Andrea Murray Interview
Where did the idea for Omni come from?
I’ve been a teacher for eighteen years, and many years ago, I taught seventh grade language arts. As part of that curriculum, we completed a large unit on Greek and Roman mythology. I was fortunate enough to have my nephew in one of those classes. He developed an appreciation for all those great old stories, and every time a new mythology movie comes out , he calls me for confirmation that the story is accurate or to tell me whether it’s worth watching. He inspired the use of the story.
The society, Omni, came from my classroom. Each week, we study Greek and Latin root words. One of those a couple of years ago was “omni,” which means “all.” While discussing the word, the idea of a society completely controlled by the government came to me. I created the society, in part, from our own society, where entertainers like sports heroes and film stars make unfathomable amounts of money while many families can’t even pay their utilities.
What did you do on your last birthday?
I was teaching. My birthday is in August, and we are ALWAYS back in school by that time. However, my sister’s birthday is within three days of mine. (There is seventeen years difference in our ages.) So, we always have a family gathering around the time of both our birthdays. We usually have a lazy Sunday afternoon “picnic” style lunch and swim.
Do you have any tattoos? Where? When did you get it/them? Where are they on your body?
I don’t have any tattoos—unheard of in today’s society, I know! I do have eight piercings in my ears, though. I love piercings, and if I didn’t have to work “in the public,” I’d have more. My husband told me I had to stop putting holes in my body.
What are you working on right now?
Book Two, Contra, is the editing phase. It should be out in the fall (hopefully) if we don’t run into complications. I’ve also been playing around with something different. I had a protagonist practically banging around in my head for a month or so, and I’ve decided to let her out. Her story seems to be a bit ghostly. We’ll see!
What do you think you’re really bad at?
I’m really bad at relaxing. I always have a million things to do, and relaxing, just sitting around doing nothing, is almost impossible for me. I have a hard time forgetting about the laundry sitting in the basket, the dishes that need to be unloaded, and the papers I’ve brought home ungraded.
Any weird things you do when you’re alone?
I talk to myself. Don’t judge. I also make tons of lists. I make lists for everything to stay organized. I like to do this alone so that I can really concentrate on what I need to do versus what I want to do.
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
I love, love, love Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Toffee Crunch! Coffee ice cream with Heath bar pieces, who wouldn’t love that! I also like anything with cherry and vanilla.
Which mythological creature are you most like?
I’d have to say I’m most like a werewolf. Sometimes, that angry animal side seems to slip out when I least expect it. I’ve always been a little obsessed with werewolves. There’s just something about being fierce that fascinates me.
What are four things you can’t live without?
Well, my kids have to be two of those four. They make me crazy sometimes, but they’re my babies, and I’m always thinking about them. Third would have to be my laptop. What writer can live without her own computer? It’s just not the same on a different computer. It’s like wearing someone else’s shoes—strange and uncomfortable. Fourth would be my phone. It’s my connection to everyone.
What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?
I hope readers will see that Omni is about integrity and hope. Pierce doesn’t settle for what society has dealt him; he has dreams of a better life, maybe a better world, where class lines don’t hold citizens back. However, he’s also learned to work within those constraints without compromising himself.
What is your least favorite word?
My least favorite word is “can’t”. I hate when people say that. It drives me crazy when my kids tell me that. If we all maintained that we “can’t” do something, our society would never improve, move forward.
What part of the writing process do you dread?
I’ve come to dread editing, not because I have a bad editor—it’s just the opposite. She’s great and makes wonderful suggestions, but I’ve found I don’t like combing back through it all, which is the complete opposite of what I tell my students!
If we were to come to your house for a meal, what would you give us to eat?
It depends on what time of the month it is! My husband and I are both teachers, and we only get paid once each month, so I buy a huge mountain of groceries after payday. If we’ve just gotten paid, you’d probably have meatloaf, mashed potatoes with gravy, and green peas. If it’s close to payday, a bologna sandwich may be it.
Do you listen to music when you're writing?
I don’t listen to music when I write. Honestly, I like music, but I don’t LOVE it. I like to have Investigation Discovery (dubbed The Murder Channel by my kids) on while I write. I don’t know why, but it helps me think. Most of the time, I’m not paying any attention to it, but I like it on regardless.
Do you have any other talents you want to share?
I love to crochet in the winter. This last winter, I’ll bet I made twenty hats. Everyone in my family got a hat (or two). Picking out yarn and a pattern just makes me happy for some reason.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m probably grading papers. I teach junior high English, and that occupies a great deal of my time. I also have two children, and I coach my eight-year-old’s Odyssey of the Mind team, which tends to take up what’s left. When I do get some “me” time, I enjoy reading (like most authors) and watching all the shows I’ve saved on my DVR. I’m ashamed to admit how much I enjoy television.
Andrea Murray has been teaching English for longer than most of her students have been alive. She has taught everything from elementary reading groups to concurrent credit classes. She is currently teaching junior high language arts. She has a BSE and an MA in English. She lives in a very small town in Arkansas with her husband of nineteen years and their two children. In addition to teaching, she also blogs on Chick Lit Plus, writes young adult fiction, and recently completed her fourth novel, Omni, a YA dystopian based on the story of Paris and Helen. Andrea has also written The Vivid Trilogy, a YA paranormal romance. When she isn’t doing that, she’s probably reading or watching bad B movies.