Student Spotlight: Lew Andrada
Interview and Featured Work
Why did you choose Stonecoast?
Simply put: I love writing popular fiction, and Stonecoast loves teaching it. When I first began my quest to find the perfect MFA program, I was disheartened to learn that most of them frowned upon pop fic and catered solely to literary fiction. It felt like going to a county fair while craving a slice of strawberry pie, but somehow winding up in a pie-eating contest offering only banana cream. Both delicious flavors, sure, but I want my blue-ribbon strawberry pie. Thankfully, Stonecoast had exactly what I desired: a pop fic emphasis, amazing faculty, passionate students, intense residencies, and a strong focus on craft. All the ingredients for a perfect slice of MFA pie. I’m so glad I took that first nibble. Mmm. Pie.
What do you write?
I used to write epic fantasy, but now I’m more into comic/humorous fantasy. I also like writing horror and science fiction on occasion, and recently, I’ve begun dabbling in magical realism. All of these genres I’ve experimented with during my time at Stonecoast, a place that’s allowed me to have my cake and eat it, too. No lie.
Who is an author or artist who has influenced you?
It’s impossible to name just one person who’s influenced my writing, but the biggies are as follows: Agatha Christie, for her remarkable characters, witty dialogue, and infamous plot twists; Octavia Butler, for her bold stories exploring gender, race, and humanity’s place in the cosmos; Harry Turtledove, whose alternate history novels made me appreciate the importance of research; and finally, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, for defining my childhood with their creation of four terrapin martial artists with a passion for pizza (a passion that I also wholeheartedly take part in).
What is your best Stonecoast memory?
Trying to find a working restroom in the Stone House during my first residency. There were times when I thought hunting for Bigfoot on Mars would have proven more successful. One of my absolute favorite memories, however, is Steve Cave performing “The Three Little Pigs” in Japanese for the Follies. I’ve never laughed harder at a big bad wolf microwaving fresh ham. Mmm. Ham.
What do you hope to do in the future?
In the immediate future, I intend on eating a delicious lunch because I am clearly very hungry. In the not-so-distant future, I’d love to publish more short stories and eventually put together my own collection. After that, I’m sure the fame, glory, and movie deals will come rolling right in. Then I can finally build a vault, fill it up with shiny gold coins, and achieve one of my childhood dreams in becoming Scrooge McDuck.
If you could have written one book that already exists, which book would it have been?
The Dictionary by Noah Webster. Imagine all the fun he had making up ridiculous words, like “argle-bargle,” “wayzgoose,” or “spitchcock.”
Over Yon Mountain
(Excerpt from a short story)
Ed approached the mouth of the cave, carrying a worn wooden shield in one hand, and a dull sword in the other. He sniffed the air and received a strong whiff of rotten eggs. It was dank, but he had to admit, the air up here smelled much better than down in Westshire. At least there was only one odor to contend with rather than a whole plethora of stenches. Ed took a few timid steps closer to the entrance, and the rotten egg smell grew stronger, from three parts to about eight parts. His knees quivered, and his nose twitched like a fly stuck in honey. Ed let out a soul-shaking sneeze. He cringed, half-expecting a smack across the back of his head, but his lovely Diana waited for him at the base of the mountain.
He took a deep breath. He thought about all of the reasons driving him to slay the dragon: glory, fame, fortune, smelly villagers, a round duke, a wife who could wrestle a panther. All good reasons, of course, but maybe not in that order. Yes, Ed would probably put his wife right after fortune but before the smelly villagers. He shook his head, jumped up and down, and banged his sword against his shield twice. Ed readied himself for a successful slaying (or death – more likely). But before he could charge in, a deafening roar barreled out of the belly of the cave. Ed couldn’t find the courage to move. In fact, he was fairly certain he could feel every ounce of courage leaving his body and forming a warm puddle by his boots.
The dragon emerged from the darkness. First, its reptilian head appeared: eyes black as charred oak, a pair of sharp ivory horns at the top, and a mouth filled with jagged teeth. Terrifying, but it wasn’t as bad as Ed imagined. Then the rest of the dragon followed the head, forever changing Ed’s definition of “tall.” The dragon was huge. Its slick, green scales glistened in the moist air. It stood up on his hind legs, flexed a pair of great wings outward (the wind created nearly knocked Ed off yon mountain), and stared at Ed with an almost expectant look. As their eyes met, the flow of time grew thick and viscous, like dark molasses. Ed spotted his distorted reflection in the eyes of the dragon. His mustache twitched and snapped him out of the momentary daze.
“Hello,” said Ed. He wasn’t sure why he chose “hello” as his final word to utter in this life, but Ed’s mother always taught him to be polite whenever meeting someone for the first time. At least he would make his mother proud by leaving this world the same way he entered it: meek and wet.
Lew Andrada began writing stories at a young age, primarily fan fiction starring characters from his favorite video game (Final Fantasy 6) and cartoon show (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). By the time he entered college, he had ditched fan fiction in favor of writing original short stories. In 2006, he graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in biology and minor in English. Then in 2012, he completed his coursework with the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and received a certificate in creative writing.
He is currently a student in the Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine, with a focus on popular fiction. Lew enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction, though he does dabble in other genres, like horror and humor. His work has previously appeared in The UCLA Beat, The Literary Hatchet, and The Journal of Unlikely Entomology.
His home on the web is at http://lewandrada.wordpress.com.