Dirt Road Books author Andi Marquette is here.
She’s giving away a book to two lucky winners. More details are below.
Please welcome Andi Marquette.
Before we begin, thanks so much for stopping by today for a chat.
Thanks a bunch for inviting me! I rarely get a chance to hang out and expound on things, so this is going to be FUN!
You grew up in Colorado. Where and did you like the area? Do you still live in Colorado? (I lived in Fort Collins for many years.)
I cannot say where I was or where I am because I am an international woman of mystery! MUAH HA HA! (adds to my mystique, you know) I will say that I know Ft. Collins and Boulder pretty well, and Denver, too. I also spent time in the Steamboat Springs area and the San Luis Valley. I know the state very well. As an aside, my story “Road Trip,” on my website, has Ft. Collins in it. As does my novel From the Hat Down, which is mostly set in southern Wyoming, though Ft. Collins makes an appearance.
What area of study did you focus on for your doctorate in history and does it influence your fiction?
American West, Southwest, and political and social movements. I haven’t published historical fiction in the classic sense, so you won’t find direct ties in that regard, but studying history encourages you to understand contexts and currents and it also gives you an eye for patterns – that is, recognizing the way some things might play out in certain circumstances because those circumstances occurred in the past, as well. My graduate training taught me how to research, and how to assess the veracity and perspectives of different sources. I use my training in history when I’m writing my mysteries (don’t worry; I’m working on getting those back into print) and, ironically, I use my history background and training in crafting the spec fic I write, because having an understanding of the past and how cultures change and how they express themselves over time helps with world-building. It does for me, anyway.
How about your degrees in anthropology?
I highly recommend anthropology as a way to help develop world-building. I draw heavily on my cultural anthro and archaeology background in spec fic, especially. Anthropology is about the study of human cultures, after all, and when you poke around into what influences various cultures – e.g. religion, environment, economic underpinnings, social organization strategies, language – you get a sense of how humans organize and disorganize themselves, if you will. And it also helps you imagine possibilities in world-building. I was always a spec fic geek, but anthropology provided some of the tools that I use now in writing, and helps with creating frameworks for figuring out worlds and plots.
I also have some training in forensic anthropology, which comes in handy when I’m writing mysteries. Heh.
With your educational background do you rock trivia games?
LOL I don’t actually play those all that much because I’m usually doing other things (like fangirling over comics and movies). I do have a large reservoir in my brain, though, of completely useless information. But that’s okay because I’m endlessly curious about most everything.
You started editing in 1993 and became obsessed with words. Which are your favorites? Do you despise any? What words do authors consistently use incorrectly?
All words. I love the idea of words and languages, and how words fit together and how languages are a vehicle for culture. Before I learned to read (and I learned young—my dad taught me when I was three or four), I would spend hours with my parents’ books, studying the patterns of the words and letters on the page. I guess my dad noticed that and started teaching me to read. Once I had a few keys to the patterns on the page, I started working my way through sentence structure and pronunciation. I like seeing how things fit together, so editing really is a great fit for that aspect of my brain.
But I read widely still, across genres and I love nonfiction. I read a boatload of that, too.
I’m also obsessed with correct spelling and grammar. I’ve noticed over the past 10-15 years a decline in correct spelling in media and it drives me crazy. I do on occasion email the corrections pages of various news sites with lists of typos and misspellings that need correction (GAWD ANDI GET A LIFE).
Something I’m seeing more of is the use of the word “lead” when “led” is meant. That one bugs me. I see that one all the time these days. I also see people using “loose” when they mean “lose” (that’s a peeve, too) and “your” when “you’re” is the correct word. Another one of my pet peeves is using “less” when “fewer” is the proper term. It’s not “less people,” for example. It’s FEWER people. “Less” refers to amounts of something, like water or syrup or delicious beer. FEWER people, LESS delicious beer (unless you’re talking about specific bottles of beer, in which case you can say “fewer delicious beers”).
And people use “amount” and “number” interchangeably, too, and often incorrectly. The NUMBER of people exceeds expectations, e.g., not the “amount” of people.
GRAMMAR TIP! Use “amount” with uncountable things and “number” with countable.
Authors fall into those traps, too. And I see incorrect use of contractions, as in using “it’s” when what is meant is the possessive “its.”
And there’s also a decided decline in understanding how punctuation works. That’s been troubling, seeing that, because it speaks to larger worrisome trends in basic education and standards of writing.
But I digress. Heh.
Tell us about your obsession with New Mexico chile.
