Local author’s novels feature transgender characters struggling with love
Tracy James Jones, who splits her time between Dallas and Waxahachie, visited New York City for the first time in late February, at the invitation of her Facebook friend Jill Salvino. Savino is filming a documentary, Between the Shades, about what it means to love in the LGBT community.
Jones learned about the project after Salvino posted in the group promoting the project’s fundraising on Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform for creative projects.
“I do a lot of blogging. I feature different artists, filmmakers and musicians, mostly books though,” Jones said. With a popular blog at her fingertips, she promoted Salvino’s project. But she did not just write about the documentary-in-the-making, she auditioned for it, too.
Jones’ fiction focuses on her own experiences with loving and being loved. They include the 2012 novel Secrets & Lies, and Torn: Sixty Days of Calaboose, published in 2014.
Despite having been recognized locally for her work, Jones said she doesn’t enjoy self-promoting. But she knew if her books were going to get attention — and if Secrets & Lies is going to get a TV deal — she had to step out of her comfort zone.
Her confidence paid off. In January, Jones learned she was among 50 people selected to share their stories for Salvino’s film.
Jones made the trek to the Big Apple in the cold month of February to talk in front of a camera about her love life. That took a lot of guts.
Growing up in Waxahachie, Jones said, she hung out with a band of misfits. They were straight, gay, African-American, Native American and caucasian. But even in that group, Jones stood out.
While her friends were the type to seek the limelight, Jones preferred to be a wallflower. And she was also the only transgender person in the group.
A tall, African-American with short hair, Jones always knew she was female, regardless of her physical gender at birth.
“I’ve always been observant,” she said. “It’s one of those things, being raised as an only child. I noticed everything. My curiosity got me in so much trouble, mostly about love. Like hugging and kissing and how people walked and talked,” Jones said.
“My first crush was in third grade on a boy. That was curious to me,” Jones said. “I had a lot of female friends because I identified with them. So that got me in trouble. After you get in trouble, you start doubting yourself and hating yourself.”
After pausing to breathe, she added, “And it was odd because no one in the family understood it.”
Her family may not have understood her gender identity, but Jones clearly did. So she wrote stories, then screenplays and, eventually, novels about it.
Writing helped her understand her identity and document the world around her. But writing and publishing also took on a larger purpose.
“I want to give a voice to those in the LGBT community who are rarely seen, hardly ever heard, and often misunderstood,” Jones said.
Secrets & Lies, for example, follows a love quadrangle involving 38-year-old Bren Searcy, a transgender woman, and her secret cisgender male lover, Kenny Jordan.
The novel, which is available on Amazon, is a hit with readers. Of the 20 reviews online as of press time, no review rates the book lower than four stars.
But getting to that level of success took a while.
“Growing up was a nightmare…for me I tried to blend in as best as I could. Thing is, I wanted to do more with my life. I wanted to be more than my fears. As difficult as it was, with the grace of faith, I fought my way through the many obstacles thrown in my way,” Jones said.
Today I am finally the ‘me’ I have always wanted to be.”
Visit Jones’ blog, Let’s Talk About Books, at Tracyjamesjones.wordpress.com. For copies of Secrets & Lies and her other books, visit her Amazon.com author page at Amzn.to/1WJCrH6.