Beyond process, I also learned so much from reading Pearl Street Memories. Sandy is both a great storyteller and a great writer. Some of the tales in the book are pretty intense, but somehow she manages to deliver the news with more than a small note of hope. I am so inspired by what she's done, what she's dealt with, how she's dealt with it, and how she lives her life.
On Wednesday, December 12, 2012 (yes, 12/12/12), Sandy and I will both be debuting our books at BookPeople at 7pm. I sure hope you can join us. Meanwhile, to tide you over, here's a Q&A with Sandy. Congratulations, Sandy!
This is your first book, right? Tell me a bit about it.
Yes this is sorta my first book…..I was also working on a children’s book and a murder mystery at the same time.. so essentially working on three books at once. When one gets away from me I go to another. Good distraction!
You've been writing a long time-- what else have you written?
For years……mostly medical articles, medical posters…. Also did a little editing of medical articles for Mosby, Inc. in the past, plus …. long letters to friends and ex boyfriends…does that count?
Pearl Street Memories is presented as fiction-- but it's autobiographical fiction, right? Why did you go this route instead of non-fiction?
Each story has a kernel of truth, but the true story would be so boring.. so you have to add to it! Yes, this book is somewhat autobiographical… and there are some stories that have been told to me… I think stories of peoples lives are so interesting. For a long time I did volunteer work as a “buddy” for AIDS services. I heard some awesome, interesting stories… Not just sad stories, but fun, laugh out loud stories about lives, about how people react in different situations… stories that would just grab you!! I like to collect stories-- I write them down!
What were some of your bigger challenges writing this-- and you can touch on anything from writers' block to not wanting to reveal secrets to whatever you wish.
Worrying about hurting people that are still alive. Luckily (for me, not them) most of these people have passed away.
There's some real trauma in these stories. And you work as a trauma nurse. What's the overlap-- did having trauma in your life lead you to want to care for others in trauma?
Trauma is interesting. A pretty startling statistic is that when families experience real trauma, most of the time, the family is destroyed. There are divorces, etc. This happened to Stella.. as it often does…I see that almost every day where I work.. Families fall apart.. or as ‘Spenser” said… “the center falls apart, it cannot hold”…. When I care for a patient, their family.. I can feel real empathy for them… people pick up on this… without being told, they know I can help. They know I have ‘been there’.
What's your process when you sit down to write?
I write for long periods of times. First I think about where I won’t the story to go. then just sit down, write and let it appear in my consciousness… I let the characters speak for themselves I know a lot of writers never rewrite, but I do.
What was your goal when you first decided to write the book? Has the goal changed/grown?
I wanted to portray how the choices that are made by people can influence us all through out our lives. A decision may influence and then disappear.. and the influence appears again.. later in life. With Stella…..choices that were made, people that influenced her very, very early in her life.. still influenced her until the end of her life, end of her story. I think the unconditional love her grandparents gave to her.. was reflected in each story.
Were there any surprise benefits you hadn't foreseen-- for example in my writing, I felt so my better after I published some of my stories. I unburdened myself. I felt some relief.
Yes.. There was a great catharsis with this book. It was as though I was putting something to rest. With my next book…..I just so enjoyed the writing, the story, the process. I was sad to see the story end…. but also happy with the ending!
What fears/nervousness did you have during the process of publishing?
Well.. self publishing is not easy. They ( the publishing companies.) do not make their sites
"User friendly.” Also, I am a nurse, I do not have much money. I had saved money to do this…..so I was worried I might run out of money. But self-publishing is allowing new and good writers to get their stories out in the public, instead of just a few authors telling a few select stories. This was what happened in the past..before self-publishing.
Why self-publish-- do you recommend that?
You know.. there are so few agents really interested in helping new writers.. You can submit and submit.. but the truth is, this is just like the entertainment business. It is who you know. I do not care how good of a writer you are, how good your story is. If you don’t know someone, you gotta self-publish!! And if you are “older” ha.. Ha….forget it! Look at John Grisham.. He drove around for several years with his book in his car trunk. No one would hear him, even look at his book.. He sold books for two, three dollars…But.. like him.. you can’t give up.. you jut keep writing your stories!
What else are you working on?
I am working on my Murder Mystery. “True Fiction." And it is MY book, but I gotta brag-- it is good. It is really good!! I can’t wait for people to read it!! It is set in Austin, moves to Lampasas, then to Pittsburgh, then to St Louis, and back to Austin and the gulf coast. Good interesting characters.. odd romantic twist…. A smidge of politics….