Today I welcome Andrea Cooper to my blog. Andrea’s imagination should be bottled and marketed for any writer who runs out of ideas! I’m so pleased to have you as a guest today, Andrea. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, thank you for having me. I’m a wife and mom to three kids (two boys and a girl). I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for three years. My four-year-old and nine-month-old keep me busier than when I was working full time. I’ve always loved stories and storytelling. When I was seven, I remember the kids in the neighborhood coming over and asking me what we were going to play. I set the characters and the plot. I wrote poetry as a teenager until my mid-twenties, then a few years later I shifted to writing down all the characters and stories I could no longer act out with friends to writing novels.
Sounds like you’ve always had a great imagination. Talk about the books you’ve written. What were the first seeds of ideas you had for your books? How did they develop?
I’ve written eight complete novels, but only two are published so far, and five novels are in various stages of completion.
The Garnet Dagger was my first published novel. I got the idea after watching Underworld in the movie theater. I loved everything about that movie. It made me think of what would happen if a vampire bit another creature besides a werewolf? Like a fae or Elvin? Answering that question I wrote The Garnet Dagger trilogy.
Viking Fire is my newest release. This is a historical romance that came from learning that some historians believe the name McLaughlin is derived from Lochlann which is the Gaelic word for a Viking who married an Irish princess. So I brainstormed about how the woman would feel to be forced to marry this Viking? It would be marrying her enemy. I changed the princess to a Laird’s daughter and am pleased with Bram and Kaireen’s story.
How do you handle spicy sex scenes and relatives? Are your family and friends supportive or do they choose not to read your books because of their sensual nature?
Some members of my family say my novels are too carnal and violent. By today’s standards, my sex scenes are pretty tame. However, I should spice them—then these family members wouldn’t read my stories and I wouldn’t have to hear them complain.
What do you keep in mind as you write? An overarching question? A theme? The last line of the book?
Usually it’s the theme of the book that I keep in mind. However, if I’m writing an intense fight scene, sometimes I play music that reflects the tone and rhythm that I want incorporated into the book.
Is there an aspect of writing that you favor over others, e.g. dialogue, exposition, description of a scene, setting, or character, etc.? Is there one that is more difficult for you?
I love dialogue. When I first started writing, my dialogue was stilted and in complete sentences. I read a lot of writing books and really good fiction books and it clicked finally. Now I think dialogue is one of my strengths. Description of a scene has always been easy for me—probably because I wrote poetry when I was fourteen until my mid-twenties. I also love my characters. They inspire me and often take over the story. For example, in my latest story Viking Fire, Elva was supposed to be just a handmaid. When she reveals her nature to Kaireen, I’m learning about it for the first time too, despite subtle hints she gave. It was not planned.
Spelling is my weakness. Thank goodness for spellcheck, NaturalReader, and my wonderful editors. In elementary school, my first grade teacher told my mother that I had a reading disability and would never learn to read. Back then, I guess they didn’t have state funding so I was never tested. After months of working with me, my mom and my sister taught me to read. In college, I thought I would see if perhaps I was dyslexic (since letters did like to flip around on me occasionally). The test said there was something there, but I had adapted and overcome it enough that it couldn’t detect it. What they did find though was that I had a spelling disability. One day I can spell chandelier without a problem, then later cannot remember how to spell doubt. I’ve gotten much better though since I started writing. I’m also not good at commas. I know where to put them in lists, etc. But when it comes to the fancy stylistic stuff, I’m lost. I guess my grammar teacher did a number on me about comma splices, cause I’m still scared of them to this day. J
I’m an English teacher, and I am still unsure of comma use sometimes. It’s the dirty little secret that grammarians hold close to their vests. LOL. Tell us about the funniest/craziest/most interesting thing that has happened to you as a writer.
In my Zumba class, one of the ladies said her fiancée in the Navy stationed in Japan was reading my debut novel. I doubted she was correct. The next weekend she asked me again the title of mine and said yes, that’s the one he’s reading. Ironically, another Navy guy read it first and recommended it to him. It just amazes me that two people on the other side of the world read my book.
That is awesome, Andrea! Eight men have read and liked my historical romances and I consider that such a compliment! Where do you get support as a writer? Do you work with a conference partner, writer’s group or other organization?
I recently joined an online writers’ critique group and I love it. Everyone is so wonderful and helpful. I’m also a member of Crimson Romance’s Author Facebook page—which not only has a fabulous group of writers, but we all support one another.
I love our Crimson Romance community! What amazing women! What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on revisions of the second book in The Garnet Dagger Trilogy…tentatively called Son of Dragons. I also have several WIPs about Vikings, female ninjas during 16th Century Japan, and a female vampire who wakes up with amnesia.
They all sound great! How do you balance writing, marketing, promoting, bookkeeping, family and work?
Can I plead the fifth on this one? Lolz. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance everything. Sometimes I feel like I run around with the kids all day and online, but get nothing done. The good side of this is when I do have time to write, it’s precious to me, and I don’t have to worry about writers’ block because I’ve been trying to fit in time to write for days.
Do you keep a notebook in your pocket, briefcase, purse or on your bedside table to write down ideas that come to you right away so you don’t forget them? Have any of these ideas developed into a successful piece?
I keep a file on my computer and have a USB as a backup. However, I didn’t always write down my ideas. Once I had a dream that I thought would make an interesting story, but my husband said it had already been done by a Stephen King book I’d never heard of. Now, I cannot remember that dream or idea—I wish I had written it down, just to have a record of it. Who knows, maybe I could have put a twist on it and made it different. After I couldn’t remember that story idea, I started writing them down.
Well, you never seem at a loss for great ideas, Andrea. I wish you great success with your novels.
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