An Interview with Sandy Williams
The Reading Cafe is happy to have Sandy Williams as our guest today. Before we meet Sandy, let’s find out more about her.
Sandy graduated from Texas A&M University with a double major in political science and history. She thought about attending law school. Fortunately, before handing over her life’s savings, she realized case studies weren’t nearly as interesting as novels and decided to get an MA in Library Science instead. She worked as a librarian until her husband whisked her off to London on an extended business trip. She’s now back home in Texas, writing full-time, raising twin boys, and squeezing in time to play geeky board and card games like Settlers of Catan, Dominion, and Runebound.
Let’s begin our Interview.
Hi Sandy. Thank you for taking the time today, to answer some questions for your fans at The Reading Café. We are always looking forward to reading about the author behind the book.
TRC: Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Sandy: Sure! I’m the author of The Shadow Reader, my first published book. I write urban fantasy with strong romantic subplots and have hopes to also write science fiction romance. I’m also a big fan of epic fantasies like the Lies of Locke Lamorra by Scott Lynch and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, so those books influence my writing as well.
I’ve been a reader all my life and still love to curl up with a good book. I don’t get to read as much as I would like to anymore because of deadlines and my twin boys, but it’s still my favorite way to unwind.
TRC: Did you always have an interest in writing? When and how did you first start writing?
Sandy: Yes, I’ve played around with writing since elementary school, when I started (but never finished) writing and illustrating (I’m so NOT an artist!) my first book called The Adventures of Yoyo and Dodo in… Walt Disney World! I planned to write a series of books about those two calico cats and the trouble they got into.
I don’t think I finished a chapter of that book, but I kept writing off and on. It was a hobby throughout high school and college. I always wanted to publish a book, but I didn’t think of writing as a career option until after college. That’s when I became determined to actually finish a book. And that’s when I started researching how to get published. I learned so much while I was struggling to finish my first book, and I met some really fabulous aspiring authors, too. I’m grateful for the rejection letters I received because they gave me time to learn the craft of writing and to develop those friendships.
TRC: Your have quite a resume with doubling in Political Sciences and History, as well as your Masters in Library Science. Have you been able to apply any of your acquired knowledge into your writing?
Sandy: I don’t think there’s anything specific that I’ve applied to my writing, but having a general love of history and politics has helped me develop some of the conflicts in my stories. I love to add in a political dimension to my books – not too much because that can quickly become cumbersome and boring.
TRC: How were you notified that The Shadow Reader was to be published? What was your reaction when you saw your first published book?
Sandy: Oh, that was such a horrible day! It ended up being one of the best days of my life, of course, but I remember being so upset I almost didn’t answer my phone when my agent called.
A bunch of different things were piling up on me, and I was fighting with my stupid laptop which refused to burn a CD I needed to send to a doctor. I was close to tears before I answered my agent’s call, and when she told me we had an offer, all I could say was, “Really?” I must have said really a hundred times in five minutes. Afterwards, I called my husband. I started crying so hard when I tried to tell him I had an offer, so I ended up just saying, “I’m okay. I’m okay,” between tears because I didn’t want him to think somebody had died!
It didn’t seem real. Even a year later, when I saw my book sitting on a shelf at Barnes & Noble, I could hardly believe it. I’m not sure I even believe it now. I know this is cliché, but it’s totally a dream come true.
TRC: You consider your writing genre as Urban Fantasy. How do you explain to someone-what is Urban Fantasy literature?
Sandy: My super short answer – the one I use most often because people’s eyes tend to glaze over with the long answer – is that urban fantasy books contain magic or magical beings that live and work in the real world. There are, of course, many subgenres of urban fantasy, but I think the short definition covers them all pretty well.
TRC: THE SHADOW READER, released in October 2011, is your first URBAN FANTASY book to be published. Will you tell us something about the premise of the book?
Sandy: The Shadow Reader is about McKenzie, a fairly normal human who gets caught up in a fae civil war. I always stress the “fairly normal” part of the premise because, when I was writing the book, it was important to me to make McKenzie act and think like any twenty-six year old college student would. I hope that makes readers identify with her more.
I think McKenzie’s normalness makes her unique to the genre, though. Most women in urban fantasy are physically strong. They kick the bad guys’ butts up and down the street, cast powerful spells, or summon demons to do their dirty work. McKenzie gets her butt kicked more than she kicks butt, but that doesn’t stop her from fighting for her friends and for what she believes in. She’s strong mentally and emotionally.
