Up Close and Personal with Andrea Parnell Andrea was one of those women and believe it or not as the years have passed we’ve This interview is special to me. Short- managed to “find” each other again ly after high school graduation I attend- even after many years have passed. In fact we’ve done it a couple of times. I ed the Southeaster Writer’s guess it helped that both of us live in Association’s Annual Conference at Epworth by the Sea on beautiful St. Si- Georgia. mons Island just off the coast of GeorSo before I get into the interview porgia. tion of this feature I’d like to share a For me it was the unique opportunity few things about that fateful week on to explore whether I had what it took to St. Simons Island. be a published author some day. I was the youngest (writer) in attendance and I remember that it started to rain and there was a building that had a big front that was good and bad. One of the inporch with rocking chairs. I believe we structors told me I was “too young” to write romance and that I needed to “live must have been between workshops because we sat on the front porch in those a little before I tried to write about it”. rockers and Andrea shared with me her unpublished manuscript, DARK Then another, a well respected SciSPLENDOR I was captivated by what I ence Fiction author, Michael Bishop who had read my short novella as a part read and I KNEW that it was only a of the conference, told me he had never matter of time before she would realize her dream. Not only was I thrilled to be read another author that reminded him of his own writing at my age. Definitely given the opportunity to read her manuencouraging considering he’d just won script but I was thrilled to be introduced to a genre I was as yet unfamiliar with, the coveted Nebula award. Gothic Romance. That exchange was very exciting for a newbie like me, but one of my most This is a little snipped from WHIStreasured memo- PERS AT MIDNIGHT ries is of the two women, Virginia, July 1730 both unpubThe night was hot and still. More so than any lished at the Evelyn Wicklow could ever remember. She time that took held tightly to her husband’s arm, so that her me under their steps would not falter and reveal the tug of fear at her heart. Not a sound rose up in the wing and gave cloying heat, not the chirp of a cricket, not me some much the song of a bird. It seemed both time and needed grounding. the movement of the elements had come to a halt as an omen of the evil she sensed. - I was hooked! I realized I loved old manor houses, creaking staircases and brooding heroes that you weren’t quite sure were good and not bad. I guess her manuscript was just what this at the time teenager needed to infuse a lifelong love of the genre. My debut novel was a gothic time travel and I can honestly say that is much in part to the love I had for this woman’s beautiful words and example. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank her publicly for her part in encouraging me and making me believe that I was not only a worthy attendee at the conference, but that I had something special that with love and care could develop into my own books for others to enjoy. Thanks Andrea for giving me such a special memories. Now, it’s time to get the rest of the story and get up close and personal with Andrea. I’m certainly excited and I know you are too. We met in 1984. I was just a kid fresh out of high school, but I still remember the wonderful time I had with you and how you took me under your wing and showed me around during that writer’s conference. I also remember you sharing with me the first couple of chapters of your then unpublished, Dark Splendor, a gothic romance. I was hooked not only on gothics, but also on your book and writing style. Shortly after that you got your first contract. Can you share with our readers a little about that trip and where you were in the process when you attended the event? Had you been writing a long time? Did you have an agent?