Welcome Andreé Robinson-Neal to the Book Country Member Spotlight! Andreé is currently workshopping FROM REALITY’S EDGE, which was featured in the Waiting to Be Discovered section in October. She recently published AFTER with Christine F. Anderson Publishing & Media. Connect with Andreé on Book Country.
Janet Umenta: NaNoWriMo 2014 ended last week. When you finished NaNoWriMo 2013, what did you do afterwards?
Andreé Robinson-Neal: When November 2013 ended, I celebrated making my word count. By November 27th, I had passed the 50k word count and was thrilled. And then I panicked. After all, I was ‘finished’ — now what? I had a mess of words on a page that had made me bleary-eyed for the past month. I set them down and concentrated on a few other things before getting back to the business of editing it.
JU: How does being an editor influence your writing process?
AR: I know that editing has helped me in more ways than I can describe. I see things that make me think, Wow! That was a great image — I felt that character’s experience! and then there are things that make me think, Wow! I hope I never do that! Editing certainly keeps me on my mental toes because I have to research things to make sure I am offering the best advice to a writer. I don’t just write things like, ‘Consider revising this sentence — it is unclear.’ I like to offer support by saying why something is unclear or indicating what I think the writer meant so he or she can take that information into consideration during the after-edit review.
AR: AFTER was an interesting journey. The story flowed quite linearly, which is not typical for me. Anyway, I wrote it, put it down, came back and self-edited it, and sent it out for beta read. The feedback was thorough, and after I went through and made changes, I was ready to get it out there.
JU: Both AFTER and FROM REALITY’S EDGE involve human beings dealing with apocalyptic events. How do you begin to image your characters dealing with so much turmoil?
AR: I often say, ‘takes one to know one.’ I have had a number of traumatic events in my life (like having my dad get killed in a car accident when I was pregnant with my son, who was born about three months early — he’ll be 20 in March 2015, and then being widowed out of an abusive marriage at age 30) that has given me an eye for the grit of life. AFTER is based on the Bible book of Revelation, which details Tribulation times. I have been interested in the book of Revelation for a while, but never really got into it until my pastor preached on it, and one of the members of our congregation put together an in-depth study. It just came together after that.
JU: What inspired you to start your blog, Starving Activist?
AR: I wanted to have my own space to write about any and everything. I am something of an activist because I believe in fighting for what is right. Such a life is lived not for financial success, but emotional and spiritual success. That is how I came up with the name. Well, that and the fact that my husband is an artist…typically the phrase is “starving artist,” so I put a little twist on it and turned it into “starving activist.” I started it as a place to purge but as I discovered flash fiction, it became an addiction.
My employment situation changed last summer, and I was blessed to have the opportunity to focus on my writing. I edit and write as an independent contractor, but have time to do my own fiction writing as well. I have expanded the blog to include a subdomain (“Cave of Scribes”) where I post picture prompts each week. I also use starvingactivist.com to give work-in-progress updates. I don’t write as much for random prompts as I used to because I need to focus on my work, but I continue to write down notes and participate in various communities of writers to stay strong on the fiction side of things.
JU: How do you plan on using the feedback you received on Book Country to improve your work?
AR: I hope to use Book Country feedback to create something that Penguin Random House will want to publish!
About Andreé Robinson-Neal
Andreé Robinson-Neal got bit by the writing bug in the 1970s and despite a career in education, has never been cured of her penchant for speculative fiction. She writes under the name AR Neal, who will hopefully one day be identified as a famous NaNoWriMo participant. Find her at starvingactivist.com, Facebook, and Book Country.