Andi is the author of several books, like the New Mexico mystery series, the Far Seek Chronicles and several standalone novellas. For more information about her books klick here.
I haven’t read all of her books but enjoyed Land of Entrapment and State of Denial very much as well as From the Boots Up. I certainly wish I’d have more time to read on my hands.
But let’s start the question and answer game with some warmup questions:
Coffee or tea?
Either, as long as it’s decaf. I’ve been off caffeine for almost 3 years now. And yes, I am still this weird off it as on.
What puts you in a bad mood?
Bad manners and injustice.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I’d love to be able to fly. Really fast. That way, I could go all over the world any time I wanted and I could leave any time I wanted.
Where is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?
I don’t really have favorites, because every place I’ve been has given me stories. I will say that Greece was magical (this was before all the economic hardship and scariness going on now) and Italy was super-cool. Venice really resonated with me. But there are places in the US that resonate with me, too. The northern Pacific coast, the canyonlands in the American Southwest, the Rocky Mountains, the vast plains of Kansas and Nebraska. I’m always up for discovery.
Huh. I do have my chocolate moods, but I’ve actually lost my taste for a lot of sweets. Anymore, I’m fine with a cup of tea or a glass of wine over chocolate.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
First, I’d hire a lawyer and an accountant. And then I’d pay off the bills of my closest family members and friends. Then I’d invest (with the help of my accountant) and then I’d create some kind of foundation geared toward helping women and LGBTQ people in undeveloped nations and also in the poorer regions of the US, and I’d also set up a foundation for animals. I donate regularly to no-kill animal shelters in the US, and I’d like to start some kind of organization tied to that. I think I might buy a house, too.
And now on to the writing-related stuff:
For how many years have you been writing now, and how did you come to it?
I’ve been writing since I was a child. So that’s over 35 years. I’ve always been fascinated with stories and what constitutes a good one, so that’s been a driving force. I wrote my first novels while I was in high school (age 16-17) and my next novels in college (age 17-19) and then I wrote mostly nonfiction (schoolwork) and poetry until graduate school, when I wrote lots of spec fic short stories and submitted them for consideration for publication. They were all rejected, but I learned a lot. I stopped writing fiction for a few years (graduate school took up most of my time), then wrote a bit more, then stopped. Finally, in 2005, I went back through all of my old fiction projects and decided there was a spark there, and I wrote what would become my first published novel, Land of Entrapment, in 2006. I haven’t really stopped since.
Why do you write? What does it mean to you?
I write as a way to escape and as a way to journey into different worlds and different areas. I also write because I have a creative streak and that’s how it expresses. What does it mean? It means part of my soul. If someone asked me whether I could walk away from my job tomorrow, would I be okay with that, I’d say, “yes.” If someone asked me if I could walk away from writing tomorrow, would I be okay with that, I’d say, “hell, no.” Think of some aspect of yourself that you’ve had as long as you can remember and then think about trying not to have that aspect. It’s practically impossible to get rid of. Writing is that deeply ingrained in me. I can’t not write. And I love sharing stories with people.
How long does it take you to write a novel?
Depends. I have a day job (i.e. I work 40-50 hours a week), which means I only get 1-2 hours of writing time a day outside of weekends. If I didn’t have a day job, I could write a novel in about 3-4 months. With my day job, it takes 2 or 3 times that (often more, depending on what’s going on in my life). I wish I could just write all day, because I tend not to have problems doing that. Heh.
How much time per week do you spend writing?
If I’m lucky, I get 10-15 hours in of straight-up writing. On weekends, I can easily get in 15 hours, too. That doesn’t include the time I have to spend on marketing each week, either.
When and where do you write the most?
I have a spare bedroom that serves as an office. But I’ve also been able to write on the road. As long as I have headphones and access to music and my laptop, I can write. Barring that, I can totally write with a notepad and a pen.
How would you describe yourself?
Short, effusive, curious, empathetic, goofy.
How much of yourself is in your characters?
I don’t know. I don’t consciously try to do that, but I’m sure there are some that have more of me than others. Some characters, I think, don’t have any of me in them, and I think they’re more based on what I’d LIKE to do or say. My characters are amalgams of me, things I observe, and people I’ve known or stumbled across over the years. Having said that, I think people would probably say that I have a lot in common with K.C. Fontero, of my mystery series.
What do you find the most challenging part of writing?
