Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I write full-time, but my hobbies often transform into part-time jobs. I recently enrolled in a yoga teacher training program. I want to take my practice to a deeper level. Beyond personal gain, I’m eager to see what paths open to me that will allow me to share this wonderful way of life with others. I’m keenly interested in working to help those in need of rehabilitation from injury or illness. I’ve taught high school for seventeen years and my parents were teachers, so teaching is a natural part of my life. I gain from giving.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
It takes about two months for me to write a clean first draft. Then I allow about two more months for revisions with beta readers and my editor.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
To date, I’ve been writing epic fantasy with romantic elements but am shifting toward magical realism, which is the genre of my new series I’ll be working on next year.
I enjoy reading magical realism, mythpunk, and mythic fiction—all subgenres that sit on the border between fantasy and literary fiction. I expect my writing will shift in those directions over time.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
I’m writing the fourth book in the Enchanted Bookstore Legends. There will be five total. I still enjoying working with these characters, letting them grow and develop. I’ll miss them when the series ends, but I do have a new series planned that I’m looking forward to. It will be more magical realism than high fantasy.
What genre would you place your books into?
My series, the Enchanted Bookstore Legends, is epic fantasy with romantic elements. The fantasy is the primary theme.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I like the complexity of fantasy, the feeling of being transported into another world. However, most fantasy books are written for young adults. In my reading, I longed to find more fantasies written for adults. The element of romance I include is far less about adding sex than about adding deeper connections between the hero and heroine, allowing them to be more three-dimensional and work with more complex issues.
Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite?
I am in love with the series I’m presently writing—the Enchanted Bookstore Legends. It’s a blast to write all the interwoven subplots, clues, and red herrings that will be unwind slowly in later books. The scope of an epic fantasy written over a series of five books is something I’m really enjoying.
Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
This is a truly epic tale with a large and wonderful cast of otherworldly characters, including many talking animals. My main characters, Lyra and Cullen, must attempt difficulties that stretch their abilities over numerous quests. But, my secondary characters often bring laughter and lighten their loads, or encourage their strengths to persevere. I’m in the middle of writing the third book, so by now the personalities of my secondary animal characters really shine and they feel very real to me. I’m especially fond of my dragons, but one type stands out as a favorite—pseudodragons.
Pseudodragons are not true dragons. They are much smaller, being only three feet long, including their tails. In my legends, we get to know the pseudodragon Cullen keeps as his wizard’s familiar—a typical role for this species. His name is Noba, and he is a tiny burgundy-colored pseudodragon who has a heart of gold that makes people melt. He even has a starring role on the cover of the latest book, Lost Volumes.
If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?
Easily I would be Lyra. Reality always forms the framework of my stories. Actually, since this is a five-part series and I’m currently writing book #3, the more I look at this story, the more of myself I see. My heroine, Lyra, is very much connected to me. Even in the first chapter of the first book, the childhood memories brought to her mind by Cullen’s magical tea are actually all mine. How Lyra interacts with her Aunt Jean has been a way for me to work through my own issues with my mother’s failing health. Some scenes intentionally connect to my own experiences, like those, and others surprise me much later when I’m polishing my draft to send to my editor. I shake my head and hope no one other than my crit partners can identify the similarities.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
I’m influenced by all sorts of things I encounter—nature, movies, books, art. I mentally tuck away impressions that captivate me and assemble a collection into a setting or group of characters that I want to spend time with.
My Enchanted Bookstore Legends are basically a fantasy lover’s dream, being able to step into a favorite book as a character. I know my initial inspiration came after watching the recent Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland movie. From that, I wanted to work with parallel worlds and have a heroine who must save the fantasy world from danger.
