Alabama Gulf Coast area resident and New York Times best selling author, Andy Andrews, is one of the state’s most prolific contemporary writers. In addition to being an author, Andy is a busy man. We appreciate his willingness to be interviewed for Bill Coleman’s gulf-shores-travel-guide.com.
BBL: Before we talk books, Andy, I want to thank you for your dedication to the U.S. Military, particularly Air Force Special Operations Command, just up the road at Hurlburt Air Field, FL. Where all have you traveled with the military?
Andy Andrews: I have gone with the USO to places like Cuba, Honduras, Panama, Iceland, Newfoundland, Greenland, and others . . . I have been all over Europe and the Middle East with the Air Force - including combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq.
BBL: How did you become closely involved with Special Operations Command?
Andy Andrews: At one point, I spoke to all the Air Force generals and wing commanders stationed in Europe and the Middle East. They were all gathered in one room in a foreign location. At that meeting I became acquainted with Lt. General Mike Wooley, who was about to become the Special Operations Commander. I have been working with Special Ops for more than five years.
BBL: We sometimes forget that our military is composed of human beings who, like everyone else, need to be inspired. On behalf of gulf-shores-travel-guide.com, I thank you for the time and energy you devote to that important task.
BBL: Tell us, how are you feeling after a recent car crash in California?
Andy Andrews: My right arm was injured and my right ribs were broken. I still have pain in my ribs, and my neck is stiff. Considering it took the “jaws of life” to get me out of the car, I am just happy to be here! I am fine!
BBL: That’s great news, but let’s talk books. You are well known for your best sellers, “The Traveler’s Gift: The Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success,” which published in 2002, and “The Noticer,” published earlier this year. Self-improvement books disguised as fiction, both were published by Christian publisher Thomas Nelson in Nashville, TN. The books appeal to a far broader demographic than the Christian niche, why do you think that is?
Andy Andrews . . . I am not a “Christian author.” I am an author who is a Christian. While my books reflect my faith, they are not intended as teaching tools for a Christian audience per se. My books are stories created around principles that work for everyone and they work every time. The fact that these are God’s principles doesn’t mean that the broader demographic doesn’t enjoy them and learn from them. The most recent figures show that only seventeen per cent of my sales are through traditional Christian retailers.
BBL: You’ve had yet another book published recently that is different from your self-help books, but nevertheless doesn’t contradict a Christian world view. The book is “Return to Sawyerton Springs: A Mostly True Tale Filled with Love, Learning and Laughter.” I heard you read from your original version several years ago. How did the updated version of “Sawyerton Springs” come about?
Andy Andrews: Some of my stories in “Return To Sawyerton Springs” were initially short stories in a self-published book I wrote more than ten years ago. I think maybe…ohhh…seventeen people bought it. A year ago, Hay House, Inc., approached me through Mark Victor Hanson and asked about a publishing deal. I had always wanted to novelize those original stories and write more to complete a real book. That was the genesis of that project. Hay House is a huge publisher that does all of Wayne Dyer’s books to name one author.
BBL: And Sylvia Browne, Suze Orman, and Dr. Phil McGraw to name a few more. That’s walking in some pretty tall cotton for an Alabama boy! How does “Sawyerton Springs” differ from your self-improvement books?
Andy Andrews: “Return to Sawyerton Springs” is by far the funniest thing I have ever written. The lessons are much more subtle . . . compared to some of my others. If you want to laugh with your family, read this one aloud!
BBL: I agree! Moving on, let’s go in a different direction. Would you comment on a marketing philosophy that says to sell product, sometimes you have to give some away?
Andy Andrews: At last count, my accountant said that in seven years, I have given away more than fourteen thousand copies of “The Traveler’s Gift.” I give them to folks on planes as I travel. This doesn’t even include the numbers of my other books I give away. I always encourage authors (especially new authors) to be as generous as we are blessed. For one thing, it is a way to help people. For another, it is a seed one is planting for the life of the book. Giving a book away to someone I didn’t know is how “The Traveler’s Gift” eventually became Book of the Month for Good Morning America. Someone gave it to someone who gave it to someone else. It eventually made its way into Robin Robert’s hands. She loved it. The rest is history!
BBL: Let’s switch gears to social media. Twitter followers of @AndyAndrews find your “tweets” hilarious. It’s obvious that you travel extensively as an inspirational speaker for many Fortune 500 companies. What type of presentations do you find the most exciting?
Andy Andrews: I really love to speak for organizations that have hit a plateau or are experiencing a downturn. One thing I am most proud of . . . is that we are able to track big increases in productivity and profitability where I speak. Not necessarily because I am a business expert, but because I understand and can convey principles that have (both) immediate and long lasting impact.
BBL: Readers of gulf-shores-travel-guide.com want to know everything there is to know about our little corner of bliss. Tell us some of the Alabama Gulf Coast restaurants, businesses, and places that are featured in “The Noticer.”
Andy Andrews: Pack N Mail in Orange Beach and Café Beignet right next door in the Winn Dixie Shopping Center. Also The China Dragon, Sea N Suds restaurant, Craft Farms Golf Course, and of course the Gulf State Pier!
BBL: For anyone who may not know, as a young man Andy lived under that pier. To find out why, you’ll have to buy “The Noticer.”
BBL: What’s next for Andy Andrews the writer?
Andy Andrews: I am researching my next novel, trying to keep a healthy blog schedule, and getting ready for one more book, “The Butterfly Effect” that will be released soon by Simple Truth Publishers. It is a small five thousand-word piece, but the early word is that it will be an exciting release. Every page has full color art. Oh…I am also working on a children’s book that is contracted for Thomas Nelson!
BBL: Let’s tell everyone that your web site is: www.AndyAndrews.com. I encourage everyone to sign up for your blog, too. I’ll let you get back to work with one final question. When you are asked for an autograph, what is the one word you write and why?
Andy Andrews: The word is Persist! I believe persistence is a major key to success in any great endeavor. I want to remind folks to PERSIST in whatever they are tackling at the moment!
BBL: Thank you for making time for Bill Coleman’s gulf-shores-travel-shores-travel-guide.com. You’ve provided readers real insight into who you are as a man, writer, speaker and friend to America’s military.
Andy Andrews: Thank you for the opportunity! I enjoyed the conversation.
Atmore native Bonnie Bartel Latino is a former columnist for Stars and Stripes newspaper in Europe. She recently won the Military Writers Society of America 2009 People's Choice Award.