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Tuesday, February 6, 2024

SPFBO 9 Finalist Interview: K.E. Andrews, The author of Hills of Heather and Bone

Book links: AmazonGoodreads

AUTHOR INFO: K.E.Andrews has always been an avid reader, which sparked her passion for writing at an early age. Her love of traveling has taken her to different places around the world. When she's not writing, she tends to her plants, volunteers at church, and enjoys binge-watching shows on Netflix. She currently lives in Powder Springs, Georgia with her family and three cats.

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Publisher: Sonder and Morii publishing (May 20, 2023) Page Count: 414 (Kindle edition) Cover art: Jade Mae Yee


Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Before we start, tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Katie, and I’ve loved writing since I was in middle school when I started writing fanfiction. I wrote my first book series (unpublished) in middle school and the way through high school until I shelved it to work on a new book that I would go on to publish. When I’m not writing, I enjoy gardening, cooking and baking, and crafting.

Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?

My day job is as an office admin for an equine vet. It’s been a great job since it’s not retail, and my boss is a huge fantasy nerd, so there’s a bookshelf of older fantasy books I can read when we’re not busy.

Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influencers?

This is a hard one. I’ve loved the works of Tolkien, Mark Lawrence, T Kingfisher, Hasfah Faizal, Leigh Bardugo, and Tehereh Mafi the most. With Mark’s books, i was first introduced into anti-hero characters, which I love to write about the most, and Tehereh and Kingfisher have such wonderful prose. I enjoy books that can mix the beautiful with the dark and I’ve tried to emulate that.

Can you lead us through your creative process? What works and doesn’t work for you? How long do you need to finish a book?

When I have an idea, I always try to write it down in a paragraph or two. If the idea is something I’m really excited about, I’ll do a rough outline with the basic plot and plotpoints to help direct me, but they’re usually not super detailed. I’m a planter (a mix of plotter and pantser). I tend to take the more exploratory route with writing and then start really adding finer details as I go. I like to have a general idea of where a story is going, but sometimes it’ll change, so I’ll follow that direction. When it comes to how long does it take me to finish a book is it just depends on the book. My first fantasy book took 10 years to write, revise, and publish, whereas my poetry books have taken a couple of months. My most recent fantasy book took me a year to get it done. I like to think of each book like a good wine. Some need a little more time to become truly great.

What do you think characterizes your writing style?

I like to mix gritty with the beautiful, having the dark with the lovely. I love imagery, so I’m always trying to put unique twists on my prose. I firmly try to stick with show don’t tell as much as I can, but sometimes there’s a time to tell.

What made you decide to self-publish Hills of Heather and Bone as opposed to traditional publishing?

I had been self-publishing since 2020, and I’ve loved having the creative freedom to shape my story how I want it and to design the covers and interior art how I want to. I had queried my first novel and never had any luck, so when I was writing Hills I hadn’t even thought about trying to query that to agents. Another factor is that traditional publishing usually takes longer, so it made more sense for me to publish on my own once I thought my book was good enough to publish.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of self-publishing?

The cost is my least favorite haha. Having to pay for everything yourself adds up quickly. You can find good quality services (like editors and artists) for affordable prices, but sometimes you get ones who are cheap and it shows up in the quality of the book. My favorite part has been the creative freedom to design and create how I want to, and the community of other self-published authors who help each other with various things from marketing advice, connecting you with other readers, and just being a great place to feel support since we’re all on the same journey of wanting to write and publish books.

Why did you enter SPFBO?

I first entered last year after I had seen it popping up. My first entry made semi-finalist, and after writing Hills (which I reworked my publishing date to be around SPFBO time) I knew I wanted to publish that as well. It’s been such a great competition for meeting new people, getting more eyes on your book, and adding things to your tbr.

What would you do if you won the SPFBO?

That’s a hard question to wrap my mind around since I went into the competition just hoping for a good review. I’d probably do the same thing I usually do which is write more books. Maybe celebrate a little and treat myself to some books and plants haha.

