Saturday, November 28, 2020

Andrea Portes

Andrea Portes is a bestselling novelist. Her novels include: Hick, Bury This, Anatomy of a Misfit, The Fall of Butterflies, Liberty, Henry & Eva and the Castle on the Cliff, Henry & Eva and the Famous People Ghosts.

Portes's new novel is This is Not a Ghost Story.

My Q&A with the author:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

You always want a title to have a kind of question to it. So, for instance, This is Not a Ghost Story really should be more like, “Why is this not a ghost story? What do ghosts have to do with any of this?” And, of course, it is a ghost story. But it is so much more than that. Without giving anything away, I’d say there are two kinds of hauntings occurring simultaneously in this book. The reader is then challenged to figure out what exactly those hauntings are, to figure out the mystery.

What's in a name?

A name is hook.

“The Queen’s Gambit” is much more interesting than “The Woman Champion Chess Player.”

Because, right off the bat, you wonder… “Well, what exactly is the queen’s gambit?”

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

My teenage self would be surprised to hear I was even alive at this point. I had a sure-fire plan to be done with this existence by twenty-five. It wasn’t a plan to commit suicide or anything. It was just a plan to kind of accidentally fall off a cliff in a blaze of glory.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings?

I adore beginnings and endings. They are what inspire me. They come to me first.

It’s the middle part that’s the problem. Act two. Act two is when I begin procrastinating wildly.

Which do you change more?

I don’t usually fuss over them too much. Instinct is an important thing. Inspiration a gift. But, I have learned to go back and make sure, structurally, they are doing what they are supposed to do.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

Absolutely. I see myself in all of my characters. Their words come out of me, their conversations, their desires, their insecurities. If I’m in the right place, creatively, they do things that surprise me. But even the most vile characters are seated happily somewhere in my self-conscious, in the ether, in the universal “us.”

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Basquiat and Debuffet. Their paintings have a kind of madness, a restlessness, familiar to me… To say something different, shaking, strange. Films, of course. The films of Lina Wertmuller and Charlie Chaplin are the ones I’ve found most inspiring. Chaplin had an understanding of the human condition like no other artist I know, other than Shakespeare. Wertmuller’s Seven Beauties is a beautiful, strange, dark, lusty masterpiece. And theatre… I once saw a version of Naomi Izuka’s Skin directed by Robert Woodruff, which had me in tears. I went to see it every night, sat in the back row, and bawled my face off. And, finally, history. During the pandemic I re-learned both my ancient and modern history, from Mesopotamia to Barack Obama. It was the most inspiring journey I could ever take, and I took it in my pajamas.
Visit Andrea Portes's website.

My Book, The Movie: This Is Not a Ghost Story.

The Page 69 Test: This Is Not a Ghost Story.

--Marshal Zeringue