Please help me welcome author, Andra Shine to PNR Lovers today. I hope you all enjoy reading this interview as I did. 🙂
Tell us about yourself.
I’ve led an interesting life. My father was a punk rock DJ on the night shift, so I’ve slept in a lot of radio stations, and been to hundreds of gigs. He was also a pilot, so I’ve flown planes since I was five, but can’t land (which makes the teachers really nervous when you start a pilot’s license).
I’ve got a second dan black belt in ninjitsu, and I’ve been in bands and in a poetry troupe. I’ve performed all over New Zealand, and in Indonesia’s Reader’s and Writer’s Festival. I’ve acted, been a dj, worked a camera and sound for news, and written news articles. Through all of this I’ve written. Most of what I’ve done has supported my writing, or has been about words, my greatest love.
Can you take us through what a typical writing day looks like for you?
A typical writing day involves a lot of interruptions. Gone are the days when I could sit down to write and emerge a day later, desperate to pee and wondering why I’m so hungry. Now I have two children. So they wake me up and I get breakfast, and sit next to them typing away while they create chaos at the table.
I pack one off to school, then the little one and I go to kindergarten, where I teach part-time. I leave her there after my shift and sneak home for a whooping great hour and 15 minutes of writing. Or an hour of writing and breakfast. Then pick her up again. Neglect her while she watches dvds and I write, then I pick up the boy-child from school.
Back at home, more neglect, some food and bribes and writing occur, followed by more dvds, some refereeing of arguments, the cooking of dinner and homework. Finally I shove them into bed. Then I put on the headphones, and do some serious writing.
There is often some complaining on the part of my fiance, apparently I never talk to him because I’m always writing. I agree, but don’t want to put my computer away. One of us wins. Then it’s either talking to the man I love, or I get to do some more writing.
He goes to bed almost dead from utter boredom around midnight and I write till two or three, depending on how psychotically tired I am. If he snores, I’ll get up again and write until I either collapse, or a child gets up and demands breakfast. Then it all starts again.
Where was I? Oh, that’s right, being interrupted during writing. Homework time.
What words of wisdom would you impart with your younger self if you could go back to when you were writing your first book?
Oh what wouldn’t I tell my younger self? Save money! Then I could pay myself to write. Also, read books on structure, on grammar, on Donner and Blitzing before a deadline.
I would tell myself to study the craft of writing as if it were any other learned skill. I have the imagination and I’ve put in my 10,000 hours, but doing more than an English degree would have saved me time.
It would have saved those novels that sit in my Dr. Bob bag, with gaping holes in the middle of them. I don’t know if these hands have the technical skills to save them, but I might Frankenstein them together into one freakish monster. They await a research grant.
In PNR terms, how would you classify yourself personally, Alpha, Beta, or Omega? Why?
I’m a full-on Alpha. I’m way too decisive, bossy and have a love of being in charge. In many situations I’m fighting for that Alpha territory as I appear to have produced two others. In the case of the first born, it’s my fault for calling him Aslan. It turns out that Aslan means ruler, as well as lion, so we’re both certain we’re in charge and clash on a regular basis about who gets to determine the rules.
Allara may be second in line, but she’s first to tell us she is a princess, and we should do as we’re told. She’s as bossy and dominant as I am, and backing down isn’t in her genetic make-up.
I wish I was more sensitive at times, my partner says I have a Vulcan like logic that I use unfairly in arguments. The poor guy had feelings, and can’t seem to win an argument against any of us. Really he takes everything in his stride. He’s a third dan black belt and and an all round great guy. We fell in love at first sight, but took years to admit it. He can look after kids build a boat, play guitar, bass and drums, kick ninja arse, and can pretty much handle anyone, and that includes me.
Have you ever written in collaboration with anyone? If so, who, and how did you like the experience? If not, would you like to? Who would be your dream collaborator?
I’m used to collaborating, in bands, in the poetry troupe I was in, and I’m currently co-writing a book with a survivor of domestic violence. TRIGGER WARNING. Her boyfriend cut her hands off with a samurai sword, and they were surgically reattached.
This book is way outside of the paranormal romance genre, so I won’t give more details, because everything in it requires trigger warnings.
It is based on one of the most famous violent crimes in New Zealand. My co-author has been approached to have the section of the book based on her recovery and rehabilitation, and her Shamanic studies, turned into a movie. This means I get to say that my book may be made into a film, which is about as exciting as it gets for me as an author.
I love the collaboration process, where my alpha decisiveness helps. I’m amazed at her generosity of spirit and her bravery. She unashamedly faces everything in her past. She is incredibly resilient, and I often have to remind myself, that due to her injuries, she needs more time and rest than I. I have to remember not to be impatient, or push her too much, which is my negative alpha behavior, because what she is achieving is incredible.
At this stage in my career, this is my dream collaboration, it may not be Harry Potter with J.K. Rowling, or Discworld with Terry Pratchett, but it has newspaper articles and 60minutes teasers, just waiting for it to be finished.
Social media plays a big part in self-promotion, but can also be a huge time suck. What strategies (if any) do you have to maximize your time?
I am horrible at social media. Another reason to be so thrilled that there’s media coverage for my current book. I don’t even have internet at home. I have it intermittently on my phone. I have a pathetic number of followers on Twitter, because I’m so picky about who I follow and I’d rather be writing than tweeting. I jumped on board with a group of wonderful women doing a paranormal romance anthology, and many of them have helped me with social media. Our group, the ‘Writing Wenches’ is all about support, for writing, social media, promotion, and life.
