AS: I joined SARA a year ago. I had completed a fantasy novel called The Gods of Arcadia and was unsure what to do next. Another author recommended that I find a writer’s group in my area. I actually found SARA on the internet and just came to a meeting. I have been overwhelmed by how welcoming and helpful everyone has been to a total stranger.
SC: We’re glad you’ve joined us, Andrea, and that you feel so welcome. Could you tell us a little about what subgenre you write?
AS: Thanks to the influence of SARA, my second novel is a fantasy romance. I am working on a third book set in Arcadia for middle school. (My fantasy world is the common factor – I don’t think I am going to stick to one genre.)
SC: There are so many different types of romance stories, no wonder. All of us have our own reasons for writing what we do. What is it about the romance genre itself that appeals to you?
AS: I can’t seem to help adding romantic elements to my writing. One of my male friends said my fantasy novel was too girly. I don’t think I would want it any other way. I like how characters are transformed by their interactions with others. Romance adds another way for the characters to connect and grow. It can also create conflict when your heart and your head don’t want the same thing.
SC: Well said. Are you a romantic by nature?
AS: Yes, I would say I am a romantic. My favorite books are the ones that bring tears of happiness at the end.
SC: What are your ultimate writing goals?
AS: My goals this summer are to get at least one of my two novels published. Ultimately I would like to retire from teaching Latin and be able to write for a living. That way I could become a gypsy and see a little of the world.
SC: Wow! The traveling thing I can so relate to. Andrea, I’ve read you’re involved in theatre. So am I. On that same topic, if you could have any actor/actress cast as the hero/heroine of your latest work, who would you choose and why?
AS: Scarlett Johansson would make a great Amazon. If the Rock can be Hercules, then he can be the Son of Ares.
SC: What’s the best book you’ve ever read about the craft of writing?
AS: I have read very little on the writing of fiction. Most of my training has been for my dissertation or journal articles.
SC: Do you have a writing routine? If so, what does it involve?
AS: My writing routine is to bring my netbook with me everywhere I go and use any free time I get to write. For instance I had four hours at the Alamodome between the rehearsal and graduation ceremony for Stevens High School. Most people went home. I went to the Menger Hotel lobby and wrote. It was much more fun than fighting traffic. I also get lots of writing done waiting for my daughter who is in rehearsals for Pirates of Penzance.
SC: Creative people are sometimes a little quirky when it comes to their writing. Any writing superstitions?
AS: I don’t have any writing superstitions – yet.
SC: What do you do when you’re not writing, Andrea? Any hidden talents?
AS: For the past twenty-five years I have been a high school Latin teacher. I also love to sing and act on stage. I have been in Annie, Sound of Music, Chicago, Fiddler on the Roof, Annie Get Your Gun, Man of La Mancha, and Hairspray. My father once said that I am a teacher because I have a captive audience.
SC: What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
AS: My favorite part of the writing process is when I overhear conversation between my characters in my head. I think I understand why the ancient Greeks believed the Muses inspired their work. Sometimes the story seems to take on a life of its own, and I am just writing it down.
SC: What would happen if you didn’t write?
AS: What would happen if I didn’t write?
(Is that a metaphysical question or what other profession would I be?)
To be honest – I will always write, act and sing. I have been a teacher for twenty-five years and sing to get their attention, tell my students the tales of the Trojan War just like Homer, and write plays about the Twelve Labors of Hercules. My need to be creative will always win out.
SC: How do you know when your research is finished?
AS: The world of Arcadia began as a “what if?” conversation with my daughter. As I was giving the Spanish AP test the next day, I found myself making notes about the different Olympian sects and even sketched a map on the back to the teacher’s manual. My students want me to create a website with all the maps, histories, character sketches, descriptions of the Gods, etc… If I include a blog that allows them to ask questions about the world – I will NEVER be finished with the background for Arcadia. That sounds perfect!
SC: Name one thing you absolutely can’t write about.
AS: I can’t write battle scenes. (I really don’t even like reading them) – maybe that is the real reason war is forbidden on Arcadia.
SC: I have trouble with them too. Could you tell us about one of the biggest challenges you had as an author and how you overcame that challenge?
AS: My biggest challenge as a writer was to FINISH a novel. I had started several different stories in my lifetime, but had never managed to finish them. When my fourteen year old daughter FINISHED her vampire novel, I saw it as a challenge. I kept working on Gods of Arcadia until she was in college (yes, it took me five years). The good news is my second novel only took five months – there is something to be said about an already created world and characters.
SC: Thanks so much, Andrea! Happy writing!
Article by Mary Brand