To Live Forever Blog Tour: Interview with Andra Watkins

1. What made you pick Meriwether Lewis as a guide to help Emmaline?

Meriwether Lewis is most remembered for being a kind of guide, a leader of a band of men. If he could be trapped between life and death, it made sense to me that he would continue to be assigned variations of a key role he played in life until he redeemed himself.

2. You describe your book as the novel "that usually falls through the cracks as agents and publishers struggle to figure out ‘what shelf does it go on?'"  When writing the story did you ever get bogged down with not being able to fit inside one particular genre?

Humans need classification systems to function. We classify everything on site, from the people we meet to the experiences we're offered to yes, even the books we read. My own experience with easy classifications caused me to almost miss people, experiences and books that have changed my life. As a life-long avid reader, I despair with the focus on genre. I didn't care about genre when I was writing this book. My focus was on weaving what I considered to be a good story, on taking characters and situations and merging them in new ways. I hope I give most readers an experience they never expected, with people they've grown to love. My favorite line to see in a review is the most consistent one I've gotten: "I didn't expect to like this book, and I loved it." Or, as NY Times Bestselling Author Cassandra King said of my novel: "Give it a try. I dare you."

3.  What draws Em and Merry together?

Merry has to find and help a living person to escape Nowhere. Em is a nine-year-old girl with a madam mother who wants to sell her to the highest bidder on her tenth birthday. When Merry finds Em in New Orleans, she's running from that highest bidder, a man who was also Merry's nemesis in life. To find his future, Merry has to vanquish his past.

4. If you could live forever, would you want to?

In the book, the concept of immortality revolves around being remembered. To be remembered by someone is the only way we can live forever. Whether we admit it or not, I think we all want to be remembered. It's why some people choose to have children, why others give large sums of money, and yes, even why some politicians want to plaster their names on every bridge and traffic interchange available. While creativity is somewhat compulsive, it's also why many artists make art. So, to answer your question, I hope my words will help me live forever.

5. What historical character (other than Lewis) would you want to have a cup of coffee with?

I might risk a cup of coffee with the Judge, the villain in To Live Forever. He's one of the most complex, yet totally forgotten characters in American history. As a writer, he was a gift to explore and to savor. It was an interesting challenge to take his badness from life and try to figure out how he might choose to magnify it. I really hope to see more of him in the future. (And if you want to know his name, you'll just have to read the book.)

Publication Date: March 1, 2014
Publisher: World Hermit Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: General Fiction/Paranormal

Is remembrance immortality? Nobody wants to be forgotten, least of all the famous.
Meriwether Lewis lived a memorable life. He and William Clark were the first white men to reach the Pacific in their failed attempt to discover a Northwest Passage. Much celebrated upon their return, Lewis was appointed governor of the vast Upper Louisiana Territory and began preparing his eagerly-anticipated journals for publication. But his re-entry into society proved as challenging as his journey. Battling financial and psychological demons and faced with mounting pressure from Washington, Lewis set out on a pivotal trip to the nation’s capital in September 1809. His mission: to publish his journals and salvage his political career. He never made it. He died in a roadside inn on the Natchez Trace in Tennessee from one gunshot to the head and another to the abdomen.
Was it suicide or murder? His mysterious death tainted his legacy and his fame quickly faded. Merry’s own memory of his death is fuzzy at best. All he knows is he’s fallen into Nowhere, where his only shot at redemption lies in the fate of rescuing another. An ill-suited “guardian angel,” Merry comes to in the same New Orleans bar after twelve straight failures. Now, with one drink and a two-dollar bill he is sent on his last assignment, his final shot at escape from the purgatory in which he’s been dwelling for almost 200 years. Merry still believes he can reverse his forgotten fortunes.
Nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney is the daughter of French Quarter madam and a Dixieland bass player. When her mother wins custody in a bitter divorce, Emmaline carves out her childhood among the ladies of Bourbon Street. Bounced between innocence and immorality, she struggles to find her safe haven, even while her mother makes her open her dress and serve tea to grown men.
It isn’t until Emmaline finds the strange cards hidden in her mother’s desk that she realizes why these men are visiting: her mother has offered to sell her to the highest bidder. To escape a life of prostitution, she slips away during a police raid on her mother’s bordello, desperate to find her father in Nashville.
Merry’s fateful two-dollar bill leads him to Emmaline as she is being chased by the winner of her mother’s sick card game: The Judge. A dangerous Nowhere Man convinced that Emmaline is the reincarnation of his long dead wife, Judge Wilkinson is determined to possess her, to tease out his wife’s spirit and marry her when she is ready. That Emmaline is now guarded by Meriwether Lewis, his bitter rival in life, further stokes his obsessive rage.
To elude the Judge, Em and Merry navigate the Mississippi River to Natchez. They set off on an adventure along the storied Natchez Trace, where they meet Cajun bird watchers, Elvis-crooning Siamese twins, War of 1812 re-enactors, Spanish wild boar hunters and ancient mound dwellers. Are these people their allies? Or pawns of the perverted, powerful Judge?
After a bloody confrontation with the Judge at Lewis’s grave, Merry and Em limp into Nashville and discover her father at the Parthenon. Just as Merry wrestles with the specter of success in his mission to deliver Em, The Judge intercedes with renewed determination to win Emmaline, waging a final battle for her soul. Merry vanquishes the Judge and earns his redemption. As his spirit fuses with the body of Em’s living father, Merry discovers that immortality lives within the salvation of another, not the remembrance of the multitude.

