An Interview with Andrea Carmen: Romance with a Brain
August 10, 2020
In June 2017, I met Andrea Carmen at a writers’ conference. Her gentle, quiet demeanor set me at ease, as it was my first time at such an event. I was thrilled to learn she published a book several years after we met. Carmen’s June 2020 release, The River Beautiful, hooked me immediately. It is a story of loss, romance, and mystery that keeps the reader thinking and guessing. I highly recommend it for teen readers and up.
TGC: How and when did your “I’m a writer” moment happen? Was it a lifelong dream or something that evolved over time?
AC: I have always enjoyed writing short stories, ever since I had my first creative writing class in seventh grade! Writing a novel wasn’t really a plan of mine until the idea struck me for The River Beautiful. What began as a form of journaling and daydreaming turned into a book, and I haven’t been able to stop writing since.
TGC: Congratulations on the May 2020 release of your novel, The River Beautiful. How was the story born? How long did your novel’s journey take from inception to bookshelves?
AC: The River Beautiful really started out as just a little tattered notebook full of emotion. I wanted to find a way to get out some of the feelings I’d been experiencing about my own grief. And of course, it struck me that there are probably others experiencing the same struggle, so I began writing for them instead of myself. My family and I made a day trip down to the Allegheny River and that was it. That was the place. I took those feelings and that location and ran with it. Writing the novel took about 3 months. The process of editing and finding a publisher took a solid 3 years!
TGC: Are you a discovery writer, or do you outline and plot your stories ahead? How (if at all) have you tweaked your preferred process over time? Why does this method work for you?
AC: I outline and plot. This hasn’t really changed much other than I might write a random, unplanned scene if an idea strikes me while I’m out and about (good old car notebooks). My stories are usually written from the middle to the end, and then I go back and compose the beginning. If I try to start at the very beginning, I tend to get stuck. The words and idea flow much easier for me if I’m right in the middle of whatever mess or dilemma my characters are facing and have to help them work their way out.
TGC: Having successfully written and published this novel, is there any advice/wisdom you want to share with writers on the process of publishing a novel?
AC: Just keep trying. Don’t give up. I’ve had days where I think I’m a really good writer and then weeks where I feel like I’m horrible. You will get rejected repeatedly, but if God has laid something on your heart, just keep going with it. There’s a reason for that.
TGC: Which authors have most influenced you as a reader and writer? Which of their works, in particular, have deeply impacted you and how?
AC: I have really broad interests when it comes to books. I would say C.S. Lewis has been the most inspiring author I’ve read. A Grief Observed hit me hard. I also love anything by Mindy Starns Clark. Her gothic fiction has always been borderline therapeutic for me to read. Whispers of the Bayou in particular really inspired me along my own writing journey.
TGC: As a Christian writer, how has your faith informed your work and decision-making as an author?
AC: So, this can be hard. I like to be very realistic in my writing and given the state of the world, it can be hard to do this while keeping your audience in mind. We want to be real but not in a way that turns off our readers. I try to present my stories from a Christian perspective rather than being straight forward “Christian fiction”. Since I’m not a trained pastor or authority, I don’t like to preach with my writing. It’s not who I am or what I believe God wants me to do. I hope that my stories shed light on life through the Christian perspective and how making that choice and recognizing God’s love eases our hardships in ways we could never imagine.
TGC: Who are the key people in your life you turn to for help and support on your writing journey? What roles do they play in your life as an author?
AC: My daughter. Carly inspires me to work hard and keep going even when I feel like I’m struggling.
TGC: Do you have another project in mind yet now that you’ve gotten this book out into the world?
AC: Oh yes! And far too many to count! I’m working on one in particular that again explores historical legend and a few dark family secrets. I’m in the beginning stages of plotting, so I’m spending most of the time reading and researching.
TGC: If you could sit down for a cup of tea with any of the characters in The River Beautiful for a heart to heart, who would it be and why?
AC: Lena. Honestly, I think I’d be like- Girl, we need to talk. You are really running with this self-destruction, and here’s why you don’t need to do that!
Thanks to Andrea for sharing her heart and experiences as a writer in this interview. I hope you’ll read her novel and enjoy it as much as I did.
A bit more about Andrea:
Andrea Carmen enjoys writing Romantic Suspense and Sweet Romance from a Christian perspective. A lover of bygone times, her modern-day novels contain a spark of history, a hint of mystery, or a little bit of both. Andrea finds inspiration by getting outdoors every chance she gets to explore and enjoy nature, but her favorite pastime is spending time with her family and best canine friend, Zoey.
Tracy is a New Jersey writer who loves Earl Grey tea, spending time outside, and painting. She lives with her husband and children in a home where birdsong and rainstorms provide the soundtrack for her creative life.