Today we have the pleasure to learn a bit more about Andrea Bramhall, Bold Strokes Books author of Ladyfish, Clean Slate, Nightingale (due for release May 2014), and Swordfish (due for release January 2015).
Andrea lives in Norfolk, which is a wonderful place and amazing holiday location. The wife and I have been there for holiday in 2012 and 2013 and envy everyone being able to live there 😉
Andrea was so kind to answer our nosy questions.
Some warm-up questions first:
Coffee or tea?
Erm…why isn’t hot chocolate on the list? Lol. I don’t like tea, and I get migraines so I don’t drink coffee. Oh, and I’m a chocoholic. <grin>
What puts you in a bad mood?
Hmm, well, if I haven’t had enough sleep, pretty much anything can put me in a bad mood, but if I have, not a lot. So…lack of sleep would be the obvious answer.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Good question. I think I’d like to be able to breathe underwater. I’m a scuba diver, and I love being under the water, to be under there without the restrictions of scuba gear…well, that would be amazing. I got to swim with whale sharks on holiday one year, and that was truly incredible. To swim with whales and dolphins and all those other amazing creatures down there…to see part of the world that so few people get to see and explore, well, that would be truly awesome for me.
Where is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?
Too hard a question. I’ve been to some truly amazing places and seen some absolutely incredible things in my life; I’ve been very lucky. I could tell you about the beauty of the Maldives, the romanticism of Paris, the history of Rome, the primordial beat of South Africa, the mountains and lakes of Cumbria, the beach where I live, seeing the Olympics in their birthplace in 2004…I can’t pick just one.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
I have a list. <grin>
1-I’d make sure my family and friends were comfortable and had what they need.
2-set up a trust fund for my nieces and nephews for when they are old enough and need stuff.
3-a house in the Lake District.
4-a new car.
5-a holiday. Well, it would actually be a bit of a ’round-the-world trip, seeing all the places on my bucket list.
6-I would set up/fund a counselling centre/rehabilitation home for children and teenagers who are dealing with abuse, self-harming, self-destructing, and so on. Kids who need a hand and the people who should be helping them don’t.
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 wrote Ladyfish in 2011. I’d done some stuff before that but not seriously. Just messing about really, but I’d always wanted to write. Always. From being a little kid when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said a writer. I was discouraged and told it was not a realistic dream. People can’t make a living as a writer, I was told, so I was pushed in a whole lot of other directions. Makes for an interesting CV, but it didn’t make me happy. When I was 29, I suffered a mental breakdown. Writing helped me put myself back together again. All those little pieces of not serious writing that will never see the light of day were my way of putting my soul back together. One word at a time.
Why do you write? What does it mean to you?
Because I have to. Whether I publish or not, I have to write, it’s the way that I stay sane. Or at least as sane as I can be. Lol. If I can’t write, all these stories in my head, all these characters that are bursting to get out…they drive me crazy. Writing is my only outlet.
How long does it take you to write a novel?
I’ve written four complete manuscripts so far. Three of them took me just over three weeks to write, and the other one took three months, but I had a hell of a lot of research to do with that one.
How much time per week do you spend writing?
Varies. The way my work schedule runs, during the summer, I don’t write at all. I outline, plot, and research. During the winter I then write two manuscripts and some short stories. I’m working on the second manuscript at the moment.
How would you describe yourself?
Me? I’m pretty quiet. Don’t listen to what anyone else has to say. I’m very, very shy. Honest.
How much of yourself is in your characters?
Every single character has something of me in them. Whether that’s a tiny personality trait that I take and then exaggerate, or a wish, a dream, a fantasy, or something I wish wasn’t a part of me…it’s all in there. More than I even notice when I write the stories. Sometimes its more obvious than others, but it’s always there.
What do you find the most challenging part of writing?
Not being able to write during the summer. That’s the part that I find difficult. Actually putting pen to paper–metaphorically speaking of course–is the easy part for me. It flows like water down a river; I guess I’m very lucky like that.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading a book called The Cyprus Emergency, It’s research for the book I’m writing at the moment.
What do you think makes a good romance novel?
Great characters, a strong plot, and chemistry that makes your heart beat faster as you read. That’s the trifecta for me.
What advice would you give new authors?
Write the story that is in you because no one else can write that story. Don’t worry about audience or publishers or even spelling first time ’round. Just write. Once you’ve done the fun bit, then you get to the work of writing. Editing, redrafting, editing again, and then some more redrafting, then edit it again. Then you need to get someone else to read it for you. Not a family member and not a friend, but a professional if you can, or if not, go to a writers’ circle. Most big towns and cities have them, and you can find some really good ones online. You need constructive, unbiased help, and as much as your family and friends want to help, at this point they can’t.
What are you working on right now?
Currently, I’m writing a book that is something very different for me. It’s a mystery, investigation story about war crimes, not a romance. It’s called What We Took… and is based mostly in Cyprus.
What future writing projects can we look forward to?
I have just signed a contract with BSB for my fifth novel tentatively called The Curse of the Chameleon. It’s a lesbian romance set on a vineyard in South Africa and hopefully out late 2015. This is the blurb:
Childhood friends, Imogen and Amahle, couldn’t come from more different backgrounds. One is privileged and the other is little more than a slave, but they thought nothing could tear their unusual friendship apart. But a changing political landscape and an uncertain future cast Imogen into a lonely world away from everything and everyone she knows, and by the time she returns to Africa everything has changed.
Expecting to run the family vineyard after her father’s death, Imogen is ill prepared for the Africa she finds. Betrayal, deceit, and anger are the currency of the day and it is far from the life Imogen wants to lead.
When Amahle’s family is caught up in the middle of a bitter legal battle, she fights for what she believes is right, despite her own lingering feelings toward her childhood friend and a growing attraction she finds harder and harder to fight.
But what happens when those you believed in let you down? What happens when friend becomes foe and your world turns upside down? What can be built from the ashes of betrayal? Is love enough?
Thanks for the answering our questions, Andrea. And I’m looking forward to meeting you over a cup of hot chocolate in September 2014 in Norfolk.