Growing up, what's your most embarrassing childhood memory?
When I was younger, I used to spend time with my great-grandma at her cabin. She was very old school with the way she operated. If you caught fish, you cleaned it and cooked it. If you went swimming, you took a rinse of shower before and after. She grew all her own stuff in the garden, made her own ice cream, the whole nine yards. She was up at the crack of dawn and in bed by seven pm. (There was no TV at the cabin.) One summer, I was there, spending a week or two with her. I must have been maybe ten or eleven… things were going well. We’d picked strawberries, swam a lot, and basically enjoyed summer. She always went to bed before me, because I stayed up and read for a while. The time was pretty uneventful, but I started packing to go back home. I couldn’t find my swimsuit and searched everywhere. It wasn’t even 8pm yet, so I thought I’d check with Gramma to see if she knew. There was no way she’d be asleep yet, surely. So, I knocked just outside her bedroom (because her door was a curtain). There was a scuffle on the other side and the curtain whipped back. Gramma asked what I needed, but I couldn’t speak. She must have been in the process of changing for bed when I knocked because she was nekkid from the waist up! To this day, the memory is burned into my memory, as is the horror of realizing what age does to a woman’s chest. I’m pretty sure, I never found my swimsuit that year. HA!
Since how long have you been living in central Minnesota?
I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life. I grew up in central Minnesota in a town called Brainerd. It’s basically in the heart of the “lakes area,” which is what we’re best known for. When I decided to go to college, I moved to Duluth and lived there for about five years. Then, I ended up moving back to the Brainerd lakes area so I could be closer to my parents. I still live in the Lakes Area, but about 40 minutes north of Brainerd.
What did you want to become when you were a kid? What attracted you to begin a career as an author?
Interestingly, I always wanted to be an archaeologist. I love all thing ancient – mythology, buildings, languages, art, everything. I even went to school to become an archaeologist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. However, after a horrifying debacle known as my anthropology class, I found myself dissuaded from the profession. Granted, I was only 18 and it was one horrible teacher, but it was enough to shove me a different direction. I had always been a voracious reader, but it wasn’t until 2010 that I started my career as an indie author. In all honesty, I don’t think I chose it—it chose me.
What do you enjoy the most about writing a combination of science fiction, fantasy, and dystopia?
I love that I can combine all the bits of information I’ve picked up over the years. I have an eclectic style and taste, so it’s a fun way to mix and match. I can blend together my love for science, ancient cultures, religions, new age stuff, and current events, making new and interesting stories out of it. I can explore areas where our current society hasn’t gone and play around with what’s possible.
As an expert in independent publishing and audiobook production, what advice would you give to someone who is publishing his/her first book?
Trust the process. No one starts out having all the answers. So, don’t compare where you are to where anyone else is. Their journey is their own. When you take a moment to enjoy the process, you learn so much more and are able to see ways to improve. But you can’t get there unless you give yourself the grace to start as a beginner.
What challenges do you face while writing books that readers of all ages enjoy?
Treading the line between what readers think they want with what I’m being called to write. As an author who wants to write books most people will enjoy, I want to write in a way that connects to them. But what I like isn’t always what’s the most popular, so I have had to learn to be okay with not always writing what’s trending or “relevant,” so I can write what I’m being called to write. I truly believe our stories choose us, not the other way around. So, when we try to force them into a box, we don’t create our best work.
What is the Windhaven Witches series about?
The Windhaven Witches’ overall story arc centers around the theme of life and death, playing with it in a new and interesting way that only witches can do. It starts off with a supernatural academy and an ancestral home with mysteries at every turn. My main character, Autumn, learns she has some pretty powerful gifts and she has to decide how (or if) she will use them. However, as the story continues, she learns her gifts are tied to a much larger family curse that has the power to destroy the lives of everyone around her.
Who decided the names of your two husky puppies Aztec and Pharaoh?
That would be me! Of course, the rest of the family had veto power, but our last husky pup was named Maya, so we wanted to carry on the ancient civilizations theme (sorta). I mean, Pharaoh isn’t so much a civilization, but that’s okay. He was more of a Pharaoh and less of an Egypt. ;)
How did you begin writing "The Pendomus Chronicles" series? Did you plan the series in advance or did it just happen?
