JA Andrews is a writer, wife, mother, and unemployed rocket scientist. She doesn’t regret the rocket science degree, but finds it generally inapplicable in daily life. Except for the rare occurrence of her being able to definitively state, “That’s not rocket science.” She does, however, love the stars.
She began writing stories and creating coloring books because these sorts of things need an outlet. And now good markers are a deductible business expense.
She spends an inordinate amount of time at home, with her family, who she adores, and lives deep in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, where she can see more stars than she ever imagined.
1.Why storytelling? What made you yearn to tell a good story, and how long was this story within you before it came out?
I love that feeling of being enthralled by a story. And from reading a lot of fantasy when I was younger, I also love the idea of a world that’s similar, but not quite like the one we live in every day. My first book, A Threat of Shadows, took me eight years from start to finish. A lot of that time it was simmering on a hard drive just waiting for me to finish it, but the characters just wouldn’t leave me alone and I wanted to finish their story.
2.What is it about your genre that speaks to you?
I love fantasy because there’s a sense of wonder you can have just built into a world where things don’t work the same as they do in real life. And I love how much changing a setting to an imaginary place allows us to see the truth about people, sometimes in an easier way than we can see it in our own world.
3.Without giving any spoilers, what is your favorite thing about this book?
The ending. I confess I was probably 75% of the way through writing the book before I knew how it would end. I was terrified I’d get there and not be able to write it well. When I figured out the ending, it just felt so right. Which was awesome.
4.What character from your book fills you with hope?
Several of them do. Actually, having hope in my books is really important to me. I like an undercurrent of hope to be happening even in the dark times of the book. But my main character Alaric and Ayda, an elf, are the two who feel the most hopeful.
5.Your main character walks into a bar. What happens?
He either takes the stage and starts to tell stories to the entire room, or he pulls out a book and asks people to come tell him their local legends so he can write them down.
6.What is the most fascinating thing about your main character?
The most fascinating thing about Alaric is that he’s a person who’s always been pretty confident and known what the right thing to do was. But when his wife was dying he discovered that not only was he capable of doing things he would have never imagined, but he did them willingly to try to save her. Now he’s living in the aftermath of those decisions and trying to reconcile the things he’s done with who he always thought he’d be. I think it can be very hard to balance the idea of who we think we should be, and the reality of who we are.
7.If I were stuck in a room with your main character, what would we be doing?
He’d be asking you a million questions about your past and the history of where you live and your favorite story. And possibly writing it all down for posterity.
8.How did you find the time to write this book with your busy life? What ideas do you have on how others can make time in their lives?
I get up early before the rest of the house. I stay at home with my kids and homeschool, so once the day is going, it gets pretty noisy and crazy. But there are no there morning people in the house, so before 7am, I have a little sanctuary of writing silence.
The down side is that I’m not REALLY a morning person either, so even though I wish I could get up several hours before everyone else, I end up only making it maybe an hour earlier.
I also bribe my husband to play video games at night so I can write while he does that. I prefer him to play ones with epic music and not too much talking.
9.Everyone has at least one specific challenge that holds them back. What is that challenge in your work and how do you overcome it?
I have a really hard time with descriptions. I have this thing where I have very little visual imagination. I know that’s sort of odd, but I don’t see my stories. I…hear them. Or maybe feel them. So in my first drafts, no characters have any visual descriptions and places are barely fleshed out. It actually takes me a good deal of energy to put in visual descriptions. I usually end up side-stepping the problem by just personifying everything. I’ve made storms into rain giants, castles into looming monsters, mountains into dragon spines, those sorts of things.
On the other hand, I’ve never had anyone say, “I got bogged down in all the description.”
10.If you could change any one thing about your work, what would it be?
I would write faster. I’m a really slow writer. Too much pondering and distractions.
11.You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?
I’d tell myself to trust myself. That I shouldn’t listen to the doubts that I couldn’t write a whole book. I’d just put my head down and keep working on it.
12.Describe your workplace.
It’s very glamorous. I sit at the kitchen table before everyone wakes up, then stuff everything over onto a shelf when people wake up.
13.You have a chance to hang out with any literary character for one day. Who would it be and what would you do?
Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. I love that woman. And, she’s super-rich since she married Mr. Darcy, so hanging out on her huge English estate would be dope.
For more from J. A. Andrews:
Facebook Page: JAAndrewsAuthor
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/jaandrews