Blakely’s Friday Interview with Andrea McKenzie Raine

Please give a warm welcome to Andrea McKenzie Raine, author of Turnstiles.

Turnstiles cover photoTell us a bit about yourself and what you’re currently working on or promoting.
I have been writing since childhood, as many writers do, and studied Creative Writing and English Literature at the University of Victoria. I earned a B.A. in English Literature, and have been actively writing poetry and attending a successful long-standing poetry series called Planet Earth Poetry (formerly known as Mocambopo) in Victoria, BC since 1997. I published my first book of poetry, A Mother’s String, through Ekstasis Editions in 2005. I am also a member of a poetry writing group called The Waywords – we have been meeting every second Sunday for 11 years. I’ve also studied with Canadian poet and novelist Patrick Lane at several Glenairely writing retreats held in Sooke, BC. My first novel, Turnstiles, was published by Inkwater Press in December 2013. Currently, I am promoting my novel, as well as revising the first draft of a prequel novella to Turnstiles.

What genre is your book? Do you write in other genres as well?
Turnstiles is a literary fiction novel. I also write poetry.

Do you outline your stories or just go with the flow?
I don’t know how the story is going to unfold before I am finished writing it, but I do tend to write notes, or a ‘bare bones’ outline as I approach each chapter. Otherwise, I trust where the characters take me and enjoy the journey of writing.

What does your writing space look like?
I used to have my own writing room, but since having my boys (aged 4 years old and 17 months old) that room is now theirs. My writing space is a lap top on an oversized desk in the corner of a cozy living room area with the TV and toys, and lots of noise. Apparently, James Joyce wrote his books in a similar family-oriented space. The real writing usually takes place after the boys are in bed.

What are your three favorite books including the authors?
My favourite books are Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky, and The Cure for Death by Lightning by Gail Anderson-Dargatz.

Is being an author your dream job? If so, how long have you been chasing the dream? If not, what would be your dream job?
Being an author is definitely my dream job. It would be incredible if someone told me, “we’ll pay you to stay home and write your next book.” I have been pursuing the dream of becoming a full-time writer for many years. Turnstiles took 15 years to write, between various jobs, relationships, travels, marriage, and kids. I have so many ideas for writing projects, many which I’ve already started; I just need adequate time and money to sit and write them down. In the meantime, I’ll find time.

What book are you currently reading?
Leaving Now by Arleen Pare

Is there a message in your book(s) that you want readers to grasp?
Mostly, I want my readers to take away the idea that when viewing different people in society not everything is what it appears to be. The wealthy person may not seem as happy as you would think, and the person on the street may have a lot more to offer than you think. Also, people don’t have to stay stuck in situations that seem to be going nowhere; life is about change and taking chances. Unforeseen circumstances that bring fortune or misfortune can turn a person’s life upside down, and a little courage can change everything.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
I see a little of myself in Martin, at least once upon a time while I was writing the novel. I’ve never lived on the streets, but I was able to empathize with his disenchantment with the working world. I had the rug pulled out from under my feet a few times, and I just picked myself up and carried on; but deep inside I was beginning to feel worn down and a bit jaded. I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to be doing – or I did know, but I didn’t have the means or courage to drop everything else. Martin is a young, idealistic character, trying to make it through with nothing except the clothes on his back; and fortune saves him and allows him to follow his true path.

Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?
Willis was more challenging to write because he took me to darker places.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
My day job is government writing, so it seems I am always writing in some fashion. However, when I’m at home and not immersed in writing creatively or blogging, I am enjoying time with my husband and young sons. I also like to update my boys’ baby journals and photo albums/scrapbooks. Otherwise, I am spending time staying connected with friends (usually on social media), watching movies or reading. There is a stack of books on my night table: poetry, memoir, and fiction.

author_photoYou can find Andrea on:

Independent Authors Network

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