Today I am going to be doing something very exciting, my first ever author interview! I have been wanting to do this for a while now but was looking for just the right person, after Andrew contacted me and I could see his passion for his writing, I knew I wanted to interview him. Andrew has currently published three books and tends to write within the genre of Historical Fiction. This is definitely a genre I would like to delve into, so without further ado, let’s get on with the interview.
Thank you for coming onto my blog!
You’re welcome. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Start off by telling us a little bit about your latest book, Molly Lee.
Molly is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes.
It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them—a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn—ends up saving her virtue, if not her life.
Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice.
We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her.
What inspired you to write Molly Lee?
I was not inspired to write MOLLY LEE. I was cajoled into writing it by Molly and my agent.
This is the backstory to Molly:
My first book was a 164,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing, and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.
“So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel.
I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months; then I sent out query letters to agents.
Less than a month later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in New York City emailed me that he loved the story. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914. The book went on to reach #1 status on Amazon twice, and the rest, as they say, is history.
But not quite.
My agent then wanted me to write a sequel, but I had other plans. I was in the middle of editing down my first novel (that had been rejected by 1,876,324 agents . . . or so it seemed) from 164,000 words to the present 142,000. However, he was insistent, so I started to think about it. Now, one thing you have to understand is that I had tied up all the loose ends at the end of REDEMPTION, so there was no way I could write a sequel. And that is when Molly came to me and asked that I tell her story. Molly was a character that we met briefly in the first chapter of REDEMPTION, and then she is not heard from again. At least not until her book came out.
Did you have to do a lot of research to get the history authentic in the story?
Everything in MOLLY LEE is historically correct from the languages of the Indians to the descriptions of the way people dressed, spoke, and lived. I spend as much time on research as I do writing my stories. Sometimes more.
Going back to the beginning, what is it that got you into writing?
One morning, about five years ago, I went crazy. I got out of bed, went downstairs, and threw my TV out the window. Then I sat down at the computer and wrote my first short story. It was soon published in a print magazine (remember them?). I’ve been writing ever since.
Do you always have a full story mapped out from beginning to end before you start writing?
I usually sit down to write a book with no idea where my characters will lead me. I start out with (I hope) a killer first sentence and the last paragraph of the book. Then I set out to fill the in-between space with 100,000 words. I find that the easy part. Sometimes I will bring my characters to a certain place, only to have them rebel when we get there. They tell me they want to go somewhere else and take off on their own. I have no choice but to follow.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process.
I prefer to write in the early morning hours when things are quiet. I usually get up around 2:00 a.m. and go to work. The commute is not long . . . only a few steps to my computer.
Do you ever base your characters in your books off real people? If so, when have you done this?
In some respects all my characters are based on real people. I read a lot non-fiction (history) and biographies and I’ll incorporate aspects of the people I read about into my characters
What type of books do you like to read yourself?
My favorite author is John Steinbeck. I also love to read Lee Child and David Baldacci. Actually, the list is too long for this venue.
If you had to pick three books that were the only ones you could ever read again, what would you pick?
The Grapes of Wrath, The Collected Plays of William Shakespeare, and The Jacket (Star Rover) by Jack London.
Where do you find out about books to read?
Nowadays, mostly by accident.
Do you have any hobbies? Or anything you like to do in your spare time?
I like to emulate Hemingway, London, and Fitzgerald . . . I drink a lot, mostly vodka. I also like watching old movie from the ’30s and ’40s.
Have you got any advice for those budding writers out there?
Read, read . . . and then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on! Reading to a writer is as medical school is to a doctor, as training is to an athlete, as breathing is to life.
Thank you very much for coming onto my blog! Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for having me. I can only append that I have very much enjoyed your mild inquisition.