Andra Wakins is a native of Tennessee but calls Charleston, South Carolina, her home for the last 23 years. She is the author of the historical fiction, To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, a mishmash of historical fiction, paranormal fiction and suspense that follows Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame) after his mysterious death on the Natchez Trace in 1809. You can visit her website at www.andrawatkins.com.
Thank you for this interview, Andra. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I started writing again as a midlife crisis. Ha. I spent two decades in professional positions. I’m a CPA, and I ran my own consulting firm for more than a decade, helping businesses grow. When the crash hit, I found myself with more free time, and I turned to writing to fill it………I guess I didn’t learn much in the business world, did I?
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
Explorer Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame) has been stuck in Nowhere since his mysterious death nearly two centuries ago. His last hope for redemption is helping nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney flee her madame mother in New Orleans and find her father in Nashville. To get there, Merry must cross his own grave along the Natchez Trace, where he duels the corrupt Judge, an old foe who has his own despicable plans for Em.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
According to most of the people who rejected the book, I failed to choose a genre, and that made the book difficult for them to sell. To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis is a mishmash of suspense, paranormal and historical fiction, but my publisher placed it in the category ‘fantastic fiction.’
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
Finding a way to blend historical characters in modern times, to take their conflicts from life and expand upon them in a believable, engaging way. I always wondered what a person like Lewis might do if he’d had more time, if he weren’t cut down by two gunshots at the age of 35. It wasn’t always easy to imagine another life for someone who died too soon.
Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?
I am published by Word Hermit Press. wordhermitpress.com
Was it the right choice for you?
Absolutely. They’ve been very supportive.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
I am the first person of either sex to walk the 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did since the rise of steam power in the 1820s. I am walking from March 1 through April 3, 2014. Fifteen miles a day. Six days a week. I am staying in the modern equivalent of stands, places where pioneers along the Trace could stop for the night.
Much of To Live Forever is set along the Trace between Natchez, MS and Nashville, TN. My walk takes readers into the world of the novel. Anyone can follow along at andrawatkins.com.
How is that going for you?
By the time this airs, I hope I can say it’s going well. Much of the Trace is still rugged country, particularly for a woman walking alone.
Can you tell us one thing you have done that actually resulted in one or more sales?
My publisher made the book available to my readers early. I reached out to them ahead of time and let them know they were part of an exclusive group, and we gave them a discount to be the first readers of To Live Forever.
Do you have another job besides writing?
I still take consulting clients, but I hope To Live Forever will enable me to be a novelist full-time.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
Believe in your story. If you don’t believe in yourself and your story, don’t expect anyone else to believe in it. Let your belief empower everything you do.
What’s next for you?
I hope to get a more biographical story out of my Natchez Trace walk, and I’m working on a sequel to To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis.
Thank you for this interview, Andra. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?