I was born middle aged, the son of a turd farmer and a Morlock in the abandoned time portal of the Mole People …
Oh, wait, you wanted the real answer? This is more fun. My background is currently kind of green, but it was off white before I painted it.
When did you discover your passion for writing? Was there someone in particular who encouraged and inspired your love of storytelling?
My grandmother was a writer, a struggling writer most of her life, but reading was heavily encouraged in my family. We never had a lot of money, but we had lots of books, and I was always going to the library. In fact, I can’t stress enough what wonderful things libraries are, and how desperately every community needs one. Support yours today. (No, I don’t work at a library. I just think they’re fantastic.)
What was your first book and how long did it take for it to be published?
Infected: Prey was my first published book, and it was a couple of years between completion and publishing.
Is there a particular sub-genre in which you enjoy writing more than others? (i.e. paranormal vs. historical vs. contemporary)
I get a huge kick out of writing horror and mysteries. I love going dark and getting into action sequences, for reasons I don’t fully understand. Writing a really good action scene gives me an adrenaline rush.
Do you prefer writing in the 1st or the 3rd person? What advantages do you see in writing in one vs. the other?
I prefer the third, because it allows you to open up the story to other points of view. First person is kind of limiting, although really it depends on the writer. Some people can do marvelous things with first person perspective. It’s all a matter of taste and what the story demands. For instance, if I switched to first person in the Infected series, I think it might be dreadful. I love Roan, but he’s a cynical depressive, and his narration might be draining. At least I can parcel it out in the narrative form I’ve chosen, and change P.O.V. from time to time.
How long does it generally take for you to finish a manuscript?
It depends on so many things, from the story to the amount of time I have. It can be anywhere from a few months to a year or so.
How much creative input do you have in the cover design for your books?
Not much. I mean, I have a general say, an up or down “yes/no”, but knowing me and my affinity for grotesque imagery, I think it’s best my input is limited.
Do you write full time? If not, how many hours per day do you attempt to dedicate to your writing?
I wish I could, but my writing time varies per day. I try to put in at least three hours.
Do you typically outline your plots before you begin the writing process, or do you write in a more freestyle fashion?
I know the plot and how it goes as I start a story, but I don’t do a proper outline. Characters are going to do what they want, so I always make sure there’s room for them to move and do their own thing. Which I hope doesn’t sound completely insane. (Eh, it probably does. I’m cool with it.)
How much do your characters resemble you and the people you know?
I think there’s probably a little of me in most characters, if I’m to be brutally honest. Not always good things either. As for other people … occasionally I do use other people as character templates, and I’ve cathartically killed off people who have seriously pissed me off, but I think I’ve changed them up enough that they won’t recognize themselves and sue me.
How much do you draw upon your own life experiences in your writing?
It depends. My memory is extremely poor, so I have to rely on my imagination more often than not.
What has been the most difficult topic you’ve ever approached in your writing?
Probably the death of a loved one. Writing random deaths isn’t that hard at all, but when you’re dealing with someone close to you, who has been an integral part of your life, that’s just an emotional gut punch, even if it’s a fictional character.
Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have one in particular who stands out among the others as a favorite? If so, who and why?
That’s like picking out a favorite kid. It’s hard to do, and the answer can be in flux, depending on circumstances. But I suppose Roan is one of the easiest voices for me to slip into. I know him inside and out, what drives him and why he does what he does, even if I want to beat him senseless sometimes. I suppose you have to love your troubled children more than most, because if you don’t, who will?
When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they take away from it?
Entertainment. I’m not sure I have a message beyond don’t be a dick to other people. So I just hope you enjoy.
Are you surprised by the ever growing female fan-base of Male/Male fiction?
Not really. Women are likely to be readers than men anyways, right? Reading is seen as “unmanly” or some damn stupid thing, which it isn’t. But you’re going to get me started on the bewildering strain of anti-intellectualism in popular culture, and who cares? So no; my answer is no, I’m not.
When did you begin writing in the Male/Male genre? What about it interests you the most?
