Interview with Andrew Warren

Andrew Warren: Author

Born and raised in Bucharest in Communist Romania, Andrew learned the meaning of adversity survival at an early age. By the age of seven, he was already writing stories of hopelessness and escapism reflecting on the life around him.

He went to NYU where he first earned a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and later a Master’s in Environmental Engineering.  He married and had two children, Judy and Alex who are still the paradigms of his creative gifts.  Unfulfilled with engineering and its confined possibilities, he decided on a whim to start his own engineering consulting firm, thinking that would allow him to choose the more social aspects of the business.  To his dismay, the venture turned out to be more successful than he could imagine under the circumstances, which further delayed his return to his childhood passion of writing.  But in the early nineties, though still saddled by the business, Andrew cautiously returned to writing and also went back to school to prepare himself for a career as a college instructor of English.

In 2001, he sold the engineering consulting firm, which finally freed him to devote himself to full-time writing.  (Courtesy of Andrew Warren’s website)

You can find out more about Andrew Warren and his books from his website:

TSM: Thank you so much for doing an interview for the magazine.

AW: I’m Honoured.

TSM: What got you into writing, and is it something you always wanted to do?

AW: Yes, I always wanted to write. When I was a little kid, even in preschool when I was maybe like, five to six years old, and I just learned how to write. I started just jotting down stories, and then when I was about seven or eight years old I was actually spending a lot of time just writing stupid little stories. None of them survived. I remember my mother would chased me out of the house, so I could go out and play with other boys. So yes, I started very early, but then I didn’t do any writing for many years. My parents wanted me to become an engineer. I hated being an engineer, but I became one. I sort of forgot about the writing. However, about twenty years ago, I was already getting close to retirement. I had sold my business in 2001, so after that I had more time, so I started writing.

TSM: Can you recall the very first piece of writing you wrote?

AW: What it was about? No, I can’t. I mean I was like seven or eight years old.I remember my mother telling me not to spend so much time in the house. My mother thought I was wasting my time writing because there was no good reason for it.

TSM: What is the inspiration behind your latest book Greta’s Passage: Memoirs of a Passionate Woman?

AW: Well, I found my mother’s life exciting, and thought it was something that could make a good novel. It’s not my mother’s life, but it’s sort of based on it. I just made it more dramatic and literary, so the story is more exciting.

TSM: What process did you go through in writing your book?

AW: First,I wrote an outline, and then I decided on the characters for the story. Obviously, my mother was in the story named Greta. My father in the story had nothing to do with my father. In fact, my father in this story is a very tall, skinny man. My real life father was a very short and chubby guy. So it’s very different as I changed them a lot. Then I wrote down certain highlights of my mother’s life, and so they became the focus of various chapters. That’s how I linked the chapters together, but there are not that many chapters, but long ones. I always intended to write a follow-up volume to Greta’s Passage because this book only takes you to when we left Europe for America. She was about thirty-nine years old, so I was always thinking of writing the balance of her life. Maybe someday I’ll do that.

TSM: What do you hope your readers take away from the book?

AW: I wanted to offer them a nice voice, and to create a very complex character. This ‘Greta’ was a complex character; she had both flaws and good parts. I did not want to make her to be like a saintly type. I presented everything, warts and all – the good parts and the bad parts. The good parts are not necessarily my mother’s qualities, they were things that I felt would be interesting for people to read about. I needed to write that book and get it out of my system.

TSM: Tell us a bit about your other books: The Countershaded Ibex and Stinky Nothing and Other Stories of My Youth.

AW: The Countershaded Ibex is the first book I wrote. I had written short stories before that, it was the first novel I wrote. I was always fascinated with the Dead Sea Scrolls. I don’t know if you know what they are, but these scrolls date back to the time of Jesus in the Holy Land. One of the scrolls was found and this is for real, my story is not though. It’s called the Copper Scroll, and it’s actually made of a long sheet of copper with a listing of 62 sites where a lot of gold had been hidden. That was a time when the Romans took over Palestine. So I decided to write about it. Nobody claims to have ever found that gold, but it’s supposed to be in the trillions of dollars. So in my story, the main character finds the gold. Btw, the character has your last name, ‘Max Gilbert.’

As for Stinky Nothing…, I wrote the stories later, but, I started writing the stories many years ago, even before I wrote The Countershaded Ibex. About a few years ago, I decided to collect all these stories and publish them as a volume.

TSM: What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

AW: I like an Irish writer, James Joyce, and American writer, William Faulkner. Both of them have influenced me the most.

TSM: What is one of your favorite quotes (or lines) that inspires you?

AW: I like quotes by Shakespeare, the most quotable writer who ever lived, and some of his quotes are really remarkable. Also ones from other writers of classical literature.

TSM: Anything else you’d like to share?

AW: You know what I started doing during Covid, and I find it very exciting, I started painting. I have painted a bunch of canvases. I don’t know if you know about Robyn, but she has a rental studio. She rents furniture, paintings little knickknacks, plates and other things to movie sets, theater or television. A few paintings that I did have been rented out by Robyn’s company. I did about four or five paintings that are now there, and I still paint and do it as often as I can.

I wish more people read these books. I don’t know anybody in the publishing business. I never managed to get a literary agent, you can’t really get published by a big publishing house unless you have a literary agent, and I don’t because it’s a very tough business to break into. The writers who became so successful and made so much money was all luck, or at least they knew somebody in the business. If I send my novel to a publishing house that I didn’t want to look at it, they get 100 manuscripts a day, so they’re not even going to bother looking at it. So I guess what I wish is that more people would get to find out about these books because I think if they did, they would enjoy them.

TSM: Thanks so much again for the interview.

AW: Thank you, Jessica!

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