Author Interview – Andrea Lochen – Author of Imaginary Things

So I was lucky enough to get an author interview with the very talented Andrea Lochen. For those of you who have not yet read her recent release, Imaginary Things, I would highly recommend picking up a copy. I absolutely loved the book, you can read my review of the book here. I’m looking forward to reading her other published novel, The Repeat Year, plus anything else she publishes in the future!!

Here is Andrea’s About the Author from her website

andrea-lochen

Andrea Lochen is the author of two novels. Her first novel, The Repeat Year (Penguin 2013), was praised by Kirkus Reviews as “an engaging, satisfying read that explores friendship, love and who we really are when it truly matters.” A draft of the novel won the 2008 Hopwood Novel Award. The Repeat Year was also produced as an audiobook (Brilliance Audio) and translated into a German edition (Ullstein Buchverlage). The film option was sold to Ineffable Pictures. Andrea’s second novel, Imaginary Things, is forthcoming from Astor + Blue in April 2015. Lori Nelson Spielman, bestselling author of The Life List, called it, “a beautiful book, filled with vivid scenes, unforgettable characters, and oodles of heart. With a page-turning plot and an utterly unique concept, Imaginary Things entertains, inspires, and provokes thought—a perfect book club pick.”

Andrea earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she was a Colby Fellow. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was the Fiction Editor of The Madison Review, a nationally-distributed, student-run literary magazine. Since 2008, she has taught undergraduate writing at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha and was recently awarded the UW Colleges Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Andrea currently lives in Madison with her husband and daughter and is at work on her third novel.

Below is the interview I had with Andrea. My questions are in bold and her answers follow.

  1. What was your favorite subject in school? It probably will surprise no one to discover that it was Creative Writing. In elementary school one of my teachers taught a unit called “The Writers’ Workshop” in which we wrote, illustrated, and “published” our stories.  I adored it (and her)!  Throughout my education from kindergarten until graduate school, I have always loved language and reading in its all forms—spelling, literature, writing, etc.
  1. What is your favorite vacation spot? Riviera Maya, Mexico. It’s only a short flight from Wisconsin (where I live) though it feels like worlds away with its gorgeous white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and warm sunshine.
  1. Do you have any pets? A Teddy Bear dog (a Bichon Shih Tzu mix) named Maddy. She’s a fluffy, spunky, affectionate girl.
  1. What do you like to do in your spare time? Ha!  Spare time?  What is this concept you speak of?  As a new mom, I haven’t experienced much of it lately, so it would certainly feel like a luxury.  I like going for walks with my dog and my baby in her stroller, reading good books, baking, watching movies, and spending time relaxing with friends and family.
  1. If you could have any magic/supernatural power or have something supernatural happen in your life, what would it be? That’s a really fun question to answer because it’s something I’m always imagining in my novels!  In my first novel, THE REPEAT YEAR, my protagonist Olive gets to relive a year of her life in order to attempt to right wrongs.  In my second novel, IMAGINARY THINGS, Anna gets to see her son’s imagination.  I guess if I were to be granted one supernatural event, I would want to be able to time travel back to certain moments in my past, just to observe and see loved ones again.  For example, I would love to witness times I spent as a little girl with my grandma (who has since passed away).
  1. When did you realize you wanted to be an author and did you have another profession before this? I’ve wanted to be an author since I was in the third grade (because of my cool teacher and the Writers’ Workshop).  Currently, in addition to writing novels, I also teach English at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha during the fall and spring semesters.
  1. Do you have any special rituals that you find yourself following when you’re writing? OR Take us through your typical work day. How’s this for a special ritual?  Despite having a beautiful office with a comfortable chair and desk, lately I tend to find myself writing at my coffee table on the living room floor.  I re-read my work constantly as I write and sometimes even aloud to get a sense of the flow and if the dialogue sounds authentic.  I always need to have something to drink at hand (most often a glass of ice water) and sometimes a snack as well.
  1. What (if any) research did you have to do for this novel? What was your favorite piece of research you did for this novel? I wanted to understand the phenomenon of imaginary friends in childhood better, so I read psychologist Marjorie Taylor’s book Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them.  I highly recommend it to anyone else interested in imaginary friends.  It was particularly entertaining reading the case studies of what kids said!
  1. Do you find that you base any of your characters on people in your life? Have you gotten any inspiration for scenes in your novel from things that have happened to you in real life? Quirks and traits of my characters are sometimes based on real people I know, but there’s never a 1:1 ratio.  As for inspiration from real life: definitely, yes, all the time!  The fictional town in IMAGINARY THINGS, Salsburg, is actually based on a real small town in Wisconsin that my husband spent a lot of time in growing up.  I loved the town’s intimate feel with its few businesses and once a year parade and carnival.
  1. How long did it take you to write this novel, from when you first put pen to paper to when it was published? Hmmm….let me go back to my computer files and check it out.  It looks like I started the draft in August of 2012, and it was published in April of 2015.  So a little less than three years.
  1. Are you working on any future books now? I am, thanks for asking! Book 3 doesn’t have a name yet but it has a magical premise like my first two novels, but I won’t give it away.  It’s about two sisters and the lake house that has been in their family for a century.   I’m really enjoying writing it!
  1. Are there any books or authors that have really influenced you and made you want to write? What about those authors inspired or influenced you? My literary hero is JK Rowling.  I love how rich her imagination is and that she was able to create an entire world that millions of people want to inhabit.  I love how she turned on an entire generation of readers.
  1. Have you read anything lately that you loved? I just finished M.L. Stedman’s THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS, which broke my heart (but in a good way).  It’s such a beautifully written, moving novel. (Just as an aside, I recently read this book as well and loved it! You can see my review of that book here.)
  1. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? If you want to write a book, you need to carve out time to do it.  There are never enough hours in a day, and there are always some other more important tasks to fill those hours with.  But if it’s a goal of yours and you love you doing it, try to set aside at least an hour every day to work on it, whether that’s reading/researching, outlining, drafting, revising, or even just daydreaming about it while you walk the dog.  Spend time with your book every day.
  1. Is there anything else about you that you’d like your readers to know? How much I appreciate them!  Thanks so much for reading my books!  I love hearing from readers, so if you want to connect with me, please check out my author Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/andrealochen.author) or follow me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/AndreaLochen).

