What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
Mind Over Matter: A mother faces her worst nightmare when she discovers her missing daughter is schedule to die in mere days.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
Mine is not a typical example. I sold my first book to the first publisher I pitched it to. It was a right time – right place kind of thing. I pitched it live, got an immediate request for the full manuscript, and had a contract offer in hand within a month, almost to the day. I haven't experienced the agonizing wait or the rejections. Yet. I know they're coming.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I'm home full time now, writing, freelancing and taking on editing clients, but for the bulk of this book, I wrote around a full-time job outside of the home. As for organizing my time – first I had to figure out when my peak writing time was. It didn't take long to realize I'm an early bird writer, turning out my best work before noon. On a really good day, momentum carries me through the afternoon. Evenings are out. I have no creative juices left by that time. Writing my second book, I was still working a full time office job, so I wrote an hour a day while I ate lunch at my desk. I wrote almost the entire book in four months writing only on my lunch hours. It takes discipline, but it sure helps that I love what I do.
Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
My publisher is MuseItUp publishing. They're Canadian, just like me! They have one of the most open House/Author relationships out there, from what I know of the industry.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
I can usually turn out the full book in a few months, depending on how much time I have to write. Once it's plotted. Plotting takes me 3-4 weeks.
What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Mind Over Matter is the first in a series. Anderson Security Inc. was formed by Evan Anderson. Many of the group served together on Special Ops teams, though not all. Evan hand-picked each member for their particular area of expertise. and each will get their own story. There is an over-arcing plot line that threads throughout the series, and will resolve in the final book.
Forecasting Raine, book two in the ASI series. revolves around ASI team member Nick Jamieson. Nick's long buried psychic ability resurfaces, along with his guilt, when a sniper's bullet almost takes him out. His subsequent investigation reveals a threat that could take down ASI, and a past lover with every reason to want Nick dead.
I've also just completed a stand-alone book, The Missing Time, where Reporter, Jordan Munro, risks everything, in her search for the madman who abducted her years ago. Jordan 's goal is to find her abductor and stop her descent into madness, even it means betraying a child and deceiving the man she loves.
What genre would you place your books into? What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I write romance with paranormal elements, and it's got to have an element of suspense to it. This touches all my hot buttons. It's what I read voraciously, so it's what I gravitate to when I write. I read a lot of urban fiction as well, and one day, I suspect I'll try my hand at writing one. I don't think I'll be able to resist. I need to read more of them first though, to understand all the elements of the genre.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
This story came to me as part of a course I was taking at the time. The instructor asked each student to each come up with a single sentence containing a protagonist, an antagonist, a need for each, an interesting setting, a conflict, and a twist – oh and it had to be thirty words or less. The result is the sentence that became the original tag line for the book.
Mind Over Matter is set in a fictional town at the base of a fictional mountain in Arizona. But both were inspired by local folklore, specifically tales surrounding the Superstition Mountains. The Superstitions have a deep history, most of it violent. Rumours of hauntings and lingering spirits who protect the peak abound. Visitors with paranormal abilities claim their gifts are enhanced during their time on the mountain. I added many of those characteristics to my fictional mountain range, which plays a big part in the story.
In the end, the inspiration came from the sentence, and I let the setting fill in the atmosphere and conflict.
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
I have a critique group that goes through the book with me, chapter by chapter. Their insights are invaluable. I highly recommend writers take the time to do this. The sale of Mind happened so quickly we didn't get to finish the critique, though. They're patiently working through Forecasting Raine at the moment.
Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
Absolutely. In fact, I'm offering up a copy to one lucky commenter who follows me on any one of my social networking sites listed at the end of this interview.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books? Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
I check my Amazon, Goodreads, and Publisher review pages regularly. I have the book set up on Google Alerts, so I read any reviews that come to my attention. I rarely comment on them, except perhaps to offer a thank you. I don't discuss their take on the book, and wouldn't dream of asking them to change their work. It's their opinion.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I have to have a working title. My publisher might change it later, that's out of my hands, but I need something concrete to refer to. More than just “the book” as I usually have a few WIPs going at a time.
Have you ever suffered from "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
For me, the answer to writer's block and the most essential part of writing any story, is plotting. I am an extensive plotter. I need that solid foundation to work from. I might veer away from the plan now and again, but it's there to guide me on those days when my muse hides under the covers. This is how I'm able to maintain the discipline to write every day. If I'm staring at a white screen with a blank look on my face I pull out my scene cards. There's no excuse not to get the work done. Coming up with all the ideas for the book in one or two sittings is hard. But I use the same system my instructor taught me. I come up with one of those mega-sentences I mentioned earlier – one for each scene. All the ingredients for a perfect scene are right there on the index card. I just have to write it.
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
I'd have to say Nora Roberts (also writing as J.D. Robb). As a reader, her works hit all of my hot buttons. It's romance at heart, with lots of mystery, intrigue and suspense thrown in, and often contains elements of the paranormal. As a writer, she demonstrates one individual can reach a wide audience and master more than a single genre if they do it right.
What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
I'm reading Fates Edge, by Ilona Andrews' (Novel of the Edge series). It's very good. Not my favorite of, but I'm enjoying it. They're paperbacks I received as a Christmas gift. I read a mix of paper and ebooks. I buy all of my JD Robb books in hardcover.
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
When I was in grade two we often had show-and-tell in class. When I didn't have anything cool to show, I'd entertain the class by telling stories. I told this one story about a fire in my brothers house, and how they couldn't get one of my nieces out in time. I painted gruesome pictures with words, right down to the spill of red light pooling on the wet pavement from the flashing lights on the fire engines. I must have done a good job because the teacher called home at recess to convey her condolences to my mom. My poor mom had to explain to her that none of it happened. When the teacher gasped, saying she couldn't believe I'd lied, Mom just smiled. I wasn't a liar, she said, I was a story-teller. That's when I knew I could be a writer.
Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing? Not in my area, and it drives me insane. I spent years volunteering in the school pulling reluctant readers out of class to get in some one-on-one reading time. They send home these Scholastic Books order forms to fund raise for the school library and get kids reading. They have introduced the Book Battle, a regional event, that's wonderful. I wish they school board would do more things like this. During my daughter's final years in grade school (grades seven and eight) they cut out library for those grades. Cut Library!
Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
I write fiction under the name of SJ. Clarke. For non-fiction, I use my full name, Sandra J. Clarke. Merely as a way to keep the two distinct and separate.
Where can readers follow you?
Thanks so much for having me here today. I love to stay in touch with readers, and fellow writers. Feel free to connect with me at any time. Here's some of my links.