She does have a special ability, though. Not only can she see the fae, but she can track them when they fissure – or teleport – from one place to another by reading their shadows. McKenzie is the best at what she does – the fae she tracks are almost always captured or killed – but she thinks her ability is overrated when compared to the magics of the fae.
TRC: Will you tell us about the premise of the Shadow Reader series? How did you come up with the idea for this series, and how long did it take for you to write this book?
Sandy: The book originated from one scene that had been stuck in my head for a few years: I saw a girl dangling over the side of a building. Her grip was slipping, and the only way she could save her life was to accept help from her enemy, who was grinning down at her.
I intended that scene to be part of a science fiction romance novel, where the heroine had the special ability to track spaceships when they disappeared into another galaxy. But I was on an urban fantasy reading kick, and I’d just finished writing a vampire book, so I decided, what the heck. Let’s see if this works as a UF.
I’m so glad I made it work! Once I started writing the first scene of The Shadow Reader, the rest of the book flowed.
Well, it sort of flowed. It took me a year to write it, and that’s not counting the revisions I did for my agent and later for my editor. I’ve been averaging a book a year for the last four years. I’m hoping to increase that rate to two books a year in 2013.
TRC: THE SHATTERED DARK will be the 2nd novel in this series to be released October 30, 2012. Will you tell us something about the premise of this book, and what is in store for McKenzie Lewis?
Sandy: At the end of The Shadow Reader, McKenzie has hopes that the violence in the Realm will settle down and that she’ll be able to live a more normal, less chaotic life. But two weeks after the big fight at the Silver Palace, she learns that her best friend, a human who knows nothing about the fae or the Realm, has been abducted by her enemies. McKenzie has to get her back, and she has to find a way to end the new wave of violence that’s threatening the life of the fae
LINKS TO PRE-ORDER
Amazon / The Book Depository /Barnes and Noble
TRC: How many books do you have planned for The Shadow Reader series?
Sandy: I’m a big fan of trilogies, so I have one more book planned in The Shadow Reader series. No title or details yet, but it should come out in the late fall of 2013.
TRC: With your first series being Urban Fantasy, have you considered writing another series, under a different genre?
Sandy: I’d love to write science fiction romance. To me, it’s like writing urban fantasy that’s set in space. And since my books always contain a romantic subplot, I can see me one day being published as paranormal romance as well.
TRC: What are you working on today?
Sandy: I’m working on the third Shadow Reader novel. It’s due in November. I’ll probably take a writing break in December then work on copy edits. After that, it’s on to something new!
TRC: Many authors have friends or family, that they bounce ideas and information back and forth. Is your husband involved with your writing process?
Sandy: My husband would probably rather not be involved in my writing process, but I occasionally give him a page or two to read to see if a scene did what I wanted it to do, and he always reads my books when I finish them.
I don’t really bounce ideas off of anyone unless you count my agent and editor. Their feedback is invaluable. They definitely make the finished books better than the first drafts!
TRC: Do you have a favorite author or book that has inspired you?
Sandy: I’m a huge, huge fan of Linnea Sinclair. She writes science fiction romance that appeals to the urban fantasist in me. And I’ve also fallen in love with Joanna Bourne’s historical romances. Pretty much all of the books I rave about have a strong romance in them. It’s weird. Five, six years ago, nothing I read had romance in it, but once I started reading them, I couldn’t go back to the straight sci-fi or straight fantasy books. I always feel like they’re missing something.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Sandy: I’d just like to say thanks for having me! I really respect and appreciate bloggers and book reviewers – you all do so much for authors. And, as a reader, I love reading your
opinions and getting recommendations.
Favorite Food: Freebirds Burritos!
Favorite Dessert: Soft chocolate chip cookies!
Favorite TV Show: Downton Abbey. Sooo good!
Favorite Movie: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Last Book You Read: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Favorite Fictional Character (not your own): Tyrion Lannister. So clever and sarcastic!
Milk or Dark Chocolate: Milk chocolate. Yum!
Thank you Sandy, for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you the best of luck with The Shattered Dark. Please keep us informed about your upcoming new releases, as we look forward to seeing you again.
If you would like to learn more about Sandy, you can visit her at the following links.
Sandy has graciously offered to give a member of The Reading Café a chance to win a copy of The Shattered Dark.
1. You must be a member at The Reading Cafe. If you are not a member, please register using the Log-In at the top of the page, or by using one of our social log-ins.
2. If you are using a social log-in e.g. Twitter, please leave your email address along with your comment.
3. Giveaway open to U.S. Only
4. Contest runs from October 30th – November 3rd.