The King of Cliffhangers Is In My Office!
My Interview with ANDREW HESS!
I always enjoy meeting other authors and learning about them. It has been a great pleasure getting to know you and developing our friendship along the way. You are an incredible guy, and I am so thrilled to introduce you to my readers!
1. As you know, I always begin my interviews with the same question. Therefore, would you please describe yourself for us?
Author Andrew Hess combines the influences of James Patterson and Edgar Alan Poe, creating the perfect formula to write a catalog of mystery and suspense books. Readers can’t get enough of him and have dubbed Hess ‘the King of Cliffhangers.’
2. Why do you think literacy is so important in the world?
I think everyone needs a creative outlet; whether it’s reading or writing. It takes you away from what’s bothering you and brings you to a world you are either creating in your own mind or one someone has made for you to picture in your mind.
3. I know you’re an avid reader. I’d like to focus the next set of questions on this fact and how it has influenced your writing style. Conversely, I’d like to explore if your reading has been affected in any way since you’ve become a published author with a new view of the industry.
· What, or who, developed your love for reading?
o Growing up, I wasn’t a big reader. I really didn’t start getting into books until I was a freshman in college reading James Patterson books and Harry Potter books.
· How did being an avid reader translate into becoming a writer?
o I really liked reading Patterson’s detective novels, and then I started reading Poe’s short stories in college. I thought it would be great to blend both styles and put out something that will leave people on the edge of their seats.
Ø I read you really found your love for writing while studying psychology. What lead to this discovery? How did studying this discipline shed light on your passion for literature?
§ It gave me insight into a person’s psyche; what makes them tick and how they function. There were several times where I would people watch and try to guess their issues.
Ø Did your taste in reading material change with the epiphany, or was the academic reading what caused it to occur?
§ It was a mixture of what I was reading in my psych courses and also for my English classes. That’s how I got introduced to Poe.
· You enjoy writing in multi-genres and often cross genres in your stories. What made you decide to writer wider instead of focusing on a specific genre?
o I never like to be put in a box or be labeled as one thing. If I was only a mystery/suspense author, I lose the opportunity to share my work with so many others who focus on other genres to read.
Ø What books or writers do you feel helped develop this preference, and why?
§ There weren’t any authors or books that really caused this preference. I personally go through phases where I only want to read a certain type of genre; mystery, romance, horror, rom-com, etc. I figure there are plenty of people out there who probably feel the same way.
· Writing – copy editing, in particular – has changed how I look at texts. Do you read books differently now that you are more cognitive of the writing process?
o Yes. Unfortunately, I look for every grammatical error, spelling error, how the plots feel, what the character development is like, and so many more parts to the story.
Ø Do you ever re-read books, and if so, have you noticed a change in how you perceive them now, not just from age and experience, but because of the technical knowledge you’ve gained as an author?
§ Typically, no, I don’t re-read books unless it was really good. Other than Harry Potter or Edgar Alan Poe, I may have read about 5 other books multiple times in my adult life.
Ø Do you feel this has distracted from your love of reading or increased the value of it? Why, or why not, and how?
§ Complete distraction. I become too critical when trying to read the books, even my own.
4. Edgar Alan Poe and James Patterson have impacted you as both a reader and a writer. How did you first discover these authors?
My mother let me borrow one of her Patterson books and was hooked on the Alex Cross series for a long time.
I started reading Poe during my freshman year of college in English 101.
· What about Edgar Alan Poe’s style draws you to him and his work?
o I like how dark and cryptic he is with his writing. He draws you in with his words and leaves you on the edge of your seat wanting more.
Ø Does he have a particular piece of work that speaks to you most? If yes, what it is, and why do you think it appeals to you so deeply?
§ Cask of Amontillado-I love how it draws on where two friends are hanging out looking to share the amontillado only for the twist ending to turn your view of the story upside down.
The Tell Tale Heart– because I love the perspective of the villain and how he targeted the old man. Then you see how he struggles with his actions.
ü What of his do you try to emulate into your own style, and why?
v Both the art of the plot twist and telling the story from a villain’s perspective. It really gives new insight into the story when you have the detective hunting down a killer and then seeing everything from villain’s view too.
Ø If you could ask him anything, what would it be, and why?
§ Too many questions. I guess the biggest was how did you come up with these stories?
· And James Patterson – what about his style draws you to him and his work?
o I liked his writing style because he could paint a vivid picture through his words. You could picture everything in your mind so clearly it was like watching a movie.
Ø Does he have a particular piece that speaks more than any other? If so, what, and why?
§ I loved his Alex Cross series because it gave deep insight into the investigation while crossing the boundaries into his personal life.
ü What of his do you try to emulate, and why?
v I like to make things feel real and relatable.
Ø If you could ask him anything, what would it be, and why would this be the one thing you’d want to know?
§ Why did he decide to start using co-authors.
· I know these authors have been important to you, imprinting on your love of plot twists, thrillers, and mystery. However, I’m curious… which authors, if any, might have guided your style concerning Romance?
o There haven’t really been any who guided me here.
Ø Do you read books in the Romance genre, and if so, are there any notable titles that stand out for you?
§ I do read some romance books. I loved the Chaser’s Series by Tanya Sands. Also anything by V. Kelly is amazing. She is hysterical with her comedic approach to romance.
5. How did you get the title, ‘King of Cliffhangers’, and what does that mean to you?
I was part of a book club and submitted three of my books to the group (#1 Fan, Campus Killer, and Scorned). The group loved the stories, but they also jokingly said they wanted to get a bus to go on a road trip to strangle me because of my cliffhanger endings. They continued to read my other books and to this day curse me out for how I leave them on the edge of their seats wanting more. They named me ‘the King of cliffhangers’ and it just felt right to me.
