Faithful blog readers, you probably remember Sandy Lender, author of Choices Meant for Gods, whom had a guest blog here back in June. Now she is promoting her newest book, Choices Meant for Kings. Instead of another guest blog, I have a lovely interview for you all to enjoy.
Tell us about yourself. When did you start writing? Why?
Sandy Lender: I started writing when I was pretty young. I used to write little stories for my great grandmother—stories about mice picking berries and this one about a squeaky spider that an old woman kills against the ceiling. The spider ends up haunting her, so I consider that my first foray into speculative fiction. He he. As to why I started writing, I can’t say. I think it’s just “in” me.
What inspires your writing? In particular Choices Meant for Kings?
Sandy Lender: Holy cow, everything inspires me. I have to say, I know certain triggers. When I was preparing for the annual 3-Day Novel Contest right before Labor Day Weekend, I set up my writing “area” with comfy pillows and certain candles and ornate bookends around my reference books and paintings of the type of dragon I wanted in the story and specific, moody songs on my iTunes. For my fantasy novels, Choices Meant for Kings in particular that you’re asking about here, the characters inspire me. I have a muse that tends to threaten me if I’m not spending enough time on his bride’s story.
3-Day Novel Contest?! That's just insane. Back to Choices Meant for Kings, how did you come up with the title?
Sandy Lender: Chariss, the heroine in the story, thinks her choices are better made by the gods of her society instead of herself, so Choices Meant for Gods introduced the series. For the second novel, a couple of kings in the southlands of the world of Onweald have choices to make, too, so Choices Meant for Kings followed the theme.
Most authors are also readers. What books are you currently reading?
Sandy Lender: Dragon in Chains by Daniel Fox; The Exodus Gate by Stephen Zimmer; Facets of Fantasy by Sarah Scheele; and Folk Tales and Fables of the World (although that last one is more reference-like in the way I’m approaching it) As soon as I get through these I’m hitting the Sevenwaters trilogy from Juliet Marillier.
You're like me, I am always reading more than one book at a time. Do you have any advice for writers?
Sandy Lender: Make it marketable. All the lovely stream-of-consciousness poetryness that they teach you in college creative writing classes is nice for novels that you put in a trunk in your closet. If you want to get published, write something that can be marketed or an agent/editor/publisher will close the door in your face from now until eternity.
What is your definition of success?
Sandy Lender: Finishing.
Short and sweet! Finishing is definitely the first step. How would you describe yourself in three words?
Sandy Lender: creative, driven, playful
What is your go-to tool in your author's toolbox?
Sandy Lender: Google.com
I'm a big fan of google myself. What comes first: plot or characters?
Sandy Lender: I’m convinced it’s the characters. Even when it’s the plot, I think it’s really a character hiding behind some grey matter whispering a plot idea to me so I’ll tell his or her story.
What do you do for fun when not writing?
Sandy Lender: I’m confused. What?
LOL, spoken like a true writer! Describe a typical writing day.
Sandy Lender: Oh, no, this is hard! I don’t get typical writing days. Well…maybe that’s not true. I’m the editor of a magazine so…let’s give this a shot. The morning starts with me hitting facebook, twitter, my blog, or whatever site has sent me an update, and then with me appeasing the birds. I set up their playgyms on top of their cages with hidden treats, their morning food, repaired toys, foraging piles, fresh water, and whatever else looks like a good “game” or “puzzle” for them. So while they stay busy, I write and edit articles and departments for the magazine. At the end of that part of the day, I do whatever promotion stuff I didn’t accomplish in the morning. Then I spend some time working on whichever writing project is prominent in my mind. If it’s a weekend, oh, Heaven. I get extra writing time. Bonus! I used to be on a really good schedule, but that was a couple years ago when life was calmer.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Sandy Lender: Definitely. Very necessary.
What have you learned about writing since becoming published?
Sandy Lender: Writing the book is the easy part.
If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
Sandy Lender: Ooooo. I want the power to screech in a pitch that breaks lights so the inconsiderate people who leave their lights on along sea turtle nesting beaches will no longer negatively impact the safety of hatchlings. Then I want the power to disintegrate people with my eyesight, because, you know, sometimes, you just want to disintegrate some people. Mwuahahahaha. Hopefully there would be other superhero types roaming about who could take care of feeding the poor, which is probably a nicer thing for me to have chosen…hmmm.
If you could be a paranormal creature, which would you be and why?
Sandy Lender: A vampire. I know it’s kinda in vogue right now, so it’s boring. But, really, vampires can rock if you do it right. He he.
Nicole, this was an exhausting interview! Thank you! Let’s see if any of your visitors have anything else for me—it’s like a challenge. Mwuahahahahaha.
Thank you for a wonderful interview, Sandy! I hope it wasn't too exhausting for you so you can return to your writing.
And now, blog readers, here's the blurb and an excerpt from Choices Meant for Kings:
Chariss is in danger. Her geasa is hampered by the effects of a friend’s marriage. The dashing Nigel Taiman hides something from her, yet demands she stay at his family’s estate where he and her wizard guardian intend to keep her safe. But the sorcerer Lord Drake and Julette The Betrayer know she’s there, and their monstrous army marches that way.
When prophecies stack up to threaten an arrogant deity, Chariss must choose between the dragon that courts her and the ostracized kings of the Southlands for help. Evil stalks her at every turn and madness creeps over the goddess who guides her. Can an orphan-turned-Protector resist the dark side of her heritage? Or will she sacrifice all to keep her god-charge safe?
You won’t find this excerpt anywhere except Sandy’s current online book tour:
As the soldier stepped toward him, Nigel reached out his arm and caught him by the neck. He slammed the captain against the far wall. He pinned him there with his body, leaning against the man as if he could crush the wind from him with his presence.
He brought his face close to the soldier’s ear and spoke lowly, fiercely, so that no one could have overheard him. The menace and intent behind the words was as surprising to the captain as the words themselves.
“I asked you to accompany [Chariss] on this journey tomorrow because I have faith in your sword, and until this moment I trusted you to keep your distance from her. Now, I find her down here at your side with a look upon your face that suggests more than you realize. So help me, Naegling, the only thing that stays my hand is how displeased she would be if she learned that I sliced you open.”
“The look you see is merely my concern for her honor. Nothing more.”
“I’m not a fool. And I’ll use every last piece of Arcana’s treasury to pay the prophets to justify my reasons for marrying that woman, so you can unconcern yourself with her honor.”
Hrazon stepped off the staircase then and saw Nigel pressed against his guard.
“I still believe you’re one of the best soldiers Arcana’s ever seen,” Nigel continued, “and I want you at her side for this journey, but, so help me, Naegling, she comes back alive and well and not confused in the least about her affections for me, or I will string you up from a tree in the orchard and attach your intestines to your horse’s saddle before I send it—”
Hrazon cleared his throat. “Excuse me. Is there an issue here I should address?”
To learn more about Sandy, visit her site.
Don't forget to leave a comment for Sandy so that you can be in the running for a first edition, autographed, hard copy edition of Choices Meant for Gods!