Tricia Andersen: Spicy Fantasy Inhabits the Competitive MMA World

Author Tricia Andersen

Tricia Andersen is a writer who does her research. Not just in a library or online, but in the gym.

The Cedar Rapids indie author is the writer of several series—including a new one that is set to launch in February, making this a perfect time to discover her work.

As for me, she suggested that I start with Welterweight, the first book in her Hallow Brothers series. It features a mixed martial arts fighter who is also a werewolf. In her note to me, she mentioned that the book is “spicy.”

Let me just say that Welterweight is spicy in the way a ghost pepper is spicy. The word really doesn’t do justice to the heat on display. The sex comes early and often and is described in great detail.

That said, Andersen doesn’t skimp on setting up believable relationships and a range of motivations for her characters. There may be a lot of sex (a lot!), but that isn’t all there is.

After all, Andersen knows her stuff when it comes to MMA. In this interview (via email), she explains how she entered that competitive and aggressive world herself, all in the name of research.

Tell me how you got started as a writer. What was the spark that led to your first major writing project?

As far as my romances go, I had dabbled a little bit with writing them but didn’t go anywhere with it. Then Fifty Shades came out and everyone told me that I had to read it. I made it through about 10 chapters and couldn’t go on. I was certain I could do better. I sat down and wrote Black Irish, which was my first published novel. I had a couple children’s picture books out before this.

I’m interested in the mixed martial arts (MMA) thread that runs through much of your work—and the ways you combine it with genres like paranormal. Where does your interest in MMA come from?

At first, I was pretty negative about MMA. When my first small publisher, Secret Cravings, picked up Black Irish, I was overjoyed. It was literally my wildest dream coming true. I wanted to write something special as a type of thank-you. My daughter has something called cyclic vomiting syndrome, so I decided to write a romance about the heroine having CVS. I decided that the hero would give up his great paying job to do something “less than reputable” so he could get the heroine on his insurance and ensure her benefits while she tried to figure out what was wrong with her.

He started as a personal trainer, so I ran through a few options for his new job, such as a professional wrestler or boxer. The only one that made sense was working as a trainer in an MMA gym. I debated whether I should just research or watch videos. In the end, I took a page from my favorite author, Karen Marie Moning, and reached out to a professional.

I emailed Keoni Koch at Hard Drive MMA (now Hard Drive Performance Center) and asked if I could send him a few questions. He agreed. I sent him a list (I’ve reread the list; they were bad) and as I waited, I looked at their website. I noticed that they had kickboxing and I’d always wanted to try. I figured I’d give a month a shot.

That was 2012. I have experience in kickboxing, I’ve trained with MMA fighters, and am a three-stripe white belt in jiu jitsu. Some health problems restricted me from going further, and I’ve sidelined myself until the pandemic is over. But as my biography says, I’ve been through a fighter’s journey from the beginning of fight camp to the point they step in the cage.

You are quite prolific and have a number of series—each of which includes a number of books. What’s your writing routine and how do you keep the material flowing?

My routine is actually sporadic and I write when I find quiet time. That can be difficult with a family at home as well as a cat and new puppy. I write when my family goes to sleep and I have quiet. I also scribe some words during my lunch breaks, long car rides, and wrestling meets. I use Google Docs on my phone to write so I have my latest manuscripts on hand wherever I am.

What do you like about self-publishing? What do you find particularly challenging? Would you consider pursuing a traditional publishing deal?

I originally published Black Irish with a small publisher. Since then I’ve signed with a total of three small publishers and they all closed. The beauty of being self-published is that I have control of my rights. I had a few scares that there would be problems, so maintaining them myself is an advantage.

I face the same downside as many authors. Being self-published means that all the work—finding an editor, designing a cover, publicizing—falls on my shoulders. Sometimes I’m too lax on promotions and am sure I missed sales. I don’t plan to actively pursue a traditional publisher. However, if an opportunity presented itself, I would certainly consider it.

Do you think of yourself as an Iowa writer?

I do. Many of my books have some sort of Iowa, or Midwest, connection. My heroine, Abbey, from the Black Irish series is from Mount Vernon. My hero, Mark, from Breaking the Violence is from Iowa also. The Hard Drive gym in my books is located in Minneapolis, and in the Hallow Brothers series, my MMA fighting werewolves live in the upper part of Minnesota. My intention was to be able to accurately describe the areas I was working with. It also let me share my home with readers who are not of the Midwest.

What’s your next project and when can readers expect to see it?

I have the first book of a new series coming out on February 11. It’s called Monroe, A Spy’s Heart 1, and it tells of the complicated relationship between a secret operative and the IT tech she has fallen for. It started as a serial that I wrote in my Facebook readers group and grew from there. I am in the process of finishing the fifth book in the Gods of DC series. I hope to have it out this late spring or early summer.