Macalester historian writes her third historical fantasy

  • Article by: LAURIE HERTZEL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 3, 2012 - 2:23 PM

Ten questions for an author: Andrea Cremer.

Author Andrea Cremer

The third installment of Andrea Cremer's "Nightshade" trilogy has just been published, but don't think that means she's done with the characters.

"'Bloodrose' brings a particular plot arc to a close," Cremer said. "However, there are more stories to be told that focus on other characters, times and places."

Cremer is a professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, specializing in the history of religion, violence and sexuality in the early modern period -- that is, the time just after the Middle Ages. It's not all that far removed, she says, from the historical fantasies she writes, and which have landed her on the New York Times bestseller list twice.

"The worlds I investigate in history were places where the supernatural was taken in stride as part of the fabric of human life," she said. "I think my fascination with the strange and magical in fiction mirrors the deep roots of myth and folklore in history."

"Bloodrose" will launch Friday at a party at Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul. In advance of that, Cremer answered our 10 questions:

Q: Describe your writing room.

A: My writing room is whatever room I'm in. Given my busy schedule and the amount of traveling I do, I need to be able to write anywhere. I can be found writing at my office at Macalester, on my couch or at my desk at home, in a local coffee shop or in the airport while I'm waiting to board.

Q: What is your writing strategy -- do you have rituals that you maintain?

A: I need two things to write: strong coffee and my iPod. I create soundtracks for all my books and music is an essential part of my world-building.

Q: How do you get past writers' block (or the distraction of the Internet)?

A: I've never had trouble with writers' block. I believe that's due in large part to my writing process. Though I can envision the major plot arc of my novels, I don't outline or write in chronological order. Instead I write scenes as they inspire me. If I get stuck or frustrated at a particular point in the story I'm able to jump to another point in the plot entirely, which prevents me from ever getting completely backed into a corner.

Q: Do you have a favorite book from childhood?

A: "Watership Down" by Richard Adams.

Q: What books do you re-read?

A: Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Mists of Avalon" and "The Firebrand"; David Eddings' "Belgariad" and "Malloreon"; Susan Cooper's "The Dark Is Rising"; "Harry Potter"; Craig Thompson's "Blankets," Bram Stoker's "Dracula," Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein."

Q: What's on your desk?

A A SAD light (Minnesota's dark winters are hard on me), a stack of "Nightshade" in Portuguese ("Sob de la Luz") that I just received from my Brazilian publisher, the interior design pages for "Rift" [her next book, pubbing in August 2012], a stack of CDs I recently purchased (Antlers, Phantogram, Florence and the Machine, Sleigh Bells) and a scatter of pens.

Q: Where are you right now? Describe what you see.

A: I'm in my parents' living room in Ashland, Wis. I'll be here through the holidays. My border collie, Gwyn, is sitting on the couch next to me and my dad is sitting in a recliner to my left. The Thursday night NFL game is on: Atlanta is currently trouncing Jacksonville.

Q: What are you reading right now?

A: I'm reading two books at the moment: Colson Whitehead's "Zone One," and Brenna Yovanoff's "The Space Between."

Q: What's been the best place so far to do a reading?

A: Lucca, Italy. Lucca is a medieval, walled city in northern Italy -- need I say more?

Q: Which authors have inspired you?

A: Many of those I re-read, like Marion Zimmer Bradley and David Eddings, but also Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, David Levithan, John Green, Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling, Barbara Kingsolver and Jane Smiley.

  • ANDREA CREMER

    What: Book launch for "Bloodrose," the last in the Nightshade trilogy.

    Where: Red Balloon Bookshop, 891 Grand Av., St. Paul.

    When: 7 p.m. Fri.

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