Tuesday, August 26, 2014

An Interview with Author, Andrea Raine

Let's learn a bit about one of our favorite authors, Andrea Raine!

Where are you from?
I was born in Smithers, British Columbia and grew up in Victoria, British Columbia.

Why do you write?
I feel compelled to write whether it is a journal entry, a poem, a book review, an article, an essay, a character sketch, a short story, or the next chapter in a novel. I have always felt the need to express myself and the world around me in the written form.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I always knew I had a novel in me, I just didn’t know where the story idea would come from. I found the inspiration for my first novel while I was on a two-month solo backpacking trip in Western Europe in the summer of 1998. I saw a young guy sleeping in a tunnel near Hyde Park, and he didn’t seem to be homeless but rather a backpacker on a shoestring budget. His image stayed with me throughout the rest of my trip, and I began writing about him when I returned home. His character proved to be a springboard for other characters in my novel, and so my novel Turnstiles took on its own life.

What genre do you typically write?
My novels are more character-driven than plot-driven, and so I would call my genre literary fiction. I also write poetry.

Do you feel like you have a specific writing style?
I tend to describe the internal workings of my characters, rather than focus on their outward appearances, and I like to give them a vivid landscape and explore the complexity of human relationships.

How long does it usually take you to write a book?
Honestly, it took me fifteen years to bring my first novel, Turnstiles, to fruition. I took it seriously, and never dropped the thread, but I kept it somewhat under wraps and I was never entirely sure if it would see the light of day. I was also writing Turnstiles while many other things were happening in my life:  university, day jobs, relationships, marriage, kids, etc. I am currently working on a prequel novella, which I began writing five years ago shortly before my first son was born. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and plan to have my manuscript ready for publication by the end of this year.

What do you do to conquer writer’s block?
If I find I am staring helplessly at a blank page, I try to reflect on the character(s) or scene I want to flesh out; I step back from the pressure of writing the actual novel, and spend some time working on a character sketch or making point-form notes on how to approach the scene or unfolding of the next chapter(s).

What can you tell us about your favorite character from your book?
My favourite character is Martin, and I think it is because he starts out as a hopeful, naïve character that is only damaging himself through his insecurities and protective walls he builds. He projects a false image of pretentiousness, when he is really yearning for acceptance; and he is reluctant to wave his white flag. He knows there is something missing, something broken in him that he needs to repair, and he is given the opportunity to embark on a journey to mend it.

What actor or actress would you like to see play your character in the movie adaptation
I think James MacAvoy could portray Martin, and perhaps Dakota Fanning could play Yvonne.

Who is your favorite author and what is it about them that inspires you?
Fyodor Dosteovsky. I read Crime and Punishment, and was struck by how he was able to write about the mental workings of the main character, as well as write about a dark subject matter and still leave the reader feeling conflicted in their sympathy and degree of understanding towards the character and his simple human curiosity, albeit depraved. 

What book are you reading now?

The Hobbit; I don’t usually read fantasy novels, but The Hobbit has been on my reading list for ages.

What are your current projects?

As I mentioned, I am working on a prequel novella to Turnstiles titled A Crowded Heart. I am also trying to find a home for a short collection of ghazals titled A Year of Mornings, and a second full-length poetry book titled Spectrums & Apertures.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No. I have spent so much time with these characters, I feel that I know them inside and out – their motivations and insecurities – and that I have been able to carve out the right path for each of them.

Can you share a little of your work with us?

My prequel novella A Crowded Heart focuses on a character that is deceased from the beginning of Turnstiles. His name is Willis Hancocks Sr., and he is a significant character because the decisions he made in his lifetime affect the paths of the main characters in Turnstiles. He is painted in a bad light, and I felt he should be given the opportunity to tell his side of the story:  he was forced into undesirable situations and, ultimately, had hard choices to make.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The most challenging aspect of my writing life is actually devoting time to delve into my writing. I have a full-time job and two boys under the age of five. However, once I get a solid idea for a novel that I am excited about, and get rolling with it, I enter that other world and make mental notes and spend ample time thinking about the characters. The writing may not happen every day, but the characters are always present in my mind and the material for filling the pages surfaces in spurts.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t drop the thread. If you have an idea for a story that you believe in, and characters that are speaking to you, stay with them and write down whatever they have to say.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

At the moment, it may take me a little longer to publish a book (until I am able to write full-time), but my characters are three-dimensional people who are often working through their own winding, self-realizing journeys. My writing is partly cathartic, but the themes are also universal as they touch on the human condition and the complexities of interpersonal relationships. I hope readers will take a chance on a new author, and embark on these journeys with me. I have many books to write – fiction and poetry – and I look forward to sharing my books and beginning new and lasting relationships with my readers.