Today it's my pleasure to interview Andrea Baker, author of Worlds Apart-Leah, a Paranormal Romance.
Publisher: Taylor Street Books
Number of pages: 173
Word Count: 60,000
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/Ms-b5rrONdQ
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She also knows that her recurring dreams are telling her something more about how and why her mother died, and why her dad turned nasty, but they are becoming progressively more disturbing and confusing.
When Leah meets Ben, she is excited to have a friend she can confide in and have fun with, but is he what he seems?
The voice of Leah’s mother repeatedly tells her to rely on her instincts, but when Leah is run over in a freak accident and Ben’s family take over her welfare, are they protecting her or using her?
And why would anyone, good or evil, bother with an ordinary girl just about to go to university?
SKY: Where did the inspiration for your novel Worlds Apart, Leah come from?
ANDREA: The bones of the idea, a young woman having nightmares that spread to reality and a story across two alternate worlds, have existed for quite a few years now. The real final inspiration came in late October/ November 2009, when I was driving home, through Kenilworth, during a thunderstorm. The sight of the lightening above the castle in the evening sky made the jigsaw fall into place, and the story suddenly came together in my mind. I went home and started writing it down that same day.
SKY: How long have you been writing for?
ANDREA: I’ve always written, for as long as I can remember. When I was a child it was usually fan fiction type stories based on the last book that inspired me (blame Enid Blyton amongst many others), and my first novel, called Chimes, was what we now call Chick Lit. As I grew into my teenage years, I started writing more verse. When I went away to University, and then graduated, I forced myself to stop writing my ideas down, believing it was childish behavior and that as an adult I shouldn’t be doing things like that. The ideas never went away; I just stopped writing them down, until the thunderstorm. Then the story and images were so loud, I couldn’t ignore them anymore.
SKY: Do you write in other genres, apart from fantasy?
ANDREA: Yes, I have an outline of a novel called Alfie, which I’m working on. It is the story of a young boy born in the late 1920’s / early 1930’s, but to do it justice it requires a lot of research to ensure I get the historical elements right as well. So I need to take time with it.
SKY: Do you have a set routine before you start writing? For instance, do you have to absolute quiet, or do you listen to music?
ANDREA: I don’t have a set routine as such, as I write whenever I can grab the time. However music is the key to setting my imagination loose for me, I hate absolute silence and find it really hard to concentrate in that environment. I have certain songs that trigger my imagination, so I make sure that they get played first, or I choose the mood of the music to match the scene that I want to write. There are also songs that are key to certain parts of my novel – the crash scene for example. One particular song was playing at the time I wrote that passage, and now, whenever I hear it, my mind reverts back to that scene. It’s wonderful when it comes to editing, because I know that I can immerse myself back into that part of the story relatively easily. However, it can be a double edged sword if I accidentally select the wrong playlist when I’m at work…
SKY: You have a young family and all the work that entails. Where do you find the time to write?
ANDREA: I have one lovely, lively and mischievous little girl, who will be nine in March, and I also work full time. I admit that it is a juggling act, and spending time with my daughter is always my first priority. Having said that, I try to write something every day, and this is usually after my daughter has gone to bed. There are occasions though that the conflicting demands on my time mean I can’t get to write when I want to, and that can be really frustrating. I’ve found that if I don’t manage to write a little every day, then the ideas will start to dry up, or aren’t as vivid as they used to be, and it becomes harder to pick the same story up again. The hardest part for me is getting my mind to be creative when I want, or need it to be – there are times when I get wonderful ideas when I’m in the middle of a meeting at work, or in the car, but by the time I can actually use them, my mind goes blank.
SKY: Are any of your characters based on real people?
ANDREA: Not really. There are bits of people that are close to me in some of the characters, but I can’t pick one of my characters and say “that’s them”. I’ve tried to make the characters as real as possible – after all Leah is based across alternate Earth realities, so they need to feel as though they are real. The names I chose for Leah and Ben were names I always wanted for my own children, but for various reasons ended up not using. I see a lot of myself in Leah, but she copes with a lot more than I have had to, and she is far stronger as a result.
SKY: What made you decide to become a writer? For instance was it the prospect of becoming rich and famous or because you love writing so much, it’s an integral part of you?
ANDREA: It wasn’t a conscious decision – so I suppose you’d say it’s an integral part of me. I’ve always had a voracious appetite for reading, even when I was very young, and writing was the next logical step. At that time I was too young to understand about fame and fortune, so it was never a consideration. It would be wonderful to be able to earn a living from writing but, primarily, this is who I am.
SKY: Are there any plans for a sequel /sequels to Worlds Apart?
