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SL: Thanks, Amber. That story is one that I don’t think my mom even remembered until, pow, there was this short story that seemed kinda familiar and me broadcasting it on a Web site. He he. The series started out much more innocently. I think I may have been in a class in junior high (like social studies or something else that leant itself to world-building or community structures) when the bad guy from my series showed me my heroine. She was gorgeous. Just beautiful. She stood on this balcony holding the curtains back like she was embracing the morning, like she OWNED the morning, and the very wind seemed to rush to touch her because she was so perfect. Everything about her said, “I am mysterious and I am magical and I can speak to dragons.” But when she lowered her chin to look out over the countryside, when I saw her eyes, I knew I had to get her off that balcony…fast.
2. On your gorgeous website, I notice two photos of you holding a sword. Very cool! Can you tell usabout the meaning behind this accessory?
SL: Swords are the original home security system. I keep one under my bed because I haven’t practiced enough with my Smith & Wesson to feel confident in my accuracy. The sword—pretty darn accurate. He he. People think women want diamonds and flowers? No. Give me a sharp pointy weapon any day. They really get the imagination going when it’s time to sit down and write. I have this lovely medieval dagger that’s just a simple, run-of-the-mill dagger. Nothing fancy because back then, they weren’t into “fancy.” They were into “practical.” How long did it take to make and how easily did it slide into the other guy’s belly? So this weapon that I keep on my dresser probably didn’t take long to make and probably slides pretty easily into someone’s belly. It also inspires great dragon scenes when I’m writing.
SL: Oh my. This might make me sound crazy (if the sharp-pointy-weapon talk didn’t do that already). I have been obsessed since about 1984. I say that my favorite Duran Duran song is the Monster Mix of Is There Something I Should Know because it’s just easier than trying to pinpoint a new one every year or so. I really really like the Shep Pettibone Mix of I Don’t Want Your Love and the Agterhuis Mix of Chains, too, but, again, gotta stay consistent to maintain what’s left of my sanity. Too many of their songs to count have inspired scenes and stories for me. It truly is an obsession. Diehard Duranies will find hidden Duran Duran messages in the Choices series.
4. Can you tell us more about your publisher, ArcheBooks Publishing? What would you say they taught you about your writing?
SL: Bob Gelinas is the co-founder of ArcheBooks and he is the person I think of first when I refer to the entity ArcheBooks. He’s the one I pitched the series to and he’s the one who is editing it with me. He taught me to watch “who has the camera.” I’m prone to tossing POV around. It’s my style. But I have to be careful about that because a lot of American editors (and American readers, too) get confused easily when an author does this. It’s recommended that authors avoid changing POV within sections of text. I write in third person omniscient so I jump in and out of characters’ minds as necessary, which means changing POV. Unfortunately, I don’t always wait until a new section of the chapter to make the change. This is a weakness in my writing that I’ve been working on, with Bob’s help. It’s not something that I think I should stop entirely (hey, non-American authors get away with it!), but it’s definitely something I need to show caution with. I need to make sure I’m making it obvious that I’m putting the camera in a new character’s hands. I need to make it obvious to the reader that the POV is changing and here’s what we’re going to see next. A reviewer on GoodReads loved my story, characters, action, etc., but pointed out that the switching of POV jumped out at him. He’s absolutely right. In my first novel, Choices Meant for Gods, it’s quite pronounced. As Bob’s helped me mature with the second novel, Choices Meant for Kings, it’s gotten better, but I don’t want to drop the device.
5. You have causes close to your heart including sea turtle protection and domestic violence awareness. How do these passions manifest in your stories?
SL: You know, I’m actually stunned that I haven’t put a bunch of sea turtles in the Choices series. There will be several in my Above Dark series, but Amanda Chariss’s story just doesn’t take place on the ocean. Now, I just had to put a cute little baby sea turtle in the short story “Enara’s Choice” in my series-supporting chapbook What Choices We Made, Volume 1. Adorable little guy. As for the domestic violence issue, I address it briefly in Choices Meant for Gods and move beyond it quickly. The punishment for being an abuser is obvious and my opinion on the issue is obvious, but I don’t take up the fantasy reader’s time giving a modern-day diatribe on a social issue. Same with my message on tolerance/anti-bigotry. The message is woven in there and the astute reader will catch it, but I’m not Terry Goodkind. While he’s a great writer and I read his works with baited breath, I have found myself rolling my eyes and skimming sections where he was giving me his treatise on whatever social issue was on his mind. I’m not going to become a vegetarian from reading a fantasy novel because Terry gave me 20 pages arguing in favor of the balance of it. And I’m not going to convince someone to accept their homosexual neighbor after reading my fantasy novel if I give 20 pages arguing in favor of it, but my opinion is apparent in my novels without being didactic or wordy.
6. Considering today’s digital age, ebook popularity and sites like Smashbooks and Scribd.com, how do you foresee the future of publishing?
SL: I started to answer this in a very cynical, Amazon’s-taking-over-everything rant. But I was taking myself and my opinion too seriously. I think we can look forward to the day the government steps in to re-organize Amazon’s eventual monopoly. Of course, I don’t think I look forward to the government stepping in to do anything… Maybe Wal-Mart will start publishing online and will buy up those instant-book kiosks that Lightning Source is demo-ing around the country, thus preventing Amazon from creating a monopoly a decade or two from now. Like some kind of superhero clan, we’ll owe the survival of the publishing industry to the Walton family.
Thank you so much for the interview, Sandy! All comments and questions welcome. I’ll post an excerpt for your reading pleasure this afternoon.