Name Sarah Andre
Where are you from Paradise! Uh, I mean, Southwest FL- near Naples. J
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
My dad was in international business and moved us a lot- my childhood was spent in England and Germany, my teens in PA and CT, my undergrad in Ohio and then I settled in Boston, CA, and TX myself, before this move a few years ago.
I’m married (19 yrs) no kids, 2 Poms, Masters in Speech Pathology from Boston University.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Last week I got the coveted 2017 RITA® finalist call for my romantic suspense Tall, Dark and Damaged! I was golfing- got home at 12:30p, and figured the calls had gone out so I was congratulating my friends on social media when MY phone rang. Donna MacMeans introduced herself and she didn’t get past “RWA” before I started crying.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Something spontaneously happened on a plane ride over to Tuscany in 2004. The rest of the passengers were sound asleep and I pulled out a notebook like a zombie and started scribbling as fast as I could. I have no recollection of thinking: “I’m going to start a novel.” The words just poured forth and holy heck- out came a romance! (I only read suspense at the time.) Spent most of the 2-week trip working on it.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After that 2004 trip. I put that story (that I’d written on the plane and during the trip) aside, but went back to the same vineyard a month later, took a 6-week hiatus with my bestie and lived on the same vineyard, drinking wine at night, writing during the day. We’d introduce ourselves to vineyard guests as ‘writers’ and got a LOT of attention. J The novel I began there was never finished AND ended up being horrific, craft wise, but it opened a dam. I craved doing this fulltime.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A cute guy who I’d see running at a local park every weekend. I wondered what made him tick. I really wondered why he noticed a chubby, married woman like me whenever he passed by, but he clearly did- and that was the basis for the story I began on the plane. (Never spoke to that man in all those years though; never found out his name.) J
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Flag waving, card-carrying pantser. I have racked up HOURS staring at the curser wondering what the heroine’s answer is after the hero invites her to coffee. Every sentence is a crossroads- the story will go in a completely different direction for a yes or a no, so which answer to the coffee invite is right? Now multiply that for X sentences per page, 300 pages on average. Gets quite stressful. J
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I had a brainstorming list going and that title kept catching my attention. Because I self pubbed this (to see what all the hoopla was about) I got to comb through hundreds of pictures of hot guys- and stopped cold at this guy’s expression. This was the damaged looking hottie I had spent 300 pages describing!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Choose relationships and love over money and power. Both my father and husband were work-aholics, so it was easy to mold an alpha character whose priority was business and always working.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I learned long ago not to put any part of myself or others into a character. Every time someone ripped the heroine in that first novel they were insulting me! So the real stuff in here is: this was the mansion my grandparents owned north of Chicago when I was a kid. The treacherous cliff in the backyard that led to the beach, the boathouse carved into the cliff, the frightening spiral back-staircase to the kitchen- all real. I took a 7-year-old’s memory of the Gothic creepiness and turned it into the backdrop for a suspense.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Anything by Jenny Cruise, Kristan Higgins and Darynda Jones for voice, humor and emotion. Anything by Karin Slaughter for gripping intensity and precise scene setting.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Pintip Dunn was a 2014 Golden Heart finalist with me and we both debuted in 2015 with Entangled Publishing. I remember reading her YA novel (a genre I don’t usually read) and being absolutely gob smacked! I said to my husband, “She’s going to win the RITA® for Best First Book.” And she did. J
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Without a doubt RWA and all the chapters and online chapters. I’m the VP of SWFRW, and still belong to NWH, WH and WRW chapters. I’m also a member of Kiss of Death and The Golden Network, which are online chapters. Each of these has given me tons of invaluable information.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Oh yes. It was a 9 year hobby until I got Entangled’s contract in 2014. Now this is a full time+ overtime career. And my husband just retired so- not great timing!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Yes, I’d write it years earlier! I regret waiting this long, insisting on traditional publishing or nothing for 8 years. I regret writing and re-writing my debut novel over and over instead of writing more stories that I could now be revising and publishing. I’ve wasted a lot of time.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My second grade teacher showed my parents a writing assignment I’d done and told them I’d be a writer—I was in the room and recall her admiration. As a middle child/only daughter (at the time; my sister came 7 years later) I remember thinking “this makes me special! Look at the attention I’m getting!” So I’ve always written and had a big, fat ego about it until I entered romance contests and critique groups and BOY, did I realize how much craft I had to learn! Ego? Cue the squealing air from a balloon.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
It’s the next in the Damaged Heroes series (still untitled, but I’m getting close!) The art restoration firm (from this last RITA® nominated novel) stumbles upon a black market smuggling ring that sells ancient artifacts. This a real-life international crisis- ripped from the headlines. ISIS is decimating ancient sites and selling art and artifacts to the West for money to recruit and pay for weapons. We are literally paying them to terrorize us! There are even vocabulary terms: conflict archeology and blood artifacts. As for the romance part- the hero is similar to Clark Kent/Superman (you underestimate him because of his geekiness) and the romance is loosely a Beauty and the Geek trope.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My internal editor is ruthless, cruel and will stop me cold on a whim. And she does. Often. L
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I’ve presented craft lectures at a number of book clubs, book signings and ladies groups in the area this year, but it’s all in the town where I live.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Christa Holland at Paper and Sage. Isn’t it terrific?
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
My hero evidently came off as an ass instead of an emotionally-stunted, misunderstood Alpha. It was incredibly hard to figure out how to go back and invoke sympathy (because I adored him as is!) My editor, Anya Kagan was instrumental in explaining why and how. It was like a 2-by-4 to the head…and after years of writing, to have learned something so basic!
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Anya Kagan said: “Internally there has to be more at stake—a status quo that’s shaken from the moment the story opens and keeps falling apart.” Everything the hero does, every decision he makes is to keep his status quo world intact. It was brilliant. It made all the difference.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
The guy on the cover, LOL! Sorry. I seriously don’t have an answer.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Patience and perseverance. The rejections hurt, but this is a business. Get back up, dust yourself off and show them. Steve Martin has a quote that I hang by my writing desk: Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
A HUGE thanks for choosing this novel! There are so many newly published authors out there that it’s easy to stick to your old favorites. I appreciate you spending the money blind to try a new voice.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Just finished Someone Knows my Name by Lawrence Hill for my book club, and The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand. Will not be able to read anything else until I reach my 4/17 deadline to return draft #3 to my editor. L
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
My first memory of a book was the one that made me cry at the end- I was in 5th grade. It was about 4 brothers on a farm and one of them dies. Wish I could recall the name/author.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh- zany people who don’t care if they make fools of themselves- Melissa McCarthy comes to mind.
Cry- Anything (stories/music/commercials) that invoke emotions honestly (meaning not cloyingly emotional and trying real hard to get us to tear up.)
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Karin Slaughter, my favorite author. I’d like to pick her brain for craft pointers, because no one writes riveting novels quite like she does.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Hmm. She led an insanely joyful life
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Not anymore. L No time. Used to garden, jog, do yoga.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
We’ve finished watching the latest of: The Crown, Better Call Saul, House of Cards. I get a laugh out of Superstore and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Cadbury milk chocolate to an unhealthy degree. Shades of blues/purples. Music- too diverse to pinpoint- from opera to screaming hard rock. It has to match my mood.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Probably go back to my speech pathology degree. I worked with strokes, ALZ and traumatic brain injury.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Thanks again, Fiona!