Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Guest Author, Sandy Lender

Today's guest is Sandy Lender (gorgeous website, by the way), fellow Polka Dot Banner author and part of the Goddess Fish Blog Tour, who could be my twin lost at birth except for the turtles, the parrots, reading horror, living in Florida, and writing and editing for magazines. Welcome, Sandy!

Who are you?

Sandy Lender: I think this answer varies depending on which personality has come to the keyboard. To be mildly philosophical and as sane as I can possibly sound, I’m a fairly nice chick with an environmentalist bent who writes about characters who have probably driven me “over the edge” without me realizing it. I have four parrots in my home who boss me around, and I anticipate they’ll share my room with me at the asylum because no one else is going to be able to do anything with them. Oh! And I like sharp pointy weapons.
What type of stories do you like to write and why?

Sandy Lender: I love building fantasy stories the best. The characters who visit me typically have elements in their past that belong in a fantasy setting so I have no choice but to work in that genre. Luckily, I love it!

What type of stories do you like to read and why?

Sandy Lender: Ooo. I’ll read just about anything. I love classics such as Jane Eyre (my favorite book of all time), but I enjoy sampling new fantasy and science fiction. Sometimes I’ll pick up a mystery or a romance if I know the author or I’ve been asked to review it. I’m keen on horror (if it’s not just gore for the sake of gore, you know?) and thrillers and suspense. I’ll read young adult fantasy and paranormal stories that have been recommended to me. I’m not into reading memoirs, but I’ve made some exceptions.

When do you write?

Sandy Lender: Anytime, anywhere that I can get the time. I’ll prop a notebook up on the steering wheel and write when I’m in traffic. I keep notebooks next to the bed in case I wake up with an idea that needs to be scribbled down or, you know, written out and fleshed out and worked on until an hour or so later when I’m ready to fall back to sleep. Some weekends I’ll schedule a block of time for just writing like mad; some evenings that happens deep into the night. Typically, I steal bits of time during the week after work and before bed in between all the tasks a person has to do to keep the body alive. It’s good that I can drop into a fantasy world at the drop of a hat.

Where did you get the inspiration for your Choices books?

Sandy Lender: My inspiration for the Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings novels came from the characters themselves at first. Any time the going got tough for them, inspiration came from all around. Just about anything can give me a spark for writing and believe me, I use that. I live near some lovely beaches; I see beautiful sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. I work with sea turtles, which are majestic yet endangered creatures. I have pet birds that do adorable tricks when you least expect it of them. Just the strangest things happen around me and these things get the creative juices flowing in my brain. So whether I’m noticing something bizarre alongside the road while I’m driving in the Everglades or whether I’ve set up an elaborate medieval setting in my writing den, something’s got me thinking about my writing and my characters and how they’re thinking.
Where do you go to think?
Sandy Lender: Literally? This might sound crazy, but I just go inside my brain. If I’ve got something I’ve got to concentrate on for a fiction story, it helps to put on some writing music—not too loudly—and just look inward. I have to go into the world where the problem is and look at what the characters have as tools for the solution. When I have a real-life problem, I do a bit of the same. I go “inside my brain” and go into this real world we live in where the problem is and look at what I have as tools for the solution.

How did you come up with your title and main characters’ names?

Sandy Lender: The names for the characters have evolved slightly over the years that I was developing the backstories and histories and legends and building the world that Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings take place in. For instance, I used to call Amanda Chariss by the name Sharlee. There’s a notebook in my closet with scenes where her name changes to Charlee. Still wrong. She eventually got me straightened out. Her wizard guardian had to tell me that I was spelling his name incorrectly. For years, I referred to the servant woman Loetha as Leeta. As for the name of the first novel, it comes from the beginning of Chariss’s character arc. She originally didn’t think she could be as important as everyone said she was. She didn’t believe she should have the responsibilities people (and gods) were handing her. She thought the decisions she was being asked to make were choices meant for gods.

How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?

Sandy Lender: This is kinda difficult to answer. I wrote stories for my great grandmother when I was a child, and I was serious about those then. I wrote stories for assignments and contests in school, and I was serious about those at the time. I won a first-place award for writing a sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird in junior high. I took creative writing classes (for grades that counted toward the GPA) in high school and college. After graduating college in 1992, I wrote and edited for magazines, and I (still am) was serious about that because it became my career. ArcheBooks published Choices Meant for Gods in 2007.
Why do you write?

Sandy Lender: It’s like breathing. I have no choice.


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?

A Tense Little Excerpt From Choices Meant for Kings
By Fantasy Author Sandy Lender
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?”


Sandy Lender said...

Hi there, Liana!
Thank you so much for hosting me on my tour today. And thank you for your kind words. I didn't know you were a Polka Dot Banner author, too! I'll have to look you up there and friend you. Or buddy you. Or whatever it is we do there. Dot you. :)
I've just gotten home from a doctor appointment where they carved stuff off my skin so I'm popping pain pills and waiting for the hallucinations to begin! Bring on visitors to ask me questions! My answers will be crazed! Woo-hoo!
Sandy Lender
"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

Nancy said...

Hey Sandy - loved your interview. And happy to see things going so well for you. My question: I'm writing a time travel novel, and curious what you think of that genre, in general??

Nancy Hendrickson

Sandy Lender said...

Hi, Nancy,
Depends on which direction in time you go how much research versus world-building you have to do. Either way, the prep time is incredible. There are two very important elements for you: the travel device (and I don't mean the physical - like a machine - but the "device" as in the fantastical or scientific element/explanation that makes travel through time possible/plausible/believable) and the realism in the time you get to. If you're going forward, you have a lot of details to think through and make realistic. Are there flying cars in the future? Well, let's figure out traffic laws and fuel. (And keep in mind that with the production of fuel comes a whole new economic base for some sector...)


It's a fabulous concept to play with! FUN! I recommend a book called The Anubis Gate by Tim Powers for an excellent time travel novel. He handled every bit of it so gracefully that I was left amazed at every twist. Very well done.

Thanks for visiting with us today!
Sandy Lender
"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

liana laverentz said...

Hi, Sandy, and welcome again. Hope you're enjoying your narcotic induced buzz :) I have a question: What does it mean, Some days, you just want the dragon to win?" Please 'splain!

Oh, and I should have known Rae Monet did your website. It had that wonderful Rae Monet feel to it...another thing we have in common!

Celia Yeary said...

SANDY and LIANA--wonderful post, good questions and unique answers.
Sandy, even though I'm far too squeamish and too much of a plain old scaredy-cat, I did enjoy learning about a talented author who writes such and with a sense of humor. Well done--Celia

Sandy Lender said...

Oh, Liana,
I have to apologize for dropping off the map. Between work, the drugs, and the pain that seeped through the drugs (my body laughs at simple narcotics), I sort of lost track of everything else I was supposed to be doing.
The dragon slogan that I means there are some days when you just kinda wish a dragon would show up and eat people at random. You know those days? When someone has just driven you up the wall and you think, "this guy needs to be munched by a dragon." That's sort of the basis for it. It's deeper, though. I think dragons are cool and they don't deserve to be slaughtered at random. :)

Hey, THANK YOU for hosting me yesterday!
I think it was a good time...
Sandy Lender
"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

Sandy Lender said...

Hi, Celia!
Thank you for stopping by and thank you for your kind words! The wonderful thing about reading a book with something scary in it is you can set it down if it gets too scary. Of course then you have to turn on every light in your house...and hold the covers up very close to your chin. But you can whisk yourself out of that world in a heartbeat if necessary.
Sandy Lender
"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."