Enter if you dare, this curious dimension, The Bog Zone: Author Interview #3 with Andrea Murray.
To read the first two curiouser and curiouser adventures in The Bog Zone, please click on the authors’ names and discover what makes these writers continue down the writer’s path. Eden Baylee and Eleanor Parker Sapia. (The artwork used to create The Bog Zone signs were painted by George Bogdanovitch.)
Andrea Murray agreed to sit in The Bog Zone‘s hot seat for a round of Q&A . . . welcome this brave and creative soul, and make note of Andrea Murray’s Vivid trilogy: Vivid, Vicious, and Vengeance, to read, and once you do, a rating or review would be most appreciated. Writers want to hear from their readers and fans.
Welcome, Andrea, and fasten your seatbelts . . . try to answer quickly, off the cuff, and edit later. First, please share with these discerning readers where you came from, and what you’ve been up to during your own writing life.
I graduated from Arkansas State University with a BSE in English and an MA in English from Arkansas State University. I’ve now been teaching English for twenty years and have taught journalism, freshmen composition, every level of junior high and high school English, and Pre-AP and AP literature. I was also a two-time teacher of the year. (Wait! That’s a terrific award to win, and twice. Andrea, I wish you so many more high points.) I live in Arkansas with Chris, my high school sweetheart and husband of twenty-two years; our two children, Olivia and Wyatt; and our rambunctious German Shepherd, Claus, in a possibly haunted house. (Claus, the photo to the right, looks like a great family companion. My own long coat German shepherd princess, Kipling, would like to be pawpaws!) I co-coach my daughter’s two-time state champion Odyssey of the Mind team when I’m not chauffeuring our son to Cub Scouts. In addition to my young adult paranormal romance series The Vivid Trilogy, I have written The Omni Duology, a young-adult dystopian duo.
~With stomach rumbling, I’d like to begin this interview, as always, with something that sustains all writers: great cooking, meals caught on the fly, and the kindness of terrific chefs across the globe. What was your last great meal? Make all who read this hungry. Share your creative energy when in the kitchen—if cooking isn’t your thing, please tell us a curious cooking disaster.
My family’s favorite meal that I cook is meatloaf. Yes, meatloaf. The butt of many a joke and considered unappealing by some. But my meatloaf is not that usual block of meat that kind of plunks onto the plate. My meatloaf is made with tomato sauce, green peppers, onion, and lots of ketchup on top. It’s juicy and has to be scooped out, not cut with a knife. We usually have homemade, skin-on mashed potatoes with sour cream, butter, cheese, and pieces of real bacon. To top the potatoes, I make brown gravy using beef bouillon, onion, salt, and pepper. We also have green beans cooked with Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar.
Meatloaf can be the best comfort food in the world, and I love your variations. I ended up making a bacon-topped version with a potato casserole and silken gravy for a crowd on Christmas Eve. There were no complaints beyond the over-filled guests. Now, your next answer was filled with magical, mouth-watering cuisine that made me salivate. What is the one book you wish you wrote or made you pea green with envy?
The Harry Potter series gives me book envy. It is so well-written. The storyline is tight, and the way Rowling brings back characters or events from book one in book seven is phenomenal. Parents may get tired of all the HP hype, but the hype is deserved. Her mythological and classical references are impressive as well, not to mention the engaging nature of the characters. Who doesn’t love the ultimate underdog?
Who doesn’t indeed. I find the films as creatively designed as well, a rare thing, when both the books and the films are easily reread and ripe for repeat viewing. Now, to throw you a curve, what’s the craziest thing you’ve done for love?
This is a hard one. I typically don’t do “crazy,” whether for love or anything else. I’m kind of practical to the point of boring. My mother tells me I was born forty years old! Probably the craziest thing I have done for love would involve my children, a mother’s love. You know there’s something to that whole mother bear thing. You kind of lose your mind when someone mistreats your babies. Three years ago when my daughter was seven and my son was five, they were threatened by another child on the bus. This wasn’t the first time, but it was more severe than any of the other times. I had complained about this issue before, and though the child was punished, the problem persisted. So, the day after the event, I spoke with a different school district and removed my children from that school at the end of the year.
What song is stuck in your head?
This one is easy. My son is really into puns right now. He’s eight, so he’s just sort of figured out what a pun is, and now he’s totally hooked. He made up this dumb song about puns, and the chorus is “No pun intended,” over and over and over. He goes around asking if we want to hear his song, and even though we all say no, he still sings it. It’s annoyingly catchy.
