Hello! Today, my guest on the blog is the awesome Andra Watkins. You may know her by her equally awesome blog, The Accidental Cootchie Mama.
Andra is here to chat about her novel, To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, which is historical fiction/paranormal suspense (Word Hermit Press). Here is a synopsis:
Explorer Meriwether Lewis 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.
Cool huh? The cover and book illustrations were done by Helen Rice. Two of you will win a copy of that very novel. Even cooler, huh? Glad you agree. So, let’s talk to Andra.
El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Andra: I don’t wear underwear. I detest cilantro. My most embarrassing moment was peeing my pants in front of my second grade class. I stood my husband up on our first date, and I’m lucky he married me anyway.
El Space: All righty then! Your book has a very intriguing premise. Please walk us through the process of writing a ghost story involving the famed explorer. How did you first decide to write the book? You introduced part of it through a short story, “Bad Deal,” which was published last year in the book Echoes in Darkness.
Andra: When a ghost tells you to do something, you do it, right? I’ve always admired Lewis, and I wondered what might happen if he were given the chance to rewrite his life by erasing its last few unfortunate months. Would he be remembered differently? Would he take that chance? Would I? That’s what got me started.
El Space: How is Emmaline like you? Different from you?
Andra: Well, my mother didn’t try to sell my virginity to the highest bidder when I turned 10, so that’s different. Ha.
El Space: Glad to hear that!
Andra: Em is curious about the world, and she craves adventure, in spite of her restrictive home life. I remember devouring books at her age, because it was the only way I could see the world.
El Space: Although you’re here on the blog, right now you’re actually walking the Natchez Trace—the site of Lewis’s death. That’s a 444-mile walk from from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville! You’re walking fifteen miles a day! What do you hope to discover on this challenging hike?
Andra: That I can do it, and that I can spend five straight weeks with my father [Roy] without killing him. I came up with this idea to give my dad, who’s almost 80, something to look forward to. An adventure in the twilight of his life. A few interesting stories along the way would be a bonus.
Natchez Trace Map and Sunken Trace
El Space: As I’m sure you know, one of famed author Jack Kerouac’s well-known quotes from On the Road is this:
The ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.
Do you agree? Disagree? If you agree, how does your writing show this?
Andra: I don’t think that sentence would be published today. It’s incredible. I’ve loved it for a long time. I hope my writing shows how much I value living life, how important it is for every person to live life instead of letting life live them.
El Space: How have your travels been inspiring to you recently?
Andra: I was in Spain recently, and we were joking about this walk being my Camino de Santiago. Everyone was calling it the Camino de Andra with many laughs. Laughter is always inspiring to me. I hope it will get me through the hardest mile.
Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage Routes
El Space: You write fiction, maintain a popular blog, you’re well traveled, and you’re a CPA. Obviously you’re good at multitasking. What advice do you have for someone who needs to juggle several activities, but wishes to avoid stretching herself/himself too thin?
Andra: You didn’t realize I used to be a stage actress? I’m good at looking like I can juggle things. The reality is I’m no better at it than the next person. I’ve become much better at saying no, and that’s a real key to balance.
El Space: What writing project are you working on now?
Andra: I’m working on a sequel to my Meriwether Lewis story, and I hope to get a book out of my walk.
Thanks, Andra, for visiting the blog! Take care of your feet!
Check out Andra’s blog, Goodreads, Google Plus, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. Andra is hosting a contest in honor of her novel’s release. Check that out here. For more information about Andra’s walk, go here. To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis is available here:
Comment below to be entered in the drawing for a copy of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis. Two winners will be revealed on March 7. When you comment, feel free to share something to encourage Andra as she walks the Natchez Trace. Or, describe a challenging hike you undertook recently. As always, thanks for visiting!
Sunken Trace photo by Andra Watkins. To Live Forever cover and author photo also courtesy of Andra Watkins. Other covers from Goodreads. Camino de Santiago map from Wikipedia. Natchez Trace map from legendsofamerica.com. Meriwether Lewis painting from Wikipedia.