Monday, December 5, 2022

Q&A with Andrea J. Stein




Andrea J. Stein is the author of the new novel Typecast. Also a book publicist, she lives in New Jersey.  


Q: What inspired you to write Typecast, and how did you create your character Callie?


A: The first glimmer of Typecast came when I heard about a man who had made a short film about his relationship with his college girlfriend, about 10 years after graduating. I wondered how that woman would feel about it if she knew. I began to think about telling that woman’s story, and had to decide who she was: Was she single or coupled? Why had they broken up? What was her life now?


I decided that Callie would be a preschool teacher because, when I was writing, my own kids weren’t far from their preschool years, and I’d spent a lot of time at their school – which was an amazing place. I also knew I wanted her to be someone struggling to move past choices she’d made.


Q: How was the novel's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: Originally, the novel was called Rerouting – the same name as the movie Callie’s ex-boyfriend makes – an allusion both to the GPS navigator in the road trip the movie’s characters make, and the idea of the roads we take in life. My publisher recommended the title Typecast instead.


Of course, it touches on the movie at the center of the book’s story, but I also think it addresses the issue of how we cast ourselves in our own stories – do we remain “typecast” in roles that we’ve outgrown or rejected?

Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Callie and her various family members?


A: Callie is viewed by her parents and sister, Nina, as the baby of the family.


With a significant age gap between the two women, and Nina’s more conventionally successful life – married with children and home ownership – Callie is often made to feel “less than.” And Callie’s parents remain protective of her – wanting to be sure she’s well taken care of – something that they worry about given her career choice.


In turn, Callie wants to be seen by them as the capable adult she is, who excels at work and has built lasting friendships with people who care about her. Only her relationship with her niece, Zoe, is uncomplicated – Callie adores her, and Zoe adores her right back!


Q: You tell the story along two timelines--one when Callie is in her early 30s and one when she's in college. Did you write the novel in the order in which it appears, or did you focus more on one timeline before turning to the other? Also, why did you use third person for the older Callie and first person for the younger?


A: I wrote the novel largely in the order in which it appears. The events in the “Before” timeline are often linked in theme to those in the “After” timeline.


I originally wrote the entire book in third person, but then switched to first person for the younger Callie as a tool for making her sound younger. I also wanted to suggest that in some ways she was more present in her life in that timeline, and that the choices she made had made her a bit distant from herself and who she wants to be.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m currently writing a novel about a young woman in her late 20s who has just lost her father unexpectedly, having lost her mother to cancer when she was 15. Her aunt – her mother’s sister – presents her with a letter that her mother had written to her, to be given to her upon her father’s death. And, of course, the letter contains a big secret!


Q: Anything else we should know? 


A: I feel incredibly grateful that Typecast is out in the world and being read – and loved by so many people. I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember (I recently found “The Adventures of Dawn Winters” penciled by my second-grade self!), and it’s been a long road to publication! So thank you to my readers and future readers! 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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