Andi Lee on Writing, Characters, and the new release Mischief Maker (Animal Lark #1)

Mischief Maker (Animal Lark #1) by Andi Lee

Dreamspinner Press
Published August 13th 2019
Cover Art: Reece Notley

Sales Links: Amazon | B&N

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Andi Lee here today answering our author questions and talking about the writing process and her new book Mischief Maker. Welcome, Andi!

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews Andi Lee….


Thank you so much to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me. My debut novel Mischief Maker was published on the 13th August and I’m so excited to be here and answer some of your questions.

How much of yourself goes into a character?

It depends on the character. Quite a lot of myself went into Jamie and Liam, from their love of rats, to their love of trashy films and the town its set in, but my current work in progress has more of me emotionally if that makes sense!

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

I think it’s perfectly acceptable to use your own experiences and knowledge to create a character, it creates depth, emotion and realism. I don’t think Gary Stu’s have that, and it’s easy for a reader to tell the difference. A Gary Stu is more of an idealised version of the author and everything that makes a person (or a character) meaningful is smoothed over and they become flat.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Research doesn’t necessarily play a role in choosing what genre I write in—whatever genre it is I’ll research something—places, cameras, rat varieties! But I do find research can be a hinder if I’m writing fantasy/urban fantasy because I don’t know where to stop and will often tie myself in knots. I tend to do more research if I’m making up my own worlds and cultures, so it’s actually easier for me to research for a contemporary. I do enjoy research, but I can get caught up in the details, I have to know when to step away and just write. I’m quite bad at that!

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Most definitely!  I devoured the teen section of the library when I was a teenager (admittedly this section consisted of one very sad spinner!) When I read them all I started to read my mom’s Mills and Boon books which I think instilled a love of romance in me. I was about fifteen when I stopped reading teen books. I think I read more YA now than I did back then!

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

I have, not so much because of emotional ties, but because I let myself get too invested in the little details—trying to make it so believable that it took away from the actual story. 

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I prefer HEA because I read for escapism and I want to finish the book on a high. I will read HFN but I usually want assurances it will eventually turn into a HEA—and I’ll usually wait until all the books are available so I can read one after the other! I love a bit of angst because it makes the romance all the sweeter, but I want to finish the book knowing I’m leaving the characters happy.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Both! I read lots of teen romances from Sweet Valley High, Zoey Fools Around, Point Romance, then onto Mills and Boons as I mentioned above. Now I read predominantly MM romance, fantasy, and paranormal romance with a little YA thrown in. I love a good romance, no matter what the genre!

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

That is such a hard question! As a child I struggled with reading which was very frustrating as I came from a family of readers—I luckily had parents and siblings who would read ‘grown up’ books to me. But I remember vividly reading The Stream That Stood Still by Beverly Nicholls by myself and it was THE book that finally made me push through the difficulty and persevere. Looking back at reading that book, I still feel that sense of accomplishment at finishing the book, and the absolute wonder of the story and needing to find out what would happen at the end.

As an adult I think Laurell K Hamilton is a big influence. Her Anita Blake series spoke to my love of the supernatural and I just adored the world she created. On a completely different note, Bret Easton Ellis also influenced me, not so much in the content, but his style. I always thought I should have beautiful flowery prose similar to those I’d studied in school and uni. He showed me that I didn’t need to be wordy, and that every author had their own style.

How do you feel about the eBook format and where do you see it going?

I love it (which may shock some people because I’m a bookseller by day!) eBooks were the reason I found MM authors. I couldn’t find these books in bricks and mortar bookshops, so I went where the books were being published. I remember when eBooks first got big and how everyone was worried they would push printed books out, but I don’t think that will ever be the case—It just gives people different formats to read on, and many book lovers will buy an eBook, then buy a printed copy if they truly loved it.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part) I’ve only done it the once, but Dreamspinner are super helpful and really included me in the initial process, asking what I liked, what I didn’t, any ideas I had. I had a great cover designer who seemed to know exactly what I wanted.

What’s next for you as an author?

I’m currently writing the sequel to Mischief Maker. It’s set in the same town, but concentrates on two of Jamie and Liam’s friends, and an adorable ferret. 

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

It’s like you’ve read my mind! I’ve talked about this with some friends recently as I have a first draft of a contemporary in which one character gets severely injured. I was so concerned with not only getting the details right, but incorporating every single one into the story that the romance became secondary and I lost that spark—it became less about the romance and more about issues. Even now I’m not sure how to fix it. So, to answer your question I think you can make a character too real. I’m not saying there should be less faults, but maybe there doesn’t need to be so much detail on the page?  The romance should always be the focus in a contemporary romance, otherwise it’s not a romance anymore!

Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

Funnily enough I did this at university when I got bullied by a supervisor at my part-time job. I named an antagonist after her and let my protagonist blow off steam! On a more emotional level I think I’m doing that in my current work in progress, but I can’t say too much as I don’t want to give anything away!

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

I’m sure I did when I was at uni (but I can’t remember) but not recently. Alcohol tends to make me tired, so I don’t get much done if I’ve had a few!

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

When I picture myself as an author, I’m in an old country house overlooking rolling hills, beautiful flowers with birds singing in the background. Quiet, but not too quiet, the sun is shining. You get the picture! Oh, and I’m writing on a typewriter. Completely impractical! In actual fact the best place for me to write would probably be a quiet coffee shop because there are less distractions than at home, and…coffee!

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To widen our knowledge?  Why do you write? I write as a form of escapism, it’s the same reason I read, too. There are enough stresses in the world,  so most often I want to write something that takes me, and the readers out of that—it could be into the stress of a make-believe world, or into an angsty romance, but it’s away from our day to day struggles.

What’s next for you as a writer? I’m hoping to write more in the Animal Lark series. There are many characters and cute animals I can write about, but I’ve also got ideas for other contemporary romances, as well as paranormal romance. Too many ideas and not enough hours in the day!

Thank you so much for having me, I’ve really enjoyed answering your questions!



Mischief Maker
(Animal Lark #1)

An Animal Lark Novel

What to expect when your pet rat is expecting, or how to fall in love at a pet show.

Jamie Hewett rescues and breeds prize-winning fancy rats. While he’s surrounded by supportive, animal-loving friends, his ex-boyfriend has never been one of them. One embarrassing breakup later, he definitely isn’t looking for love again, but perhaps a rebound relationship might ease his broken heart.

Liam Donnelly’s quirky dating life is the subject of a popular vlog, and his viewers have interesting ideas on where he might find romance. When they suggest he take Mabel, his new rat, to a pet show, he’s up for the adventure.

Although they can’t deny their growing interest in each other, neither Jamie nor Liam believes in love at first sight. They’ve both had bad luck with men, and Jamie isn’t pleased that Liam makes a living as a serial dater. On top of that, others are conspiring to keep them apart, and Jamie is left holding the baby—or twenty-plus babies—when their fur children have no trouble making a connection. Will a YouTube ukulele serenade convince Liam that Jamie’s love for him—and their unborn rat children—is for real?

About the Author

Andi Lee lives in the UK, close enough to Birmingham city to be considered a ‘Brummie’, but far enough away to enjoy the Staffordshire countryside. She enjoys writing in many different genres as long as they contain a large dose of cute guys falling in love. She’s a sucker for a happy ending.

When she’s not writing, she enjoys making junk journals, and also jewellery out of polymer clay and resin. She has kept pet rats on and off for twenty years and fell in love with her first ferret when she found him on her way to work one day. She’s kept them ever since.

(And she apparently has an obsession with Vans—the shoes not the vehicles!)

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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