Jitterbug PR Presents: The Guestbook by Andrea Hurst

Good morning, my lovelies! Today I’m playing 20 Questions with the ultra-talented Andrea Hurst. We’re talking about life, writing, and her debut novel, The Guestbook.

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SK: Tell us a bit about yourself.

AH: I got my start in writing and publishing over 25 years ago, when I published my first nonfiction book, Everyone’s Natural Food Cookbook. Since then, I’ve worked as a literary agent, a developmental editor, a writing coach and instructor, and an advisor for other self-published authors. The Guestbook is my first fiction book.
I love reading and writing Women’s Fiction, and I live on an island in the Pacific Northwest with my two dachshunds.

SK: What made you want to write?

AH: I wanted to write since I was a child. I love the creative expression of writing. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. Reading and writing, I’ve found, have been a true passion that has been with me for all these years.

SK: What is a typical day in your life like?

AH: Even with a fulltime literary business, classes to teach, and two dogs to take care of, I still try to make time to write every day. Of course, that’s not always so easy to do, but I find that on the days I get at least two hours of writing in, I feel much more human.

SK: Favorite author?

AH: I read many genres and have favorite authors in all of them that I admire for different things. Some of my top favorites would be Maeve Binchy, Kate Morton, and Andre Dubois III. One of my all-time guilty pleasures is Nora Roberts, particularly her older works.

SK: Favorite book?

AH: Again, I have so many, but one that has stuck for a very long time is Gone with the Wind. Something about the sprawling story with amazing characters—it was very unforgettable to me.

SK: What’s worse for you: a bad amazon review or a bad review from a fellow author?

AH: Although I’m always looking for input from other authors, I write for my readers. A good review can make your day, and a bad one can give you pause. Of course, sometimes people just don’t “click” with your book, but those reviews are pretty easy to spot. No book is for everyone. The most important reviews to me are the ones that say, “I enjoyed this book but…” I take notice or those reviews and consider them when I work on future books, especially if I see the same theme popping up from more than one person.

SK: When choosing reading material, what factors are important to you?

AH: I love books with great settings, places where I can escape to after a busy day. They need to be able to transport me there. Sometimes I read books that are selling well to get a feel for the market and what readers are reading. Word of mouth carries a lot of weight for me. When a friend or colleague recommends a book, I usually make a point of checking it out. Anything from good reviews to something as simple as a good cover can get me to pick up a book.

SK: Tell us about your recent work and where we can get it.

AH: The Guestbook, published late in 2012, is available through Amazon, both as trade paperback and in Kindle.

Fleeing her picture-perfect marriage among the privileged set of Brentwood and the wreckage of a failed marriage, Lily Parkins decides to move to the only place that still holds happy memories, her grandmother’s old farmhouse. The lush and majestic setting of the Pacific Northwest calls to her and offers a place of refuge and perhaps renewal.

Left with only an old guestbook as her guide–a curious book full of letters, recipes, and glimpses into her family history–Lily is determined to embrace her newfound independence and recreate herself, one page at a time. With the help of the quirky island residents she has befriended, she slowly finds the strength to seek out happiness on her own terms. But as soon as she has sworn off men and is standing on her own two feet, Lily meets Ian, the alluring artist who lives next door, and her new life is suddenly thrown off course. The last thing she wants to do right now is to open her heart to another man.

Ultimately, Lily must decide if it’s worth giving up her soul for security or risking everything to follow her heart.

SK: Tell us a little about what you went through to get this book published.

AH: Being a literary agent, I try to have my finger on what’s popular with readers and what I can sell to publishers. I knew my book had a strong readership, but I also knew that, as a first-time novelist in this genre, it would be a hard sell to a major publisher. I was also very interested in learning first-hand the whole process of indie publishing and therefore chose that route.

SK: Of your backlist/coming soon agenda, what’s your favorite story? Why?

AH: I’m very fond of the story I’m writing now. After I finished The Guestbook, while it was in production, I decided to get away from Madrona Island and follow up with a story idea that came from a dream. The book is called Always with You. It just started writing itself. The protagonist, Cathy, told me her story. It has been extremely compelling to write and has been a great emotional journey. I’m excited to be able to share it.

SK: Are you self-published or do you use a publishing house? Which ones? Any advantage/disadvantage of either you’d like to tell us about?

AH: Since I’ve worked with both, I have a pretty good idea of the advantages and disadvantages of both. With traditional publishing, you generally get more exposure and better distribution, especially in book stores. The downside is that you lose some control of the book, you have a long wait until it comes out, and you earn a smaller piece of the royalty.

