I met Sandra via Facebook. I love reading about people, especially when they've lived an interesting life such as hers. I also thought her books looked interesting, and so I reached out to her for an interview. She said yes!
Sandra comes from an amazing background of Voodoo and the Catholic Religion. Of course she became a writer.
Below are the questions I asked her:
1. What does the description “life-observer” mean to you?
I love to sit back and watch people as they go through their daily lives, and observe situations as they unfold. Each person has a story to tell, and each situation offers a lesson to learn, so I consider it a treat to be a witness to it all. It’s like getting cheat codes in the game of Life.
2. You wrote poetry as a young person. How does that help you with your novels today?
I don’t write poetry any more, but I think one of the important things I learned from it is to pay attention to my characters’ feelings as the story unfolds.
3. What’s the oddest thing a fan has sent you in the mail?
Luckily, I haven’t received anything odd, up to this point. However, I have received a couple of very cool gifts. One of them was a rosary described in my first novel, THE BOOK OF OBEAH, which I am using for the cover of THE ROSARIES, the novel I am currently working on. The other one was a beautiful spoon featuring the symbol that appears on the cover of THE BOOK OF OBEAH, and my initials beautifully carved to represent a snake.
4. What was the most interesting thing about living with a devout Catholic Father and a Voodoo priestess Mother?
Exposing a child to a variety of beliefs allows that child to open his/her mind to, and respect, the beliefs of others. Given that I also had a grandmother who practiced Strega ( a traditional path of Italian witchcraft) made it even more interesting. In the end, the coolest thing to find out was that all traditions, and all religions, are merely different paths to get connected to a Higher Power. As we say in Italy, all roads lead to Rome.
5. What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?
My schedule varies with the seasons. In the winter, when my children are in school, I get up at 5:30 to get my sons up and ready; in the summer, when the only time I have to write is at night, I go to bed very late and get up very late the next morning. I rarely eat breakfast – coffee, plenty of it, is my first companion of the day.
6. Why did you write the Book of Obeah?
Good question. Honestly, I don’t know. I always loved to write, but with young children, I never had time to really consider writing as a profession. I woke up one morning, six years ago, with a few sentences in my head, and wrote them down. After I did that, more sentences began to form in my mind, and Melody’s character began to surface. I didn’t know where the story was going, but as I wrote, it took a life of its own and I kept on writing. I didn’t even plan to publish it at first, but a series of strange occurrences led me in that direction, and here I am.
7. What one thing is a MUST have on your writing desk?
I can’t think of anything in particular, aside, maybe, from a strong cup of coffee.
8. Describe your writing in 5 words:
Uplifting. Suspenseful. Redeeming. Hopeful. Fast-paced.
9. What is your blog about?
I don’t post as much as I used to, but I like to blog about life itself. I write about all kinds of things, and try to find a spiritual twist and a lesson into all of them. I guess most of my blog entries are about finding the sacred into the ordinary.
10. Who is your biggest cheerleader?
Is it okay if I pick a few? My sister Patrizia is on top of the list; also my consulting editors, Dena and Sherrill; my agent, Natalie, and several of my readers. One reader in particular, Mr. Powers, constantly sends me notes of encouragement and appreciation, and although he struggles with his health at times, he will drive many miles to attend my events. Mr. Powers, if you read this, I hope you know how much your support means to me.
11. What’s the funniest thing a fan has asked you?
“Why do you kill and hurt people?” (In reference to my writing, of course….)
12. What is your perception of reality?
Life is a dream of our Higher Mind. As such, it can be changed by offering suggestions to our subconscious, the same way one would alter night dreams by changing daily routines. Stay tuned for this whole concept to be revisited in the final book of THE CROSSROADS SERIES (The Book of Obeah was the first book; The Rosaries is the second; The Key will be the third, and Dream Gates will be the fourth.)
13. Any advice for newbie writers?
Don’t ever give up. There are many new tools available to authors, compared to even five years ago, so there is no reason at all to abandon your dreams. Take the time to do a little research, take everything with a grain of salt and focus on creating something YOU would enjoy reading. Another important thing…ask an extra pair of eyes to take a good look, possibly someone who’s not part of your family or in your circle of close friends. Honest feedback is vital, and good editing is essential.
14. What’s the one thing you discovered about yourself that has changed you?
Probably resilience -- both physical and mental. The business of writing can be tough – many hours spent alone behind a keyboard, and rejection around many corners, can truly test one’s personal strength. I’ve discovered that I don’t need much sleep, and if someone doesn’t like what I write, I can accept their criticism without being crushed.
15. How do you think the publishing world is evolving: For the good or bad?
My mind generally runs on a progressive gear, so my assumption is that even if it is painful to see bookstores closing down, digital editions are the way of the future. E-books allow people to read more, because they are less expensive and can be stored into a very compact space, and they are also eco-friendly. Anything that encourages readers to read more can only be good.
16. Why did you write Housekeeping for the Soul?
My passion belongs with fiction; however, when I first got out there in the big, scary world of publishing, I knew no editor would give the time of day to a brand-new author they never heard of.
My agent at the time asked me if I would be willing to write a nonfiction to open the doors, so I decided to give it a shot, especially since my blog posts were, for the most part, inspirational. I love all things spiritual, and after being a stay-at-home mom for almost twenty years, I am very familiar with housekeeping, so I married the two concepts, and Housekeeping for the Soul was born.
17. If someone said, “Your writing changed my life.” What would they be referring to?
Probably to my motto: “A different perspective can change your perception of reality.” Life can be seen as the light emanating from a diamond. It reflects in different colors depending on where you’re standing when you look at the diamond, so if you want to change the light you see, all you have to do is shift from your current position.
18. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?
If they like my stories, I hope they will help me spread them through word of mouth. People can communicate, today, like they have never been able to do in the past, so a good word shared with friends and family can literally go around the world.
19. Do you belong to any writer’s groups? If so, which ones and why?
I do. I belong to one physical writers’ group, Triangle Area Freelancers, which meets in Raleigh the last Wednesday of every month, and to several groups online.
I even founded my own group on Facebook, called WRITERS AND ARTISTS SHARE! We help one another by sharing the work of other artists and by offering encouragement and feedback.
If you are on Facebook, feel free to join us, even if you simply enjoy the creative work of others. We can always use the feedback of readers and art enthusiasts.
20. What one word best describes you?
Stubborn. Once I get an idea on my mind, I don’t let it go until I am fully satisfied with the outcome.
21. What’s the scariest thing you’ve found to be true in the Voodoo and Catholic belief systems?
Fear. In all religions. Fear is a tool that organized systems use to control those who don’t know any better. Fear screams directly at the survival mechanism connected to our primal instincts, and thus it can spread faster than a virus. My religion is to neutralize fear, in all its forms.