Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Andrea: While I was serving a mission for my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Two of my only outlets for expressing emotions were my journal and writing home to my family. I discovered a love for words and their meanings, especially while studying the Spanish language. :-)
Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?
Andrea: Lots and lots and lots of professional/legal writing. I was a paralegal at one time and put together the communications the attorneys had with their clients. I also ended up editing letters for most of my bosses. I've only had a few writing classes, and they centered on professional and business writing.
Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?
Andrea: The feeling that comes to me when the words flow from my fingers. Seeing my characters come to life. Reading over something I'd written a year earlier, and getting giggles over things that were funny back then and still are funny now. :-) It's really neat. I'm still pretty new to it all.
Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published? Andrea: Hard and Long, with a lot of disappointments. Similar to that of other authors. There were enough blessings and successes along the way to encourage me to continue, however.
Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it? Andrea: I haven't been discouraged about writing for a very long time. Let's see. It's been about two hours now. Ha ha. :-) Writing seems to be a very emotional career choice. There are a lot of ups and downs. I talk to people close to me to get over it. People who've either been there and done that, and family members who believe in me.
Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?
Andrea: Insane. Non-existent. :-) I really need to get it under control. I've found that most of my time is spent in marketing and promoting my book, and answering emails from people who've just finished reading The Key of Kilenya. I'm trying to figure out a better schedule. :-) Usually, I write and edit in the early morning hours or after the sun has gone down. I'm too tired in the afternoons to be really productive. :-)
Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Andrea: I don't really know where my ideas come from. They just pop in my head at random times—while reading, while driving, while watching a movie, talking to people, reading articles in wikipedia, etc. The ideas don't usually have anything to do with what I'm doing at the time. I write it down and visit it later. If I'm still excited about it, it's usually not a bad idea.
Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book “The Key of Kilenya?”
Oh, did you mean now?
It's about a fourteen-year-old kid who has powers he doesn't know about. He finds a link to a different world, and when he gets there, he finds out the inhabitants (good and bad) know everything about him. The good ones want his help in retrieving a stolen key—the Key of Kilenya, and the bad ones want his powers. :-)
Deirdra: You are such a diverse writer. How do you keep your life and writing career organized? Andrea: As I said earlier, I'm still struggling with this. :-) I'm a "project" person. I tend to focus on one thing at a time until it's either completed, or I'm ready for something new to come along.
Deirdra: How many beta readers do you have review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?
Andrea: As many as possible. I find that larger numbers of beta readers will show me trends I wouldn't have noticed (or paid attention to) had only one person commented on the thing. My Stats class, while brutal, taught me much. :-)
Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
Andrea: Enjoyment. I don't write to teach, I write to entertain. Of course, I hope they'll want to read more of my books, but I think that's every writer's goal.
Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Andrea: Music, suger-free gum, and a full tummy. :-) These three things are what I require in every step of the process to keep the juices flowing. Also being physically active really helps. My husband and I go hiking every week and we brainstorm ideas while hiking.
Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Andrea: Oh, that's a good question. It's the first one I'm actually having to stop my writing to think over. (Good job!) Hmmm. Aside from family (that's a given, I think), I'd have to say Tristi Pinkston and Jenni James. Jenni for always going before me, learning how things work, then teaching me what will stop my progression and what will further it (and always being right). And Tristi for being an outstanding friend during all my good and bad times. She knows more about me than anyone—family included. Not only is she my editor, but she's my mentor and support, too. Dang! You've got me crying on this one! I've been very blessed to know these two wonderful ladies.
Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the characters in your books come to life?
Andrea: I have this potion I spread on my monitor. It works wonders. Kidding. :-) I like to take note of how people around me act and what they say. I pay attention to their weaknesses and strengths and make sure I implement the appropriate ones where my characters are concerned.
Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why? Andrea: I know he's not in my writing "genre," but Michael Crichton is the very first to come to my head. He's been one of my favorite authors for a long time. He really knew how to grip his readers. And I love logical, scientific type books—he excels at that. Next, J.K. Rowling, for starting at the bottom of the totem pole and making it so incredibly high up, maintaining humility through it all. I can't stand arrogant authors. :-)
Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Andrea: My husband (he he. Kidding. :-) Hey, I'm still a newlywed. :-)), sugar-free gum, a bottle of water, mints, and the occasional toasted English Muffin with butter. :-)
Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?
Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Andrea: Edit, edit, edit! But don't over edit or you'll remove yourself from the writing. I did that at one point (you can ask Tristi. We had to go back several versions in my manuscript to find the right one). There's a fine line, and it took me a while to learn it. It's different for everyone. Also, learn as much as possible about the publishing world – Indie publishing (going at it on your own, like I am), or traditional. If you don't understand traditional publishing thoroughly, don't go the Indie route. (A lot of writers self-publish because they're afraid of rejection or because they don't want to put the work into finding representation. I don't recommend doing this.) Make sure you know where you want to be. Set goals and achieve them. :-)