I don’t yet have a blog, or an author page, a newsletter or a website, or any of the necessary evils of being a 21st century author. I break technology when I touch it, it just sort of zaps like I’ve sent electricity through it, but in a bad way. My science minded friends don’t believe my mystic ones when they say I’m a witch, but they don’t let me anywhere near their computers either. Also, lightening tries to strike me more often than it should.
And now for the silly… if you were the leading lady in your favorite PNR novel, who would you be?
If I was the leading lady in a paranormal romance, I’d be most like Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I know it’s more of a comedy, but I tend to write paranormal romance/comedy, or science fiction/comedy, I’ve also got a satire on self-help books almost done called The Cynics Guide to Love and Romance.
Elizabeth is more dedicated to martial arts that I am now, but I like to think that I could still kick some zombie butt.
Otherwise, it would be Stephanie Plum, again, more of a paranormal comedy, with some romance. I’m more of a fighter than a lover I’m afraid. If you’d asked about TV, I’d have chosen anyone who gets to star opposite Dean Winchester in Supernatural, because, well, you know why.
Do you have anything specific that you’d like to say to your readers?
To my readers I’d like to say thank you. Thank you for your imaginations, your hearts and your minds. Those who read paranormal romance are believers in both magic and love, and they don’t care who knows it.
In the cynical society in which we live, these are the people who are truly amazing. They know that there is still mystery and magic to be wrung from this tired old world. They have faith in love, and are not afraid to feel. They are the ones who still wish upon a star, and clap when a fairy needs life. Like me, they know how to fall in love at first sight, and trust that love when the lightening strikes. They are brave souls without whom, I would be insane and alone, ranting to myself in an attic.
What’s in the works for you right now? When can we expect to see it released to the world?
The Double-Edged Sword, a non-fiction book about domestic violence, is two weeks from being sent to the editor. My serious stuff is written under my real name, Andra Jenkin. Then I’ve got to go into overdrive and finish several books at once. Most of these will be written under my author name, Andra Shine, which will be my name, should I ever get around to marrying the love of my life.
I write like I read, working on several projects at the same time, which one depends on my mood. I’ve got to restructure The Cynics Guide to Love and Romance, and maybe package it as a column. Then fix the gaping hole in my science fiction comedy, and do a massive re-write on a paranormal romance about a young witch who gets trapped in a book by an evil warlock. The first time around it kept coming out as a young adult book, and that’s not what I want. I might have to age her a bit and give her paramour more of a starring role.
There’s also a story I wrote as a short for a competition, but it wouldn’t stay short and I fell in love with the characters. So I’ve flagged the competition and have decided to make it a novel.
This is also a paranormal romance. It starts off with Nadia, a very meticulous art restorer having to return home to look after her mother, who is going into hospital. But soon it is discovered that her lakeside home is not so sweet, something strange lurks beneath the surface.
Her boyfriend Ryan is desperate to help, but Nadia won’t let him in to her world, and he’s reaching his own breaking point.
It’s called Lurking in the Deep, or perhaps The Churning Deep, depending on how many other titles are out there when I launch it out into the world. And I dare not say more or I’ll reveal the twist.
Can you share an excerpt of your upcoming book, or recently released one?
The excerpt is from The Heart of a Hunter, which is just one of the paranormal romance stories in Bewitching Desires: A Savannah Coven Anthology, recently released on Amazon, Kobo and all the usual places. It still costs only one dollar on Amazon, and contains twelve short stories/ novellas.
“I know that look you two. You’re up to something.”
They exchanged blank looks, a perfect picture of innocence, albeit a rather wrinkled one. As if the picture had been scrunched up and shoved into a pocket.
Ashley watched them with suspicion; she pointed an accusing finger.
“Don’t. I don’t know what you’re going to do, but whatever it is, just don’t.” She didn’t trust them not to meddle in her life in extreme and embarrassing ways. Ashley backed slowly out of the door a suspicious eyebrow raised at them.
To their credit, the aunts waited until she was well out of earshot before they burst out laughing again.
“I’ve a good mind to put a spell on that one, show her the trouble with throwing your sex magic around,” Esmeralda declared.
“Go on, then.” Agatha’s mischievous eyes lit up. “I dare you. But do it right. Make her fall in love. That’ll put a cat amongst the pigeons.”
“You know I can’t resist a good dare.” A wicked smile broke out over Esmeralda’s crinkly face, and for a moment she was more wrinkle than witch. She stood unsteadily, waved her hands in the air, more for balance than spell work. Then she turned around a few times, shouted a few garbled incantations then fell on the bed and started again. She rounded off the bizarre process with a chant, “Anusin, anusin, atetin, atetin, atelin.”
Esmeralda beamed at her sister. Agatha’s expression stole her certainty and the smile faded.
“What? Wasn’t that right?” Esmeralda asked.
“Well, not the first bit obviously, that was ridiculous. But the end was disastrous.”
“I thought the end was good.”
“You said atelin!”
“Surely not,” Esmeralda said, she frowned and studied the ceiling as if she would find her memory hidden in the chandelier.
“I heard it, atelin. Right at the end, like you meant it.”
Esmeralda sucked her breath through her teeth. “Well, true love then.”
“Definitely overcooked it.”
“No doubt about that.”
“Not just any old love spell.”
“Your actual true love spell.”
“Not much I can do about that.”
“You think she’ll be cross?”
“What? That she’s got around six hundred years on this earth and you’ve gone and called her true love to her when she’s only 23?”
“Shouldn’t think so. She’ll be in love won’t she? People in love are idiots. She probably won’t notice anything we do from here on in.”
Where can our readers find you online?
I can be found on the web as @andrashocker @andramerlyn and @merlyn_andra