Tracy Fenton’s reputation precedes her. At the London book launch of The Mountain in my Shoe, even my husband knew who she was when I pointed her out, and he’s not an avid reader. There are probably small undiscovered tribes in remote jungles who have heard of her and TBC, Facebook’s THE Book Club. She’s also just started her own website (link at the end) devoted to all things books, authors and words.
In short, she’s one of the most passionate readers I know. She supports books and authors with a fiery dedication. She devotes a lot of her life to running TBC, a club with over 6000 members now. But what secrets lurk behind the public façade? She has agreed to let me probe her intimately. I give you, Tracy Fenton….
For readers, tell me exactly what TBC is?
TBC is THE Book Club on Facebook. It’s a group I set up initially for passionate readers who just want to talk about books, recommend their favourite reads and be in a safe environment without fear of trolls, online bullies and ridiculous Viagra and Rayban adverts.
(What’s Viagra?) Tell us, how exactly did TBC start? What led to it, when did it happen, all the juicy gossip?
I was a very active member of another book club which in my opinion became too large and didn’t have enough admin to moderate it, so it fell victim to nastiness, self-promotions and had a really negative feel. On a whim, I decided to set up a secret group on Facebook, invite my 20 closest bookworm friends and people I knew were as passionate and serious about reading as I was and overnight the word spread – and 20 became 450. Two years on we have 6600 international members and have just over 850 authors as members too.
Who else helps make sure TBC runs smoothly? What do they contribute, and who’s slept with who?
Helen Boyce – she is my 2nd in command and my voice of reason. In reality she does everything and really should get much more credit for her role in TBC. Without her, I wouldn’t be able to run the group.
Sumaira Wilson – she is the original admin and to be honest apart from supplying and drinking too much alcohol she does absolutely f*ck all.
Sharon Bairden – She is known as #SAS – she is our Scottish Author Stalker and I can’t understand a word she says and I am too frightened to say anything in case she gives me the Glasgow Kiss.
Carol Ellis – She’s our posh bird – she’s also part vampire as she doesn’t sleep and is often found roaming the corridors of TBC between midnight and 3am.
Helen Claire – She does anything (anyone) we tell her to.
Teresa Nikolic – She’s the real author stalker, constantly fangirling and gushes everywhere.
Charlie Fenton – He looks after all the admin girls. Obviously during the initial interview process he slept with them all just to ensure their flexibility and how far they were prepared to go for TBC. We call it the “book bed” rather than the Casting Couch.
You have a great team – and you know Charlie Fenton and I indulge in many escapades together, beyond the ‘book bed’. You’re very much a ‘take me as I am gal.’ Speak as you find. Don’t hold back. But I sense a more sensitive creature beneath, one you don’t always show. Is there more to you than meets the eye?
Of course. In real life, I am shy, quiet and keep myself to myself. I hate being the centre of attention and would much rather be in my pyjamas on the couch with a snuggly blanket watching TV and eating Galaxy Chocolate.
So, you’re all about books. Were you an avid reader as a child? When did the love start? Why? Did something lead to it?
I’ve always read books and have been a fast reader – I don’t remember where or why the love of books came from, I remember reading Lace by Shirley Conran and crying for days, and the Flowers in the Attic trilogy and being spooked out. I even read ten books on my honeymoon which was touring in Egypt.
That’s one SEXY honeymoon! Tell us about something you love aside from books. Something that might surprise us.
Being with my family (two sons and husband) and listening to my boys laugh, or actually talk to each other instead of arguing makes me go all fuzzy.
I also have absolute NO sense of direction and get lost coming out a carpark. I can’t tell my left from my right without looking at one knee, which caused many problems in my driving test and doing a Step class at the gym.
That’s so weird – I have to hold up my right (writing) hand to know my left from right! Do you like being in charge?
Yes, who wouldn’t?
Seriously nobody listens to me at home and my family all ignore me most of the time, so it’s nice to be able to say something on TBC and people agree or disagree but at least they listen!
Would you do a Real Housewives of TBC type show, or are you too private?
Well, if you want to bring a camera round to watch me in my pyjamas with no makeup reading a book all day long – bring it on!
Is there a book that no one has yet written that you’d LOVE to read?
I’m not sure. There are lots of books that I know I would buy immediately if they contained certain storylines, characters or plots. There are so many incredible books that I have read and would put in my All Time Favourite list – but none of them are similar in genre or story line and it always surprises me when I read a book I don’t expect to enjoy and it blows me away.