Welcome to Writers4Higher
This issue, Writers4Higher features
Hi, Andrea. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!
1. Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.
After many years in newspapers, I’m now a sort of “backpack journalist” writing news releases and creating video news stories for Virginia Tech. More than just a marketable skill, writing has been a way for me to satisfy a drive for creative expression while expressing certain truths about the world. I was lucky enough to learn, early on, that a good writer isn’t expressing himself or herself; the best writers express the reader.
My first novel, Night of the Litani, was set against the civil war of Lebanon of 1975. I wanted to keep readers enthralled while helping them learn about the Middle East in a way that did not vilify ethnic groups including Arabs, who were horribly stereotyped then and still are. I strove to make a page-turner but at the same time earn critics’ respect. I’m happy to say I succeeded on both counts, though I’m sad to say the book did not make me a household name!
In my new novel, Mercedes Wore Black, I create a contemporary scenario where readers can experience the changing face of journalism as well as be introduced, up close and personal, to some of the fragile Florida environments I’m blessed to have visited. As a journalist, I’ve flown 10,000 feet above Crystal River watching a federal wildlife agent count manatees, and I’ve also been out in the shallow, glittering waters of Tampa Bay where seagrasses and tiny shrimp and other sealife gain footholds. I’ve also seen some old Florida pols in the Legislature wheel and deal, so that’s another setting I wanted to share with readers. Finally, I’ve seen the puppet-masters control the Florida Legislature – the special interests who spread big money around and thwart the public interest.
My inspiration comes from those authors such as Kurt Vonnegut, whom I once met, who subscribe to the school of thought that “writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.” (Digression: The Quote Investigator attributes the saying to Paul Gallico, author of The Poseidon Adventure, in the 1946 book Confessions of a Story Writer.) The best writers eschew the easy, clichéd strings of sentences that often pepper one’s first drafts. One of my great college writing teachers, Thomas E. Sanders at the University of South Florida, said: “There is no great writing; only great rewriting.”
2. Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?
I hope to continue writing about my characters Janis Pearl Hawk and Leah St. Clair, fueled by their passion for good journalism and the environment. Their adventures could spawn a series of Florida-based novels. I can’t wait to see reader response! I also hope, one day, to employ my writing skills on behalf of vulnerable populations, when I have the luxury to write without worrying about monetary gain.
3. How do you use your talents/time to help others?
I mentor young women writers on the job, and I also do what I can to promote women novelists. I’ve been doing book reviews for various publications for years and go out of my way to review women’s work because so much of the media favors men. (If you don’t believe me, do a count!) As a journalist, I wrote a lot about child abuse in Florida. I found that many politicians are oblivious of the fact that some 40 children a year die from abuse or neglect. One day I’d like to devote myself full time to improving the prospects of children at risk of abuse. On a personal level, I also hope one day to write important things down for my children – to share with them the principles and beliefs I’ve tried to live by. And I hope my fiction continues to be an avenue for the expression of values, even as its primary goal is entertainment.
Would you like to find Andrea?
Check out the links to this talented author:
Fiction with a Southern Twist