Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An Author Chat - Elisabeth Rose Interviews Sandy Cody


This isn’t so much an interview as a long distance chat with fellow Avalon author Sandra Carey Cody Cody. Sandy writes very popular mysteries for Avalon but has branched out into other areas. We invite you to eavesdrop on our conversation.


Elisabeth
It's almost exactly a year since you were last interviewed for the blog about your new release Left At Oz. A lot has happened during that year for us at Avalon. Do you see your writing taking off in a new direction as a result of the shake-up?

Sandy
A year! It doesn't seem possible that it's been that long. You're right, though - a lot has happened. I took the plunge and entered the self-published waters via Amazon's KDP program. I started out with a trio of short stories, then moved on to a full length novel. So I guess you could say that my writing has already started down a new path, a path that I'm enjoying very much and plan to continue.

I love the fast turnaround of self-publishing and the opportunity to reach a whole new group of readers. I think, though, that the instant gratification offered by self-publishing via ebooks is a huge potential pitfall for writers. Because it's so easy and so fast, there's a temptation to put things out there before they're ready. No matter how talented the writer, everyone needs an editor. I'm trying to solve this problem is by trading manuscripts with trusted writing friends and begging them not to spare my ego. I, of course, will do the same for them.


Elisabeth
I understand why authors do it but I've never been tempted to self publish because it seems like such a lot of work. I imagine it's very difficult to make a book stand out in the crowd although you do have a name and a following from the Avalon releases. Is it working out well?

Sandy
It's working out fairly well - nothing like the success stories I hear from some quarters, but well enough that I'm encouraged to continue. The hardest part is promotion. I doubt anyone is really comfortable with that part, but we have to promote our Avalon books too. And it does help to be able to mention publication by a traditional publisher. It lends credibility. There's the added benefit of this group. Avaloners are extremely generous in their support of each other. As for the challenge of making a book stand out in a crowd - I'm still working on that. Interviews like this help.

Elisabeth
Do you plan to continue with the Jennie Connors series?


Sandy
Yes, I do plan to continue the series. I've gotten attached to Jennie, her kids, and the residents of Riverview Manor. I love them much too much to leave them in limbo. I have to write new books about them so I know what's happening in their lives. The next book is about half written and is simmering away on the back burner while I follow the adventures of Peace Morrow, my new protagonist.

Elisabeth
Will you send the Jennie Connors manuscripts in to Amazon, i.e., to Thomas and Mercer or go it alone, do you think?

Sandy
I do plan to send my next Jennie Connors manuscript to them when the time comes. I still have some work to do on it and I'm kind of waiting for the dust to settle anyway. Thomas and Mercer authors have a facebook page and I've already reached out to them.

Elisabeth
You've recently branched out into romance writing with a short self-published story 'More Than Words Can Say.' The story doesn't appear to be an Avalon style plot with the heroine in love with a married man but it also features an interesting character--a deaf mute. Where did this idea come from? Do you have experience with people with this type of disability?

Sandy
The challenge in this story was to make readers care about a young woman in a role for which there is no natural sympathy. No one likes "the other woman". I'm not sure where the idea came from. It was just something I wanted to try. That's the beauty of short stories, you can test things and stretch your writing wings a bit.

Elisabeth
Short story writing really is an art form all on its own, isn't it? Every word counts and all the emotions and actions must be crystallised down to their essence. Writing short is much harder than people think. Do you find it comes easily?

Sandy
You're right. It is an art form in its own right. It's good discipline to condense a story into fewer words without losing all the nuances characters need if they're going to be real to a reader. Most of the short stories I've written have been extremely short (like about 1500 words) and have focused on just one aspect of a character's life - really just a sketch, an attempt to capture a moment in time and show a quality that defines the character.

As for, the deaf-mute character: no, I don't have experience with that type of disability. I have a younger brother with Downs Syndrome so I know something about disabilities in general. I know that people often see the disability and not the person. It's easy to lump anyone with a disability with all others who share that disability and not see their individuality.

