Thank you, Andrew, for being our guest today. I first heard about your Fifty Shames of Earl Grey at Lori Foster's Reader/Writer Get-together last year. I remember the chuckles and woo hoo's from the audience. Just love the title. I looked forward to interviewing you when the opportunity arose. So, let's get to it!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Probably when I read my first book. I wanted to be a part of that conversation, and didn’t understand that for many people it’s a one-way street. The first full story I remember writing was a 20-page parody of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse called Pee-Wee Penguin’s Igloo. That was in second grade. I even illustrated it.
Seems you had the humor in your blood at an early age. Pee-Wee is a quintessential character. My granddaughter loves him. What drew you to write Non-Fiction and Fiction? Do you prefer one over the other?
Although I’ve written essays, I never considered writing a non-fiction book until I was almost thirty. Throughout my twenties, I was pretty focused on writing short stories and novels. Unfortunately, I was trying too hard to be a “serious writer,” and this early work lacked the humor that would later become my trademark.
It wasn’t until I started writing humorous greeting cards that I discovered my “voice.” The greeting cards appeared in segments on FOX News and The Colbert Report, and that in turn garnered attention from agents and editors. I put together a quick proposal for a non-fiction book of philosopher’s stories based on my Friedrich Nietzsche Valentine’s Day cards, and that evolved into my first non-fiction book, Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love. I started using more humor in my fiction, and that led to the parody Fifty Shames of Earl Grey.
A non-fiction book takes me a couple of years to research and write, while I can bang out a novel in a matter of months. I don’t know if I prefer one over the other…but I like alternating projects. It keeps me fresh.
Years to research? Nope, guess I won't be doing a non-fiction book anytime soon. I admire the ability. Congrats. Of all your characters, who’s your favorite, and why?
Earl Grey from Fifty Shames of Earl Grey. I enjoyed writing a character with unlimited amounts of money, because I kept thinking, “What would I do with that much cash?” The answer: Buy a private island in the Pacific and populate it with dinosaurs like in Jurassic Park.
I like the private island, but dinosaurs? I can tell, you like adventure with a sense of humor. What about your books? Do you have a favorite? What about it do you love?
Asking me to choose my favorite book? That’s madness! I’m very proud of my latest non-fiction book, Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors, mostly because it turned out so different than my original conception. It was supposed to be a celebration of writing who drank heavily and behaved badly, like Ernest Hemingway and Norman Mailer, and ended up being a eulogy instead. I like it when a book surprises me.
There are muses even in non-fiction too. I love it. The original premise sounded interesting too. What would you love to write someday but haven’t yet?
I would love to write a romance novel! Specifically, a romantic comedy — something along the lines of Victoria Dahl or Jennifer Crusie. I’ve attempted it a few times. The humor is there, but I continue to struggle with the emotional elements.
Bringing the emotional side to a romance is always difficult, in my opinion. Has to be authentic, not forced. Were books a big part of your life growing up? If so, what books would you say influenced you most as a child?
Some of the earliest books that I specifically remember were Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell’s Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark. They horrified me. I loved them. I was disappointed to learn that Gammell’s illustrations have been replaced in recent editions.
They must have been a strong influence since you said earlier your first book you illustrated also. What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
The first surprising thing: I have an MBA degree. Although I was accepted to multiple graduate MFA programs for creative writing, I chose to go to business school instead. The second surprising thing: choosing an MBA over an MFA was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I genuinely enjoyed business school, and it prepared me well for a lot of the BS that comes along with publishing.
You're right about the publishing business. Writing is easy, it's the other facets that are mind-boggling. When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Traveling. I recently returned from the Pacific Northwest, an absolutely gorgeous region that I always enjoy visiting.
I love traveling too, for research of course. Never been to the Pacific Northwest accept passing through for a cruise to Alaska. Breathtaking and gorgeous. Three things always found in your refrigerator are:
Eggs, some type of leafy greens, and protein shakes. Low carb necessities.
Sounds healthy. Writing is often a sedentary profession. Is there anything you do to beat stress and keep in shape?
I purchased a treadmill desk last year, which means writing is an active profession for me! Or at least a profession that moves at half a mile an hour.
They make those? Interesting. You’re in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
Chai tea latte — skinny, no whip.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Well, that was fun. Please check out Andrew Shaffer at any of his social networks. Again, we loved having you here at RB4U today, Andrew and hope you stop by again when you write that romance comedy!
Erotic Romance Author