Hywela Lyn: How do you go about world-building? For instance, do you base your worlds on places you know, but with fantasy elements, or are they purely imaginary?
Sandy Lender: You’ve asked a really loaded question! I give workshops and seminars on this topic. But for my own novels, my worlds vary depending on what the characters need for their stories. I recently completed a sci-fi horror novel that needed some earth-like elements, some familiar tidbits for the reader because we were just 50 years in the future. In that instance, I started with a place I knew (Earth) and threw in fantasy elements. (A lot of fantasy elements, if you want to get technical. He he.)
For my CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS and CHOICES MEANT FOR KINGS novels, I created a completely new world of Onweald with its own map and its own theology and its own star system, etc. Once the map was down on paper, I realized the area Arcana is in reminds me a bit of Florida. Oops. But that’s odd because I began the story in my head many years before I lived here.
Hywela Lyn: I love maps! I wrote one for my last story, and it really helped me place where the various characters were at any given time! Could you describe your characterisation process - how your characters develop and how much detail you need to have on each one before you start writing?
Sandy Lender: This varies drastically depending on what level/role the character has in the narrative. Chariss, Nigel, Hrazon, Henry, Jamieson, Julette, Rohne…these characters are well-known to me. I can tell you what they like to eat on their grouchy days and what type of cloth they like to have against their skin. I can tell you what their favorite song on my iTunes is. Their backstories, histories, dreams, worries, deep dark fantasies…Then there are “extras” who I know less about. One of those (Brendan Naegling) surprised the daylights out of me one evening when I was writing, which kind of teaches me a lesson about researching my characters better. He he. But even those “extras” and minor characters have backgrounds that I know a lot about. Hence the chapbook of short stories and legends of Onweald that I published in 2008.
Hywela Lyn: It's rather wonderful when a character surprises one, isn't it! Especially if they're a minor one, it sort of makes it even more interesting to discover something about a character who's not supposed to be very important, somehow! Could you describe a typical writing day for you - or is there such a thing?
Sandy Lender: I don’t think I get typical writing days. Now, having said that, I do work as the editor for a construction magazine, so I write (and edit) for that on a daily basis. Even that, though, requires writing some days, interviewing people and discussing article ideas some days, editing and assembling things some days, etc. Typical writing days are probably something that writers with well-employed spouses experience. I’ve heard that there are about 100 fiction writers in the United States who can support themselves on their writing alone. The rest of us either have a day job or a working spouse—or both in this economy. I tell ya one thing, every day, whether I’m going to write, edit, or do marketing work, the day starts with offering appeasement to the birds. I have companion parrots who are pretty smart, so they need puzzles and games to keep them occupied during the day. So the day starts with treats and foraging puzzles for the birds. The work day ends with me diving into marketing adventures. Then I write before I pass out at night. There are myriad other tasks in between all that stuff. That’s sort of a “general” writing day if not typical…
Hywela Lyn *Grin* I know what you mean about appeasing the birds - in my case they're wild ones, followed by my Jack Russell terrier, followed by my two horses. The animals always come before everything else, bless 'em!
Sandy Lender: I don’t know if I did a very good job with your questions, Hywela, but I appreciate you coming up with good ones for me to at least attempt. I think my brain is just fried…Maybe I’ll have better luck with the visitors’ questions later in the day, eh? (We can hope!)
“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”
Hywela Lyn: Sandy, I think your answers were great - very insightful and now we know a little more about you as a writer, and the way you set about weaving your wonderful stories. I'm really looking forward to reading 'Choices Meant For Kings'. Thank you so much .
Readers, why not leave a comment for Sandy and give yourself the chance to win a copy of her latest book, Choices Meant for Kings, And here's a special treat for you - an excerpt which you won't find anywhere else, except on Sandy's current on-line tour!
First the 'Blurb':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
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?”