I’m originally from Albuquerque, NM. My favorite time of year there is fall, when the chile harvests are brought in and roasters are set up throughout the city for people to get their chile roasted if they don’t want to do it themselves and the smell of roasting chile wafting across the city—there’s nothing like it anywhere else. (here’s a video to see how the roasting is done)
You’ll notice that the word “chile” is spelled with an “e” on the end. That’s because it’s not Tex-Mex “chili.” Green chile is the lifeblood of New Mexican cuisine. Roasted and peeled, chopped and whole, chiles are everywhere. You go to a hamburger joint, you can have green chile strips added to your burger. You can request it on your pizza. It’s brewed into beer. And it’s used in sauces for dishes like enchiladas and huevos rancheros. The state question (as of 1999) is “red or green,” which refers to red chile sauce or green chile sauce. Red chile has a deeper, earthier flavor than green, which is often sort of crisp and tangy (and yes, available in a variety of heat levels). When asked that at a restaurant, some locals will respond with “Christmas,” which means they want both red AND green on the dish — the traditional colors of Christmas.
Puebloan peoples have cultivated a variety of chiles for centuries, but the chile most associated with NM now was developed at New Mexico State University in the late 19th century. But what’s interesting is that the different tastes, textures, and hardiness of NM chiles are contingent on the soils and areas in which they’re grown in the state, and each variety does best in its home soil.
It’s serious business, NM chile, and every fall, people get big bags of chile, roast them, peel them (for the love of all that is holy wear gloves when you peel), put them into quart-size freezer bags, and stash them in said freezer so they have them throughout the winter and on into spring.
Chile is an important foodway in NM culture and history, and because I am endlessly fascinated by how food, too, informs culture, I pay attention to it. Plus, it’s freakin’ delicious!
When did you switch from writing nonfiction to fiction and what’s the first story you published?
I haven’t switched. I constantly write nonfiction. See, for example, my blogs at Women and Words and my home site. WOOOO! NONFICTION!
First stories: I had a few pieces picked up all about the same time, in 2007-2008. My first novel (the first in my NM mystery series), Land of Entrapment (currently unavailable; I’m working on getting it back into print) was picked up around 2006-2007 by Regal Crest and around that time, I got a shifter short story called “Night Shift” picked up by Torquere Press and then my novella From the Boots Up was picked up, also by Torquere Press. I re-wrote that novella a few years later after I got the rights back and self-published it. As for “Night Shift,” I took that concept and wrote a novel about it, which resides only on my computers (I have a couple of laptops and a desktop). It’s urban fantasy with werewolves.
What story are you working on now?
I have a weird superstition about announcing things that I’m working on. So I hardly ever say what I’m working on because I don’t want to jinx it. LOL
But I can say that I’m working on getting the rest of my Far Seek Chronicles (science fiction) re-done and re-released through my publishing house, Dirt Road Books, which I opened last year with 5 of may closest friends/colleagues. Book 1, Friends in High Places, got a complete makeover and was released last summer. I’m working on getting books 2 and 3 out ASAP, A Matter of Blood and The Edge of Rebellion, respectively. I also have about half of a fourth in that series written (book 4) and I’m also going to be getting the four books in my NM mystery series re-released through Dirt Road Books.
And I’ll also say that yes, I’m working on a couple of other projects, one that is a first installment of an urban fantasy trilogy. I think I should have that one done this year, but I’m not going to say much more than that about it…muah ha ha…
And I might do a sequel to my novel If Looks Could Kill, a thriller/romance I published with Ylva that I call the nutty spawn of The Devil Wears Prada and James Bond. I like those characters in that book.
How did the TV show The 100 influence you to write a 500,000-word fanfic?
I never would have written that damn thing (it’s called “Grounded”) if The 100 hadn’t killed off one of the most iconic female characters in modern TV history. And I don’t say that lightly, but I will say it here about the character of Commander Lexa, who made her debut in Season 2 of the show and pretty much took it over every time she was on screen. Australian actress Alycia Debnam-Carey, who played her, created a complex, nuanced lesbian character with strengths and vulnerabilities that made her achingly human, and to hook her up with the character of Clarke Griffin (yay bi rep!) – hell, this was one of the most amazing power couples in modern TV.
I won’t go into all the crap that went on with regard to Lexa’s death, which fulfilled the terrible Bury Your Gays trope, but I will say that the death of this character created a movement across the fandom that has rippled far beyond it. That’s a discussion for another time (but see here and here), the amazing organization of the fandom in the wake of what happened and the results of its work (including this).