Keeping my plots fresh. You know what else is difficult? Starting a new story or novel. It’s always difficult to figure out what the right way to start something is. Or rather, the most effective way for that particular plot. That and making sure I carve out time every day to write. Unless I’ve just finished a project. In that case, I take a few days off.
What are you reading right now?
I read across genres. I also read a lot of nonfiction. I always have Outside magazine on my coffee table as well as Rolling Stone magazine and copies of High Country News, which is an award-winning magazine geared toward the American West. You’ll find copies of historical journals lying around my house, too.
In terms of fiction, I’ve been reading a lot of urban fantasy (authors like Faith Hunter, Lilith Saintcrow, Jennifer Estep and Richard Kadrey), and I’m really loving some steampunk, too (I’m enjoying Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris as well as Cherie Priest at the moment).
I read thrillers, too. I’m getting caught up on the last few Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child (he has a Hemingway-esque writing style), and I’ve been exploring Scandinavian mysteries in translation. I also enjoy dystopic and post-apocalyptic fiction. Mira Grant’s Newsflesh (zombie) trilogy was brilliant, I thought, in terms of how she developed a media culture in the wake of the virus that causes zombies and linked it to government crackdowns and the perpetuation of fear. Hugh Howey’s Wool series is also quite a read if you’re into post-apocalyptic/dystopic fiction. He manages to sort of fuse both of those.
There’s also lots going on in that arena in young adult fiction (I really enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy). I also read travel writing and history. Read often, and read across genres is some advice I can offer to aspiring writers. And it’s good advice for writers (and anyone) in general. Expand your horizons!
What do you think makes a good romance novel?
For me, the characters and dialogue. I tend to write a romance in which the characters are drawn to each other in some way and then the plot develops around whatever issues they have and whether or not they’ll end up in a long-term or short-term situation. Or together at all. In terms of what I write, romance doesn’t happen in a vacuum. That is, it’s not the only thing going on in a character’s life. The world doesn’t stop because you’re attracted to someone. That’s not the end-all/be-all of your day.
What romance does is it makes your day go faster, and it gives you those little butterfly flutters in your stomach as you’re going about your day and thoughts of the person you’re attracted to pop into your head. We’ve all been there, and we all know what that feels like. But what is it in particular that draws these two characters together and what might make them want them to learn more about each other? Or will they just be drawn together for a short time, and enjoy that time together then move on? I like fully-realized characters and balance in their lives between those romantic feelings and attractions and the things going on in their lives.
What advice would you give new authors?
Do not think that at some point, you’re going to learn everything there is to know about writing. You’re not. This is a journey, not a goal. Write because you have to, because it taps into the hidden reaches of your soul. Take those workshops, engage in writing groups, ask writers better than you to critique your work. Strive to write better, strive to learn more about the infrastructure of grammar, plot, subplot, and all the elements of writing and style that come together to form a story. Try to write every day. Try to work on your craft every day. People don’t become good at something by half-assing it. They become good at it because they do it every day and they strive to be better, to learn more, to engage in the larger community of creative people.
Also, don’t ignore the world at large. Find a balance. A creative life requires work, yes, but it also requires play. You aren’t a fully developed person if all you do is sit around staring at your computer or smartphone or tablet. Get out there and EXPERIENCE. Because that, too, will inform your writing. And finally, don’t ever assume the world owes you anything. Here’s the truth: nobody owes you anything. You make your own magic by what you put into your journey. You are the captain of your life. Steer accordingly.
What are you working on right now?
These questions. LOL
Okay, okay. I’m finishing up the follow-up to my romance novella From the Boots Up. I’m hoping to have that released late spring. I’ve also started the 4th in my science fiction series, the Far Seek Chronicles, and I’ll be starting the research for the 5th in my New Mexico mystery series. I’ve also got another romance novel that I’m hoping to release in late summer/fall. And I’ve got some short stories I’ll be putting out as well as another novella or two. So stay tuned!
What future writing projects can we look forward to?
See above. That’s what I’m up to and those will culminate in stuff for the reading public. I’m also messing around with a paranormal novel that I haven’t quite gotten to where I’d like it to be. It’s going to require more work before I feel it’s ready for public consumption, but I like writing different genres to stretch myself. So basically, more mystery, science fiction, romance, and maybe another genre!
There you have it. Thanks so much, Astrid, for taking the time to ask me some questions. And thanks to the crew at Ylva. I can be reached via my website here: http://www.andimarquette.com
There, readers can find out more about me and the work that I do. Cheers!
Thank you for your interesting answers, Andi. It was great having you here. And I certainly need to make time in my busy schedule to read another of your books.