Tracy Quan
"I learned a lot as a call girl which helps me as a working writer."
Emru Townsend: You clearly have a knack for writing. Are you considering this as a permanent career? If so, do you think it will replace hooking or do you think you can balance the semi-public life of a writer and the clandestine life of a call girl?

Tracy Quan: This is what I do now--I am happy in my new career despite a nostalgic feeling about my past. I learned a lot as a call girl which helps me as a working writer. I love the marketing aspect of the book business. Taking a book to market is as much fun as hooking full-time--and it's a full-time job. I love to be working and I'm the kind of person who can enjoy a less than glamorous job as long as I'm busy and suitably obsessed with a goal or a task.

I don't think a clandestine way of life is going to work for me. I prefer to write about it than to live it.

How did the Salon serial come about?

I got in touch with Laura Miller, an editor at Salon, when I was writing about johns coming out of the closet. Salon turned out to be an excellent venue and my articles attracted David Talbot's attention--he's the founder. I was reporting on everything from artificial intelligence to fake birth control--but I needed a project that would reach a broader audience, stretch my abilities and take my career to the next level. Writing a fiction series did exactly that--I started taking more emotional risks. It made me grow up a little.

How so?

Being responsible for a twice-weekly column--I became a lot more driven, more centered, and got over some ambivalence I was having about my future. Maybe I haven't entirely sorted out what my answer to your question is.... You do go through these moments where you suddenly look at your life and you realize that there's been a watershed or a transformation. At the most basic level, I learned to be more honest with myself about what I want and became even more selfish in some ways than I already had been.

How would you have considered yourself selfish?

In that highly valorized almost horrible way that makes a creative person able to succeed at a competitive profession. It's a cliché but true that you have to be self-centered and somewhat cavalier at times. Before I started writing full-time, I was a tamer, sneakier version of myself--not as openly selfish, confused about how ambitious I wanted to be.

The other day, a good friend used the term self-disciplined to describe one of my "selfish" moments. Maybe that's more accurate. But this is coming from a friend who is himself one of those driven creative monsters so you have to consider the source.

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Photo credit: Hugh Loebner