I’m happy for you, and happy I’m at a distance. Puns, well planted, and at the right time, can be a marvel (see The Princess Bride), and speaking of literature, please tell reveal your favorite sentence in literature, and of your latest novel too!
This is one of my favorites: “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight, from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”
Anyone who’s read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton recognizes this line. I love it because it helps create that fantastic circle that is the novel. I read this book every year with my eighth graders, and when we reach the end and they realize that’s the first line of the novel as well as the last line, inevitably I hear a tiny gasp and I can practically see their “light bulbs” turn on. It’s a great moment to talk about writing and how it affects the reader.
This is the first line of my new manuscript: “How had I ever let it come to this?”
It’s a ghost story, and I’ve started the novel with a prologue.
I hear talk about prologues being unnecessary, and that Editors often request they be cut, that the information, whatever it is, be worked into the body of the novel. Fantasy writers use prologues quite often, and other genres. Does this weigh your decision to begin your next novel with a prologue? How do you fall on the use of prologues? I always say rules in writing are meant to be broken, and there are always exceptions.
I love prologues, and I inevitably work the info into the novel as well—written differently, of course. I love that little “preview” of something that will happen. I’ve used a prologue a number of times, and I’m sure I’ll continue to do so. When I watch a tv show, I absolutely insist on watching the preview of the next week’s show, you know those thirty second snippets at the very end of the program meant to wet your appetite into watching the next show. I call them “scenes from the next,” and it drives my husband nuts that I HAVE to see them. I think of prologues the same way; they are scenes from the next for novels, and I just can’t help myself!
I love the kismet chance similarities you and I share, Andrea — and I love horror fiction (and films), and have decided my next tales should be full-on in the horror field — Taking the risk to delve into a genre you’re not overwhelmingly familiar with is terrific. I can’t wait to read your story. Will you please tell The Bog Zone readers what your favorite scary horror book and film are? The one that actually makes you scared thinking about it, or perhaps one that was so scary you had to stop reading or watching as well.
I don’t actually have a favorite horror novel. Ironically enough, I don’t read a lot of horror fiction, but the scariest horror movie I’ve watched (and the list is LONG) is The Conjuring. I think I watched every horror movie on Netflix and my Amazon Prime this summer along with many, many hours of paranormal tv shows, and that movie–it stayed with me for days. Another really creepy movie is The Houses October Built. It was so freaky that when I watched it a second time, I was still scared.
I’m putting that fright flick on my to-watch list. The scariest horror films I’ve watched in recent years, in no particular order: The Witch, It Follows, Don’t Breathe, Baskin, and so many more. I can’t wait to watch A Cure For Wellness this year. The one scary movie that sticks with me throughout the years is Halloween, the original, Alien, and Phantasm, even though the last was kind of hokey; I love The Tall Man. I seem to be getting off track. Say something about scary books or films and I’m like a happy squirrel. Anyway, what is the last risk you took?
The last risk I took involves the novel on which I’m currently working. My typical genre is YA paranormal/dystopian romance. I love romances, historical, paranormal—you name it! That is what I read, and that is what I’ve written. My current work, however, is horror. Ria, my protagonist, was banging around in my head for a while before I finally decided I should tell her story. The thing is I don’t read horror fiction. I couldn’t tell you one thing about a good horror novel! But Ria was insistent, so I wrote a chapter. I’ve been really uncertain with this one, but I think it’s turning out okay. I’ve had some good feedback from beta readers, and I’m glad I took the risk.
I’d be Iago from Shakespeare’s Othello. I love, love, love that play! He’s the best bad guy in all of literature, and I think it would be fun to be the bad guy. I mean, without the bad guy, there’s no need for the hero, right?
BRIEF WRITING PROMPT INTERLUDE CHALLENGE
Write two separate versions of the same event: A wedding reception where a guest of the groom chooses to propose at that very moment. First write it with an “I” narrating, the mother of the bride, and then re-write using the third-person point of view. Both will have different fictional shadows.
Perfection! It’s absolute perfection. The flowers are the perfect shade of pale pink and yellow. I’m so glad we went with those centerpieces. The chicken is perfectly prepared. And April! Oh, she looks so happy!
I was so worried that the ceremony would be too long with those two songs Richard’s mother insisted we include, but it was jus—who’s that? Who’s that man heading to the stage? He must be one of Richard’s friends because I don’t recognize him.
Is he requesting a song? What’s he doing motioning to the singer? Maybe he wants to give a toast. No, he isn’t carrying a glass. What’s he—I can’t—get your big head out of the way Mary!
