The Wild Inside by Jamey Bradbury
Today’s #TalkTuesday interview is an amalgamation of our #TeaserTuesday and First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, all of which feature Jamey Bradbury’s The Wild Inside. A joint effort! Enjoy!
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The Wild Inside by Jamey Bradbury is part paranormal, part thriller, and part horror. This debut novel is very character driven, specifically with the protagonist Tracy Petrikoff, where readers wonder if everything that happens to her is driven by her imagination, some delusions, or was indeed reality.
People meet Tracy, a natural born hunter and trapper who loves the Alaskan wilderness, where she spends her days in the remote forest by her house. She still has not come to grips with her mother’s sudden death that occurred two years ago. For Tracy, it was her mother who understood her, allowing her freedom, yet laying down three important rules: Never lose sight of the house, never come home with dirty hands, and most importantly never make a person bleed. The reader finds out that Tracy gains essential strength from drinking the blood of her prey while also temporarily mind-melding with victims.
But now, because of being expelled from school, she is prevented by her father to do what she loves, working with their dogs and trapping in the wilderness. Rebelling against him, she goes into the forest anyway and it is there she is attacked by a burly man who eventually shows up at her family’s house with a knife wound. Almost at the same time, a mysterious drifter appears looking for a job. Tracy senses, Jesse Goodwin, is hiding something and is determined to get to the bottom of his secrets.
Elise Cooper: What genre would you put this book in?
Jamey Bradbury: A literary horror novel. I think it is hard to pin down because there is definitely a paranormal element.
EC: How did you come up with this story?
JB: At first, it was just a picture in my head of a family house in Alaska. It was inspired by a 1961 horror novel by Theodore Sturgeon, Some Of Your Blood. The narrators are a Colonel, a military psychiatrist, and a patient who writes a journal of his thoughts. My protagonist, Tracy, also got her say in the form of her own journal, which she wrote at the encouragement of a school guidance counselor. This is how Tracy was born.
EC: Do you live in Alaska?
JB: I was an AmeriCorps volunteer who landed a position working with the American Red Cross doing disaster relief, first in Illinois, my home state, and then in Anchorage. I fell in love with the state. I am in awe of the trees, bears, mountains, beaches, moose, and aurora. Alaska became a huge influence on me. I see it as vast, empty, and distant, but also lush, delicate, and rich. I think many people have a cliché of Alaska with this macho perspective, that you must be tough to survive the winter and negotiate the wilderness. But it can also be a very gentle place. It has feminine qualities as well as the masculine ones. I hope I conveyed this through the story I am telling.
EC: The wilderness seems to have characteristics of the Old West?
JB: Yes. It has drawn people who want to make a new life for themselves, and those who want to disappear off the grid. Where I live, we are far from another town, the closest forty minutes, with the closest large town five hours away. I played this up in my book with a character, Jesse, who comes here to basically disappear. There is also the element where those in the bush communities survive by trapping, hunting, and eating what they kill, using the furs for trade. I have Tracy interacting with the wilderness as she desires to be in it more and more.
EC: How would you describe Tracy?
JB: She is hard to pin down. Sometimes even I wonder if she is part vampire or a werewolf that has not completely transformed. There is a genetics quality with the connection coming from the family members.
EC: I am not sure if I liked or disliked her?
JB: She is tough to like. She is problematic as she makes her decisions based on selfish and stubborn motivations. In some ways, she is an unlikeable narrator. But she also has good qualities of being loyal to her family, very caring, and a naturalist. I think I would call her more of a difficult character than an unlikeable one. I do hope the reader can find in her something that they like, admire, or at least understand.
EC: What about the Kleinhaus Book?
JB: I completely made it up. I needed an artifact to connect Tracy with a couple of strangers that walk into her life. It is the commonality between all three that draws them together. She also learns from it and recognizes some of her own values. She sees herself in the author, Peter Kleinhaus, as he lives with his family, grows up with dogs, and comes to Alaska to make a go in the wild. By doing this he cuts himself off from his family and became one with the wilderness.
EC: You bring in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race held in Alaska?
JB: Her dad used to be a regular contestant and Tracy participated in the Junior Iditarod. Tracy loves to race dogs as much as she loves to run, to hunt, and to breathe in the fullness of the woods. It provides motivation for some of her decision-making, both the good and bad. It is a backdrop and becomes a problem to overcome, because her dad has to worry about how to pay for such an expensive sport.
EC: Are you a dog lover?
JB: I do like dogs, but now have two cats. In addition to having a full-time job I live alone so I could not dedicate my time to a dog. I dog sit and named some of the dogs in the book after those dogs. I am asked if I dog sled. I only did it once when I first got to Alaska and hung out with a musher. I am basically a fan on the side-lines. This year, for the first time, I was a volunteer at the Iditarod.
EC: I recently lost my mom and could relate to Tracy’s quote about her late mom, “I caught myself waiting for her. It feels dumb to say how disappointed I was when I didn’t see her. Like just talking about her could conjure her up.” Please Explain.
