As 2018 draws to an end, I bring you an interview with JA Andrews! Her work is amazing, especially A Keeper’s Tale!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
I write epic fantasy with a more classic feel. My work is often called noblebright, which I like because I would say there’s always a thread of hope in my writing. But the term also sounds like the name of a Care Bear, so that always makes me want to qualify that noblebright doesn’t mean all rainbows and unicorns. There’s plenty of pain and struggle and failure, it’s just not all grim.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I tend to be pretty structured with my plot, following a three act pattern. I don’t get too legalistic about it, but every time something is nagging me about my plot because it isn’t quite working, when I go back and look at my structure, I can usually pinpoint what’s broken. Fixing it is usually a little harder.
My characters are usually based on whatever wound it is they’re trying to heal. Maybe recovering from bad choices. Maybe not living up to what they think they should have been. Maybe not fitting in to any sort of family.
Tell us about your current project.
I’m currently writing the third and final book of my series, The Keeper Chronicles. Each book has a different protagonist, but they’re all Keepers, who are a group of people who are mostly scholars and historians, but also are capable of magic, which is limited to only a few people in my world.
Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
I’ll tell you about the MC in my book 1, A Threat of Shadows, since they’re all different. Alaric is a Keeper who’s always been sort of a model Keeper. He’s brainy and likes studying and reading ancient runes. He’s proficient with magic (although even small amounts of magic can cause the wielder pain, so neither he nor anyone else uses magic as their main tool). But, his wife Evangeline was poisoned while traveling with him, and when the poison turned out to have no antidote, he crossed all sorts of lines he never would have imagined crossing to save her. And so far he’s failed.
Book one opens with him finding one last chance to save her, and exploring whether the decisions he’s made are cancelling out all the good things he’s done in life, or if he’s more than just the sum of his worst deeds.
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Find other authors and work closely with them. I think everything good that’s happened in my writing and my career is because I found other authors to work with and learn from.
Find writers who are better than you and have them critique your work. Read books on craft. There’s so much to learn, but there’s such a great community of authors that you can meet and get encouragement from. Also, be ready to take the criticism and really look at your own work to make changes. It’s really important to separate yourself from your writing and look at it objectively so you can see the weaknesses in it.
What inspires you to write?
I just enjoy it. A lot. Creating a new story is so much fun. I love getting up early before the kids are up and writing while the house is quiet.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Having patience. Writing a book takes a looooong time. At least it takes me a long time, and I don’t have too many hours each day to work on it. It can be hard to be patient with how slowly the book is created.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
There’s a scene where the elf, Ayda, shares a memory with Alaric which is a flashback of a pivotal moment in her life. It was really fun to get into another characters head since the rest of the book is from Alaric’s point of view.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
I spend time thinking about the things they’ve been through and imagining how that would affect them in a general sense, and in the particularly scene their finding themselves in. When I am really stuck I write a journal entry for them where they’re writing about the scene and how they felt. That usually gets me honed in on what is important to them, and more importantly, how they’re feeling about things.
What are your future project(s)?
I’m planning to finish the Keeper Chronicles this spring, then I have a new trilogy in the same world that I’ll be starting. It’s the story of a girl who began as an orphan and ends up married to the king, and it will be based loosely on the life of Empress Theodora of the Byzantine Empire.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
Ummmmm, I have no idea. None. No other job sounds that fun. So I guess I better make this writing thing work, hmm?
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
You can find me on Facebook on my page (www.facebook.com/JAAndrewsAuthor) or in the Epic Fantasy Fanatics Facebook group I help moderate (www.facebook.com/groups/EpicFantasy) which is an amazing group of people who love epic fantasy books. Or you can find me on my website at www.jaandrews.com)