ANDRA WATKINS: CHALLENGES KEEP US ALIVE
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Not Without My Father is a very special memoir by Andra Watkins. The book describes the personal challenge of the author. Our next guest did something very tough. She admitted her pure feelings and reflections during a very rough adventure.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce to you Lady Andra Watkins.
– Andra, what is your memoir Not Without My Father about?
– In 2014, my debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis was published. Because it was set on the Natchez Trace, I thought walking the Trace would be a brilliant marketing ploy. I’d take readers into the world of the book, all while walking more than a half-marathon every day for a month. I knew my stunt would make my novel a New York Times best seller.
I needed a wingman to accomplish my dream. The only available person was my eighty-year-old father, the one person in the world who drives me absolutely insane. I didn’t want to live with his gas and non-stop talking for a month.
But I was desperate for my best seller.
Dad agreed to be my wingman while I walked the Trace in fifteen-mile daily increments. My memoir is the story of our dysfunctional family adventure, a story that asks if one really can turn “I wish I had” into “I’m glad I did.”
– How did you decide to write the story?
– About halfway through the walk, I knew Dad and I were having a universal experience. It transcended us. I knew I had to write the book to encourage others to Make a Memory, to reach out and grab a loved one and turn “I wish I had” into “I’m glad I did” before it was too late. I wrote the memoir for every person who struggles with another person who matters, for every participant in a dysfunctional family dynamic, for every human being who’s attempted an impossible thing.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– Honesty. I describe my struggles with a visceral brutality. I didn’t try to make myself look good. I didn’t whitewash my family dynamics. I didn’t ask their permission to write about them from my perspective, and I worried about how they would receive the story.
– Tell us something more about the way you describe yourself? How tough is to paint your own character?
– I wrote online about my biggest fears and struggles for a long time. By the time I approached the memoir, I wasn’t afraid of laying myself bare, but I wanted to balance revelations with growth, hardship with victory. It isn’t always easy to choose the moment a memoir turns from challenging inner dialogue and frustration to moments of growth, but that pivot is important to most readers of memoir. I think people read memoir to learn about themselves and their relationships. I hope my memoir helps readers everywhere.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– Because others were walking the Trace, I convinced my publisher to get the book out quickly. I wrote it in five months, and it was published less than a year after I completed my walk.
– What the readers will find in your book To Live Forever?
– To Live Forever is a paranormal/historical/action-adventure novel. It combines elements of history with paranormal to create a page-turning adventure. If a reader liked The Princess Bride, they almost always like To Live Forever.
My goal in writing To Live Forever was to give Meriwether Lewis, captain of the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific, a new chapter. His death has remained unresolved for over 200 years. It’s fun to imagine what a person like Lewis might do if he were given another opportunity. I’ve heard from some of his descendants, and they’re proud of this story.
– Who are you?
– I’m a lapsed certified public accountant who wanted to major in musical theater, but my mom was convinced I’d end up starring in porn films. I love to travel and eat, hike and eat, and write and eat. I’m married to my soul mate and live in Charleston, South Carolina.
– What are your writing habits?
– I’m a pantser. My characters talk to me, and I transcribe their stories. I never work with an outline. I can’t write before noon but can write until long past midnight. I must be lying down to write. I cannot create at a desk. I don’t know what that says about me.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of your books?
– I don’t know any author who’s satisfied with the sales of their books. We always reach a summit and find another one to climb.
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– In addition to the usual online outlets and opportunities like this one, I am a dynamic public speaker. I developed a program to go with my books, and I travel the country challenging people everywhere to Make a Memory with someone. I’m building a platform as a multi-faceted author who entertains and inspires.
If any reader is loyal to a library, please suggest me and Make a Memory as a program. Countless librarians will attest to its power. Contact my publicist at publicity(at)andrawatkins(dot)com for further details.
– When we will see your next novel and would you unveil something more about it?
– My next novel is a sequel to To Live Forever. Tentatively titled Building Castles in the Air: An Afterlife Journey of Theodosia Burr Alston, it follows the tragic Theodosia Burr into the afterlife. America’s first feminist, she disappeared at sea at the age of twenty-nine. Her story intersects with Meriwether Lewis. I’m enjoying the challenge of writing in a woman’s voice. The book will be available everywhere Spring 2016. To be the first to find out about it, sign up for my e-newsletter at andrawatkins.com/newsletter. (And get four free postcards for your trouble!)
– How important is for everyone to pass some big personal challenge in his life?
– Challenges keep us alive. They give us connection. They keep us sane. Without challenge, we tread water through life. I hope my books challenge readers to live their best lives.
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be? (Don’t forget to answer)
– Do I hope my books will be made into movies? YES! I’d love to see Bill Murray play my dad!
Take a look at her books: