A Stockport (near Manchester, UK) native, Andrea took her life in her hands a few years ago and crossed the great North/South divide and now lives in Norfolk with her partner, their two border collies, and two and a half cats (one isn’t sure if she wants to be theirs anymore as the lady down the street feeds her Whiskas rather than whatever is on offer at the supermarket, like they do!).
Andrea spends her time running their campsite and hostel to pay the bills, and scribbling down stories during the winter months. Andrea is an avid reader and a keen musician, playing the saxophone and the guitar (just to annoy her other half—apparently!). She is also a recreational diver and takes an opportunity to head to warmer climes and discover the mysteries of life beneath the waves!
1) Who/What is your favorite book/author? Why?
Favourite book…hmm. This is a tough one, and I’d say it’s actually a series. The Earth’s Children Series by Jean M. Auel. I read the first book of the series during a very difficult period of my life, and there is a sentence in it that has stayed with me ever since. It gave me strength and an outlet at the time. The sentence was; ‘Crying doesn’t make you weak. It makes life easier to bear.’
2) What has been your most surprising or interesting inspiration for a book?
I get inspired for book idea’s from all over the place. The inspiration for Ladyfish was a diving holiday I went on, for Nightingale it started with a song, and Clean Slate was the exploration of my own feelings as I started to come to terms with my Grandfather’s Alzheimer’s disease.
The inspiration for the story I’m currently working on came from the BSB UK event last year. I was talking to a lady from South Africa and she was drinking a glass of wine. The idea struck me of writing a story set in the vineyards of the Western Cape. Exploring the themes and idea’s that have affected me a great deal since I spent a portion of my childhood in South Africa in the eighties. When opposition to Apartheid was at it’s highest and the world was watching.
Whilst not surprising that this is inspiring me to write a story, the history of South Africa – the oppression, the violence, the poverty, and the inequality…it is the hope of the Rainbow Nation that is giving this story it’s heart. The fight for freedom for everyone. No matter their colour, creed, religion, gender, sexuality, or age, Nelson Mandela dreamed of a South Africa where everyone was equal. He fought for that ideal. He went to prison for that ideal. And tried to unite a nation for that ideal. This is the inspiration for ‘The Chameleon’. But the idea for my latest proposal for a novel, set in a coastal village in the UK, came from one of the women in my village threatening to shoot her neighbours cat because it was hunting birds in her garden.
3) Writing is emotional and can be isolating. From where do you get your support?
My partner, my family, and from the feedback from readers. Hearing both the good and the bad reactions to my writing makes me strive to become a better writer and to keep going when I’m in the middle of a scene that is tearing me apart to write, or driving me crazy because I’m re-writing it for the sixtieth time.
4) What does it mean to you to see your work in print and then up for an award?
From a professional point of view, it’s recognition of the hard work that’s involved in writing and the long hours spent hunched over my laptop. Personally…it’s validation, acceptance, and the realisation of my life’s dream. As a small child all I wanted was to be a writer…now I can point to those books, and justify that title to the rest of the world. I am a writer.
5) What is next on your personal bucket list to accomplish?
Oooo. Good question. Personally, I want to go diving at a place called Truuk Lagoon. It’s in Micronesia, and it’s a lagoon that was a stronghold for the Japanese fleet during the second world war. There are more than 60 wrecks to dive, including planes, subs, frigates, cruisers, and all manner of boats. It’s one of the worlds best wreck diving sites. That’s definitely on my bucket list. My writing bucket list….now that would be telling. *snigger
I’m currently researching for The Chameleon, and working on the proposal for Collide-O-Scope (with the crazy village cat lady), but up next publication wise is Swordfish due to be published in January 2015.
Many thanks to Andrea for taking the time to answer our questions. You can find out more about her and all her books on her authors page.