At any rate, I’m a fan of spec fic and dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories, so it’s no wonder I started watching the show but holy crap, when Lexa was on screen – she was electrifying. I don’t think the showrunner or the writers realized the effect that this secondary character was going to have, and again, I can theorize all day about how things unfolded, but the fact remains that Lexa inspired generations of fangirls and her relationship with Clarke is still shipped in fanfic old and new.
So I wrote “Grounded” as a catharsis, because Lexa affected me, too. She was the quintessential warrior, who recognized her strengths and weaknesses, who was a visionary leader navigating Grounder clans through new terrain created by a power vacuum and the appearance of a new player on the scene, Clarke Griffin’s people. She was also a gifted politician, skilled in maneuvering different scenarios and personalities, though we didn’t get to see much of that. Opportunity lost on the part of the show.
And because I love political intrigue stories and exploring different cultures, I re-wrote Season 3 (the season in which Lexa died) and I wrote it with a focus on the Grounder clans and Lexa as a leader, politician, and warrior. And also with a focus on the initially tense relationship between Clarke and Lexa, that in my story evolves into something much, much deeper – a story I wanted to see and that none of us got because of what happened. I tell the story through both Clarke’s POV and Lexa’s, alternating between them as appropriate. I absolutely loved writing Lexa in “Grounded” because I was (and still am) fascinated with her, and we never really got much in the show about her (since Clarke was the primary POV there), so I took what we knew and developed it in ways that I thought would make sense in terms of the directions I took the plots, based on canon.
It was the most ambitious writing project I’ve taken on, given that I forced myself to stick to writing deadlines so that I would post updates in a timely fashion, and also because I wanted to lend it as much authenticity as I could in terms of Grounder canon while also expanding on the culture in ways that felt organic.
So the fic includes canon characters but also characters that I invented that worked in tangent with canon. It also includes Trigedasleng, the language that was developed for the Grounders in the show by a linguist. It has a lot of moving parts – tons of intrigue and plots within plots, romance (DUH! CLEXA!), danger, humor, and all kinds of other things.
I had such a good time writing it that I’m going to continue it in other installments (I already have a few plotlines ready to go), and I’m actually working on a Clexa AU. I find that writing fanfic is relaxing, and allows me to try things out and see how they work.
Upshot: I wouldn’t have written it if I hadn’t been so pissed about what happened. Sometimes, something like that galvanizes me to address it somehow. In this case, it was a giant-ass fanfic that took me over a year to write. And clearly, I have opinions on this subject. Ha!
In addition to writing and editing, you also blog and podcast. How do you manage everything and do you have a preference: writing, editing, blogging, or podcasting?
I have no idea how. I just do. LOL
And now with the launch of Dirt Road Books, well, MOAR TO DO!
I love it all. Sometimes I do more of some things than the others, which is fine because some things need to be done before others. It just depends on what’s going on. But I do have to always find time to write because if I don’t, I get really weird and cranky. Writing is like working out. I have to do it regularly or I get all freaky. It’s health management, though I do know when not to write, too. If I feel a writing burnout coming on, I’ll stop and focus on the other things I do. I’m always doing something writing-related, whether I’m actually writing or not.
If you could choose a superpower what would it be?
This might be totally cliché, but I would love to be able to fly. Do you know how much easier and cheaper it would be for me to get to events if I could do that? LOL
And how badass would it be, to be able to just go anywhere in the world under your own power? To see some of the most amazing places around the globe first-hand, whenever you got a chance? Damn. That would be awesome.
Thanks so much for chatting today.
Well, thank YOU for inviting me. Appreciate it! And if people want to get a taste of my writing, you can find that giant-ass fanfic (CLEXA!) on Archive of Our Own. I write under my name, so “Andi Marquette” is where to go. You can also find free short stories on my website and on the Dirt Road Books website.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Andi Marquette is an editor and award-winning writer of mysteries, romance, and speculative fiction. She has numerous short stories, novellas, and novels published and when she’s not working on writing more of those, she’s writing fanfic or hanging out at the blog Women and Words, dedicated to lesbians, fiction, feminism, and community, which she runs with colleague Jove Belle. Every week she and Jove do the Women and Words week in review podcast and every other week, she and fellow writer/fangirl Lise MacTague do the Lez Geek Out! podcast, in which they explore women’s and queer rep in movies, TV, books, and comics.
CONNECT WITH ANDI MARQUETTE
Enter here for a chance to win one of the following:
IF LOOKS COULD KILL
FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES
All you need to do is fill in your email, check the box confirming you aren’t a robot, and hit enter.
Thanks so much for stopping by today.
Best of luck to everyone who enters the giveaway.