SPFBO Author J.A. Andrews has written Dragon’s Reach and four other books which make up the The Keeper Chronicles. This is the first book in her new series The Keeper Origins, a prequel series. I read Dragon’s Reach, after reading her other books and was delighted (as usual). This classic fantasy story introduces us to a thief named Sable and her complicated relationship with her two sisters. When the story begins, Sable remains under the thumb of the local thief lord, while she protects her younger sister. Her youngest sister is believed dead. Soon, Sable is asked to do a nearly impossible task, and her sister betrays her. She escapes the city with troupe of actors and accompanies them on their route, growing as both a person and a performer. The troupe comes full circle and returns to the capitol where she must take a stand to save her land.
I loved Sable. The characters and world building were excellent and this scratched my itch as a comfort read and an escape. I highly recommend this book.
On to the interview!
J.A. Andrews is a writer, wife, mother, and unemployed rocket scientist. She doesn’t regret the rocket science degree, but finds it generally inapplicable in daily life. Except for the rare occurrence of her being able to definitively state, “That’s not rocket science.” She does, however, love the stars.
Welcome to my lair, Janice. What’s your favorite song?
Ummmm, right at this moment?
The song King George sings in Hamilton. So stinking catchy, and my 9 year old son sings it and it’s hilarious.
Okay, you get to travel to any book’s setting and world but you have to choose only one. Where do you go?
I would go to Narnia. I’m not really all about talking animals, but Narnia was one of the first books I ever read that was just infused with wonder. And that’s the sort of place I’d want to visit.
How do you like to work? (In silence, with music? Do you prefer to type or to hand- write? Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or underwater in scuba gear?) Tell me about your writing process!
Either silence or something like brain.fm that gives background noise and magical focusing brain wave noises. I can’t do music with words. My ears trump my brain, so any words I hear drown out any word creation I want my brain to do!
I’m also a plotter. I’ve always known this, but usually I don’t take the time to really plot. I half-plot then pants the rest, and end up cutting tens of thousands of words and rewriting them completely. This current book I actually spent several months plotting, and it’s going SO much better! And I’m loving the writing process with a strong outline to work from.
I’m a thousand times more productive in the early morning. An hour of morning writing can net me 1500 words. An hour of evening writing just gets drool on my keyboard.
What/Who are your most significant fantasy influences?
I grew up on the classic fantasy of the 80’s and 90’s. So along with Tolkien, I read David Eddings and Raymond E. Feist and Terry Brooks and Piers Anthony the Dragonlance books and all those classics. I’m not sure that those all hold up well now, but at the time I loved them deeply. And it instilled in me a deep love of the classic fantasy tropes. A well-written trope is a beautiful thing.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Most helpful: Creativity isn’t a well that can run dry. It’s a muscle. If you exercise it by writing regularly, it’ll get stronger.
Can you tell me a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
I’m working on the second book of my Keeper Origins series. There’s a young woman who can feel the truth when people speak it. All she really wants is to keep her sisters and her loved one’s safe, but she’s dragged into all sorts of intrigue and has powerful people who want her for her gift. And there’s a phoenix, and a silver dragon. And a black unicorn, although the unicorn doesn’t come in as often.
How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
I don’t generally have those days. Writing is still my happy place. I homeschool my kids, and we’re building a house on some land in the mountains, so I have many hours of not-writing every day. When I get to sneak writing in, I’m usually thrilled.
Who are your favourite characters in literature or pop culture? And do you have a favourite type of character you enjoy writing?
My favorite character in literature is Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. She’s smart and fun and clever, but not too snooty to admit when she’s totally wrong about the rich, handsome, admittedly standoffish Mr. Darcy.
And my favorite movie character is Evie from The Mummy. Because in the midst of an action movie, she’s the real motivating force. And she does it without being an action hero. She’s a librarian, and proud of it, and she drives everything. And she’s funny.
Tell me about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
Gods of Men, by Barbara Kloss was in SPFBO a few years ago, and made it to the finals. It was my favorite read that year, and maybe since. Which is saying a lot because there’s romance in it, and I’m really picky about romance in stores. Everyone should read it!
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle me with an elevator pitch? Why should readers check out your work?
The Keeper Origins is a captivating tale that cuts to the heart of truth and family. Dive into one woman’s struggle to escape the chains that bind them all.