Buy the Book

About the Author

Hey. I’m Andra Watkins. I’m a native of Tennessee, but I’m lucky to call Charleston, South Carolina, home for 23 years. I’m the author of ‘To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis’, coming March 1, 2014. It’s a mishmash of historical fiction, paranormal fiction and suspense that follows Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame) after his mysterious death on the Natchez Trace in 1809.
I like:
eating (A lot; Italian food is my favorite.)
traveling (I never met a destination I didn’t like.)
reading (My favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo.)
coffee (the caffeinated version) and COFFEE (sex)
performing (theater, singing, public speaking, playing piano)
time with my friends
Sirius XM Chill
yoga (No, I can’t stand on my head.)
writing in bed
I don’t like:
getting up in the morning
cilantro (It is the devil weed.)
surprises (For me or for anyone else.)
house cleaning

Author Links

Natchez Trace Walk

The Natchez Trace is a 10,000-year-old road that runs from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. Thousands of years ago, animals used its natural ridge line as a migratory route from points in the Ohio River Valley to the salt licks in Mississippi. It was logical for the first Native Americans to settle along the Trace to follow part of their migrating food supply. When the Kaintucks settled west of the Appalachians, they had to sell their goods at ports in New Orleans or Natchez, but before steam power, they had to walk home. The Trace became one of the busiest roads in North America.
To launch To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, I am the first living person to walk the 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did since the rise of steam power in the 1820′s. From March 1, 2014 to April 3, 2014, I walked fifteen miles a day. Six days a week. One rest day per week. I spent each night in the modern-day equivalent of stands, places much like Grinder’s Stand, where Meriwether Lewis died from two gunshot wounds on October 11, 1809.

To Live Forever Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 21
Review at Unshelfish
Tuesday, July 22
Excerpt at Making My Mark
Thursday, July 24
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Friday, July 25
Review at Mel’s Shelves
Monday, July 28
Review at Ryann Donnelly
Excerpt & Giveaway at Paranormal Book Club
Wednesday, July 30
Review at The Worm Hole
Guest Post at Sallie’s Book Reviews and More
Monday, August 4
Spotlight & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Wednesday, August 6
Spotlight & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf
Thursday, August 7
Review at Mythical Books
Monday, August 11
Guest Post at Lost in Books
Tuesday, August 12
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews
Wednesday, August 13
Review at The Readers Hollow
Monday, August 18
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing
Wednesday, August 20
Interview at To Read or Not to Read
Wednesday, August 21
Interview at Tower of Babel
Monday, August 25
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, August 26
Review & Giveaway at My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews
Monday, September 1
Spotlight at Bibliophilia, Please
Tuesday, September 3
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Wednesday, September 4
Review at Brooke Blogs