Interview with Andrea Chmelik

Today I have the privilege of asking author Andrea Chmelik, who describes herself as a writer, speaker, activist, wine enthusiast, pickle elitist, and cat lover. I’ve asked her some questions about her writing and her writing process and she’s given some pretty interesting answers. Enjoy!

1. Which came first: The characters, the plot, or the setting?

For my short stories, it is typically the characters and setting that pop up first, and the plot comes later. And thinking of it, it was a similar evolution with my novel as well. That one began as an observation to typical Disney stories – wouldn’t it be fun, I posted on Facebook, if someone wrote a book for children with a strong female character who does not need a boy to save her, and whose parents are still alive? And then that thought followed me and I started imagining the girl who would become the hero of that particular story, and what world would she live in, and the plot came later. 

2. Do you blog? If so, what do you blog about?

I used to blog. I started after my son was born, nine years ago. I was caught off guard by so many aspects of parenthood, so I made blogging an outlet – describing serious topics with self-deprecating humor, because in the end, the laughter was the one thing that got me through. And while I worried about sharing my feelings, I quickly gained a modest following of readers who appreciated both the honesty and the humor. My blogging came to a stop once I started writing my novel. I’m not very good in multitasking when it comes to writing projects. All of my focus was consumed by the book I was writing. 

3. How much backstory do you include in your stories?

It depends on the story and on the characters. In general, the backstory is reflected more in the actions of characters than in the narrative itself. 

4. What is the most surprising thing that happened while you were writing a story?

The most surprising thing so far was that I wrote a young adult book. I never saw myself as a young adult author. I love reading all genres, but always imagined if I ever wrote a book it would be Liane Moriarty or Helen Fielding kind of a story. Yet because of that one Facebook observation, my brain wouldn’t let it go until the story was written. 

5. What is the most surprising thing that happened while you were writing a story?

The settings come from my reflections about the world around me. I am an immigrant from Slovakia. Building my life on my own here in the United States has challenged both my preconceptions about the world and my purpose in it. Being an immigrant became a large part of my definition. Different country, language, culture, political and economic system – yet 17 years later, it feels more home for me here than in the country where I grew up. I set my stories so that I can explore the consequences of  such strangeness and familiarity.  

6. And now a “for fun” question: How many things do you have sitting in a drawer that you’d never want anyone to see?

Ha! I don’t have much sitting in the actual drawers, but you should see the mess inside my head! Luckily, that is mostly there to stay! 

Andrea, thank you for being here today. You can stay in touch with this wonderful wife, mother, and writer on facebook: ChmelikAndrea

About Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle is a professional freelance editor, writing instructor and multi-award winning author of 21 books—6 nonfiction on writing (Write It Right), 6 suspense novels and 7 collections of award-winning short stories. She also has stories in both volumes of "Deadlines", the new anthology from the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Tales from a Rocky Coast, and the SLO NightWriter anthology. Under the pen name Susan Grace O'Neill, she is the author of the Journey With Jesus series: Lord, Let Me Grow (Parables) vol. 1, and Lord, Let Me Walk (Lent). She is currently working on volume #2 of her Skylark P.I. series (a PI with paranormal abilities), as well as 2 YA fantasy series. And she teaches fiction writing in both the morning and afternoon every Wednesday. Email her if you're interested in joining her class. And follow her on Twitter and FaceBook.