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Today I’m so excited to be interviewing Andrea Cremer. Her book, NIGHTSHADE, was released in 2010 and was on the New York Bestseller List. WOLFSBANE was just released July 26, 2011. I loved the world Andrea created in NIGHTSHADE and can’t wait to read WOLFSBANE.
Here’s a blurb of NIGHTSHADE from Goodreads:
Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything- including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?
And a blurb of WOLFSBANE from Goodreads:
This thrilling sequel to the much-talked-about Nightshade begins just where it ended-Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemy, and she's certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer-one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack-and the man-she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.
Hi Andrea. Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m from a small town on the shores of Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. I grew up roaming forests and inventing worlds full of mystery and magic. In addition to writing I’m a history professor at Macalester College and I currently live in Minnesota.
2. Calla is such a strong female character being the alpha of her pack. Yet, she has to learn to be submissive to Ren, the alpha male she’ll mate with. Then she finds a totally vulnerable side of herself when she meets Shay. And Ren is a completely alpha male yet has a gentler side when it comes to Calla. How did you nail your characters? Are there parts of you in Calla?
You never want to say that you hear voices, but when it comes to my characters I definitely hear them. My characters are unique individuals who often surprise me along the way. Ren is a great example as I discovered he had a lot more layers than I realized. Each of my characters is like that in one way or another. Calla and I have the same favorite book – Watership Down – and we both love black coffee. Otherwise I’m much more like Calla’s younger brother, Ansel who is a romantic idealist.
3. Okay, we won’t tell anyone your secret about the voices. I found the hierarchy you created in WOLFSBANE of the keepers (witches) and the guardians (wolves) who protected the keepers but who were ruled by them fascinating. How did you develop this? Is it based on any myths or totally something you imagined?
The world of Nightshade is completely imagined based on my passion for real wolves and my interest in the history of witchcraft.
4. You’ve got an awesome imagination. I read that you’ve never been to Vale, the setting of your book. And that you don’t like caves, another important place in your book. How did you create such a realistic setting not having been to where you’re writing about?
Though I haven’t been to Vail I have been to Colorado several times. Based on those experiences and lots and lots of time on Google Earth I was able to construct the world of Nightshade. Regarding caves – I’m horribly claustrophobic and am therefore terrified of caves. I channel that tension into the narrative.
5. NIGHTSHADE had a lot of plot twists and you ended in a cliffhanger which is unusual for a first book. Then it looks like the fast pace picks up again with Calla and the searchers that you only tell us a bit about in book one. Was this all plotted out before you started or did it come to you as you went?
I’m horrible at plotting, the structure stifles my writing process. I don’t write my books in chronological order but instead write scenes as they inspire me. Then I put all the pieces together to create the overarching narrative.
6. Do you have any tips from your own writing experiences about writing a trilogy?
When I start a trilogy I know the big picture of the story but it’s the details, twists and subplots that come together through the process of writing the books. I’d say you have to be sure the scope of your story is large enough to cover three books – don’t keep stretching things out simply for the sake of another book. Some stories need one book, others need six. Know your characters and your plot well enough to grasp the length you should be aiming for.
7. That’s great advice to have a sense of how many books you’ll need to tell your story. Tell us about your road to publication.
My writing career started literally by accident. I’d always loved writing, but I never thought it was something I could do professionally. In the summer of 2008 I was in a horseback riding accident that left me with a broken foot and orders to stay off my feet for twelve weeks. With nothing to do but sit I decided to try writing a novel – a dream I’d always had but had never given myself permission to try. As soon as I began writing I fell completely in love with the process and knew I wanted to make fiction writing a full-time part of my professional life. I knew nothing about the publishing world so I did research and learned about querying and finding an agent. I signed with InkWell Management in the spring of 2009 and we sold Nightshade to Penguin that summer.
8. I fell in love with writing the same way you did. I know you work full-time as a college history professor. When you’re teaching, how do you juggle writing, teaching, and now marketing? I work full-time too and am dying to know you handle it all.
Honestly I’m still figuring it out. I love teaching and right now I’m able to maintain balance between my many lives. It probably helps that I have dogs rather than children ;)
9. Before I wrote out your interview questions, I googled you and found lots of book reviews and interviews on other blogs. How did you so successfully get the word out when you were a debut author? Are you planning to market any differently for WOLFSBANE?
My publisher, Penguin, has been hugely supportive and did an amazing job with getting word out about the book with bloggers, reviewers and through the amazing Shadow Days campaign they did featuring Shay’s life at Rowan Estate prior to his meeting Calla. I also really enjoy Twitter and blogging – to me they are just other types of writing. I love connecting with readers, it’s so much fun!
10. What are you working on now?
I have three projects going on at the moment. I’m revising a prequel to Nightshade about the origins of the Witches’ War in the Middle Ages. I’m also working on my collaborative novel THE INVISBILITY CURSE with David Levithan. And finally I’m writing a new steampunk trilogy that I’m absolutely in love with.
Good luck Andrea. You can find Andrea at her website and her blog.
I’m giving away one copy of NIGHTSHADE. To enter the contest, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on July 23rd. I’ll announce the winner on July 25th. International entries are welcome.
Next week I’ll be interviewing an upcoming 6th grader who LOVES to read for my ASK THE EXPERT series. She’s Dustin Hansen’s daughter. He’s a follower and often shares tips for our Tuesday tips series. And it’s her BIRTHDAY next Monday. So be sure to stop by and wish her Happy Birthday.
On July 25th, I’ll be interviewing Amy Holder and giving away a copy of THE LIPSTICK LAWS. She has an amazing story about her road to publication that you won’t want to miss.
See you next Monday!