Oh, the world of Pendomus quite literally downloaded itself into my brain. That was the story where I knew I had to write, but I didn’t choose it at all. It chose me. At the time, I had been wondering what to do with my life. I had gone to school for Graphic Design, but I didn’t like the ad agency scene. It didn’t feel right to me. After a long lunch with my BFF, I ended up starting a blog. She thought I should be a writer, but I wasn’t so sure. I guess she figured if I started small, it would lead me on. She was right. Her next recommendation was to write a ghost love story, however, fate had other plans. As soon as I told her I’d give it a try, Runa and her world came tumbling into my mind and as much as I tried to stay focused, I had to write down her story instead.
How was your experience of writing "Playing with Fire" a collection of paranormal / forbidden love novels with 11 other authors?
That was an exhilarating experience, to say the least. I was tapped to be a part of the group by a friend of mine. The box set was going to be a list-aiming set, meaning they wanted to hit the USAT Bestseller list with the titles. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to join in the set, but after chatting with some of the other authors, I decided to opt in. It was a fun theme, having the forbidden love twist. Each of us had tasks we had to carry out during the preorder phase and we all worked as a team to try to make the list. Unfortunately, we were just shy of the numbers we needed to make the list, but it was an incredible learning experience, for sure. I’m using everything I learned from the group to make my own list-run this year, with Secret Legacy (Book 1 of the Windhaven Witches).
What inspired you to write "Secret Legacy?"
Secret Legacy actually came to me in a dream I had about a mysterious mansion with hidden rooms when I was about fourteen years old. It was such a vivid dream that sometimes I wonder if it was more of a past-life memory. I still remember everything about it, too. I ended up writing my very first novel that year, based on this dream, but of course, it will never see the light of day as it was. (Only my 8 th grade English teacher will know what that gem looked like! HA!)
Instead, I used it as my starting point for this series, adding all the mysterious aspects from the dream and the house I saw. It had elements of witchcraft, ghosts, and of course, a haunted house with hidden rooms – what’s not to love?
How did you come up with the title of "Love is a Merciless God?" How important do you think is a book title?
I knew I wanted a title that would symbolize the forbidden love aspect this story would have. I searched all over the place for different quotes on forbidden love, trying to see if there was a theme that stood out. The story is about a Guardian Angel who falls in love with her human charge, so I knew there needed to be elements in the title that gave a visual. Ironically, I wasn’t sold on the name at first, but I polled a bunch of my readers and they all seemed to really love it. So, I decided to trust their instinct on it. In a twist of fate, it wasn’t until the book was published that I realized the acronym the title spells out is LIAMG…and the male lead’s name is Liam. (The g also has significance, but you’ll have to read the book.)
Who inspired the character of Runa in "Pendomus?"
At first, no one I knew. She came to me as clearly as the rest of Pendomus did. However, as her story unfolded and she ended up having two different colored eyes, I could definitely see how my best friend from middle school inspired her (this is the same BFF who told me I should write). While my BFF Sherry wasn’t attacked to get her multi-colored eyes, she was born with both a blue eye and brown eye.
What are your goals for the coming year, 2020?
This one is a big year for me as an author. As I mentioned earlier, I am list-aiming with my next title, Secret Legacy (Book 1 of the Windhaven Witches). My hope is to hit the NYT and/or USAT Bestseller list with it. But the title has an even bigger meaning than just hitting a bestseller list for me.
I was five years old when I first learned my middle brother had terminal brain cancer, so the cloud of death has always sort of lingered around my family. This series is dedicated to anyone who has dealt with cancer or has been impacted by it the way I was. That’s why for all of 2020, I’m donating 50% of my royalties from Secret Legacy (Book 1) to the American Cancer Society. Readers who are interested to learn more about the donation and the book can check it out here: www.carissaandrews.com/secretlegacy-amc
How has been your experience of working with AllAuthor?
I absolutely adore it! I think my biggest wins have been using the Magic Wand tool and learning how to run the tweet scheduler. But I also adore the weekly promo images that get emailed over and all the support from AllAuthor, as well. It’s been an incredible experience. I’m so happy to have found you guys. So, thank you!