K.E. Andrews has always been an avid reader, which sparked her passion for writing at an early age. Most days she spends her time daydreaming about stories and making mood boards. When she’s not writing, she tends to her plants, plans out her next crafting project, and binge-watches shows on Netflix. She currently lives in Powder Springs, Georgia with her family and three cats.
Welcome to my favourite section of the blog. Today we are going to interview K.E. Andrew, author of several poetry anthologies (Let the Hurt Girl Speak, Let the Hurt Girl Heal, and Sonder and Morii) and the novel The Assassin of Grins and Secrets.
Let’s dive in!
1.- What made you decide on self-publishing?
When I first heard about self-publishing in college, it always intimidated me. But once I started doing more research and reading more Indie books, I started to look into it more. I had tried querying my book to lit agents and wasn’t getting any luck, and I didn’t want to wait years to publish a book. While self-publishing has been a huge learning experience, I’ve really enjoyed getting to be involved with the publishing process. I knew from the start I wanted to design my own cover, so this route gave me the freedom to control the design, including the interior art I wanted, and release the book on my own timing. It’s time-consuming and sometimes frustrating, especially when I make a mistake, but I learn and gain new skills, as well as a deeper understanding and appreciation of the publishing process and all that goes into making a book.
2.- Your first three books are poetry. Could you tell us a little bit more about them?
I never thought I’d publish poetry first, but I came on with a therapeutic journaling company called the Love Story, and the premise is healing through journaling. While helping to build the journaling program, I was able to write my own poems and prose and publish through them, which is another facet of the company we’re working to build–a publishing platform for writers to share their works about mental health. Let the Hurt Girl Speak ended up being my first one, and I found so much freedom in poetry, being able to talk about my struggles with anxiety and the painful moments, in a way I hadn’t before. I released two others this year, Sonder and Morii, and Let the Hurt Girl Heal. I like free verse the best and I find it helps me with creating imagery in my fantasy books.
3.- For how much time have you been writing?
So I started writing when I was in middle school (about 11 or 12) and it was mostly fanfiction, but eventually I started seriously writing a book series not too long after that. I was writing the series up until the middle of high school, shortly before I started writing The Assassin of Grins and Secrets. I got about six solid «books» written, and while they never will see the light of day or be something I can salvage a story from, they helped build my writing skills. I learned a lot about dialogue and writing settings during that time.
4.- The Assassins of Grins and Secrets is your first novel. Which challenges did arise from changing from poetry to narrative?
So I actually started writing AOGAS before I did any poetry (I think I started it when I was about 15/16). When I started getting into poetry, I found that to be slightly easier because poetry can be so subjective compared to a novel where you’re balancing a plot, world-building, characters, and everything else that goes into writing a book. Still, I found parallels in poetry with being clear with imagery while still letting the reader imagine the scene. There’s still the flow of information in a story, which is something I focus a lot on in both poetry and writing fantasy. There’s a rhythm to storytelling to both that takes time to pick up on and get good at working into any story.
5.- For the setting of AOGAS you choose an Arabic culture. Why was this your election?
Originally, the story had started mainly in a European setting, and I can’t remember exactly when I decided to switch to a Middle Eastern culture. I had always wanted to go to Morocco and didn’t see a lot of books, especially fantasy, set in that kind of world (and portrayed in a positive way). While I’m no expert on Moroccan and North African cultures, I’m always learning and researching how to make the world in AOGAS more realistic and vibrant while still positively reflecting the real-world cultures I’m drawing from.
6.- The religion in the world of AOGAS is an important part of their culture, could you tell us a little about it, and how it compares to real-world ones?So with the religions in AOGAS, I borrowed the framework from Tolkein and the monotheism of Christianity and Islam, but I didn’t want them to be too similar. I tried to avoid making either a theocracy because I didn’t want some of the motivations for the conflicts in the story to be driven by religious oppression. Both the religions of the Old Kingdom and Sarddon are similar and I wanted to show how these two nations were influenced by each other while still having their own unique religions and beliefs.
7.- AOGAS features really well-depicted descriptions of food, which is something I find curious and also that gives me hunger reading. Any reason for this special fixation?
Yes, food. Food is an important part of cultures and has a way of bringing people together, even enemies. There’s such a rich food culture in Morocco and North Africa that I wanted to weave into this world, mostly because I like food and would like to try those dishes someday. I also selfishly wanted them in there because if my book was going to be known for anything, I wanted it to be the food. I wanted to leave readers hopefully hungry for the story, as well as the food.
8.- If I’m not wrong, the graphics inside the book are all completely made by you. Why did you decide to do it all by yourself?
I always appreciate a pretty book. Seeing art inside a book makes me happy and I wanted to try and create an aesthetically pleasing book inside and out. I’m not a graphic designer, but I set about on Canva to just make some interesting page dividers and headings. The only thing I drew myself was the dagger icons, which was a fun challenge.
9.- What can we expect from K.E. Andrews in the future?
So currently, I’m working on book 2 in the Grinning Assassin trilogy, The Woman of Steel and Scars. It’s slow going, but this whole series has taken many years to write, so it’ll get published when it’s ready. I worked on a Celtic-inspired fantasy book this year called Hills of Heather and Bone, which I’m hoping to publish next year. I have a couple poetry books in the works as well. I’m always writing something and I never really know what story idea will motivate me to write
We want to thank K.E. Andrews for taking the time to answer all of these questions in such an insightful way. We invite you to follow her on her different socials and to obviously, read her books.