Monday, 17 March 2008

Author interview: Sandra Cormier!

I first saw Sandra on the blog of that famous anonymous agent, Miss Snark, commenting under the moniker Chumplet. That was two years ago! When I started a blog of my own last June I looked up a few of the regulars I remembered from Snark's, Sandra among them, and discovered that her first novel, The Space Between, was published last year, and Bad Ice is due out in July 2008.

Sandra, I know that you're Canadian, and that you spent part of your childhood in Trinidad.

My father was a payroll accountant for a company that did large construction projects all over the world. We traveled extensively while I was growing up. His company placed our family in Trinidad when I was three years old. I remember the little cat that stockpiled hummingbirds under my mother's bed, and the neighbourhood dog that visited every home for handouts. We called him Brownie.

Along with Trinidad, we moved all over the Eastern part of Canada, mostly through the Maritimes. I love the rough beauty of the Atlantic and I'd like to move back there someday.

When I was a teenager, we spent a year in Mallorca, Spain. What a change from Canada! The atmosphere was so vibrant and stimulating for an impressionable sixteen-year-old. I returned to Canada with a whole new outlook on life.

We finally settled just north of Toronto. I met my husband while working in a camera store and immediately fell in love with his big brown eyes. We bought my parents' first home in Newmarket, and there we remain with our two teenagers, Chester the dog, and Ridley the grey retriever kitty.

What books do you remember most from your childhood? Were there any special favorites that you read more than once?

I loved Walter Farley and Marguerite Henry books. I think I've read J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings about ten times since I was a teenager. I loved to trace the lineage of the Elves and marveled at the different worlds the hobbits visited. I think LOTR sparked my interest in genealogy, prompting me to share my father's research into our Acadian roots.

What are some of your favourite novels?

I'll read anything - romance, science fiction, fantasy, historical and mainstream fiction. Wonderful works by new authors such as John Elder Robison, Patricia Wood and Therese Fowler have exposed me to new voices and experiences. I like to read many of my children's books, such as the Harry Potter series and Philip Pullman's Dark Materials. What great new worlds our kids can visit!

Of course, being a horse lover, I read almost every Dick Francis novel. Some of them twice! I love his characters' understated heroism.

When did you start writing, and what prompted you to begin?

After I finished college, I used my skills in art and photography, finally becoming a graphic designer for a newspaper. Writing had always been a passion, but until the kids were teenagers I just didn't have the time to give to it. Then one day, quite out of the blue, my lovely, supportive husband surprised me with a refurbished laptop. That day changed my life.

I couldn't wait to get started. Since I'm an incurable romantic I began with romance writing. For as long as I can remember, I've woven stories in my head while waiting to fall asleep, and now I had the opportunity to share them with others.

While writing, I bought used books on writing and set to work. I cruised the internet and discovered jewels such as Miss Snark and Evil Editor. The forums on Absolute Write gave me tons of advice. I joined a wonderful online writer's group and posted chapters for critique. Boy, I had a lot to learn.

When I thought my first book was ready, I queried like crazy. I wasn't ready. The rejections piled up, and I was disappointed. But I kept at it, learning as I went. My writing partners taught me a lot, and blogging editors like Evil Editor kept me going with advice and humour.

Tell us about The Space Between.

The Space Between is like an old friend. It is the story of Margaret, a woman who had endured a twenty year marriage marred with jealousy and mistrust. In an attempt to save their marriage, she and her husband embark on a once in a lifetime trip to New Zealand.

However, the plane crashes, leaving our heroine alone on a South Pacific island (can you believe it?) with David, a mature actor who is having his own doubts about his union with a much younger woman who had elected to skip this trip. Along with David and Margaret, we have Mitch, a used car salesman. He's a bit of a cad, and causes a heap of trouble.

Margaret and David must decide whether their attraction for each other is real, or just a result of the allure of the island.

I'm looking forward to reading it. It certainly does not sound like the cookie-cutter boy-meets-girl romance. I've noticed that your writing journey mirrors mine in some ways. Our first books were romance. Now we've written/are writing romantic suspense and mainstream women's fiction. I've dabbled in other genres. Are there others you'd like to explore?

I considered romance to be a great place to start. It might be the genre I stick with, but because of my eclectic taste I'd like to dabble in different genres. My second novel Bad Ice is romantic suspense, slated for publication in July 2008. I have two more in the works - another romantic suspense and a women's fiction.

I also have plans to write mainstream fiction with a large cast of characters, along the lines of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

Was your road to publication a difficult one?

It wasn't easy. I experienced many stops and starts and turns down the wrong road, but with the help of the aforementioned blogging agents, editors and fellow writers, I managed to attract two excellent e-publishers.

Present day writers are fortunate to have so many avenues open to them - electronic publishing, small presses and of course the larger publishing houses. Not to mention the vast wealth of information and support on the internet.

Family is important, too. My parents were thrilled to learn that I was writing, and were fantastic beta readers. When The Space Between was released in print, my cousins and aunts and uncles (I have a lot of them) cleaned out the stock at Canada's Amazon site.

This is just the beginning for me. I plan to finish two more books, get an agent and a place with one of the larger publishing houses. I have a few more ideas simmering on the back burner, so this writing gig could go on for a long time. I'm enjoying every minute.

You love ice hockey, ride horses, and paint beautiful portraits. You also have a young family. How do you fit writing into what must be a hectic schedule?

I always have time to watch a hockey game. Phone calls go straight to the answering machine when there's a game on, particularly during the playoffs. I had the occasional ride when the kids were small and my mom lived at home, but it fell to the wayside when she moved away. I still like to ride when I have the time, or can rope anybody into letting me ride for free!

Watercolour painting allows a flexible schedule, and I can paint whenever and wherever I wish. It's okay to put it down for a few days, and then pick it up during a quiet moment.

Now that the kids are older, I have time to pursue all the activities I love (and can afford).

I just want to say that I really appreciate the opportunity you've given me, Liane. I enjoy your blog and can't wait until your novel is released. This was fun!

Sandra, it was lovely having you as my guest! Thank you, and I wish you all the best in your publishing career!

The Space Between on Amazon
Bad Ice will be available July 2008 from Champagne Books
Sandra's website:
Her blog: Chumplet Writes


Pacha said...

Really enjoyed this interview! Will look out for Sandra's book asap. Thanks.

Toronto realtor said...

Very nice interview. I really enjoyed it, too.Once you find an interesting person it is very difficult to make a bad interview:-). For sure I will think about to buy one of her books.Thank you.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Great interview and very inspirational.

ChristineEldin said...

Great interview! I always admire how she writes and paints equally well!

The Anti-Wife said...

wonderful interview. Thanks for doing this!

Anonymous said...

Good interviews read like good novels and this was a good interview.

I also liked the artwork on the cover of The Space Between .

Fiona said...

What a fascinating interview. Thank you for doing this. I can't wait to read Sandra's book and Cafe Au Lait.

Chumplet said...

I really enjoyed the experience. Hopefully this will be the beginning of many interviews! Thanks to Liane again for giving me this opportunity.

I know Christine has a copy of The Space Between, and I hope the rest of you will indeed check it out!


KAREN said...

What a great interview! Another book to add to my pile :o)

(I still miss Miss Snark!)

Debs said...

Enjoyed the interview and shall definately look out for The Space Between. Happy Easter.

wordtryst said...

You're very welcome, Sandra. Thank you too.

And thanks for the kind remarks, everyone.

Akalol, I forgot to mention that the cover of The Space Between was a top 10 finalist in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2007. You're in very good company!

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