Elisabeth
Are there more romances on the way?

Sandy
More romances for me? I think so. It was fun writing 'More Than Words Can Say' and, as I was editing and preparing to publish it, I could see ways in which the story could be expanded into a full-length novel. The book I'm working on now has a lot more romance in it than anything I've written so far. In fact, it's really two stories woven together.

One is about a love that is just beginning to blossom; the other is about a love that has come to an end - a bad end. I have a long way to go before this story is finished, but I have the title, 'All That I Am', chosen because all of us are what we are because of choices that we make. At least that's my vision now. Who knows where the story will take me? Sometimes characters take off on their own journey and, as a writer, there's nothing to do but follow them. That's half the fun of writing.

Elisabeth
So you're not a plotter, at least for the romances? Or are you? Crime stories must require a degree of plotting, I'd think. Do you approach this aspect differently for the two genres?

Sandy
I never thought of it like that, but you're right. For short stories, I really don't plot. I just let the characters take me where they will. For mysteries, I plot. When I'm writing a mystery, I tell the story from the point of view of the person who must solve the mystery, but before I actually write it, I have to understand the story from the murderer's point of view. A lot goes on that never makes it to the page, but I have to find a way for the reader to understand why things happened as they did.

Elisabeth
I like to have my title set early on. It helps guide me through the mists of my totally unplotted story. Are you the same? Does your title give you your basic theme?

Sandy
That varies. It helps to have the title in mind from the beginning, but that doesn't always happen for me.

Elisabeth
Have you thought about combining the genres? Writing romantic suspense?

Sandy
I've thought about it. A lot. The book I mentioned above doesn't quite fit into this category but, romantic suspense is definitely an area I want to explore. I'm edging ever closer. So many stories to tell, so little time - the universal writers' lament.

Elisabeth
I enjoy reading romantic suspense. Any favourite authors you can recommend?

SandyI'm drawing a blank here. I think the ultimate romantic suspense is Jane Eyre. I re-read that book several years ago and was amazed at how well it holds up.

Elisabeth
What about Sandy Cody the person? Anything exciting happened recently or in store for you personally away from your writing?

Sandy
This is far and away the hardest question. I hate to admit it, but Sandy Cody lives a pretty dull life. Dull by the standards by which we judge a good story, that is, but when it comes to actual living, it's quite nice. I have the world's best spouse, two grown sons, three grandchildren, and a cat. Nothing exciting has happened lately and I don't see any excitement on the horizon.

So - how does one fill up a dull life? Well, I read, I write, I quilt, I spend time with friends, take long walks, fight a losing battle to keep the deer from eating my garden, and, of course, there's the dream world of my imagination, the place where more stories are fermenting and begging to be poured out.

Elisabeth
Excellent answer! A happy life is one to be treasured. We can have our vicarious thrills through books, movies and our imaginations.

Thanks for the chat, Sandy, it’s been fun and very interesting.

Check out Sandy’s books here: Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/L4U3Jo
http://www.sandracareycody.com/

6 comments:

Beate Boeker said...

Two of my favorite people chatting together - loved it! And your life doesn't sound dull, Sandy - it sounds perfect!

Gina/Katherine said...

What a wonderful chat between friends. Sandy, I think you'd be great at romantic suspense. You should give it a whirl. Thanks, Elisabeth, for a peek into Sandy's genius.

Sandy Cody said...

Thanks, Beate. You're right. I love my "dull" life. I'm content to limit the heroics to the pages of novels.

Sandy Cody said...

Ah, Gina, you're too nice, but thanks anyway. Now I'll definitely have a go at romantic suspense.

Sydell Voeller said...

I enjoyed reading this visit with Sandy and Elisabeth very much! Sandy, I do hope you'll write a romantic suspense novel soon. I'll be one of its first readers.

Sydell

Sandy Cody said...

Thanks, Sydell. When/if I write romantic suspense that deserves an audience, you'll be the first to know.