I never really made the conscious decision to do that. I don’t think too much about genres, I just write whatever story occurs to me. The published version of Infected: Prey is actually my second official go at the main story. When I originally wrote the story, the lead was a woman, but something wasn’t working about the story, so I set it aside. Going over it again, about a year or so later, I realized the character was the wrong gender. It had to be a man in this role, a gay man, and when I wrote that story, it worked perfectly. You need the right character for the right story, and that’s how that happened. The original female lead still exists in the story in a way – that’s Randi, Roan and Paris’s accountant friend. She could star in her own story easily, but not the one I envisioned for Infected: Prey.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever received with respect to the art of writing? How did it change the way you approach your craft?
Always write, always read. That’s it. It sounds simple, and it is, but it can be easy to forget.
Will you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?
Be patient. Have a good sense of communication with your editor. Don’t be afraid to fight for something, but pick your battles judiciously.
If you were to offer a word of advice to a new author just starting out, what would it be?
The same advice I found valuable – always write, always read. Don’t expect overnight success, as writing is like a muscle: you get better as you go along. So start and keep going. Stumbles are inevitable, but only fatal if you allow them to be.
Do you generally have the titles of your work planned before you begin writing, or does that occur later on in the writing process?
Titles are the hardest thing for me. Why I don’t know, but I usually labor with titles. If I can borrow one from a song title, I will.
What is the question you’re most frequently asked by your fans?
Who are you? Ha ha! Umm, no, I suppose it’s why did I kill off a certain character, who will remain nameless in case someone considers it a spoiler. My answer is thus: Because he was dying, albeit slowly, from the beginning, and since I wanted to ground the series is some kind of internal realism, this had to happen. I didn’t like it either, it was one of the hardest things I ever had to write, but that’s where the story went. Even in fiction, life can be awful sometimes, and people don’t get what they deserve.
What is your most memorable fan experience?
Probably the one who wrote to me and encouraged me to get published when I wasn’t published. They were right.
Digital media—the e-reader/tablet computer/Android apps—is changing the way people access and enjoy books. What pros and/or cons do you see surrounding the business of e-publishing? How do you see digital media evolving in the years to come?
I think e-publishing has made publishing a bit more egalitarian in a way, and certainly allows for a wider audience distribution of your work. But the downside of that is it’s made pirating of your work much easier too. I’m not even going to predict how digital media will change, because whenever I try and predict something, I look like a fool.
When you have the chance to sit down and enjoy some quiet reading time, what sorts of books are you most likely to pick up? Who are your favorite authors?
See, anything that catches my eye. I’m not overly wed to genre even in the stories I read. As for favorite authors, I have way too many, but if Ken Bruen or Jim Shepard put out a new book, I’m all over it.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Institutionalized. Ha ha! It’s funny because it’s probably sadly true.
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing? Do you have any hobbies?
It’d be cheating to say reading, wouldn’t it? Well, I’m going to cheat and say that.
If time travel were possible, what time period(s) would you most like to visit? Why?
I’m headed to the future, to see if we ever got through our myriad problems, or simply made them worse.
If you had the opportunity to sit down to dinner with one famous person, either past or present, who would you choose and why?
Douglas Adams. I’d love to know if there was something he always meant to write but never got a chance to. Not that I’d steal it. Or Hunter S. Thompson. That would be a trip.
If we were to look around the desk where you sit to write, what would we find there?
An absolute mess! So much detritus. Flash drives and digital cameras and pens and bills and notes. You’d be horrified.
How would you describe your sense of humor? What makes you laugh?
Prevalent, and sometimes unwelcome. I find so much funny I couldn’t possibly list it all here. But humor is essential, and if you don’t laugh every day, you should strive to. If you want recommendations, ask, and I will give them.
Do you have an all time favorite fictional character?
Oh, so many. So I’m going to say no, just to spare the readers.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Hmm. People who think they know everything when they clearly don’t. And houseflies.
Do you have a favorite personal mantra, quote, or saying that describes your outlook on life and the way you approach each day?
