Q7 Interview: Andrea Murray

1. Hello Andrea, thanks for taking the time to chat with us here on Q7. Can you tell me a little about you? Maybe something we wouldn’t already know? 

I am not a writer. Strange coming from someone with multiple published novels, I know, but I don’t consider myself a writer. I like to think of myself as a teacher with a writing problem. Though I began writing as a kid, I didn’t become serious about it until 2010 when a group of my students were reading from my classroom library faster than I could keep up. These students inspired me to write my first real novel,something they would want to read. By this time, I’d been teaching for too long to consider myself as anything other than a teacher. Writing was something I wanted to try but wasn’t a lifestyle, not until after I self-published Vivid. After that, I was hooked. I’ve been semi-obsessed since then. Following Vivid, I wrote Vicious and Vengeance, the second and third novels in the trilogy. Then after a class discussion one morning, I plotted out the dystopian society that would become the setting (and title) for Omni. Contra is the sequel. These novels were initially self-published but are now published by Dragon Moon Press, when the fantastic Gwen Gades rescued me following the collapse of my first publisher, Booktrope.

Before beginning my adventures in education, I was a part-time janitor, secretary, factory worker, cashier, and waitress (but only for three days). I began teaching in the fall of 1997 after graduating with a BSE from Arkansas State University. I’ve taught pretty much every “English” related class. Because my first–and second–teaching job was in a small school where teachers wear many hats, I’ve had remediation classes and AP classes all in the same day. One year, I began my day with third graders and ended with seniors.  Because I have an MA in English, I have also taught concurrent credit classes for a local community college. One of my greatest accomplishments is winning Teacher of the Year in two different school districts.

I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart, Chris, for twenty plus years. We have two children, Olivia and Wyatt, and one high-strung German Shepherd, Claus. When I’m not at school or working with my Odyssey of the Mind team, I love to read. Historical romance and paranormal romance are my favorites. Besides reading, I’m a television addict and devote WAY too many hours to it. One of my favorite channels is Investigation Discovery (aka the murder channel) much to my husband’s dismay, but I also like sci-fi, especially superhero movies.

2.  You’ve written several books, including your young adult paranormal romance series, can you tell us a little about what being an author felt like when your first book was published compared to now? 

When I self-published Vivid, I was beyond naive about the publishing world. I was so excited, and I still am, but now that excitement is tinged with a tad more wisdom. I thought I’d publish then magically get all these fans. That just doesn’t happen often. Writing doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing it, but it really is. There is so much more to publishing than just writing a novel you love. Social media and establishing a brand and platform are hard to do. When I write now, I’m thinking about the publicizing I need to set up. If I let it, that part takes some of the joy out of the writing, so I have to be careful not to feel overwhelmed now. A wise teacher once asked me how to eat an elephant. When I sat there blank-faced, she answered, “One bite at a time,” meaning don’t get overwhelmed with the whole process. Think one bite at a time. That’s my mantra now for my writing–one bite at at time.

3. I think I heard that you and your family took a vacation recently, if so, would you mind sharing where you went and what you most enjoyed while being there?

We went to Disney World, and it was a blast! I really didn’t expect to enjoy myself like I did. It was an experience for my kids, not me–well, it was supposed to be for the kids. In truth, I had more fun than they did. We wanted them to have the WDW experience, a childhood rite of passage so speak, but my husband and I had never been either, so when we got there, we turned into kids again! They have perfected the art of transporting you to a different place and time. All of these fantasy worlds just come alive. The architecture was my favorite thing, how something you know is logically is just a fiberglass facade can turn into a castle, a pirate ship, or the beast’s room complete with a fading rose . . . it truly is a magical place!
4. Most people have a person who influenced them in some way when they were a child that they never forgot, was there someone like that for you and what was the lasting impression they made on you?

I’ve had several teachers who have influenced me. My junior high and high school math teacher, Glenna Stephen, is one of those people. She is still the smartest person I know, and she showed me it’s okay to be smart and not to let others intimidate me into hiding that part of myself. She never bragged about her intelligence, but you just KNEW she was the smartest person in the room–any room! I respect her so much and still maintain a friendship with her today. Another person who’s influenced me is my husband Chris. He is never afraid to who he is, no matter whether you like him or not! Sometimes, I cringe when he has that “this is me, take it or leave it” attitude, but I always admire that he isn’t scared to be himself. You always know where you stand with him. He doesn’t play games and pretend to be someone he isn’t, and that is a rare quality in today’s world.

5. On your website, you shared that you have a love for historical romance, pirates, and the medieval time period. What is it about those topics that you feel draw you in?

I love history. I wanted to teach history, but I decided I could probably get a job easier if I taught English. All things historical interest me. I’ve always been drawn to the Renaissance, Romantic, and Victorian time periods, especially in Great Britain. I’m a closet Anglophile. In fact, my Masters is in Romantic/Victorian British lit. There’s just something about those times, those people. The idea of such a structural society with rankings and unwritten rules is so different than what we know, and of course, my favorites are ironically the characters who fight against that structure!

6.  If there was one place in the world that you could travel to, where would it be and why?

That’s easy–England. I’ve always wanted to go and spend a good long time there, exploring all that history. From London to Stonehenge, I want to see it all! Whenever we travel, my hubby and I always enjoy the historical places the most. There’s a feeling you get when you stand where so many have stood before you, soaking in all that atmosphere.

7. Last question. What is one thing in the world that you’d like to see changed?

Oh my! I’m not political, let me start with that. I don’t pretend to understand or even want to understand the politics that go into our world structure. Frankly, it all frightens me a little. So, I’m not going the political route with this one. But one thing I do see that is wrong with this world is our selfishness. We live in a “me” world, how are you going to help me, how are you going to include me, this thing offends me so it must be wrong. That drives me crazy! I’m a little bit utilitarian in that regards I guess. Everything isn’t about the individual and shouldn’t be. We’ve become so scared of hurting someone’s feelings that it’s almost ridiculous.