Andrea Cremer spent her childhood daydreaming while roaming the forests and lakeshores of Northern Wisconsin. She now lives in Minnesota, but she thinks of her homeland as the “Canadian Shield” rather than the Midwest.
Andrea has always loved writing and has never stopped writing, but she only recently plunged into the deep end of the pool that is professional writing. When she’s not writing, Andrea teaches history at a very nice liberal arts college in St. Paul.
In the little spare time she can find, Andrea stares up at trees, rescues infant rabbits from predatory cats, and invents names for pug puppies with her husband. She has an unfortunate tendency to spill things – white carpets beware!
That’s a really tough question – I’m so deeply attached to the whole pack! If I had to pick one character it would be Ansel. His character is very loosely based on my own little brother, to whom I’m very close. I love Ansel’s giant heart and constant optimism; of all the wolves, he is the most devoted to Calla.
Why did you choose to make Nightshade revolve around the pack and Guardian wolves?
I grew up in the middle of the Chequamegon National Forest in northern Wisconsin. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the country – and I spent my childhood playing deep in the woods, building forts, discovering hidden waterfalls. It was a magical experience, full of wild possibility. Wolves struck me as an essential part of that mysterious and magical wilderness. Unlike most werewolf books out there I wanted to portray wolves as I see them: beautiful, social, and intelligent. The embodiment of freedom.
Calla is a very unique character in Nightshade. Is she based on any real-life person?
Not at all. Calla was the inspiration for Nightshade and she is completely unique. My books start out usually with one scene or one character getting lodged in my mind and refusing to go away. That’s what happened with Calla. I knew there was a girl and I knew she was also a wolf. I also knew she was in trouble, but I wasn’t sure why. The world of Nightshade spun out from the threads of Calla’s plea for help.
Are you Team Ren or Team Shay? Who do you think readers will favor more?
I’m Team Calla. It’s her choice, not mine and I won’t pick sides. EVER. But I will say I love both of them and each boy in his own way would be a good match for Calla. I’ve already had readers for both Team Ren and Team Shay contact me. I understand why both boys have fans – though Ren’s fans are a bit more *ahem* rabid, which kind of makes sense. Ren’s used to that kind of attention and he’s enjoying it. I think Shay’s fans will prove equally loyal though! Shay has always been a bit of a loner, so he’s a little thrown by the changes in his life, including the attention, but I think he likes having fans more than he’d willingly admit.
Personally, what's your opinion or predestined marriage or 'mating'?
Ooh! Big question. Nightshade is in many ways a story about oppression and the struggle for freedom. I think the most important part of life is discovering who you really are – and other people trying to tell you who you are or forcing you to be what they think you should be is a problem. Finding your own way to love is a key part of knowing yourself, your passions, and remaining true to them.
Which character do you resonate most with, in Nightshade?
The character I relate the most to doesn’t actually appear until book 2, WOLFSBANE, and I don’t want to give anything away about that now. Of the NIGHTSHADE wolves I’d say I resonate the most with Ansel – because as I mentioned above, he’s somewhat like my brother and my brother and I are a lot alike.
What was the message that you tried to get across to your readers with Nightshade?
I don’t know that I was trying to communicate a specific message, but there are certain beliefs I hold very close that are at work in Nightshade: Find your own path. Strength comes in many forms. The world isn’t always what you thought it was. History is cool, and vital. Love – real love – matters most.
The premise of Nightshade is quite unique. How did the idea bloom?
Like I said earlier, Calla started it all. The world of Nightshade came as I tried to figure out how someone like Calla, a girl who I knew was incredibly powerful, could be afraid and angry. What was controlling her? Why would she be fighting against her own destiny? I realized that she was facing off with something even more powerful than herself. That’s where my background as a historian came in. I teach early modern history (1500-1800) – a period of immense, violent change in human societies. This is the time of witchhunts, religious warfare, colonization, the Inquistion; all types of cataclysmic social transformation that turned the lives across the globe upside down. The more I thought about Calla I thought about the ways in which wolf warriors and witches could have intertwined lives. The mythology in Nightshade is a blend of history and lore plus new twists I imagined along the way.
What would you have done if you were in Calla's place?
This is a great question, but I’m afraid I can’t answer it without spoilers and I have a strict no spoilers policy. Sorry! I can say that Calla and I are very different people, so I doubt we would make the same choices. I also can’t shift into wolf form at will, which limits my options more than hers!
The cover is very beautiful. Did you have any input in it?
Authors have very little input into their covers, but my editor was amazing about including me in the process from concept to the final version. I’ve loved the cover from start to finish. My editor sent me photos of the model – and she was the perfect Calla, exactly as I’d imagined her. When they told me that Suza Scalora (http://suzascaloraphotography.com) would be doing the cover I was ecstatic. She is remarkably talented. I had the chance to meet Suza when she was in Minneapolis on her own book tour the week after they shot the Nightshade cover. It was so much fun to talk to her about the shoot; she is a lovely person. I’m thrilled with how the cover has turned out; I love the image and the bloody calla lilies. It captures the mood of the book perfectly!
What's the most interesting thing a reader has ever said to you?
I had one reader tell me she has an ARC (one that was distributed at the ALA Midwinter meeting in January) but she still hasn’t read it even though she’s dying to – she just doesn’t think she has the patience to wait for the sequel. I would never have that kind of discipline. When I get I book I’m excited about I have to sit down and read it immediately!
What’s up next for you book-wise?
WOLFSBANE is in copy-edits and will have a release date in the summer of 2011. Right now I’m drafting BLOODROSE, the third book in the Nightshade trilogy, which will be released in spring 2012. After that I’ll be writing a prequel to NIGHTSHADE that is set in the Middle Ages slated for fall 2012. Beyond that there are lots of possibilities. I’m working on a steampunk series set in 19th century North America that I hope will be on bookshelves eventually. Plus, I never know when a new idea will grab hold. My novels tend to take me by storm.
Book you've faked reading:
Wuthering Heights. I know this is sacrilege, but I can’t stand the Bronte sisters’ novels. I don’t like the heroines. I find the love interests off-putting and quasi-abusive. Their books make me feel miserable. I don’t enjoy books that make me feel miserable.
Book you've bought for the cover:
John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things. I love its cover, which I find both idyllic and haunting – much like the content of the book itself. It’s a great book that I’d highly recommend.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Watership Down by Richard Adams. This is one thing Calla and I do have in common. It’s our favorite book though we like it for different reasons. I love the epic journey and vivid mythology, Calla loves the story of loyalty and survival.