The Sunday Post (Inverness)

Framing looks of love to writing books of love: Wedding photograph­er turns romantic novelist

Writer inspired by her career capturing happy couples’ big day

- By Tracey Bryce

Wedding photograph­er Tracy Gow was an expert in capturing the look of love in prints.

Now she is capturing that special moment in print – after swapping her camera for a keyboard to launch a new career as a romantic novelist.

Tracy’s debut novel is a sweeping romance set in the Scottish Highlands – and featuring, you guessed it, a wedding.

“People always say you should write about what you know – and Scotland and weddings are two of the things I know best,” Tracy said.

“It’s funny, when I read Mills and Boon back in the 80s, I used to think the locations sounded very exotic, but for me Scotland is one of the most beautiful – and romantic – places in the world.”

Tracy, 56, grew up in Ayrshire, before settling down south.

She returned in 1998 to Kinross with husband Phil and young sons James, now 23, and Matthew, now 21, and she’s been here ever since.

After 10 years as a TV camerawoma­n filming creepy crawlies for science documentar­ies, she decided to start her own business to fit better with the demands of a young family.

“Believe it or not, I actually started out with a degree in history and the intention to become a TV journalist.

“While I was at uni, I did a course in TV camera work. And as soon as I put the camera on my shoulder and saw through the viewfinder, I was hooked.

“For 10 years, I worked in TV, filming science and natural history. “When we came to Scotland, being in Kinross, I was too far away from the cities where the big TV companies were.

“So when my youngest started primary school, I thought, ‘what am I going to do now?’

“I set up a business as a portrait photograph­er – but one day someone asked me to do a wedding.

“To be honest, I didn’t want to go down that route, but I was eventually persuaded. And 15 years on, here I am still doing it!”

Tracy has captured hundreds of weddings on camera in some of the most stunning locations Scotland has to offer, and she’s loved every minute of it. The whole wedding experience proved an inspiratio­n for Tracy’s first writing project.

She first put pen to paper in 2013, when wedding bookings dried up. “Nobody wants to get married in a year with a 13 in it in case it’s unlucky,” she said. “So I had a lot of free time.”

Tracy wrote a first draft of a romantic novel, but didn’t do anything with it.

A few years later, a friend encouraged her to enter a competitio­n in Prima magazine. The Love to Write competitio­n involved writing and sending in the first chapter of a romantic novel. The prize was a publishing contract with Mills and Boon.

“I wrote the chapter, sent it and didn’t think much else about it – until I got an email saying I’d been shortliste­d,” she said.

“When I got the call to say I had won, I almost dropped the phone.

“I had to ask them to put it in an email because I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing!”

Tracy juggled writing the novel with studying a Masters in Writing Practice and Study at Dundee University.

“I basically didn’t draw breath for 12 months,” she said.

“I wrote some of it before I started my course, then picked up again in the

holidays once the assignment­s were in.

“It was really hard work for a year, especially while still doing photograph­y work – in fact, I think I’m still recovering!”

Tracy found husband of 28 years, Phil, a huge support throughout.

“Phil read every single word I wrote and got out his big red pen with correction­s,” she said.

“He’s always been a good barometer. He didn’t really grasp why there had to be conflict though – largely because we don’t have any in our relationsh­ip.

“I had to tell him that’s all part of the story though.”

The novel, Her Brooding Scottish Heir, a Mills and Boon, and written under the pseudonym Ella Hayes, tells the story of Milla O’brien running away from a broken engagement to the Scottish Highlands only to arrive during a lavish wedding on the estate – and a chance meeting with the bride’s brother and brooding heir Cormac Buchanan.

“It’s kind of similar to my chance meeting with Phil… we first crossed paths when I went to visit a friend he was staying with and he answered the door. “And the rest, as they say, is history.” Now she’s hopeful her debut novel, released on December 27, will make history too.

“It’s like any rom com, all to do with the will they or won’t they as well as the happy ever after. It’s a hard balance to strike.

“I was basically walking a tightrope for the full 50,000 words.

“But the ultimate thing for me when doing any job is whether people will like it.

“Romance always boils down to telling a story, whether in pictures or words, so hopefully I’ve mastered writing it down as well as doing it through the lens of a camera.”

Tracy has already started penning her second novel, also set in Scotland – and this time she plans to publish under her own name.

“I’ve shot my last wedding and am going to concentrat­e on writing instead,” she said.

“It started with a chapter and now I’m moving onto a new one of those in my own life – and I’m very excited to see how things develop.”

Mills and Boon: Her Brooding Scottish Heir, by Ella Hayes, Harpercoll­ins, December 27

 ??  ?? Former wedding photograph­er Tracy Gow enjoys some winter sunshine last week as she celebrates publicatio­n of her first romantic novel, a love story set in Scotland
Former wedding photograph­er Tracy Gow enjoys some winter sunshine last week as she celebrates publicatio­n of her first romantic novel, a love story set in Scotland
 ??  ?? Tracy takes a picture of a happy couple at the Forth
Tracy takes a picture of a happy couple at the Forth
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