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Interview with Andrea Wilson Woods




Q.1 Tell us a little about yourself.
A. I am an author, writer, patient advocate, and entrepreneur. I am president and founder of the nonprofit Blue Faery: The Adrienne Wilson Liver Cancer Association. I am also the CEO and co-founder of Cancer University, a for-profit, social-benefit, digital health company. My debut book Better Off Bald: A Life in 147 Days is a medical memoir about raising my younger sister Adrienne from the age of eight until she died from liver cancer at age 15.

Q.2 Do you have any upcoming books?
A. I have four more books in me (at least). I am trying to decide which one should come next. Both are nonfiction but have different topics.

Q.3 When did you decide to write Better Off Bald?
A. I always knew I wanted to write a book about me and my sister Adrienne, but I didn’t think Better Off Bald would be the story I would write. When Adrienne died, I knew I still needed to write our story.

Q.4 How do you come up with the name of this book?
A. My book is titled Better Off Bald: A Life in 147 Days. The subtitle reflects my sister’s 147-day battle with liver cancer. The title reflects how when she became bald, she realized how beautiful she was.

Q.5 If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
A. I kept a journal when I was younger, but I wasn’t consistent about writing in it. I would tell myself to write in my journal every day - no matter what. There’s something magical about writing every day.

Q.6 How did you deal with the emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you’re writing the story?
A. I didn’t deal very well. I took many breaks from writing because the book took such an emotional toll on my mental health. However, I did see a therapist for three years and during that time, I completed the first draft of the book.

Q.7 Tell us about the Blue Faery organization.
A. I founded Blue Faery in memory of my sister Adrienne. We are the only nonprofit in the United States specifically devoted to fighting hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer. Blue Faery’s mission is to prevent, treat, and cure primary liver cancer, specifically hepatocellular carcinoma, through research, education, and advocacy. Learn more at https://bluefaery.org

Q.8 How long does it take you to write this book?
A. This question is difficult to answer because I took many breaks from the book. Altogether, it took about six years to write the book (from early research to final published book) over a 17-year period.

Q.9 What were your feelings when your novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
A. I had mixed feelings because I waited a long time for my book to be published. I wish I could say I was excited, but it was an anticlimactic moment for me. Finally, my book is published!

Q.10 Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?
A. I want to write and publish more books as well as continue writing articles about topics and issues that matter to me.

Q.11 When did you first consider yourself as a writer?
A. In my mid-twenties, I wrote, directed, and produced a play. That’s when I realized how powerful writing is and how much I enjoyed creating something from nothing.

Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
A. Of course! For me, the best way to deal with any creative block is to move my body. I’ll get up and stretch for five minutes. (The Pomodoro Timer is a great tool for productivity). If I’m really stuck, I’ll take my dog for a 20-minute walk.

Q.13 What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your book?
A. I taught myself how to go back in time to any moment to capture how I was feeling. It was exhausting but worth it. Many readers have told me they feel like they are right there - living through the experience, feeling every emotion with me.

Q.14 What books have most influenced your life?
A. Too many. I admire any the author who can make nonfiction read like fiction and fiction seem like nonfiction.

Q.15 How does your family/friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?
A. Currently, several members of my family are not speaking to me, but I wouldn’t change a thing in my book. If you want to write an honest memoir, you cannot worry about other people’s feelings.

Q.16 What do you do to unwind and relax?
A. I read every day. Reading has always been my favorite hobby.

Q.17 What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
A. 1. Read, read, read especially in the genre, you write.
2. Write an amazing story.
3. Hire professional editors and proofreaders.
4. Learn how to sell because it is your responsibility to sell your book.

Q.18 If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
A. Emma Stone would be perfect! Do you have the name of her agent? 

Q.19 What was your hardest scene to write?
A. The death scene.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
A. The publishing journey is hard. Writing a book is not a marathon; it’s the training for the marathon. The real marathon begins the day your book is published. I feel like I’m at mile two out of 26.2 miles! You must play the long game. 

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