Amy Andrews is an Australian award-winning author and is a USA Today best-seller. She’s written sixty plus contemporary romance novels for various print and digital markets. A few years ago she wrote her first story with paranormal elements, Limbo. Wanting to learn more about her background and her foray into the paranormal, I was lucky enough to be able to interview her for ScifiPulse.
Nicholas Yanes: What were some of your favorite books growing up? Are there any you still enjoy revisiting?
Amy Andrews: My earliest memory of loving a book was Anne of Green Gables which I adore to this day. And Charlotte’s Web broke my heart (still does whenever I read it). I don’t remember really having a preference for a particular kind of book – I jumped around all over the place really, found an author I loved and would read all their back list. I went through a huge Alistair Maclean phase! I read my first romance novel (snuck off with one of my mum’s) at about eleven or twelve and was hooked.
Yanes: When did you know that you wanted to a professional writer? Was there a specific moment in which this goal crystallized for you?
Andrews: There was a specific moment and it came in the form of my first rejection letter. I was twenty-two and waited 9 months to hear thanks but no thanks. And that was it. Right then and there with that letter in my hands, I decided that I *would* write a book that they *would* publish if it killed me. Rejection made me bloody minded and my apprenticeship began.
Yanes: You are one of the geniuses behind Word Witchery, which is a company that offers assessments on manuscripts. What do you think are the most common mistakes people make when crafting novels?
Andrews: The most common mistake I see is people starting the book in the wrong place. Followed by characters that leave you scratching your head as to why they would act a certain way or say a certain thing – characters that act out of character. Also info-dump is a common area new writers often get wrong because they’ve researched this really cool thing so they must get in every little scrap of info which utterly kills the pace.
Yanes: Given your experience in the world of publishing, what are some common mistakes authors make in regards to professionalism?
Andrews: Some authors forget how small publishing is (particularly in the smaller markets like Australia) and how incestuous it can be. Everyone knows everyone else – editors usually work in several different publishing houses and then go on to become agents and they all talk to each other. If you’re going to be sloppy and unreliable by missing all your deadlines or a diva (cockygate anyone??) then that’s going to get around.
Yanes: One of your novels is the paranormal mystery titled, Limbo. What was the inspiration for this story?
Andrews: Joy (the heroine) just popped into my head one day, fully formed and demanding her own story. I know that sounds wanky but it’s true. I kept ignoring her though, because I write contemporary romance, I *did not* know how to write an ex hillbilly punk rocker cum cadaver makeup artist that saw ghosts. I *did not* know how to write a murder/mystery book. I ignored her for almost three years during which time she became more and more fully realised and I couldn’t keep her quiet any longer. I knew I had to write her. I was also a huge fan of Six Feet Under back in the day and I drew some inspiration from that wonderfully quirky series.
Yanes: You aren’t known for paranormal stories, so why were you interested in exploring this genre?
Andrews: No, I’m not known for paranormal anything – I’m about as contemporary as they come. But, put simply, Joy chose me. This is not a story I would have told if I had to sit down and come up with it, my brain just doesn’t go down a paranormal path. And frankly I was terrified. Between the ghost and the mystery/police procedural stuff, I have never felt more out of my depth. But to me story is always about character and Joy was too strong to ignore so I strapped myself in and went for it.
Yanes: It is always difficult to balance a mystery with the paranormal because a ghost (or something else) can just give the answer away. How did you keep the paranormal elements of Limbo from undermining its mystery?
Andrews: I suspect because I’m not a paranormal writer it was easy to keep those elements at bay as they’re just not in my mindset. And, to be fair, this is very paranormal lite – in a lot of ways the ghost is just the plot device to introduce the mystery. She doesn’t have all the answers and we don’t see the ghost again, she’s merely the catalyst and it’s up to Joy and Dash to solve the mystery. But Joy *is* psychic, it’s a part of her makeup despite suppressing it into near extinction, and over the course of the next two books she will become more and more sentient. It’s like a long forgotten portal in her brain has been cracked open and she’ll learn to embrace that side of her.
Yanes: What are your long term goals for Limbo? Are you hoping to revisit any of these characters?
Andrews: There are two more books in the Joy Valentine mystery series. I’m hoping to get the second one done this year – I didn’t want to go this long between books but my schedule has been crazy the last few years. The next one is Neither Here Nor There and I’m really hoping I can get it done in time for it to be out early next year. All the secondary characters I had such fun writing will be revisited and the bigger mystery arc along with the romantic arc of the series will play out to their conclusions in book three. I’m really looking forward to the resolution of both of them.
Yanes: When people finish reading Limbo, what do you hope they take away from the experience?
Andrews: The same thing I always hope for my readers – that they’ve been entertained for a few hours. I know many authors write for loftier ideals and that’s fantastic but I just want to give people some time away from their lives, some laughs, some tears and a good feeling at the end of the book.
Yanes: Finally, what are you working on that people can look forward to?
Andrews: I am six books into my Sydney Smoke rugby series at the moment which are contemporary sports romances. There’s two more books in that series left to write so it’s pretty much consuming all my time and energy at the moment!