With indie publishing, you have full control and you take full responsibility for what you put out. This can be either good or bad. Hopefully, you will take the time and use professional help to put out the best book possible. The upside is you get to design your own cover, pick your own title, get the book out fairly quickly, and receive a large portion of the royalties.

SK: Your inspiration—is it from your imagination or from personal experience?

AH: I think good fiction writing draws on both. Certainly imagination plays a strong part, but at times I will recall experiences, people I know, settings, etc. I think the blend of the two is what makes for a powerful reading experience.

SK: Give us your opinion: Editors—are they friends or enemies?

AH: Friends. If you know how to use them. Everyone’s got an opinion, whether it’s a professional editor or just a friend you’ve asked to look over your manuscript. You really have to learn when a suggested edit will make your story stronger and when it won’t. When you find a good editor, they’re more than a friend. They’re a blessing you won’t want to let go of.

SK: Plotter or pantster? Is there an advantage to either?

AH: Pantster. Definitely. However, I do research and I always know the beginning and end, theme, and basic scenes. I recently read 2K-10K, by Rachel Aaron, and am finding some shortcuts to help bring structure without a long, overwhelming outline process. Either way, I love for my story or characters to take off in directions that surprise even me.

SK: How do you go about researching your stories?

AH: I don’t know what we ever did without Google. For The Guestbook, I did a lot of research on islands in the Pacific Northwest for setting and other local details. I used Google images to search out bed and breakfasts, furniture, beach settings…any areas I might be using in my scene. I kept a notebook with all these pictures, possible recipes, and photos of what my characters might look like to refer back to at any time.

In my new book, Always with You, which takes place on the Russian River in 1970s Northern California, I spent time driving through and taking pictures where there are scenes, interviewing people, and doing extensive research online for all the details that belong in 1977.

SK: What comes first: the plot, the characters, or the setting?

AH: There’s no one recipe for success.

For instance, The Guestbook was inspired by a trip to a bed and breakfast with a friend. We spent a lot of time there reading the inn’s guestbook. Once I got the idea for the plot, the characters came after.

In Always with You, the two main characters and their conflict came first—through a dream, actually. I had to fill in the setting and plot around that. Inspiration comes in many forms.

SK: If you were told you could never write again, what would you do to fill your time?

AH: Teach writing and edit and consult for authors on writing and getting published. I’d also probably be very fat.

SK: As an author, what’s next for you?

I have begun working on the sequel to The Guestbook, which is called Tea and Comfort. At this point, I have my characters, setting, and plot down, but I need to do more research to really pull the novel together.

In the first book, there are three women that become close friends: Lily, Kayla, and Jude. The Guestbook features Lily and her inheriting the bed and breakfast and leaving a troubled marriage to follower her passion and find herself. Tea and Comfort features Kayla, the owner of the local herb and tea shop. It will uncover her mysterious background. Without giving away too much from the first book, it deals with why she made the decisions she has in the past and her deciding whether she can love again.

What’s the weather like where you are today?

Cloudy and windy. I modeled Madrona Island, from The Guestbook, on Whidbey, so anyone who’s lived in the Pacific Northwest can probably relate to the long, gray winters Lily goes through in parts of the books. Despite that, it’s the most beautiful place in the world and I’m lucky to be able to live here.
 
If you could live in any period throughout history, which would it be and why?
I’d love to live in the early turn-of-the-century English countryside. Preferably in a manor.

Be sure to check her Andrea out on the rest of her tour! Also, stop by and check out The Guestbook!


The_Guestbook_CoverFleeing her picture-perfect marriage among the privileged set of Brentwood and the wreckage of a failed marriage, Lily Parkins decides to move to the only place that still holds happy memories, her grandmother’s old farmhouse. The lush and majestic setting of the Pacific Northwest calls to her and offers a place of refuge and perhaps renewal.

Left with only an old guestbook as her guide–a curious book full of letters, recipes, and glimpses into her family history–Lily is determined to embrace her newfound independence and recreate herself, one page at a time. With the help of the quirky island residents she has befriended, she slowly finds the strength to seek out happiness on her own terms. But as soon as she has sworn off men and is standing on her own two feet, Lily meets Ian, the alluring artist who lives next door, and her new life is suddenly thrown off course. The last thing she wants to do right now is to open her heart to another man.

Ultimately, Lily must decide if it’s worth giving up her soul for security or risking everything to follow her heart.

AMAZONBARNES & NOBLEGOODREADS

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One response to “Jitterbug PR Presents: The Guestbook by Andrea Hurst

  1. Hello there, You have done a fantastic job. I will definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends.
    I’m confident they’ll be benefited from this website.

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