Thursday, August 18, 2016

Interview With NYT Best-Selling Author Andra Watkins

1. What inspired you to write your book?
I’m fascinated by people who died mysteriously. What really happened? How might they have changed the world if they were given more time? Theodosia Burr Alston (Dear Theodosia from the smash musical Hamilton) was one of those people. I visited her South Carolina plantation, now Brookgreen Gardens, when I was five. I walk by her Charleston home when I pop into the cheese shop. I’ve always wondered what happened when she disappeared at twenty-nine.

2. What is it about?
Hard to Die addresses the various rumors surrounding Theodosia's death by giving her a new adventure. She reappears 150 years later in Cold War New York City. Stuck in an in-between, timeless place called “Nowhere” – where people whose deaths are unresolved find themselves resurrected under the guidance of a “Nowhere” steward – Theodosia is presented with an assignment: she must help a living soul navigate a life-changing crossroad. If she fails, she is to be doomed to a fate worse than death – erased from history’s timeline, forgotten forever. Meanwhile, a young man named Richard Cox thought he could walk away from life as a spy in post-WWII Germany and begin again as a West Point cadet. He was wrong. His  former commander, George, finds him, and presents him with an impossible ultimatum: remain a spy… or die. In a darkened train station, Theodosia and Richard collide and become immersed in a world where no one is as they appear. As they fight their attraction to each other, they must learn to trust each other – or become pawns for a bigger foe determined to see them fail.
3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?
We’ve made reading a chore where everyone is writing a book, pining for purchases, begging for reviews, and bombarding friends on social media. Wasn’t reading supposed to give us time to unplug, find a quiet nook, and get lost in breathless adventure? t wrote Hard to Die to give readers an escape. I hope they’ll prop up their feet and lose themselves, AND I hope they’ll remember I made them feel that way.

4. What advice do you have for writers?
1. No never means no. 2. If you don’t wake up every morning thinking about how to sell another book, your books will die. 3. Marketing is an essential part of any business. Overcome fear and figure it out. 4. Consider what everyone else is doing but find ways to innovate.

5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
If I could predict the future, I’d already be a millionaire living in Europe. But I hope we reach a time when writers who work hard and create good stories will live above the poverty line. I hope we’ll see uniqueness and creativity on the page. And I hope readers reach a saturation point with free and realize they get what they pay for.

6. What challenges did you have in writing your book?
I always begin a book thinking I understand it. Very early, the characters take over and make a shambles of my plans. Because I don’t outline, I cull and rewrite more than many writers do. My books take longer to produce, meaning my author game is long. With Hard to Die, it didn’t help that I went blind in one eye while on final deadline!

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
Because we all seek deserving ways to escape our lives. I wrote Hard to Die for harried readers looking to vanish into a story. It’s the gift of adventure. It makes readers laugh and cry, seethe and celebrate, but whatever they take from it, I want them to feel. Plus, Hard to Die is nominated for the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction.

To learn more on how to promote books, read my greatest blog posts from the past five years and 2,000 posts:

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

2015 Book Marketing & PR Toolkit

2014 Book Marketing & PR Toolkit

Book Marketing & Book PR Toolkit: 2013

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.

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