Welcome to another Author Babble! This time I am joined by a good friend and author, Andi Van! With a new book, Magic Fell, on its way to readers, Andi been gracious enough to stop by and chat with us in today's blog. You will also be able to read my review of Magic Fell, coming soon...
Let's get to the good stuff, tell us about your book!
Thank you for inviting me to join you, Eliza! I’m thrilled to be here.
Q: What inspired Magic Fell?
ANDI: Funny enough, the setting of this story happened when I was barely in high school. Pre-Internet (but not TOO pre-Internet), when forums involved using modems to dial in. Anyway, there was this service called Prodigy, and the sci-fi/fantasy club I belonged to had their own forums there. One of the subforums was a section for roleplaying in a mages’ guild. I created a character (Trivintaie, who shows up in the prologue of Magic Fell) who eventually ended up being promoted to leader when the guy who was running it left. Years after this all happened (it was probably 2004), I joined in my first NaNoWriMo. And I had no idea what to write, but I wanted to write SOMETHING. I was talking to my granny about it, and she wanted me to write her something with dragons in it. Nice dragons that didn’t eat people. (Granny loved dragons – I was bequeathed her collection of figurines when she passed away.) And I immediately thought back to that old forum, which I’d been nostalgic for, and decided I wanted to use that setting. Except I couldn’t, not really. A lot had changed, and that original guild had been built by other people that I was no longer in contact with. So I had to destroy it before I could bring it back.
Q: What was your favorite part about the process from idea conception to post-release date for?
ANDI: My favorite part is being done. I’m kidding (mostly). Honestly, I think it’s these days right before the actual release that I love so much. I’ve finished the hard parts (the writing and the thirty billion rounds of edits), and now it’s just the promo and the waiting. But the nice part is, none of the reviews are out, so no one’s crushed my heart into dust and let their dog pee on my remains by giving me a 1-star review. ;)
(Disclaimer: Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and I’m fully for that. 1-stars
aren’t fun, but they happen to everyone. You think something sucks? Thank you
for your honesty.)
Q: Who is your favorite character from your stories, and why?
ANDI: Again, with the favorite child picking. ;) I honestly don’t know that I have one favorite. Maybe Zach, from SWtU, but that’s kind of weird for me to say, because Zach is basically me. Maybe K’yerin, from Magic Fell, because he’s a sarcastic purple telepathic cat. And I’m kind of in love with the main character of the Christmas story I’m working on. I love all of my character for their own reasons, but I don’t know that I could choose just one.
Your energy and enthusiasm is inspiring! As a fellow author, let's get talk about the more analytical aspects of your writing process.
Q: Why do you write and what got you started?
ANDI: I write because if I didn’t, I think I’d implode. I’ve always written. I don’t remember NOT writing. My mother still has collections of short stories I wrote when I was six. I think my grandmother got me started. We used to exchange poems instead of letters, but even before that, she instilled a love of the fairy tale in me that I’ve never lost. She never lost it either, that magic that comes from the story. I hope I can live my life the same way.
Q: When writing, are you a plotter or pantser?
ANDI: A little from column A, mostly from column B. Overall, I’m a pantser. But I’ll get to a point where I start plotting. I think I was over half-way into Starting With the Unexpected before I wrote out a very basic outline to finish it.
Q: Do you have any quirky writing routines or superstitious habits?
ANDI: Oh my god, yes, and they’re so embarrassing. Which means I’m going to tell you all about them, because they’re funny. When I’m writing at home, I’ll usually have a movie playing in the background. THE SAME MOVIE. EVERY TIME. For the original Magic Fell, it was Grease. It’s been over a decade, and I don’t think I’ve watched it in its entirety since – I was watching it EVER DAY while I was writing. Once I’m done and I submit a story, I get a small jar and fold a small jar’s worth of lucky stars. Which is kind of childish, but I’m okay with that, because I’M kind of childish.
Q: What’s your best advice for other authors be they beginner or master.
ANDI: DON’T READ YOUR REVIEWS ON GOODREADS. Don’t respond to bad reviews in general. Don’t do it. Don’t be another author behaving badly.DO get to know your community – not just the readers, but the other writers. That’s one of your best resources, and a place you can go if you’re at a point where you feel like you just can’t do it any more. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up my phone and texted an author friend with how badly I was feeling, only for them to come back with their pompoms out, cheerleading for me, because I’ve done the same thing for them at some point.
Q: Who is your biggest writing inspiration?
ANDI: My grandmother, even now. Also my mother – she doesn’t have the same desire to write like granny did and I do, but she DOES have the desire to read, and she’s a fantastic editor/sounding board/cheerleader/shoulder to cry on/dryer of tears. She was the first person I called when I got acceptance letter for Magic Fell, and she understood why I was sobbing when I told her about it.
You're obviously a storyteller, but what about your bookworm side.
Q: Would you rather: be able to read any book forever and never be allowed to write again or be a prolific author but unable to read other people’s work?
ANDI: That’s…wow. If I had a gun to my head and HAD to choose, I think I’d take reading over writing. Other people’s stories are my escape. My own stories are a different kind of escape, but I can’t just relax and fall into them and shut off my brain like I can with someone else’s writing.
But, you know, eventually I’d implode, so I lose either way.