Andrea Pyros has worked as a magazine editor, celebrity interviewer, and cookie wrangler. A native of New York City, Andrea now lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and their two children, one of whom has food allergies and the other of whom refuses to eat eggs even though he can.
Why did you want to write My Year of Epic Rock?
I first got the idea to write My Year of Epic Rock when I found out that my daughter Amelia had food allergies. She was still a baby then, but I wondered what life would be like for her and other kids with food allergies as they get older. How would they handle things when they were on their own more and their parents weren’t with them at parties or friend’s houses and they had to start to really be their own advocates? They say about 1 in every 13 children under the age of 18 has a food allergy, so it seemed like a topic that was relevant to a lot of people, not just my family.
So I started working on my book and I made my main character Nina a food allergic middle schooler. But as I wrote, My Year of Epic Rock became less about food allergies and more about what it means to fit in and how to be okay about standing out. Those are topics I believe are relevant to people at any age, but particularly during school years when it’s hard when you don’t always feel like you’re part of “the group.”
Have you got your own place to write or can you write anywhere?
I have a nice desk in my bedroom all set up for work, but to be honest, I mostly sit in bed when I’m writing. (I know, I know, it goes against all the “your bed should only be for sleeping!” advice.)
What did you do the first time you saw My Year of Epic Rock in a bookshop?
Actually, my friend texted me a photo of my book at our local independent bookstore, so I saw that photo first and I was, of course, very excited. It was right underneath the Banangrams game display, which was pretty funny. Can’t take yourself too seriously if you’re hanging out below a banana.
Which character in My Year of Epic Rock is closest to you?
I think Nina, my main character. She isn’t up for all the drama and would prefer people all get along, which is great – but that means it’s hard for her to advocate for herself and what she believes in, and I was very much like that at her age.
Nina’s mother tries to come up with delicious allergy friendly recipes. Do you have one you can share?
There’s a Depression-era recipe, usually referred to as “Wacky Cake.” It’s made without eggs, nuts or dairy, because those ingredients were in short supply and far too expensive during the Depression. It’s moist and delicious and no one will know it’s allergy-friendly! (Bonus: it’s sooooo easy to make, too!)
Best thing about being a writer?
Oh, wow, telling stories is such a pleasure.
It makes me more thoughtful, a better listener and more curious about the world.
And the worst?
Hustling for enough freelance work so I can write full-time is tricky, and it’s never easy hearing “no” or getting rejections for ideas I’ve submitted.
Changing the subject, apart from writing what do you love doing?
I do love baking and cooking; hanging out with my family; reading; walking around and people watching and seeing movies. I’m a pretty low-key person. It would be much more exciting if I could answer, “Sky diving!” but that’s just not me.
Tell us something about yourself that not many people know.
I wanted to be a private detective when I was a kid. As a career, it’s not that far off from being a writer. I wanted to figure out why people were doing the things they were doing and learn their stories.
So what happens next?
Book #2 (I hope!). I’m working on another middle grade novel about a girl whose mother gets breast cancer. My mother was diagnosed with the disease when I was 11, and it was a scary and confusing time for me. I wish I’d had a book that talked about the real experience of living with a parent who is ill, so I hope my book will do that for other kids.
If Life Was Like a Song…
Nina Simmons’ song would be “You Can’t Always Eat What You Want.” (Peanut allergies, ugh). But that’s okay, because as her best friend Brianna always said, “We’re All in This Together.”
Until the first day of the seventh grade, when Brianna dumps her to be BFFs with the popular new girl. Left all alone, Nina is forced to socialize with “her own kind”–banished to the peanut-free table with the other allergy outcasts. As a joke, she tells her new pals they should form a rock band called EpiPens. (Get it?) Apparently, allergy sufferers don’t understand sarcasm, because the next thing Nina knows she’s the lead drummer.
Now Nina has to decide: adopt a picture-perfect pop personality to fit in with Bri and her new BFF or embrace her inner rocker and the spotlight. Well..
Call Me a Rock Star, Maybe.
You can read my review of My Year of Epic Rock by clicking the link HERE
Tea or coffee?
The last book you read?
The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. JK Rowling). It’s the second detective Cormoran Strike mystery. He’s great fun and of course, Rowling is always wonderful.
Do you ever re-arrange book displays in bookshops?
Hahah, no, but what a great idea! Do you do that? Love it.
What’s the perfect cure to a bad day?
Watching a so-bad-it’s-good Lifetime movie cheers me up, or at least distracts me for a while. Talk about a guilty pleasure!
One thing you couldn’t write without?
My computer. I can’t imagine doing it old school, by hand. Even with a typewriter seems daunting.
When no one is watching do you dance?
No, but I will sometimes dance with my kids to try to make them laugh or get them out of a grumpy mood.
You can have one superpower, what would you like?
Being able to be invisible. Imagine what you could discover!
What word describes you best?
You’re at the airport with a free pass to get on any plane – where would you go?
Greece. I’ve been once and have family there, and I want to go back again and again.
And finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
What movies did you hate that everyone else loved? Answer: Risky Business and The English Patient.
You can win a copy of My Year of Epic Rock by clicking the link HERE
Contest is for US/Canada only and closes on the 29 September 2014.
Good luck! 🙂
Edit: Winner is Jill O’Sullivan – Congratulations!