I just wanted to say thank you to Andrea for being featured on my blog. It was a pleasure reading your book and interviewing you!

2015 Book #83 – Imaginary Things by Andrea Lochen

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Title: Imaginary Things
Author: Andrea Lochen
Date finished: 8/10/15
Genre: Fiction, Magical realism
Publisher: Astor + Blue Editions
Publication Date: April 27, 2015 (How funny, that’s my wedding anniversary)
Pages in book: 312
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Author/Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Burned-out and completely broke, twenty-two-year-old single mother Anna Jennings moves to her grandparents’ rural Wisconsin home for the summer―her four-year-old, David, in tow. Returning to Salsburg reminds Anna of simpler times―fireflies, picnics, Neapolitan ice cream―long before she met her unstable ex and everything changed. But the sudden appearance of shadowy dinosaurs awakens Anna from this small-town spell, and forces her to believe she has either lost her mind or can somehow see her son’s active imagination. Frightened, Anna struggles to learn the rules of this bizarre phenomenon, but what she uncovers along the way is completely unexpected: revelations about what her son’s imaginary friends truly represent and hidden secrets about her own childhood.

My rating: 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for ARC August reading challenge, it is #5 on list from my sign up post. I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about Anna Jennings, a twenty-two year old woman and the mother of four year old David. You find out about David’s father in pieces throughout the story, but suffice it to say he has not been involved in David’s life. Anna has just lost her job in Milwaukee and is moving two hours away to her grandparent’s home in Salsburg until she can get back on her feet. Her grandparents have taken her in from time to time throughout her life, the last time being when she was pregnant with David. Anna’s mother, Kimberly, is a hard woman who never seemed to care much for Anna, so Anna is determined to never be that kind of mother to David. I thought it was truly touching how devoted she is to David as a parent. And though I’m not a parent myself, I’ve heard that many first time parents have numerous moments of self-doubt, whether they’re making the best decisions for their child or not. I could hear through Anna’s narration the thoughts that many first time parents must have. I thought her character was well developed and portrayed perfectly.
While staying with her grandparents, Anna begins to notice that David has some unusual play pals. The first time she almost sees them she thinks it is just a big dog, but when she begins to see them clearly she realizes that they are dinosaurs. That’s right, dinosaurs. And no one else can see them except her and David. She shouldn’t even really be able to see them because in actuality they’re just figments of David’s imagination. But they seem real as day to her, she can even feel and smell their hot breath while playing hide and seek one day. At first she’s worried about whether they’re going to hurt her son but she slowly starts to calm down when she realizes that the dinosaurs are protecting David. But what is it that David needs protecting from?
I don’t want to say too much else because I don’t want to give good plot points away. And the reason I’m not doing that is because everyone should go read it for themselves. Now. Go buy the book! This book was fantastic, I honestly just couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. I thought the idea of Anna being able to see David’s imaginary friends was just so creative and unlike anything I had ever read before. Also the plot of this book was just captivating. Every time I thought we were about to come up on a slow part of the book, something else would happen that kept me on my toes. I was literally on the edge of my seat for the last 50 pages at least. Great story line and great characters, I will definitely be reading Lochen’s previous book and anything in the future. Everyone go read this book!
And be sure to check out my other post from today, I got to chat a little with the author, Andrea Lochen, about this book and her other books.

The bottom line: I loved this book, I definitely recommend reading it! Especially if you are a women’s fiction or magical realism fan! Great read!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page