy showed up at my door, Blackout in hand, a lecherous look on his face. That fucked my head up. I’m gonna write about that one of these days. I think that’s the main bad consequence. Also I think the publishers in Wales have decided that, because of the nudity, I must be no good as a writer. Consequences here are that they’re not open-minded enough to read the naked blonde writer’s work. I’m pretty sick of that shit, especially when I get letters from publishers in Wales which have typos in them or which don’t understand what stream-of-consciousness is. I’m really frustrated with the whole Welsh publishing and so-called Welsh literary industry. The opinions from the general public (worldwide, including Wales) have been a lot more helpful, constructive and inspiring.
…. to be continued
“A pole in the bedroom” is the first part of a Culture Colony interview with Pete Telfer. Pete is an award-winning Film Maker, is based in the village of Ceinws near Machynlleth, and runs a television production company called Pixel Foundry. He is also the focus and force behind Wales’ underground creative community site – Culture Colony