Friday, February 6, 2015

Interview with Sandra Boutwell-Falcone

We lured Sandra into the Tears of Crimson Mansion today to talk with her about her work.  Pull up a chair and get to know this incredible author.  We promise we're letting her leave unscathed!

What do you consider success, when it comes to writing? 

I really felt like a success when I sold my first book to someone I didn’t already know. But, in writing, successes come in small increments for me. When I get a passage just right, I feel that is a success. If I have someone read a few pages for me and I see them laugh or cry or get angry, I feel a tremendous success. If I can move a person to an emotional response, as a writer, I have done my job.

Many authors have a muse that they believe gives them ideas. Do you have one? If so tell us about them.

I don’t have a muse in particular. I get inspired by things I see. A hike in the woods or people watching at the airport both can inspire characters or scenes. Because I write in the fantasy genre, movies and gaming also give me ideas from time to time.

If you had to choose a reading audience, what would you like them to be interested in? 

My reading audience should like fantasy, magic, animals, and adventure.

What’s your stand on bookstore verses digital book purchases? 

I think there is room for both. Anything that gets people reading is worthwhile. I have a Kindle app and have read a few books in the digital format. Personally I prefer to have a book in my hands, pages I can turn. I like the weight of it. I like to see the volumes on my shelves. There is something more permanent about a real book.

What age group do you write for? 

I write for anyone who enjoys fantasy fiction but my first book is appropriate for juvenile readers.  I wanted my young nieces to be able to enjoy it.  I consider this series to be teen fantasy fiction. There is violence but only implied sex.

How do you find or make time to write? 

Sometimes I find it quite difficult. There always seems to be some distraction that can take me away from my work. My problem is not so much finding time, but finding my focus during the time that I have. Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night. When the rest of the world seems asleep, I can hear the voices in my head. Not creepy voices, just the stories I have rattling around in there. I have to pretend the internet doesn’t exist.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing as a small child of 6 or 7. I grew up in a sparsely populated rural area. My brothers were all grown and gone from home by the time I was 7 years old. I made up stories and talked to myself even before I could write them down. Once I did begin to write, it was just the natural thing for me to do. I wrote really bad teen angst filled poetry in junior high school. I helped establish our high school newspaper, the Tomahawk. I was the editor, feature writer, and comedic advice columnist.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

 I suppose I have always considered myself a writer. I did feel confirmed as a writer when I received the proof for my first novel.

What inspired you to write your first book?

When I was in college, my friends and I played Dungeons and Dragons. I, of course, wrote an origin story for one of my characters. It was about 6 handwritten pages in a notebook. Many years later, I found myself out of work and stir crazy. My husband suggested I write something… anything. I found those handwritten pages in a notebook and turned them into a novel.

Do you have a specific writing style? 

I write fantasy but I try to make the people and situations as real and relatable as possible. I’m not sure that’s a particular style.

How much of the book is realistic?

My characters are based in reality but the setting is a fantasy world so anything can happen. I have based many of my characters on traits I have observed in real people but no character is solely formed after a particular person.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? 

I have taken character traits and physical attributes of people I know or people I have seen and formed my characters. There is a little of me in a few of them. I did rewrite one scene with more emotion after I experienced a death in my family. It became more personal.

What books have most influenced your life? 

The Bible. C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia and Perelandra for their innocence and imagination. Ann Rice, Interview with the Vampire and Witching Hour for her wonderful descriptive powers. The works of Tolkien for creating worlds and because they are brilliant. And of course Shakespeare wrote every original story line.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 

Absolutely! I would seek out a professional editor that I could afford. I love my story and characters but I know a professional edit would give it the polish it deserved. It is impossible to edit yourself to a polished finish. Your own work is just too familiar.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? 

Right now, I am working on

Sandra Boutwell-Falcone

Introducing a new heroine. Marabella is an uncommon girl growing up in Common Valley. Discover with her friendship and magics. When the mysterious Demalion people take an interest in her and her family, their lives change for the better. She discovers her magics and her new friends insure her training. Observe as her power grows with her despite the tragedies she endures. Aided by a magical creature and her Demalion friends, she learns to fight and focus her magics, skills she will need to battle for her life. Mourn her losses, cheer her victories and fall in love with Marabella. Her adventure is just beginning.

Marabella, Quest for Magics. I have only just begun. Here is an excerpt from my first novel Marabella, Discovering Magics. 

The morning of Mara's honor service dawned cold and gray.  Belle stood in the room that had once been her mother's.  She had finally allowed Ma Nan to clean away (almost) all evidence of the violence that had occurred.  The bloody mattress, linens, and rugs were gone; taken away and burned, finally allowing the stench of death to be released into the air rising with the smoke into the clouds.   The stains were gone.  Ma Nan had worked hard on the floor and walls, mopping up buckets of red tinged water.  The splinters of the smashed dressing table were gone.  Along the walls were new shelves.  Belle could smell the freshly hewn lumber.  All Mara's belongings were clean and folded, placed neatly on the shelves together with her books.  The damaged bead curtain was gone, replaced with a simple sheet of pale blue, hanging on an ornate rod over the entrance to the room and held back with a braided cord.  A simple, hastily built table and straight back chair were placed in the room as if to keep it from feeling too empty.  But the changes in the room only magnified the emptiness in Belle's heart. Mara was gone.

The only thing left untouched was under Mara's green shawl, hung on a nail by the entrance to the room.  Under it sat a small lamp stand and lamp.  Belle had arranged it so and asked that it not be touched.  All the floors and walls had been scrubbed and scrubbed with sand and soap and scented oils.  All but the one area behind the green shawl.  Behind the shawl was the bloody hand-print with the outline of a scar.  It was the signature of Mara's murderer and Belle intended to keep it intact.

While Ma Nan bustled about the kitchen arranging and rearranging the many gifts of food from folks in the village, Belle pushed back the shawl and looked long and hard at the mark on the wall.    She memorized each line, each droplet of the stain, now dried brown on the painted wall.  She burned the image into her mind and locked it away, a sad keepsake to fuel her vengeance.

She left the hand-print hidden under the shawl and walked around the room.  Her fingers traced along the handle of Mara's brush.  Belle touched the dark strands captured in the bristles and felt a tightness in her chest.  She moved down the shelves, touching Mara's clothes, her shoes, her sewing basket.

There were stacks of fabric, waiting to be cut, cut garment pieces, waiting to be sewn, half completed garments, waiting to be finished.  Like juggler's balls thrown into the air that would never fall, these things seemed to be frozen in time.

 Want to discover more about Sandra?

Twitter - @Sbfalcone

Instagram – sbfalcone

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