We had the good fortune of connecting with Tamra Andrews and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Tamra, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was a very young child. My imagination is boundless, and the urge to create runs deep in my veins. I immerse myself in my writing—in whatever I’m writing—and I retreat to a place of solitude, content and inspired. I daydream in stories. I play endlessly with words and rhythms and literary techniques. I never considered taking any other path or settling for anything less than pursuing my passion. I have a head full of ideas, and they tumble out naturally in written words.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I remember thinking to myself a long time ago that one thing I truly wanted was to develop a distinct and identifiable voice as an author. And today, I am very proud of the fact that over years of writing … and writing and writing … that voice developed naturally. I believe that it carries my fiction and my nonfiction and that the rhythmic quality of my writing enhances the magic and mystery in nature and myth that drives my work. My fiction today is voice-driven to a large extent, and that makes me very happy. The rhythm of my words are just as important to me as the stories they tell.

And the stories they tell often surprise me! That’s always a wonderful thing. I read an interview with a popular fiction author once who said that “the way to write” was to outline a story in its entirety and then sit down and write it, chapter by chapter. I never do that. When I begin a work of fiction, I have bits and pieces of stories in my mind, along with images and allusions, but I don’t know where the plot is going until I start writing. That’s pretty much how I tackle most projects in my life. I have to jump in and do them—I immerse myself in them—and then I figure them out along the way. It amazes and delights me when my characters make themselves known, when their backstories materialize in my mind, and when my plots come together, seemingly by magic. The act of writing inspires me, and my stories fall into place.

I’ve written for a living most of my life. I write fiction and nonfiction for reading programs and educational assessment, and I love my work. But making time for what I want to write for my own personal fulfillment is often a challenge, especially now when I’m writing a middle grade fantasy series, Mirror Child, and just want to immerse myself in it completely. I love to escape from my usual environment when I write. I love being on the road, where I can drive and think and block out the rest of the world. So I travel with my dog a lot—I camp, and I hike, and I write in the places where my stories are set. I like to write alone, in natural places, with no music or noise and where the conversations I have are solely in my head. That’s when I’m most content and most creative, when the words and ideas flow and grow into stories of enchantment.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Spicewood, Texas, just outside of Austin, and some of my favorite places are right here on Lake Travis, and on Lake Austin, not far away. There are gorgeous parks and hiking trails. There are sandy beach spots, and food trailers, lots fresh, clear water, and big Texas skies. Spicewood is the home of Willie Nelson – his ranch is just a way down the road. There’s Poodie’s Roadhouse right by there, formerly run by Willie’s road manager, Poodie Locke. It has classic country music every night, friendly folks with friendly smiles, a relaxed country vibe, and a sprawling shady deck where you can enjoy the most spectacular sunsets over the Texas Hill Country. We’d go to all those places. Then to continue in that same vein and pay tribute to Willie and Waylon and the boys, we’d probably have to go to Luckenbach, which is just an hour away.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My sister, Pam Hart, and my dear friend, Rhonda Cloos, are such bright spots in my life and give me wonderful encouragement and support in my writing career and in my personal life. They are always there to listen when I call with something I wrote that I’m excited about reading to them. They give me invaluable editorial input and insightful perspectives into my work. They pick me up when I’m down, and they help me believe in myself when things get tough. People come and go in our lives, and many touch our hearts. Others live in our hearts and fill them with warmth.

I also want to mention McDonald Observatory and the University of Texas at Austin (UT). I worked there years ago as an astronomy librarian, and I fell in love with sky legends. I began exploring traditional tales and nature myths with a passion, and that passion launched my career. For many years, I wrote radio scripts on a freelance basis for Star Date, an astronomy show produced by McDonald Observatory and syndicated nationwide on NPR. I spent long hours in the University of Texas libraries reading old and enchanting legends. I collected those legends and wrote two encyclopedias; Legends of the Earth Sea, and Sky, about nature myths, and Nectar and Ambrosia, about food myths. Both recount myths from cultures around the world and attempts to explain them. I then adapted some nature myths and wrote two teachers’ guides; Wonders of the Sky and Wonders of the Air. These guides contain my adapted legends accompanied by activities and ideas for linking them to science instruction. Today as a fiction writer, nature myths and imagery fuel my works.

One of the legends I discovered in a dusty old book in the UT library was an ancient tale from Scandinavia that explained the waxing and waning moon and the images we see on the lunar surface. This legend served as the basis of the Jack and Jill nursery rhyme, and I fell in love with it and made it my own. Jack and Jill and the Man and the Moon, my first picture book, was just released this month, and I’m absolutely thrilled with it and with my illustrator, Claudie C. Bergeron. Claudie is an incredibly talented artist from Quebec who created the most glorious illustrations for this book, and for the covers of my Mirror Child series, which is also inspired by nature and myth. Claudie definitely deserves a shoutout here. Her work is magnificent, and it captures the magical mood of my stories perfectly.

Website: tamraandrews.com

Instagram: @tamraandrewsauthor

Facebook: @tamraandrewsauthor

Other: Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Tamra-Andrews/e/B001IYXCKW%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

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