There’s several quotes, mostly from Douglas Adams and Hunter S. Thompson, but I have to admit one mantra has stuck with me a lot. In the book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence, he describes a bomb going off prematurely and shrapnel burying itself very near his … John Thomas (ouch!) and yet he still had to limp back to the Arab line, while the Arabs and Turks were exchanging fire. In his head, he was thinking “Oh, I wish that hadn’t happened” and using it as a mantra, which struck me as such a proper British way of thinking “Holy shit!” that I utterly adored it. Such an under-reaction to a dire situation that I think we all should adopt it. That and the “It just doesn’t matter!” chant from Meatballs. You’d be surprised at how relaxed you are if you convince yourself it just doesn’t matter.
Do you speak more than one language? If so, which one(s)?
No, but I do know a little Yiddish. Just words here and there; I’m a dilettante.
Of all the modern conveniences, which one would you most likely say you couldn’t live without?
A computer. No question.
Do you have any new projects coming up you’d care to share with us?
My hardboiled detective novella, The Little Death just came out, and October 30th, Riptide Publishing released Pretty Monsters, the first in a line of short stories known as the “Josh of the Damned” cycle. It’s a cute little comedy/horror/romance about a guy who works the late shift in a convenience store, where there’s a hell vortex in the parking lot, meaning he has monsters coming in all night. I just love the idea, and I think I could have a great deal of fun with this universe. Farther down the line, there will be a new novel in the Infected series, Infected: Freefall, due out early next year, and a fantasy novel for Riptide called Strange Angels. Farther on down the road, there’s a prequel called Infected: Paris in the works.
Thank you again for spending some time with us, Andrea Speed. Will you tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
www.andreaspeed.com . But I have social networking pages galore!
And we’d love if you’d share a favorite excerpt from one of your books with us.
This is from Infected: Prey, and I just love how Paris can’t stop ribbing Roan about a past romantic interlude:
By the time Roan was nearly done with his eggs, Paris asked, “So are
you going to tell me why you looked at that pic of Ryan and Cooper
Damn it. There was no getting away with anything in this house, was
there? He could have lied, but why? No point. “I had a one-nighter with
Ryan a couple years ago. I didn’t know he was married.”
Paris laughed, wiping down the countertop so he couldn’t see the
evil look Roan was now giving him. “Oh shit. That’s going to be an
awkward confrontation. So, was he any good?”
Only Paris would have asked that. And the fact that Roan had to
think about it pretty much answered the question. All sex was, by
definition, good, but if you couldn’t recall it instantly, if it was completely
lost to you, it couldn’t have been very good. “He was astoundingly
average. I wasn’t drunk, but I barely remember it. I only recalled him
because I’ve never been picked up in a sports bar before or since.”
Paris finally looked at him, a disbelieving grin lighting up his face.
“A sports bar? What the hell were you doing in a sports bar?”
“It was open and had beer.”
Paris shook his head and went back to stacking the dishwasher. “You
think you know a guy, and he does something like that. What’s next, a
“I’m going now,” he said tartly, swigging down the rest of his
Frappuccino, hiding his smile.
“Oh, I know,” Paris continued to taunt him. “Monster trucks. Maybe
a duck hunt!”
He was saved by the phone, which rang and cut off any further
teasing. The fact that caller I.D. identified the caller as Sikorski didn’t
discourage him at the moment. “Hey, Gordo, what do you got for me?”
“Good news, in a way. Eli’s bite print matched a mauling we had a
couple days ago.”
That was good news? “What?”
“A homeless man was mauled in Sprague Park the night before
yesterday; he’s still in the hospital but they think he’s going to make it.
Anyways, Eli’s bite print matches the bites on his arms and legs, so we can
hold him and charge him for assault and being unrestrained. We have a
pool going, see how mad we can make Stovak before that vein in his
forehead finally explodes.”
“Is he aware of this? He might sue.”
“Not if he’s in a hospital with an aneurysm he won’t.”
Roan smirked at the thought. When Guy got really angry, a little vein
did start to pulse in his forehead, like it was a second heart. But Roan had
gotten him pretty upset, and it had never gotten close to exploding (not for
lack of trying). He wished the PD luck. “Got anything on Henstridge for
“Uh, no. He was a decent cop, retired out early ’cause of his son’s
health problems; his wife died a while back, and he was the only one
around to take care of him. Last known address we have for him is 1725
That was the address of the little clapboard house that was currently
up for sale. Quietly, Paris said, “Super Bowl party,” and Roan flipped him