How would you describe the plot of Hills of Heather and Bone if you had to do so in just one or two sentences?

It’s a cozy dark story about a husband and wife on the run with their spiteful chicken, trying to find a place to live in peace.

What was your initial inspiration for Hills of Heather and Bone? How long have you been working on it? Has it evolved from its original idea?

I hadn’t planned on writing another book besides the sequel to The Assassin of Grins and Secrets. I was on Instagram scrolling instead of writing when I saw an art piece someone had for a story about a married necromancer couple. I had been toying around with the idea of a gender bent Persephone and Hades story, but didn’t quite know what to do. Then I thought oh, I could have a female main character who is a necromancer (I called them boneweavers) and her have a husband with plant and healing magic. I wanted a magic system that was similar to Avatar the last Airbender, but with the magic being in a person’s blood (so I called them bloodgifted). Then it kind of spiraled from there. I wanted to do a Scottish inspired setting for a story so this was the perfect thing to work on. I don’t know where the spiteful chicken came from, but she’s been a great character that others seem to like. I had also wanted to write a book that dealt with grief, family, axiety, and healing, so Hills of Heather and Bone was born. It did start out as a novella but, I overshot by like 60k words lol.

If you had to describe it in 3 adjectives, which would you choose?

Cozy, dark, cottagecore

Is it part of the series or a standalone? If series, how many books have you planned for it?

It’s a standalone book, but I have been thinking about doing a prequel novella for it (and I fully intend to make it a novella, not another full length novel).

Who are the key players in this story? Could you introduce us to Hills of Heather and Bone’s protagonists/antagonists?

The main protagonist is Morana who is a boneweaver. She’s tall and buff and has anxiety and arthritis. Her magic is forbidden, and she has the power to hear the stories of things that have died in their bones and reanimate them (but not bring them back). Her husband Percy is shorter than her (think Milo from Atlantis) and is a doctor with healing and plant magic. They’re discovered by a group of bloodgifted who hunt boneweavers and other rouge bloodgifted. The main antagonist is Alistair who is a flamekindler (someone who controls fire) and he chases them down throughout the story while they try to find a place to live in peace.

Does your book feature a magic/magic system? If yes, can you describe it?

Yes. I touched on it a bit earlier, but the magic system is based around blood. The bloodgifted (those with powers) are given their abilities by the gods. There are eleven gods and so there are 11 different types of magic people can do (the four basic elements, shadows, light, lightning, talking to animals, necromancy, and plants). A person can’t use their magic indefinitely and some magics have a steeper price than others. Morana’s magic, boneweaving, requires her to write down the story of whatever person or animal she has raised from the dead otherwise her magic will keep taking from her. When a person uses their magic, their veins will glow with the specific color of their magic.

Cover art is always an important factor in book sales. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of Hills of Heather and Bone and the artist?

Jade Mae Yee is my cover artist and she did such an amazing job with my first book that I had to have her do Hills. I wanted to go for the softer vibes on the front and have a skull on the back to show a little bit of the darker side of the story. It does look like a romance book cover, but the plot isn’t based around Percy and Morana’s romance. I did want to show off the characters and convey a comforting vibe that flows through the story. I love the hills of heather in Scotland and wanted to incorporate some of that onto the cover (plus I also like flowers).

Which question about the book do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

You ask such good questions! I can’t really think of any questions I want people to ask me about the book. I guess maybe why did I add a chicken? Well, I wanted an animal companion, but one that was mean. Chickens kind of scare me and I thought it would be funny to add one that didn’t really like the MC. If you’ve ever seen those videos of an emu going after a woman, that’s what I channeled into Morhenna the chicken.

What’s your publishing Schedule for 2023/2024?

I’m currently trying to work on finishing the sequel for my assassin trilogy and have it published hopefully by the end of 2024. I’m also working on some short cozy fantasy stories for NaNoWriMo that could be done by next year, and a short poetry book.

Thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions. In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?

I just want to thank everyone who has picked up Hills of Heather and Bone. Really couldn’t have done it without people picking up this book.



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