Did they just give him a mic? No, no, no, no—this cannot be happening! Is he—he is! He’s on his knee. Get up you, idiot!
I can’t believe he just did that! Of all the nerve! Richard and his asinine friends! April could have done so much better. I told her father. But noooooo. He insisted we support her choice.
This is supposed to be April’s day. The $17, 297 we’ve spent should make it April’s day. All this work to create the perfect fairytale wedding for my baby girl, and Richard’s friend has the nerve to steal her spotlight! Her next husband better be a hell of a lot better!
April and Richard had had the perfect day. The ceremony had been a storybook event. Pale pink roses and yellow daylilies filled the reception area with fragrance. Crystal stemware glinted in the candlelight, and guests had just sat down to enjoy the expensive meal.
Thomas patted the pocket of his gray suit jacket for at least the fifth time since leaving his house. He’d been carrying the ring for three days now, trying to find the perfect time to surprise Karen. They had dated for a year, and he knew she was the one. He wanted her to have a story to tell their future children, a special, romantic story, like those movies she loved so much, but he wanted it to seem spontaneous, too, so she’d be genuinely surprised.
He’d told Richard weeks ago when they’d gone to the hockey game that he wanted to ask Karen, and it had been Richard who’d suggested he do it at the reception. Thomas wasn’t so sure that was the best idea, but Richard had slapped him on the back and laughed, telling him it’d be the perfect surprise, that Karen would never expect it at another couple’s wedding. Thomas hadn’t agreed, but now . . . well, he certainly hadn’t found a better moment. Maybe Richard was right when he said women wanted men to make a fool of themselves for love in front of a crowd.
Thomas glanced around the room at the hundred or so people sitting down to their meal of Chicken Marsala. This definitely qualified as a crowd. He wasn’t sure Karen would be impressed or mortified; he hoped the former. If she turned him down, he wasn’t sure what he’d do.
The band was playing softly while people ate and milled around, congratulating the couple and their parents. April’s mother laughed loudly, calling the attention temporarily to her. She’d been overly dramatic throughout the ceremony, crying profusely, and that dress! Thomas didn’t know much about fashion, but he was pretty certain that pink shouldn’t be so bright and that lace shouldn’t be stretched so tightly. He hoped Richard knew what he was doing marrying into this family.
Karen put her hand on his arm. Her smile was soft and made his chest ache. When she leaned over and kissed his cheek, he could see their future in his mind. Now was the time. She’d say yes. He was certain. He stood and walked toward the stage.
I do like your two writing passages above and look forward to reading more of your work. It’s kind of you to complete this task so well and I thank you for indulging The Bog Zone desires, and, on that note: What is your biggest indulgence?
My biggest indulgence is definitely jewelry. I’m completely addicted—always have been. I’m the proverbial magpie when it comes to anything shiny. If it sparkles, I want it, and the gaudier the better!
A yearning followup: What is your most precious piece of jewelry and what is the story behind it? Thinking along the same vein as that big necklace of Rose’s in the film Titanic and the story behind it!
My favorite piece of jewelry? Well, that’s like picking a favorite child! It’s actually one of my smallest pieces. When my husband and I went to Alaska two summers ago, I found a tiny cable bracelet that I really wanted but wasn’t going to buy. He bought it for me, and every time I look at it, I remember the fun we had on that trip, so that is probably my favorite. I never take it off.
And, finally, the last Question . . . are you ready? It’s been so much fun having you share a bit of your life, Andrea. I thank you . . . only a few more steps. Who is your fictional nemesis, a character you love to hate?
My fictional nemesis is Romeo. I can’t stand that guy! I’ve taught that play for many years. It’s a “have to” in ninth grade literature. I can’t stand that whiny baby! He’s all “woe is me” and “I can’t live without you” to Juliet when he just confessed his undying adoration to another girl just scenes before he sees Juliet! I have a hard time seeing the eternal lover that most people think he is. I’m afraid I’ve tainted a generation of freshmen against him.
And that’s all for now. I’m happy you made it to the end of the interview, both Andrea, and any reader out there. If you’re an author yourself and wish to, possibly, with time allowing, become the next author to enter The Bog Zone, please leave your thoughts about this interview in the comments and share your desire to take part within the comment. I’ll add you to the growing list!
Please find Andrea Murray throughout social media and her books at these links:
Twitter @byandreamurray https://twitter.com/byandreamurray
ever and onward,
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