Mary Bracht said her dreams of publishing a book began as an English student in the Killeen public school system.
Bracht, 35, published a psychological thriller, “The Tarot Killer” in November, which earned the London-based writer much praise and a literary agent.
A decade after graduating from Ellison High School in 1996 and settling down with her husband and family in London, Bracht had her passion for writing fiction reinvigorated by a group of English writers she met there.
Members of the weekly workshop pass around copies of their most recent work and read it aloud, she said. The informal readings are usually followed by a group critique of each of piece.
“When everyone has read, we go off to the pub and have a drink,” Bracht said.
“It’s a sort of muse — it helps get us into that literary state that is so hard to get to at times.”
After growing comfortable sharing her work, Bracht said she began to realize that her dream of publishing a novel was within reach.
“It took me a long time to go back,” Bracht said. “I’d never seen anybody do it. I never knew anybody who had, so I didn’t know that you could.”
Her stories, including an early novella and short stories, are full of travels and international settings.
Born in Germany and growing up in Killeen, Bracht grew familiar with the cosmopolitan lifestyle, watching soldiers and their families shipping out across the globe.
“Killeen is such a transient town; it’s pretty much international,” Bracht said. “My friends would go overseas to travel every year; it didn’t seem strange to me.”
Her latest novel, not yet published, is a great leap from the thriller genre of “The Tarot Killer,” which she said her “literary” friends in London “hated.”
“I thought I would ease off a little bit and just go for the story,” she said.
The novel is based on the stories her mother used to tell about growing up in South Korea as a young woman.
Bracht visited South Korea when she was 25, and fell in love with the landscape and people as a setting for a novel, she said.
“It was one of those things I used to imagine when I was young and I always wanted to write it,” Bracht said.
Longtime Killeen friend Mili Guerrero said she remembers Bracht’s burgeoning attempts at writing fiction and how the English teachers they shared always picked Bracht’s writing to show the class how it was done.
“It’s incredible to have so much pride for someone,” Guerrero said.
“Seeing her (writing) go from just a hobby to a profession has been great fun as a spectator.”
Bracht’s novel, “The Tarot Killer,” is out in paperback and on Kindle. It is available at Amazon.com.