ANDREA: Yes, there is at least one more book – possibly two. I know that many authors will find that a strange thing to say, but my writing is very visual. The story plays out in my mind, as though it is a film, therefore although I know where the story is going, and how it will end, there will be deviations along the way that could affect the overall length of the story itself.
SKY: Finally, what one piece of advice would you give to fledgling writers?
ANDREA: Believe in yourself. Most of the writers I know, myself included, are very self critical - and we spend hours poring over our work, correcting and editing. There comes a point when you have to let it go, believe that it is the best it is going to be, and, if you want to be published, start getting it out to agents and publishers, or self publish. If you don’t believe in your own work, then no one else will. The next piece of advice would be never give up – just because agent X or publisher Y didn’t like it, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t any good.
SKY: Great interview! Thanks for joining me today.
Sitting here, breathing in the familiar smell of wild flowers and sheltering under the huge old tree, I still found it difficult to comprehend everything that had happened. The air smelt slightly damp as though a storm was coming and I gave an involuntary shudder. Even now, knowing the truth, the fear of those storms had not completely dissipated. I leant my head back against the trunk, fitting nicely into the spot that I had occupied so many times before. Although I now knew I could do this at will, my stomach clenched with apprehension at what was to come. I knew that I would never want to revisit this period in my life again, I just needed to make sense of it this one final time. I just needed to be careful, to make sure I didn’t change anything that had happened, otherwise there would be consequences.
Opening my laptop, I returned to the messages I had sent my best friend, Jen. All I needed was a trigger, to place me in the right moment in time. As I started to read, I smiled, remembering the friendship and familiarity of that time before everything changed. Then I let myself start to float, drifting back, allowing myself to occupy my old body and thoughts, carefully and silently, avoiding anything that could bring the change to the attention of those around me.
Well, we’ve finally unpacked - or I should say that I have! Dad’s been at work most of the time, though I guess that doesn’t surprise you. His behaviour is still off - I’d really hoped it would improve once we got away from the old house and the constant reminders. He’s been going on about my needing a new start again - but after that last row, I just daren’t argue with him anymore. His mood swings can be just so scary and the temper has definitely not improved - in fact if anything it is getting worse. So much for the fresh start he banged on about! How’s Aber? I am SO jealous. Bet the sun’s shining, isn’t it? Where’s your room - is it facing the sea, or the mountains? Still wish I could have come with you, like we’d always planned but I lost that argument the day Mom died …
Still Warwick should be ok. It’s got a good reputation and the course seemed just right, so need to keep my focus on that now, not worry about what could have been. Anyhow, this place is ok really - even though it’s very old. Kenilworth town itself is a bit old school but you should see the Castle. I love it up there. I can take my music and wander around for hours, or if the weather’s good I can just snuggle into a corner and read. No-one bothers me and it’s SO Goth - you’d love it. I looked it up on Google and apparently there are parts of it that date back as far as Norman times and it also played quite an important role in some siege. Some of it has been rebuilt, turned into offices, tea rooms (with the blue rinses to match LOL), but I like the ruins best. There’s an old Abbey too at the other end of town but there’s not much of that left, with far too many kids playing in the park for me and it’s not like I’ve got anyone to play tennis with here.
The cottage itself apparently dates back to the 17th Century and has some connection to Walter Raleigh and the potatoes. It has three little corridors leading off to different, really odd shaped rooms - some people would hate it but I don’t and I know you won’t either. It’s easy to hide in the attic and pretend not to hear Dad. Can’t wait 'til November when you come to stay - I’m going to hold you to that promise! Has Freshers started there properly yet? I don’t start for a few more weeks but I feel physically sick when I think about it. I’m not looking forward to being the new girl but I guess we have that in common. At the moment though I’ve still got some time to myself - not that Dad likes THAT of course. I’m sure he thinks Greg will turn up out of the blue or something - as if! That boat sailed back in Clifford and I don’t ever want to see HIM again. Men are most definitely off the agenda and not just because of the promise Dad forced out of me. Wonder if that has something to do with these dreams I’m getting …
Can’t wait to hear all your news, don’t keep me waiting.
About the Author
Andrea Baker has written stories and poems all her life, although most of them no longer exist. After graduating from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth in Economics and Marketing, she convinced herself to stop making these stories up, believing it to be something a "grown-up" should not do.
Since then she has spent most of her career working on major programmes across both private and public sector. Of all the ideas that continued to occur to her, Worlds Apart has been the most insistent, refusing to go away.
Andrea Baker lives and works in the beautiful English county of Warwickshire, with her husband and daughter. Kenilworth, the base for her Worlds Apart Series, is just a few miles away from their home.
Visit Andrea Baker on the Web