Friday, February 3, 2012

Author Interview - Andy Holloman VBT Feb 3

Click on the image to view the Meet & Greet with Andy and the book tour.

Today I have Andy Holloman with me. Shades of Gray is Andy's debut novel and he's here to share a little but about it and his life as a new writer. There's a giveaway of Shades of Gray to one lucky commenter. Comments are open until Feb 7, 11 PM PST. Drawing will be held Feb 8.

Louise: Andy, welcome to my blog! I’m so excited you could join me for a chat. When did you first decide to submit your work to be published? Tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.

Andy: Thanks Louise, very happy to be here….my publishing journey began much like it does for many folks in that I submitted my novel to agents and publishers around 2005 after spending about two years writing it.  I didn’t get any interest so I shelved it and hung up my writer’s quill.  Everything restarted quite unexpectedly in Jan. 2011 when I received an offer from a small publisher completely out of the blue.  I was very fortunate to have had this happen and it is solely due to a wonderful friend who was in a writing group that I was a member of.  She had read my early draft and recommended it to the publisher.  So she is one of the folks that I dedicated my novel to.

Louise: Please tell us a little about your new release Shades of Gray without giving too much of a spoiler away.

Andy: The “30-second” synopsis of Shades of Gray goes like this  -  A desperate, single father with a sick child needs to raise money quickly.  He teams up with a drug smuggler and they devise a plan to smuggle cocaine via cruise ships.  The book touches on themes that are common to everyone – crossing the line into criminal activity, right vs. wrong, and the consequences of good intentioned choices that end up turning out badly.

Louise: Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?

Andy: All of my characters developed as I wrote.  It was an enjoyable part of the process to watch their personalities evolve and to put roadblocks in front of them and “help” them determine what choices to make.

Louise: How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?

 Andy: This entire novel came from my personal experiences.  In portraying the drug smuggling world, I did do a small amount of research.  I LOVED reading stories about drug dealers and drug smugglers. (for anyone else out there, be sure to read BLOW by Bruce Porter.)

Louise: What is your writing process? Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants (Pantser) or a combination of both?

Andy: Hah!  I’m a Pantser, mostly.  With Shades of Gray, I laid out a very small outline and the major plot points that I wanted to occur and then wrote within that framework.

Louise: Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer or still do?

Andy: Writing is not my full-time life, but I’m hoping that it may become that!!  My day job is as a residential mortgage lender plus I have a very busy home life (3 kids).

Louise: Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example….get coffee, blanket, paper, pen, laptop and a comfy place.

Andy: My ritual is to begin writing later in the evening (typically around 9pm) and I always have a glass of red wine.  I have a small notebook that I use to keep my story notes in as well as my rough outline.

Louise: Describe a typical writing day for you.

Andy: See above.

Louise: Please give us a sneak peek at your future books. What’s on the horizon?

Andy: Right now, I have a very early outline of a novel that I’m describing as – “An Irving-esque romp through the 1990’s as seen through the eyes of Irish brothers who are coming of age just as the Internet is growing.

Louise: What is your favorite genre to read and who is your favorite author?

Andy: Spy Thrillers. John le Carre.

Louise: Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers we have not touched on?

Andy: My readers are very important to me.  I can even begin to describe how wonderful the experience of getting to know my readers has been.  I love to hear from readers, get their feedback, and get to know them.  I encourage all my readers to reach out to me via my website.          

Louise: Where can the readers learn more about you and find your books on the web? 

Andy:   My web address is
You can get my book in eBook ver. or Softcover on Amazon
Also, check in with me on Facebook , Facebook Fan page and Twitter @AndyHolloman

Shades of Gray blurb:
In the Fall of 2001, John Manning’s life is in turmoil. His six-year-old daughter Lucy needs a kidney transplant, and his travel agency is in financial distress because of the 9/11 tragedy. A lapse in his health insurance means he also has to quickly secure funds for his daughter’s operation. John had worked his way out of difficult situations before, but now he’s out of solutions.

Wanda, a client of John’s travel agency, is facing similar difficulties. Her livelihood as a drug dealer has also been hit hard by 9/11. Increased airport security has stymied her transport of cocaine via airline flights. As a single parent, she wants to leave this dangerous profession and break free from her drug-lord boss Jamel, but a lack of funds has curtailed attempts to move and start a new life with her daughter Tonya.

Desperate times lead to desperate measures, and John and Wanda form a partnership to smuggle cocaine via cruise ships. John’s industry knowledge and connections help circumvent transportation risks, while Wanda’s knowledge of the drug industry helps them distribute and sell the product.

Despite a near-death experience on their first run, it was a financial success, and Wanda coaxes John into another trip. Meanwhile Jamel is becoming suspicious of Wanda.

John’s half-brother Travis, a Durham police detective battling his own demons, can’t connect the dots between John and Wanda. Yet, he continues to line his pocket with ill-gotten gains. Lucy and John are the most important people in Travis’ life and he would do anything they asked to help—if they would only ask.

How far should a father go to save his child? Can a man and woman from completely different worlds help each other? Could they fall in love? And who will live to see the summer of 2002? Find the answers in Shades of Gray, a debut novel by Andy Holloman.  

Andy's BIO:
Just like the protagonist in my novel, Shades of Gray, I was the owner of  travel agency for 12 years (mostly in the 90′s). But this is the only similarity between myself and John Manning!   (I never ventured into the cocaine business, I swear.)

I grew up in Greenville, NC and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Economics. All through high school and college, I was notorious for scribbling out stories and ideas for novels (hey, this was before wordprocessors!) and always kept them in a top secret shoe box. (and the box is so top secret that I’ve been trying to find it for 15 years!).

After college, I fell into the travel industry by accident and was able to grow a travel business  into an Inc. 500 company. The agency grew  through the use of the Internet and by acquiring three other companies. Late in the 1990’s, I became familiar with the story of one of the my company’s clients who was murdered in Durham, NC and was a suspected drug smuggler. This story and the subsequent downfall of the travel agency industry (and my company) after 9/11, planted a seed in my head that grew into my first published novel, Shades of Gray. I began writing this novel in 2003, shelved after completion in 2006, and revived in 2011 thanks to a great friend from a writers group in Cary, NC.

Today, I live in the Raleigh, NC area. I am the father of three, and have been happily married for 20 years. I enjoy (mostly) attending my kids sporting and school events, supporting the local real estate industry, and watching fine films with my wonderful wife.  Whenever possible, I enjoy the beauty of North Carolina’s mountains, running, camping, and short walks on the beaches of the Outer Banks (several references to OBX in my book). I am also an avid reader (time permitting), and a social media goofball. Most evenings I can be found tapping out my next novel,  due for release in late 2013. Stay tuned!

Louise: Thank you again Andy for visiting with me.
Readers, Andy is giving away a copy of Shades of Gray to one lucky commenter. Please leave your email address in your comment so the winner can be contacted in a timely manner. And Good Luck!! Comments are open until Feb 7. Drawing is Feb 8.


  1. thx so much louise!! will spread the word about your blog!

  2. Hi Andy,
    Thanks for visiting with me. Shades of Gray has all the ingredients of a good mystery.

  3. Great interview. Thank you for hosting Andy today :).