Andrea McKenzie Raine on Characters, Bookshelves & Self-Publishing

Andrea McKenzie Raine on Characters, Bookshelves & Self-Publishing
A Crowded Heart
by Andrea McKenzie Raine
Released November 4th 2015
Format: Written Interview
Pages: 174
ISBN: 9811629013137
Published by Inkwater Press
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Andrea McKenzie Raine earned a B.A. in English Literature at the University of Victoria.

She has attended the successful Planet Earth Poetry reading series (formerly known as Mocambopo) in Victoria, BC since 1997, and participated in the Glenairley writing retreats led by Canadian poet and novelist Patrick Lane in Sooke, BC. In 2005, she published her first book of poetry, titled A Mother’s String, through Ekstasis Editions. Andrea lives in Victoria, BC with her husband and two young sons. Turnstiles is her debut novel.

An Interview with Author Andrea McKenzie Raine

What Inspires You To Write?

Everything going on in the world around me and inside of me inspires me to write.

What’s Your Medium of Writing?

For writing poetry, I am old-school and prefer to use pen and paper. When I am writing fiction, I mostly use a computer keyboard; I also jot down my thoughts on sticky notes.

Do you tend to focus more on character or plot? Do you think one is more important than the other?

I tend to focus more on character than plot, as I am interested in how the characters develop due to their circumstances. The plot is important, as it drives the character and story forward, but I think it is more interesting to witness the character’s reaction to their changing environment and what course they take rather than always looking at the external scenery of ‘this happened, and then this happened…’. I don’t dwell too much on character description (i.e. hair colour, etc.) I try to paint the characters in a way that gives the reader a better sense of who they are, where they are coming from, and where they are headed.

Not every book can appease every reader. Is there one that you couldn’t finish even though you tried?

I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to make it through Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes.

How big is your home library and what is your oldest book? Share pics.

I have books shelved and stacked all over my house. I have a tall (7ft) bookshelf in my basement and a shorter (4ft) bookshelf in my bedroom. I also have towers of books stacked on my night table and dresser. My boys have their own bookshelves in their bedroom and in the living room.

My oldest book – one of the first books I was given – is A Christmas Carol. My Dad gave it to me for Christmas in 1984. I was in the fourth grade.


“It is also not easy being a ‘one-man band’, and having a traditional publisher helps to increase both author and book exposure in a competitive book world.”

Where did you get the idea for this book? Was it an old or new one?

The idea for A Crowded Heart stemmed from my debut novel, Turnstiles. Willis Hancocks Sr. is deceased from the beginning of my first novel, and yet the choices he made in his life, including the decisions he made in his last will, negatively affect the people in his life and cause a ripple effect that extends much farther than he could have imagined. Therefore, I thought it was only fair that he had a chance to tell his story and to examine those life choices that he made or were made for him. Readers will decide whether he can be redeemed.

Did this book keep you up at night and why?

Working out the timeline for the prequel novel kept me awake at night. The events that take place in A Crowded Heart had to line up with the events in Turnstiles i.e. the ages of the characters, world events, historical dates, etc.

Is this book a standalone or do you have plans for a series? How many books in the series can readers expect?

A Crowded Heart is a prequel to the first novel, Turnstiles, and focuses on Willis Hancocks Sr. I am now working on a sequel novel to Turnstiles, and also have plans to write a spinoff book or two based on a group of characters featured in Turnstiles, as well as the backstory to Willis Hancocks Jr.’s good friend, Sam. So, I think readers can expect three more books in the series.

Did you take the self-publishing route to publish your book?

Yes, I took the self-publishing route to publish both my novels. I had tried querying literary agents first, but then I decided to take the plunge and not wait any longer. I wanted to find an audience for my books.

Are you currently on the market looking to be picked up by a traditional publisher?

I am definitely hoping to find a traditional publisher for my self-published novels and/or future book projects.

How do you combat writer’s block?

To forge through writer’s block, I switch to another genre, such as poetry; read a book; colour; or work on a character sketch. Sometimes I turn my attention to housework, or step into my children’s world for a while.

Should writers go the self-publishing route or be patient and wait out for a publisher? Would you do anything differently next time?

I don’t think there is a right or wrong way in approaching the decision to either self-publish or find a traditional publisher. No matter what route an author takes to ensure their work reaches the light of day, there are always many factors to take into account and different aspects of publishing to embrace to become savvy about using. It is a journey, and with every journey there are lessons to be learned.

Closing Thoughts

I am glad I chose to self-publish my books, as I believe it is an opportunity to ‘test the waters’ and prove to a prospective publisher that my books are selling. My self-publishing journey has been exciting and educational, and I have had wonderful support from the editing, design and marketing team at Inkwater Press .

I hope to find a traditional publisher because self-publishing can be expensive. It is also not easy being a ‘one-man band’, and having a traditional publisher helps to increase both author and book exposure in a competitive book world.

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