06 October 2010

Interview w/ Andrea Cremer

Isn't this perfect timing?  "Nightshade" just sounds creepy, eh?  Perfect for Halloween!  This is Ms. Cremer's debut novel.  You can buy a copy of "Nightshade" anywhere books are sold October 19th.  (That's less than two weeks from now!)  I emailed Ms. Cremer and asked her for a review.  Not five minutes later I had a reply in my inbox--yes.  So I unveil for you now....!

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On your website, you mentioned that you love heroines who can hold their own. Can you give us some examples—specific books/characters? 
I’d be delighted to! One of the authors who had a tremendous influence on me is Marion Zimmer Bradley. She recreates history from a female point of view. For example, The Mists of Avalon retells the legends of King Arthur from the perspective of Morgan Le Fey. I always loved warrior women, like Eowyn from Lord of the Rings and Ayla from Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series.

When did you start writing “Nightshade”? 

In the summer of 2008 I was in a horseback riding accident that put me on crutches for twelve weeks. Because I was couch bound I decided it was the best time to try my hand at something I’d always dreamed of: writing a novel. I wrote two practice novels that will only ever be read by my family. I started writing Nightshade around Thanksgiving of that year and I knew it was the book I wanted to share with the world. I signed with my agent in March and the book sold to Penguin in the summer of 2009.

To you, what’s the hardest part about writing? 

The hardest part of writing for me is actually not writing. I love writing so much that I tend to lose myself in it and forget that a world outside my story exists (this is particularly unfair to my husband and friends). Every day I wonder how I could strike a better balance between writing and the rest of my life.

Are there any “gotta have this/gotta have that” when in the depths of writing? 

Coffee and music. I create playlists for all of my books.

Do you like to write at a certain time of day? 

I can write anytime and anywhere. I don’t work on a particular schedule.

What kind of research did you do for “Nightshade,” if any? 

I have a Ph.D. in early modern history and that was how I created the backstory for Nightshade – the research had already been completely through my ‘day job’ as a history professor. I did do research about Vail, Colorado – the book’s setting – as I’d spent time in Boulder and Denver, but not Vail.

Did you encounter any unexpected road blocks when writing? (the results of sitting in traffic and miraculously getting past writer’s block totally counts) 
I actually haven’t – I consider myself very fortunate. As you’ve mentioned though, I do get some of my best plot ideas when driving – particularly on trips between Minneapolis and my hometown of Ashland, Wisconsin (it’s about a four-hour drive).

Was “Nightshade” always the title, or did it change along the way? 

The title was originally Guardian, but my editor and publisher wanted something more evocative. Since Nightshade was one of the pack names it was perfect. I was thrilled with the change and wish I’d thought of it myself!

Which do you prefer: flying or driving? 

It depends on the circumstance. I love driving – I think it’s a lot of fun and I love road trips. But if it’s about getting somewhere and not purposefully a meandering drive, I’d rather just fly and get to where I’m going.

What are you up to when you aren’t writing? 

I teach history and Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. I have two dogs, a border collie and a pug, and I take them for lots of walks. I also play a lot of World of Warcraft with my husband.

To conclude, what is something about you that would surprise others? 

Most people see me as a very upbeat person, which is true, but I’ve struggled since my teens with severe, chronic depression. It’s something I’ve learned to live with, but the road to being at a happy and healthy place in my life was a long, hard one. Many artists and writers deal with depression and I think it’s an important issue to talk about as mental health is still largely unaddressed and misunderstood in our society. Since most mental illnesses manifest during your teenage years it’s pivotal that adults who have been affected by depression and gotten help are open about it so others know they’re not alone.

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Andrea Cremer spent her childhood daydreaming and roaming the forests and lakeshores of Northern Wisconsin. She now lives in Minnesota, but she thinks of her homeland as the “Canadian Shield” rather than the Midwest.

Andrea has always loved writing and has never stopped writing, but she only recently plunged into the deep end of the pool that is professional writing. When she’s not writing, Andrea teaches history at a very nice liberal arts college in St. Paul.

In the little spare time she can find, Andrea stares up at trees, rescues infant rabbits from predatory cats, and invents names for pug puppies with her husband. She has an unfortunate tendency to spill things – white carpets beware!

Her debut novel, NIGHTSHADE, the first of a YA fantasy series, will be published in fall 2010 by Penguin (Philomel).

You can visit Ms. Cremer's website here.  (That is a COOL website!)

You can preorder "Nightshade" here.

Again, "Nightshade" releases OCTOBER 19th so mark your calendars! ^_^