As part of the blog tour for To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, I asked the author, Andra Watkins, a few questions which she was kind enough to take time out of her very busy schedule to answer. Thank you, Ms Watkins!
Kell: To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis has been described as a genre-bending novel. How would you describe it and on which bookshop shelf would you place it?
Andra: I call it a genre-bending novel. It’s a mix of historical fiction, paranormal fiction and suspense/adventure fiction. Some readers have described it as magical realism and as young adult. At the end of the day, I fear we are too hung up on categories. I just tried to write a book I’d always wanted to read, and I hope other readers will feel the same way.
Kell: The novel is a great concept – what first gave you the spark of an idea to write the story, and what was your greatest inspiration when writing it?
Andra: Thank you! I first thought about writing the book when I was working in Nashville. I was rushing to a meeting in the West End. When I looked to my right, there was the Parthenon, this historic end of the Natchez Trace. I looked to my left, and there was a tiny road sign that read “Natchez Tr.” I started thinking about how Meriwether Lewis died on the Trace, and my imagination took it from there.
Kell: Research is a large part of a writer’s work. How long did you spend on research for this novel, and do you enjoy that side of writing? What do you enjoy best of all when writing?
Andra: I read academic works and biographies for several months as research for this novel. I also drove the entire Natchez Trace over two separate trips, and I spent time in New Orleans, both touring sites for the book and interviewing people who’d lived there for decades. I’ve always been a history geek, but I never wanted to write straight historical fiction. A book like To Live Forever gives me the ability to dive into research and still make up a new story, which is the kind of writing I enjoy best of all.
Kell: Do you enjoy the promotional side of things, such as public readings and signings? If so, which has been your most enjoyable experience?
Andra: I’m a former stage actress (Kell: Ooh, me too! How exciting!), so promotional things are really fun for me. Parnassus Books in Nashville hosted me for an author event and book signing, and I was honored that they chose me. I loved meeting readers and hearing their stories. That’s the best thing about writing: meeting the people whose lives are touched by my words.
Kell: Can you tell us a little about what other work you have in the pipeline?
Andra: To launch To Live Forever, I was the first living person to walk the 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did. I did it in 34 days. Because my novel is about a girl’s relationship with her father, I took my almost-80-year-old father along on the trip. I’m writing a memoir called Not Without My Father, about the importance of taking the time to have a five-week adventure with my father at the end of his life. It will be available Fall 2014. I’m also working on a sequel to To Live Forever, which will be available Spring 2015.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m very excited to hear about that forthcoming sequel!
My thanks, again, to Ms Watkins and her PR team for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.
See Andra Watkins’ guest blog post at Kincavel Krosses HERE.
Visit Andra Watkins’ own blog HERE.