JB: I have lost someone I was close to, my grandmother. One of the most difficult things is that they are gone, the finality of it. It is hard to reconcile the feeling that the persons absence should change everything. This is why I put in the book quote, ‘You expect someone vanishing out of your life to change things forever, and in some ways, it does. But not as much as you’d guess. Someone dies, and the dogs still need to get fed. You go on eating, sleeping, waking up. Snow melts, trees and grass greens up…you surprise yourself by carrying on living, despite the worst.’ Your basic day, the weather, the landscape, all do not pay any attention to the loss of this person. I think that is how you heal, by investing yourself in daily tasks. Then you think of something and want to call and tell that person. It is almost like starting to grieve all over again for that two seconds.
EC: Speaking of the paranormal, is the relationship between mom and dad similar to the couple on the TV show, Bewitched?
JB: Yeah. My idea is that the mom had this weird genetic abnormality passed down through generations to the women by the women. I originally wrote it where Tracy’s mom would say ‘my own mom didn’t understand me because it had skipped a generation.’ Her mom struggled with it because, unlike Tracy, she wanted a normal life. Her husband, Bill, the dad, is a normal dude.
EC: It is not a politically correct story, especially the way Tracy kills and eats the animals?
JB: With these moments I would give the reader a horrific scene. But it also showed how Tracy felt that she was a part of the cycle of the forest, a predator after the prey. This is how she survives and I did not want to sugarcoat what it would be like to kill an animal and then eat it.
EC: Can you explain her desire to drink blood?
JB: This is how she connects with animals and people. It is the supernatural quality of the book. What she gets from the blood is the ability to understand their experience, their thoughts, and their desires. The mythology I created is that if Tracy and her mom just tasted a little of the blood they could have only a slight impression. But if they drank the blood of a person or animal they are able to get all the thoughts and feelings. Basically, they have access to others feelings and impressions.
EC: There are many unresolved issues?
JB: As a reader I like things that are not wrapped up in a bow and want to find my own answers. I do not do a lot of character description so people can fill in the details with their imagination. As a writer having unanswered questions reflects the realities of life where you just do not get all the answers.
EC: Are you related to Ray Bradbury?
JB: Probably not. Although I did meet him and got him to sign a copy of The Illustrated Man. I did tell him we had the same last name and he said maybe we are related. He was very nice.
EC: Your next books?
JB: My next novel is inspired by the Winchester Mystery House, and Homer, Alaska, a small fishing town located at the literal end of the road that runs into the ocean. The story I am writing has at the end of this road, a massive house with doors in every surface: large doors, tiny doors, doors within doors, doors in ceilings, doors in floors. Every door that is opened by the woman who lives there gives her access to a different point in her own life. It’s a book about memory, time travel, history, dementia, and family. I think the genre is Sci-Fi and fantasy.
I also have thought about a sequel to The Wild Inside, although I probably won’t write it. Many years later, Tracy comes back into society and meets someone she is not related to that is just like her with the same abnormalities.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
The Wild Inside
A promising talent makes her electrifying debut with this unforgettable novel, set in the Alaskan wilderness, that is a fusion of psychological thriller and coming-of-age tale in the vein of Jennifer McMahon, Chris Bohjalian, and Mary Kubica.
A natural born trapper and hunter raised in the Alaskan wilderness, Tracy Petrikoff spends her days tracking animals and running with her dogs in the remote forests surrounding her family’s home. Though she feels safe in this untamed land, Tracy still follows her late mother’s rules: Never Lose Sight of the House. Never Come Home with Dirty Hands. And, above all else, Never Make a Person Bleed.
But these precautions aren’t enough to protect Tracy when a stranger attacks her in the woods and knocks her unconscious. The next day, she glimpses an eerily familiar man emerge from the tree line, gravely injured from a vicious knife wound—a wound from a hunting knife similar to the one she carries in her pocket. Was this the man who attacked her and did she almost kill him? With her memories of the events jumbled, Tracy can’t be sure.
Helping her father cope with her mother’s death and prepare for the approaching Iditarod, she doesn’t have time to think about what she may have done. Then a mysterious wanderer appears, looking for a job. Tracy senses that Jesse Goodwin is hiding something, but she can’t warn her father without explaining about the attack—or why she’s kept it to herself.
It soon becomes clear that something dangerous is going on . . . the way Jesse has wormed his way into the family . . . the threatening face of the stranger in a crowd . . . the boot-prints she finds at the forest’s edge.
Her family is in trouble. Will uncovering the truth protect them—or is the threat closer than Tracy suspects?
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday
First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros
I’m also taking part in First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros
Every Tuesday Vicki @ I’d Rather Be at the Beach now hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where readers share the first paragraph of a book that they are reading or plan to read soon.
The Wild Inside
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INSTAGRAM QUESTION OF THE DAY:
If you could be any animal character from any story, which would you choose?
Looking forward to reading your replies and visiting your blogs to see what your Teaser Tuesday and First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, are this week!
Luv Sassy x