Today I'd like to welcome Andrea Grigg to Iola's Christian Reads. She's the first Kiwi-born author I've had the privilege of interviewing (even though the Aussies have claimed her as their own. Ah, that good-natured trans-Tasman rivalry). Welcome, Andrea!
First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?
I was born in Auckland, New Zealand, but moved to Australia when I was twenty-five. Ahem - that was a while ago. My husband and I live on Queensland’s Gold Coast. We have 3 children, two girls and a boy, but they’ve all flown the coop now and left us with Micky, our border collie. Apart from writing, I love reading, music, family dinner night, and coffee with friends.
It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?
My favourite genre is … romance! I prefer longer novels though, and rarely read category romance (except for ones by Narelle Atkins). I have a lot of favourite authors. At the moment my top five would be Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, Dee Henderson, Susan May Warren and Denise Hunter.
Also some of my favourite authors. Susan May Warren's latest ... awww. I'll be reviewing it later this week.
What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?
The last book(s) I read were the Divergent series. I started reading on a Tuesday and finished all three by midday Friday. I absolutely loved them and would highly recommend them. They’re YA novels, set in the future, and have a beautiful love story threaded through the adventure. What’s not to like? It was a bonus to discover the author, Veronica Roth, is a Christian.
I didn't know that. I haven't read Divergent yet, but it's been recommended by several people. I guess your advice is to have all three on hand before I start reading!
What kind of books do you write? Where and when are they set?
I write contemporary romance. So far I’ve used Sydney, the Gold Coast and Auckland as my settings. In my latest novel, Too Pretty, there is a fictional country town called Silverdene. I’d like to live there even though Ellie was glad to leave …
Tell us about Too Pretty. Who will enjoy it?
Ellie is a stunningly beautiful young woman. However, being beautiful has its drawbacks, like not knowing whether you’re liked for yourself or for your looks. Ellie makes a promise to God to stop dating for six months, to take time to work out who she really is. Of course, as soon as she makes the promise, she meets the tall, dark and handsome Nathaniel. He’s made a decision to opt out of relationships too, but they just keep on bumping into each other and there’s this chemistry thing happening …
Who will enjoy it? Anyone who likes romance, although my target market is women aged 25-35. Mind you, I just had a lovely email from a 77-year-old man who read A Simple Mistake. He’d picked it out for his wife while at the library, ended up reading it himself, and then contacted me to let me know how much he enjoyed it and the effect it had on his life … I’m constantly being surprised by God.
What was your motivation for writing Too Pretty?
The idea of writing about an extremely beautiful girl came out of the blue. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea – I haven’t come across a book that explores the notion of beauty being a problem. I really had to use my imagination when writing from Ellie’s point of view though :)
Who is your favourite character and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?
I love Ellie – she’s impulsive, brave and funny – but Nathaniel just tugs at my heart. He’s intense, vulnerable (although he puts on a good front) and a little bit tragic. I have nothing in common with him, but I know he needs a hug and I’d like to give him one!
A hug? Towards the end I was wanting to give him a big shake! Poor guy. When it comes to being in touch with his emotions, he's such a man.
What made you choose to write for the Christian market?
I’m a Christian and I write romance so it made sense for me to start there. Going by what I’ve read in the general market (and I’ve read a lot) there’s an expectation for sex to be part of a dating relationship. I’m not comfortable writing those kinds of scenes.
I realise not all books are like that i.e. Twilight, but they’re few and far between. I’m not against writing for the general market – in fact I’d love to do it. I have a couple of storylines rattling around in my head which are clean, but they need a lot more time to ‘cook’.
What is the hardest part of getting a book written, edited and published?
Getting that first draft down. I’m a total plotter and dream and think and ponder for ages before I get started. I have a PhD in procrastination!
I’m a bit odd in that I love the editing process. I’m a harsh self-critic and I also have an excellent critique partner as well as a group of readers who give me feedback. I get a huge buzz out of making my story as good as I possibly can before I submit it.
I’m still shocked that my two manuscripts were accepted by a publisher so quickly. I’m well aware how unusual that is. I put it down to all that editing. (And then of course there’s still more to be done before it’s ready to go to print …)
What advice do you have for someone seeking to write and publish a novel?
1. Read loads of books in the genre you’re interested in to get a good feel for what readers expect.
2. Be prepared to put your book through a truckload of editing (including a professional edit) before you submit it.
3. Attend workshops, research blogs on writing, join a writers’ group. There’s always more to learn.
4. Don’t give up – keep writing.
Thank you, Andrea. I'll be reviewing Too Pretty tomorrow. Meanwhile, Andrea would love to hear from you via her website
or Facebook page
. Her books can be purchased from Koorong, Word
, or direct from her publisher, Rhiza Press