You know, one of the things that I love about having jumped into the blogosphere and Twitter-ville with both feet is that I have had the opportunity to meet other like minded writers, and have actually made some really amazing friends…
That said, however, I want to dedicate this particular blog to a “home grown,” if you will, author: Sandra Carrington-Smith. She’s written The Book of Obeah and Housekeeping for the Soul, both of which I have read. and enjoyed thoroughly!
I met Sandra several years ago through a local news outlet’s blog site (which, amazingly enough, is also how I’ve met most of my Raleigh besties, LOL), and told her that when she was ready for a head shot for her books to let me know, and sure enough, we met in person a few years back for our first photo-shoot and we have been great friends ever since.
Knowing that this was coming out, I had to ask Sandra some questions because I KNEW that I needed/wanted to feature her on my blog on a New Fiction Monday, so without further ado…May I introduce Sandra Carrington-Smith:
Sandra, how long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for fun my whole life, but I started writing professionally about six years ago when I penned The Book of Obeah, my first novel.
Have you always wanted to write?
I always liked to write, and language arts was my favorite subject in school, but I never thought I would, someday, REALLY write. I wrote a few poems when I was a teenager, which were published by an independent publisher in Italy, and I thought my writing career would end there. I remember wishing to be a journalist at times; other times I wanted to be a librarian; more or less, I always enjoyed the written word, no matter what side of the paper I was on.
What genre really inspires you?
I love mystery and all things spiritual, so anything paranormal, ghost-related, and/or mysterious, has a special place in my heart. I enjoy psychological thrillers that make me forget my house is on fire.
Do you remember some of the authors/book titles you read as a child?
Growing up in Italy, some of my favorite authors at the time were Italian writers. I liked to read anything by Oriana Fallaci, but I also loved translated works by Richard Bach. One book that had a tremendous effect on me was “The Archetypes and the Collective Subconscious” by Carl Jung.
Does anyone in your life encourage you to write your heart out?
My family, especially my sister and my parents, are extremely encouraging. My husband and my children are also very supportive, as is my husband’s family. And of course my closest friends, because they know how much writing means to me.
What advice would you have for a newbie writer that wants to break into the world of fiction/non-fiction?
DON’T GIVE UP! I received hundreds of rejection letters when I got started — not because my writing was bad, but because I wasn’t presenting myself the right way. Opinions are subjective, so if you are determined to go down the path of traditional publishing and you get rejected, TRY AGAIN. If instead you prefer to get your work out there on your own, do your homework. There are many options for new writers these days, so there is no longer a reason for good books to remain in the back of a drawer.
To date, what is YOUR favorite story that you have written?
The Book of Obeah was my first story, so it holds a special place in my heart. However, like all skills, even writing improves with time and practice, so I have a good feeling for Killer in Sight.
Who/what gets your creative blood pumping?
Life. No, seriously. I have this weird passion about observing people and situations, and if I notice something interesting, my imagination immediately shifts and begins to produce mental films around it.
If you were’t writing, what would you be doing?
I would probably just be a mom, which is still my number one job.
Do you have pets, and if so, what kind?
I have three cats, Wizard, Lucy and Holly. I have been the proud parent of other animals before, such as squirrels, a snake, mice and birds, but cats are my favorite companions.
What do you do for fun (I.e. Hobbies, leisure time, etc.) (And yes, that is on the assumption you have leisure time…)
I love to read, cook, read Tarot cards and make worry dolls, which people assume are the same thing as voodoo dolls but are not. Voodoo dolls are customarily crafted to control others; worry dolls are little handmade dolls that hold worries for you in their large bags.
If you had one wish, what would you wish for?
At the risk of sounding trite, I would like to see all my three children happy and settled into what they love, someday. If they are happy, I am happy, so I can dedicate all my time to writing.
If someone were to begin to dictate your writing, how would you feel about that?
The only way I can write is to write freely. I can’t write about what other people want, or in the format they choose for me — it limits the creative flow and produces a flat story.
If you were told you could no longer write about the things that moved you, would you be able to adapt and move onto a different genre or would this force your hand to stop writing?
We can’t always expect life to adjust to us — everything changes, and writing preferences are no different. If I couldn’t write mysteries, I could try something different, although I doubt I could be as passionate about it.
How do you handle adversity when it comes to your writing?
Well, I guess every writers sees his/her creations as children, so hearing something negative can be painful; but, time and experience have taught me an important lesson: While you can’t make everyone happy, it is important to pay attention. Criticism can be constructive or destructive, and learning how to discern the two is vital.
How important are reviews to you, as a writer?
Reviews are life-giving blood for artistic creations of any type, so I love them. Of course, I am thrilled to receive positive reviews, but I also don’t mind to read the less-than-stellar ones, because any type of feedback helps me grow.
Have you ever written a bad review for anyone else? If so, why?
I have a real hard time doing that….knowing how hard artists work, I can’t find it in my heart to beat someone to death. If I can’t write a nice review, I’d rather not write one at all.
How important is editing to you? Do you ever edit your book before it goes to the editor?
In the business of writing, editing is not only important — it is vital. Poor quality and bad editing are two things that have always given self-published books a bad reputation. It doesn’t have to be that way. Edit your book within an inch of its life, and when you are done, pass it to other people and ask them to show no mercy. Extra eyes can see mistakes and typos you have become blind to.
What about book covers inspires you? How do you go about selecting yours?
The cover must reflect the core idea of the story. Color is also very important, because different hues trigger specific emotions. I have an amazing graphic artist, Sherrill Suitt-Craig, who is able to bring my stories to life with the most perfect images, so I don’t have much to worry about in that department.
How do you write? Are you able to listen to music to inspire you or does it have to be quiet?
I love silence, probably because it is a luxury in a house with three children. If the weather permits, I love to keep windows open and listen to random sounds outside, especially if a good storm is brewing.
Where do you choose to write? Do you have an office or do you surround yourself in places that pertain to your writing?
I made an office for myself in the dining room of my house, so that’s where I usually write. I write at night when everyone is in bed, so even if I am in one of the rooms that are most trafficked throughout the day, I don’t have to worry about being distracted.
If you were asked to appear on a talk show of your choice, which one would it be and why?
Unfortunately, my favorite talk show, ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’, is no longer airing, so maybe ‘Good Morning America’ or ‘Jay Leno’?
Now…that being finished…from a human/friend perspective, I can only say that Sandra is so totally human, down-to-earth, and just so damned kind. She has encouraged me through some of the darkest days I have ever known, and how do you repay a friend like that? I don’t think you can, so I just have to say: I LOVE you, Sandra…I think you are all that AND a bag of baked chips. 🙂
Oh, and when you read this and you find that the photographer might remind you of…well, you know…me? That’s not a coincidence. 🙂