Inside the Author’s Cranium: Darbie Andrews

Inside the Author’s Cranium interviews are back after a summer break! First on the September lineup is a dynamic woman, Darbie Andrews. She’s a prepublished author, a full time teacher, a full time single mother of two wonderful sons, an extraordinary Zumba instructor, and still finds time to write. I had the pleasure of reading an early draft of her Young Adult Work-In-Progress novel and can’t wait to see it in print.

New this season is a contest, with a prize! This month the prize is a copy of my newest picture book, ROXY REINDEER. To be eligible to win just stop by and leave a comment on the blog and your name will be added to the hat. The winner will be announced on my Facebook page on September 22.

Now here is Darbie in her own words:

1. What’s your favorite word? My favorite word is actually a Spanish word. I love the way it sounds. It was hard for me to pronounce it at first, so being able to say it over and over gave me great joy. The word is “curiosidad,” curiosity. I wish that all people had a healthy curiosity for life and learning, especially my students.

2. What’s your least favorite word? “Can’t.” I don’t like to hear anyone say it, especially my students or my children. I used to do an activity with my elementary classes in which I had every student write the words, “I can’t” real big on a sheet a paper. Then, everyone would tear it up or crumple it and throw it into the trash. Saying, “I can’t” was not allowed. I don’t like “get” or “was” either. I try not to use them.

3. Describe your style of writing. I like to move straight to the point so my writing can be intense. I have a unique writing style in that I speak two languages and can infuse Spanish into my text. I write dialogue well and have a way of solidifying a mood or moment with a two or three word phrase.

4. Describe your work ethic. Always give 100% or more effort into everything. As a teacher, I ask myself, “If I were a parent of these students, would I be happy with the education that I’m providing for them?” Also, I believe that if we are being paid to do something and we don’t do it, we are essentially stealing. I’m no thief. I respect and appreciate the opportunity to work. Integrity drives my work ethic. I want to look into the mirror at the end of the day and see a person I respect. As a writer, I dedicate as much time as I have after the full-time job and the responsibilities of my kids to sit and write, but I use my driving time to think and solidify ideas for my stories.

5. What is your main writing fault/flaw? I try too hard to make it perfect the very first time I write so I interrupt the flow with corrections and edits. It’s difficult for me to just let it go and write. I delete often and don’t progress as far as I’d like.

6. Any tips on how to flesh out a character? The best advice I’ve been given about character development is the do a character sketch. Identify all of the details about a character such as likes and dislikes, worries, hobbies, friends, habits, etc. Try to get into the character’s head.

7. Any tips on developing plot? Plot is a surprising beast for me. Best tip is to write. I can start with a string of events and in the end come up with a complete twist that I would have never thought of if I hadn’t written down the first steps.. It’s like writing down the beginning unlocks the end. Write!

8. Who are your favorite prose authors? I really love Ray Bradbury. He was my favorite as a young adult and I still love his writing. My latest favorite is Elizabeth Gilbert because her book, Eat, Pray, Love touched my heart and soul. Her writing helped me through my divorce. I keep her book nearby. Alice Walker, Charlie Price, and Jay Asher are some of my favorites as well.

9. Who are your favorite poets? Ellen Hopkins. I love her books written in verse, which to me is poetry. I’ve read Crank, Glass, and Fall Out and I developed a six-week course of study for her books that I use with my students at a continuation high school. Her writing helps open up communication about intense topics so students acquire some support they desperately need. Also, Maya Angelou is an amazing poet. Her work is inspirational.

10. Who are your favorite heroes/heroines in fiction?I’m a big Star Wars fan so I must honor my favorite sassy Jedi, Princess Leia. She leads a revolution for goodness sake and gets Han Solo. She’s my girl. Then there’s Katniss Everdeen. I love her compassion for others and her toughness to do what needs to be done. My recent favorite hero is Cameron, in Drawn, by Chris Ledbetter. He’s a new kind of hero with artistic talents that take him and his love interest into another world. I love his determination and willingness to sacrifice his own life for love.

11. Who are your favorite visual artists and composers? I don’t own any famous prints, but if I did it would be one by Georges Seurat. I saw the original of “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” in a museum in Chicago when I was a young girl and I couldn’t believe my eyes. All those points form an amazing work of art. I think it represents life and how when we work together we can create beauty.

12. Who are your real life heroes? My best friend Andrea who was diagnosed with Lupus at age 20. She pushed through college and law school even though her body didn’t want to. We shared many wonderful times together in college. She died at age 31. I appreciate every day I am given to live because I realize how soon and abruptly it can end. My students are also my heroes. They show up and strive for their goals even though many of them have been given a really rough start in life. Many of them show me how strong the human spirit is by overcoming pain and suffering on a daily basis.

13. What intrigues you? Why some people are resilient and some are not. The same type of bad things can happen to two different people and one can overcome and another cannot or will not. I expect if someone had a bad childhood that he/she would want to have a different life than what they started out with, but that is often not the case. Heart breaking.

14. What annoys you? People who feel entitled. Personally, not having enough time to write or read.

15. What profession other than writing would you like to learn? I’d like to learn to be a therapist and really help young people, who are so damaged by their parents’ choices, to improve their lives and teach them abilities to cope. So much more needs to be done to help our youth.

16. What profession could you never handle? Police officer. They deal with so many dangerous situations that it would stress me out too much.

17. What natural talents have you been gifted with? I have a natural ability to work with children and young adults.

18. Assuming there’s will be an afterlife, who would you like to meet and why? I’d like to meet my grandmother and tell her thanks for telling me to educate myself. She always said that it was the one thing no one could ever take from me. She’s the reason I don’t give up.

19. What is your favorite writing motto/mantra? Write what you know.

20. What motivates you? Being alive. I’m thankful that I’m alive, healthy, and able. No excuses.

Darbie has worked as a youth program coordinator, big sister, bilingual elementary teacher, counselor, and is currently a teacher and counselor at a continuation high school. She also teaches Zumba and is a mother. She believes in education as one of the most important and valuable investments in improving lives.

About Linda Boyden

Teacher. Author. Artist. Storyteller. Poet. I write a poem a day. A picture book each month. I write novels for kids. I color in and out of the lines. I help young children love words and stories. I believe laughter comes straight from the Creator who put us on this fine Earth so we can help one another do our best.

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10 responses to “Inside the Author’s Cranium: Darbie Andrews”

  1. Lisa H. says:

    Awesome! Darbie is a truly wonderful and amazingly strong woman and I feel blessed that our paths crossed over 30 years ago!

  2. Jo Kee says:

    Darbie is a true inspiration to so many people. Truly a light and energy in so many lives. Thank you Darbie!

  3. Verna Jones says:

    I met Darbie many years ago and she was a strong willed teenage young lady. Does not surprise me that she has turned into a Beautiful, strong woman and an amazing Mother. Darbie is full of life and I’m proud to say she is my friend.

  4. Barbara Thomas says:

    Great interview Linda of a of great lady! It’s a pleasure to see Darbie in action every day at school and the love and support she gives to our students is amazing!!

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