Hello, I am Andrea, I am a writer. I am also a passionate artist and culture advocate. Art has been a companion to me all through my life, good and bad times and I know all forms of art are important for the health of our communities.
Who am I and why am I a writer and artist?
As a child, I was very inspired by my dad’s storytelling so writing stories and being a part of sharing the magic a story can bring became important to me. We were an Army family and we would move regularly. We set up home wherever my Dad was posted. Travelling exposed me to the rich cultures and curious fairytales of the places in Europe we visited and lived.
Being on the move a lot left me feeling like an outsider but this gave me a unique outlook and taught me to observe the world and the characters that live in it. My nomadic childhood meant I was not one to follow the crowd, after leaving education, I got ordained as a Buddhist nun and spent the next decade trying to develop the skills of mindfulness and compassion. It took me a long time but I realised being a monastic was not for me. I then decided to pursue my talents and develop my artistic practice.
I now understand that for me just like ordination, art really is just another form of connection with people and the world. After I got my degree in Art I focused on community art and created a parade called the Sea of Lights. After six beautiful years of parade making I decided to really focus on honing my skills as a storyteller and writer.
I am busy now, writing and creating, raising two amazing and talented humans and I am still dedicated to making the world a kinder, brighter and more magical place – one project at a time
What inspires my work?
I find I am often enchanted by the very small managing to do something massive and world-shaking. Or by some kind of transformation that fills a person with fear but once embraced causes great joy, like growing up or recovering from an unhappy time. Conscious shifts in thinking, bravery and growth inspire me.
At the moment I find I am particularly inspired by our global activist youth. Our ‘ordinary’ children are amazing, the way they are standing up to protect our ancient world. I really find them breathtaking.
My own kids inspire my writing. They are so able to embrace diversity, be that from the way they understand neurodiversity, gender, ability, to all in the LGBQT+ spectrum. People can be hard on our youth but I see clearly that these kids are our future.
How do I go about creating?
When I am writing I am normally inspired to share an experience or idea that I am personally moved or excited by. For example, I was inspired to write ‘Creature’ because I am interested in space. How small we are in the universe contrasted with the awe I feel about the vastness of it. I am deeply fascinated by how big a nebula or a planet is.
My smallness and the size of the planets got me thinking about how they were once called Gods and this got me wondering about a being who could use the whole universe as a playground. My little cat Amma happened to be curled up beside me and as I thought all this she stretched right out, her big fluffy tummy looked like the milky way across the background of my navy star bedding. In those seconds I could see her bounding around space and she became a magical galaxy creature.
If the initial inspiration for a piece is absorbing enough I take it to my computer and to my art package to explore the idea as much as I can. Once I have text that resounds and pulls me into that feeling again and again and I believe others can experience that feeling through my text, I start the endless process of refining and editing. I am only happy with my writing if something I write leaves me with a feeling of connection to the object in the story or poem.
Who and what has influenced my creative life?
One big influence for me is Sir Terry Pratchett. I know he is most famous for his world-building and humour but I am personally enchanted by how he found the extraordinary in what appears to be the ‘very ordinary’. Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg will always be there reminding me to never put my tongue where I wouldn’t put my toothbrush. Not only did his characters help me with this wonderfully practical advice he helped me to look for the extraordinary in everything and everyone.
Brilliant writers like Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, Gina Wilson, artists like Jim Henson and Brian Froud and poets like Kae Tempest and Benjamin Zephaniah are constant reminders to me of the power or words and necessity for imagery and stories in my own life and in our modern world.
But also, I am very personally influenced by my time as a Buddhist nun. Meditating on and visualising the prayers and imagery, symbolism so beautiful, vast, colourful and rich has been a powerful tool for my confidence in my imagination. Being able to hold and really see things in your mind’s eye helps when you are trying to find the words that match what you are seeing and feeling.