6. I am always intrigued to hear the journeys people take through life, especially the ones for becoming published authors. The industry has been so dynamic and is in constant growth that it is fascinating; no two stories are the same. With that in mind, let’s discuss your path.
· How did you decide to go from writer to author? What made you want to be published?
o I had written a few things during college. One of them was a story about people seeking vigilante justice. It was hand written at first, but I changed part of the story when I typed it up. It became a government conspiracy story. I brought it to my creative writing professor and he thought it was a good story, which made me think this is something I could potentially publish one day.
Ø Did you seek out a literary agent, or did you go straight into the world of Indie publishing?
§ I tried going the traditional route in the beginning, but there is only so much you can take before you hit that point where you just want to share your stories with the world. It took me about 4 years to figure that out.
Ø Why was this the right choice for you?
§ It was the right choice then, because it allowed me to write my stories, set the covers and teasers the way I wanted, and get the books into the hands of my readers.
· Have you ever questioned your decision to publish? Why, or why not?
o I wouldn’t say I questioned the decision as much as I imagined what life could have been like if I had a book deal from day one. But the journey wouldn’t have been the same and I might not have met the same people. Now, I’m focused on both worlds. I have an agent for some books and self-publish others.
Ø Looking back, is there anything you wish you could have done different?
§ I wish I had spent more time learning the promotional piece of publishing.
ü What was the most surprising thing you learned along the way?
v The life of an author is much harder and less glamorous than everyone thinks it is.
Ø What do you feel is the hardest part of being a published author?
§ That’s easy; proper balancing. I have to manage my regular job, being a husband and father, time to write, and time to promote. There really isn’t enough hours in the day.
Ø What do you feel is the best part?
§ Getting reactions from my readers. I love hearing what they think of my books; what they love; what they think could have been better; and getting the threats against my life if I don’t get the next book out soon.
· Did anything change your view of the literary world? For example, I didn’t realize the importance reviews had for Indie authors and their ability to promote.
o I never realized how hard it is to get reviews. Most people read the books and move on to the next one. There are not many readers who take the time to write up a sentence or two on them.
Ø Did you have any expectations that proved to be unrealistic or which might have become obsolete with the industry growth?
§ Unfortunately, I feel like the market is flooded, which makes it very difficult for authors to get noticed like they used to.
ü What has been the biggest change you’ve seen since you first published?
v There are many readers who are focused on one type of genre and don’t venture off of it. The surprising part is going to a signing and seeing all of the other authors are in that genre except me and one other author. Then, we become the special attraction.
ü Where do you think the industry is headed based on your experiences?
v I feel like authors need a way to stand out among the sea of authors or else they will be lost within the river.
· What advice would you give to a novice writer interested in publishing their work?
o Use social networking to link up with some good people/authors/editors/readers. They are your lifeline in this industry that will make the journey special for you.
7. I really want to pick your brain to learn about your writing style. I am one of those who likes it to be quiet while I become completely submerged in my stories and characters – I, literally, lose track of time. It amazes me that others can be so creative while they surround themselves with music or sitting in a busy café. I want to learn about your process.
· What does a day of writing look like for you? Is it in a home office, at the library, in a café, or out on the deck? Do you have a favorite beverage? Is there music or silence?
o It varies. I am always in my home office, but there are times where I have the TV on, sometimes my music, sometimes I need quiet, and sometimes a podcast about one of my favorite shows. It all depends on my mood.
· Do you use an outline, let the story guide you, or something in between?
o I’ve had a few times where I just wrote without an outline. It is much harder to do. Staying on point with an outline is good, but I feel like I am too restricted. I prefer to outline the story and then go off-book when it’s needed.
Ø You have several series. How do you keep track of the details and timeline from book to book?
§ I have had to go back several times to look up something to make sure it aligned with what I was currently writing. I needed to do this for names, places, wardrobe, or how someone died,
Ø Do you have character bios? How detailed are their backstories?
§ I tried doing character bios in the beginning, but they didn’t work out so well for me. I like to run with the characters and let them tell me who they are.
· When you research, what does that look like? Do you prefer going to the library, field work, googling, or a mixture of them all?
o Mostly Google. I’ve had a few field trip experiences like going back up to my old college to take pictures to refer back to while writing. I would love to do more of that for future stories.
· Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
o My dreams. Most of the plots I came up with were derived from a dream or a nightmare I had. Whatever I could remember would be written down when I woke up and converted into part of a story or into a plot.
Ø Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you handle it? What do you do to recharge your batteries?
§ Ugh, that is the worst. Honestly, I just keep writing even if I hate it. I go back to it later and fix everything I can and run it by my proofreader after the second draft.
8. What can we expect to see from you over the coming year?
I am re-releasing Campus Killer(Book 1 of the Detective Ryan Series) in January 2021.
I am putting out the 7th installment of the Detective Ryan Series by Spring/Summer 2021.
I have a romance book, a kid’s book, and a mid-grade book written which I hope to release. I also have a few other ideas for new books with a possible horror or Christmas book too.
· What is your current WIP?
o Currently, I am re-writing Campus Killer (Book 1 of the Detective Ryan Series)
· What’s the best way for readers to connect with you and your books?
o Facebook is the best way to reach me.
o All of my books are on Amazonas well.
Thanks again for taking the time to meet with me today. I appreciate you, my friend. Please stay healthy, happy, and safe. I wish you all the success in the world!
Really enjoyable interview, thanks so much for bringing this interview to my attention.
Thank you – it was fun hanging out with Andrew Hess. He is a really wonderful guy!