Name Andrea McKenzie Raine
Where are you from
Victoria, BC, Canada
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I studied creative writing and English literature at the University of Victoria, and graduated in 2000 with a B.A. in English Literature. I continued to write poetry and fiction and became an active member of my writing community. Since my college days, I have been a regular attendee at a successful reading series called Planet Earth Poetry (formerly known as Mocambopo) where I have connected with many aspiring and established writers locally and nationally. My family has always been supportive of my writing aspirations – my parents encouraged me when I was younger (and still do), and more recently my husband has acknowledged the importance of writing in my life; before we became parents he would often tell me to ‘go and write’ while he made dinner, etc. My husband and I work full-time and are raising our two boys, aged 5 and 2, with the help of day-care and grandparents during the day. So, the days are a bit of a juggling act, and my writing time is limited and precious. My oldest son is now aware of my writing life and he has accompanied me at poetry readings and often asks me about my novel. I am very fortunate to have such an understanding, loving, creative and supportive network of people in my life as I embark on this journey.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
In December 2013, I published my debut novel Turnstiles through Inkwater Press. Now I am working on a prequel novella, A Crowded Heart. I have another local reading in November 17, 2014, at the Pen-In-Hand Reading Series at Serious Coffee. I am also thrilled to be receiving wonderful reviews of my book.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have been writing since I could hold a pencil. It is something ingrained in me and I have always had the desire to express myself through journaling, poetry and creative stories. I was the kid who became excited in class whenever the teacher assigned creative writing, while most of the other kids groaned and whined. I started writing my first journal when I was six, and at age seven I would write little ‘ding-dong’ poems in homemade cards for family members. My third grade teacher told me that she expected to see a novel written by me one day, and my mom eventually started asking me to write poems in other people’s birthday cards. So, I had support from an early age from people close to me, which helped encourage me to continue writing and developing my craft.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In the third grade, I knew writing was an important part of my life. I seriously began thinking about writing as a career and considered myself a writer, albeit very young and unpublished. I couldn’t really call myself an author, and expect others to see me in the same light, until my first book of poems A Mother’s String was published by Ekstasis Editions in 2005.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I always knew I had a novel inside me, but I didn’t feel like I had much to say until I embarked on a two-month solo backpacking trip through Western Europe in the summer 1998.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
My writing tends to be more in the ‘literary fiction’ category; I have read a lot of classical literature and I prefer to paint pictures with words and go beneath the skin of my characters. I write more about my characters’ inner lives and struggles. I also incorporate poetic language into my fiction. My writing is accessible and entertaining, but I believe my work also has many layers and an underlying message for the reader to explore and ponder.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The working title came to me in the early stages of writing my book, and it stuck. I was thinking of Turnstiles in a concrete way: train travel. Then Turnstiles became a metaphor for traversing through rites of passage, and crossing both geographical and personal landscapes to discover new places or perceptions.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I believe there are many layers to explore in Turnstiles, but ultimately I hope readers will grasp the idea that everything can change in a heartbeat; the world is full of possibilities, and the key to accessing those possibilities could simply be an act of kindness or changing the course of your day. Also, things aren’t always what they seem – the person you dismiss as an out-of-work bum sitting on the sidewalk may have a great spark inside of them that hasn’t been able to shine yet, and the person who seems to ‘have it all’ may be battling with demons that you wouldn’t wish on anybody.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Writing Turnstiles was a cathartic journey for me, although most of it is fiction. I did explore some issues I was working through: finding my way into steady, rewarding employment after university; muddling through my ‘single life’ and the disappointment of failed relationships; and trying to find my own place and purpose in the world.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I have never been through anything as severe as my characters; however, I was able to impart empathy for their situations on some level. I’ve watched a lot of movies, read a lot of books, taken pieces from the lives of others and mine own – basically, I’ve lived on this planet for nearly 40 years and paid attention.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky;
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Break In Two by MJ Summers. I don’t usually read steamy romances, so this one is kind of new for me. I also simply need an escape at the moment. My husband and I work full-time and we have two rambunctious boys who are five and two; sometimes it’s nice to read some light fiction. I like to alternate between classic literature and contemporary fiction.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Arleen Pare and Pamela Porter
Fiona: What are your current projects?
As I mentioned, I am working on a prequel novella titled A Crowded Heart. I am also trying to find a home for my second poetry manuscript, Spectrums & Apertures and a chapbook of ghazals titled A Year of Mornings.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I have a wonderful writing group called the Waywords. Our focus is poetry, but the sole act of writing is at the core of the group. They have definitely been a large part of my support network, and cheering me in on all my writing endeavours.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I have so many ideas, and other novels that I have started and want to finish. My novel Turnstiles also has more legs: a spin-off and possible sequel.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. I have lived with these characters and their individual stories long enough that I feel every rock has been overturned.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It was always there. I don’t know when or how the first impulse to write began. I do remember that my first grade teacher gave our class an assignment to keep a daily journal, and I took it very seriously and enjoyed the chance to write down all of my daily events. The record of those events also conjured up emotions about them. I also taught myself to read books before I started school, so I think my desire for books began at a very early age and I knew I wanted to be a part of that creative world.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The prequel novella I am working on is centered on a main character in Turnstiles who the reader never gets to meet because he is deceased from the beginning of the novel. However, the choices he made in his life have a direct influence on the way the lives of the other characters unfold. He is painted in a bad light, and I felt that he needed an opportunity to tell his side of the story.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Finding the time to write; to get lost in that other world.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Diana Gabaldon is my favourite author because her writing is epic, adventurous, historical, interpersonal, human, vivid and poetic.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
My novel, Turnstiles, is largely set in London, Paris and Germany; when I returned from my backpacking trip, the landscapes and people of these countries were fresh in my mind.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Inkwater Press worked with me to find the perfect cover for my book.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part was delving into those darker places.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I think I learned that there is a light at the end of any dark tunnel.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep writing. Don’t lose the spark, or drop the thread no matter how little time you have to write, or how long it takes to complete a poem, short story, or novel. Take the time to get your thoughts down on paper – brain dump into a journal (you may find little gems later). Remember to let your characters take you wherever they want to go.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I am a new author, but I have a lot to say and I have been working on my craft for a long time. I am grateful to all of the readers who have taken a chance on reading my first book. There will be more to come.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Ramona, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My children make me laugh and cry.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would want to meet and why?
Emile Zola. I don’t know how much we could say to each other since I don’t speak French, but I would like to meet him because he was prolific and brave; he wrote for the sake of humanity.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy scrapbooking my sons’ baby books and travel books.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Lasagne/red/classical and rock
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I honestly don’t know. Writing is in my blood. Perhaps I would have continued studying ballet.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My author website is http://andreamckenzieraine.com
My author blog is http://arainewriter.blogspot.ca