I envisioned a series with the magical complexities of the Harry Potter world, but for grown-ups, with characters who faced more complicated life issues. I had strong opinions about choosing my heroine’s age. I wanted her to have experienced enough hard times to be able to truly appreciate true love, honor, courage, fairness, all that is good. In this way, she can truly commit to whatever obstacles lie in the path to happiness. She knows herself and is determined. As the series progresses, I admire her strength.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
Through the years, I’ve varied my routine a lot. During my first couple of books, I wrote more methodically as part of my normal day. It was a good technique to develop discipline and keep my mind focused on writing. When I began my fourth book, I changed to writing in concentrated periods, usually making writing my main event for several weeks. My novels are written over 3-4 of those concentrated sessions. I’ve found my writing is best when I submerge in my story and live with my characters. It’s definitely more fun to spend a week playing “Let’s Pretend” in my elaborate imaginary worlds than grinding out a couple of pages per day. I always look forward to my writing “vacations,” and eagerly clear out the household chores. In fact, my house is about to get cleaned in a quick way since I feel the need to spend a week writing. That writer’s muse can’t be denied!
How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books? Who designed the Cover of your books?
I designed the covers for the Enchanted Bookstore Legends. I combined techniques of watercolor and digital painting to achieve the illustrated look I wanted for fantasy.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I usually create the title after I form the outline. I like mantras, and having a title is simply way to keep me focused on my initial vision for the work.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
My process begins with a setting I find interesting, somewhere I’d like to spend some time. In writing fantasy, world-building is everything. Then, I create the main characters, appearance and personality. From there, how they will become involved goes hand-in-hand with developing the plot. I do outline a lot, since there are many interwoven subplots in this series. This series is epic in scope, and details would get lost if I didn’t plan. Outside of the key features on the outline, I do allow the in-between progress in each chapter to flow freely, which I enjoy a lot. Some of the most imaginative bits arise that way.
What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ?
It’s impossible to guess what makes a bestseller. I know what I like to read, and those points are important in my writing. I love a setting that tempts me to visit with colorful visual details. Also, characters I can root for are important. They need to seem real, with quirks or weaknesses that work against them. I also like a complicated plot. There needs to be some action taking place to balance character introspection.
What do you do to unwind and relax?Do you have a hobby?
I like to balance my quiet writing time with exercise and spiritual growth. I’m a yoga addict and am enrolled to begin teacher training for all of next year. Every week, I also make time to bike and kayak. These activities keep my mind clear to encourage my imagination for writing.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
Definitely, there is always a theme of reality behind my fantasy. In this series, the theme of compassion is clearly the correct path toward happiness. That’s one I often use.
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
I loved Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. The symbolism is amazing; the more you read, the more layers you find. Inspired by that, I like to hide things in my stories.
From the present, picking one book is too hard. The Harry Potter series is one of my all-time favorites. Again, the layering of hidden plots, which spin to completion later in the series, really captures my imagination. The last few books that really pulled me in were Natasha Mostert’s Season of the Witch and Erin Morgenstern’s Night Circus. In both of those, magic caused mental effects for both the giver and receiver. I enjoy the complexity of that theme and employ it myself in a very different way. My heroine, Lyra, must learn to mentally control her vast inherited powers as the new Scribe. That is something she struggles to master through the series.
I love Sarah Addison Allen’s magical realism. She’s one of my favorite authors. The way her characters spring off the page while the magical elements seem so natural really influences me.
What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
I’m currently reading The White Forest by Adam McOmber, Peace is in Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh, and Quiet Mind by David Kundtz. I almost always read some fiction and non-fiction simultaneously. Usually I read fiction on my ereader and the non-fiction I prefer in print since I like to flip back and forth in those.
Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
I do use a pen name. The last name I use, Moore, is actually my mother’s maiden name, easier to spell and remember. I like it because it still feels like me and reminds me of her love, now that she has recently passed.
Where can readers follow you?
Your blog details?
Your web site ?
Your facebook page?
Your Goodreads author page?
Your Twitter details?
And any other information you wish to supply?
Sandra, thanks so much for taking the time to interview me today!
Thank-you Marsha for taking time away from your writing to do an Interview for my little blog!