YORKTOWN — Author Donna Andrews was featured on an episode of the “What’s it like to be…” podcast hosted by New York Times bestselling author Dan Heath.
According to its official website, “What’s it Like to Be…” sees New York Times bestselling author Dan Heath exploring the world of work, one profession at a time, and interviewing people who love what they do.
The episode Andrews is featured on is called “A Mystery Novelist,” and aired on Nov. 28.
Andrews said she began writing as soon as she was handed a piece of lined paper at Yorktown Elementry. While other students were practicing their letters, she quickly moved into writing stories.
“My father was a marine biologist and had set up a saltwater aquarium for [my teachers] classroom,” Andrewes recalled. “One of the clams had died and [my teacher] cleaned out the aquarium and gave me the shell, I think the idea was that I would take it home and display it to my father as a subtle hint that we needed a new clam.”
“I painted eyes on it, hinged the two haves of the shell together with that white adhesive medical tape and began writing stories about Winnefred H. Clam, who was walking around the world underwater and having all sorts of adventures,” Andrews said.
Her teacher was so impressed by her creativity that she showed the stories to a friend at a theater she participated in. That friend, in turn, was so impressed that the friend gave her a gold-colored, clam-shaped charm.
“[The charm] was sort of a reward to acknowledge how much [the friend] enjoyed my childhood stories,” Andrews explained. “Therefore, establishing at a very early age, the idea that if you do something good you get paid for it.”
It would take time for Andrews to receive payment for her work again. She continued from Yorktown Elementry to Yorktown High School before transferring to Walsingham Academy.
In college, she said she began hitting her stride. In her second year, she took a writing course and began writing a still-unpublished novel. Then in her senior year, she had a writing independent study where she turned in pages of her novel to her mentor.
She had also written a couple of plays that were produced by a workshop. After college, she “hit the cold cruel world where she had to make a living” and took a pause in her writing.
When she reached age 40, she realized she had hit a midlife crisis and was showing signs of depression, and it had to do with her writing, or more specifically, her lack of writing.
“My problem was that I defined myself as a writer, but I wasn’t writing much,” Andrews said. “So I had to find a new self-definition or find more time to write. So I rearranged my life and started writing seriously.”
In a couple of years, Andrews had joined the Sisters in Crime writing group. She found herself published after entering and winning a writing contest for her publisher. The work she entered would become the first book in her series, “Murder with Peacocks.”
Andrews was referred to the podcast, which was looking for a mystery writer, by a friend. She was also a fan of podcasts, having started listening to true crime podcasts at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The “What’s it like to be…” podcast can be found wherever podcasts you listen to podcasts.