Solving a new mystery with alumna Tracey Landau

Tracey Landau is a recent alumna of FDU and newly published author of mystery thriller “The Queen of Diamonds.”

Interview by Catherine Krawiec 

Tracey Landau, a 2011 graduate from FDU’s College of Florham, recently wrote  “The Queen of Diamonds” a mystery thriller novel published by Wildside Press. We got a chance to sit down with her and talk about the book.

FDU: Tell us about your novel.
Tracey Landau: “The Queen of Diamonds” is a psychological mystery told from the point of a 25 year-old schizophrenic man. A simple visit home for him turns into a complicated quest to determine what's real and what isn't in order to find his missing sister.  Along the way, he gets blamed for a robbery he didn’t commit and he attempts to clear his name, using his own delusions to uncover the truth behind the robbery and his sister's disappearance.

FDU: What was the inspiration for this book?
TL: My inspiration for my writing has always come from film, rather than other pieces of literature. The idea for this novel came to me after I watched “Fight Club.” I know it sounds funny because my book is a psychological mystery, but there are similarities between the main character of the film and my book. The novel also has the same fast paced quality that the movie had. 

FDU: How did you write “The Queen of Diamonds”? 
TL: I was working at Friendly’s when I had the idea for “The Queen of Diamonds,” so I started writing on the back of receipts, and that’s where the entire novel is written. I have written a total of three novels, and I have a different quirk for each one. However I start writing, whether it is with a pen and paper or typing on a computer, I have to keep the same medium throughout the entire writing process.  

FDU: What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing?
TL: One of the most surprising things I learned was that I had no idea where the story was going. I would get into the groove of writing and realize that I needed to figure out whom the culprit was! I would take my time and think out all the possible ending — if it was too simple for me to figure out I knew it wasn’t right. I ended up surprising myself. 

FDU: Was there someone at FDU who had an impact on your writing?
TL: I had the opportunity to study at Wroxton College and while I was there I took Professor [Joseph] Hone’s creative writing course. His teaching was completely different from anything here in the US. I learned a lot from Hone about how write better descriptions in my stories; he taught me how to use all of my senses in my writing — not just sight! I grew up watching movies (my father, David Landau, is a screenwriter and film professor at FDU), so describing what I see has always been my first instinct. 

FDU: What is your favorite book?
TL: My favorite book is definitely “The Princess Bride.” The book is hilarious! Even though it is not my style of writing whatsoever, I love the attention to detail in it. 

FDU: Do you have advice for young aspiring writers?
TL: Writing is only half the battle. If your dreams are to get published, make sure that you learn about the business end of being a published author. It’s important to work extra hard to sell yourself and your ideas.

FDU: What are your ambitions for your writing career and the future?
TL: My first dream was always to become a published author; I have wished for it on every shooting star, wishbone and birthday candle. I wanted people to be able to read what I wrote and have it become somewhat mainstream. My biggest goal for the future is to have one of my books made into a movie. 

Although my writing has always been my first dream my focus at school was 3D animation; currently I’m a freelance visual effects artist where I do product animation and compositing for commercials. My goal is to work on big budget movies and do visual effects for live action films. My ultimate goal would be to work for Industrial Light & Magic or Pixar. 

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