Please welcome Sandy Lender, my guest today. She's celebrating her Blog Tour and has graciously agreed to stop here. I have the normal 4 questions for her, but as always please feel free to ask her anything!
What made you decide to write What Choices We Made: Short Stories from the History of Onweald, Volume II (Or volume I for that matter!)?
Sandy Lender: “What Choices We Made,” Volumes I and II happened for the same reason—I had oodles of information that couldn’t be included in the novels my publisher was releasing in the “Choices” series. We’re talking back story and legends and extra character portraits and side-stories and flashbacks and deleted scenes and recipes that other authors might include in an appendix and poems that characters wrote for each other and just oodles of stuff that any editor with half a brain will tell you, “this bogs down the reader.” This answer is going to get long-winded, so I’ll try to be brief!
When I pitched my first novel “Choices Meant for Gods” to Bob Gelinas of ArcheBooks Publishing, the thing was right around 260,000 words. Despite that, he asked for the whole MS and offered me a contract within a couple of weeks. As you can imagine, the MS needed some “trimming” to get it to a size that could be marketed at a reasonable price. I mean, a book is a product that someone has to buy. Can you imagine how expensive a 260,000-word hardcover would be to produce? Try selling one of those from a then-unheard-of author!
So “Choices Meant for Gods” had some back-story that had to come out not just for readability, but for space/size limitations. I realized I could morph some of that back-story into individual short stories. There’s a chalice that my main character, Amanda Chariss, finds in the second novel, “Choices Meant for Kings,” that could have its own novella. Who in their right mind is going to sit down and read a novella about a goblet? Boring! But…fans of mine still bring up the short story of Gella and Odan (titled “Dewberries and Bonds”) in the first “What Choices We Made” chapbook, not realizing it lays the foundation for the chalice’s imprisonment with a dragon in an ice cave. Fans rave about the short story of Dunny & Quill rescuing a dragon with a chalice in an ice cave. The chalice is barely mentioned in these stories, yet it’s incredibly important to the world of Onweald. There’s no way I would have had room to flesh out its story in the “Choices” novels the way I can in these chapbooks.
Then I had some sultry little scenes between Amanda Chariss and Nigel Taiman that I deleted from the novels because they were a little too mushy or they slowed the pace too much. What better place to slide a deleted scene into the public eye than a chapbook? It’s not something a non-fan would pick up on, but it only takes up a couple of pages in the chapbook, thus can be skipped easily, or can get a newbie pretty darn interested in those two lovebirds!
What else are you working on? I hear book 3 possibly?
Sandy Lender: Book III of the trilogy is in editing right now. It’s currently titled “Choices Meant for All” and it’s going to get me lynched if I don’t produce it soon. The fan requests have taken an edgier tone as of late…
I’m also working on Book II of the Dragons in Space series that Night Wolf Publications handles. “Problems on Eldora Prime” is a YA novel that is doing very well there. I’m pleased with its reception.
Then I have a few others that have been distracting me. If I can put a dragon in it, it’s going to distract me. Those creatures tend to be demanding once they figure out you’re willing to write their stories…
What’s your dream story? The one that becomes a New York Times runaway bestseller, the one you hope to one day write? Or have you?
Sandy Lender: I’d love to incorporate a dragon in steampunk, but is the world ready for that?
I actually have a novel I delved 60,000+ words into during National Novel Writing Month about a breed of small dragons that poachers try to smuggle off another moon for the pet trade. I base the action off the early atrocities in the parrot pet trade. It was emotional to write because I share my home with four companion parrots whose ancestors endured that horror. Our world is in danger of losing a variety of parrot species through habitat destruction, disease (in the case of the kokopo parrot) and continued poaching. If I can raise awareness of their pending extinction in the wild through sci-fi/fantasy fiction that entertains and charms the reader, I’ll have something twice as valuable as a New York Times runaway bestseller. So my dream story, inspired by my Sun Conure Petri, is “in process” right now.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Sandy Lender: That last answer firmly affixes the label “Crazy Bird Lady” to me, so, if it would be okay, could we also affix the label “Crazy Dragon Lady” beneath it? I’m in love with all things dragon. They’re quite cool, you know. The novella “The Influential Love Story of Ella and Rohne” that I included in “What Choices We Made, Volume II” has two dragons—one good and helpful, one not-so-good. I think readers will enjoy the first one’s appearance. I apologize for the second dragon and what happens…it’s just the way it had to be.
Thank you so much for sharing your time (and space) at your blog today! Awesome questions…
From Sandy Lender
“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”