Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Linda Sands - Guest Author

Linda Sands describes her writing as compelling, audacious, entertaining, sarcastic, and smart. For herself she chooses: indomitable, purposeful, amiable, enthusiastic, and quick-witted (to which I might add pretty darned entertaining – read on, read on!)

You have a table for four at your favorite restaurant and can invite any three people, living, dead or fictional. Who are your guests (and why) and where are you eating (and why)?

We're having dinner at my home where the menu is familiar, no weird things are added in the kitchen and no one's subjected to the eyes, scents or babbling of strangers. There will be no interruptions. It's my castle.

Mike Rowe arrives first with a funny story to share, a bottle of wine to pass and a TV crew to keep things interesting.

James Patterson arrives next, his assistant and assistant to the assistant in tow, along with a detailed letter of how he feels the evening should progress from Act one through three with the denouement of dessert written in bold red.

The last to arrive, John Keller, slips in as the sun sets, takes a seat beside Patterson, with his back to the wall, declining the offer to take his jacket, tapping the bulge in the right pocket, winking at me.

I pass out the papers that Patterson brought, distract the assistants and swap in a few pages of my own. Everyone signs in the dim candlelight, after copious shots of tequila.        When the sun rises, the TV crew is asleep in their van, the Patterson assistants drunk and snoring by the pool. Keller and James are long gone and I'm telling Mike how I'd love to do his new show, but I have a book to write. "Actually," I say, reading the fine print on the last page, "I have a few dozen books to write."

What makes a great short story?

For me, it's all about the voice. It has to be unique and memorable, yet believably magnetic. I have to become immersed in the setting as well as the character, even if the setting is a rubber room. That's still connected to the voice of the narrator, because I'm wondering how did he get there?

I'm okay when a short doesn't follow the traditional pattern of storytelling. I love to write and read flash fiction, and that's never traditional stuff.

I think all writers should assume their readers are smart, that they don't need line by line instructions. Go ahead, let me wonder what happens next. Make me think. Because, if your words have me talking about your writing tomorrow? You've succeeded.

Describe your most productive writing venue. What makes it best for you?

There are two sides of productivity in writing for me. One is sowing: gathering of ideas, discovering characters, enticing scenes to show themselves on my brain screen. The other part is harvesting: horribly typing away on a computer keyboard until my ass is numb, my legs are swollen and my mind is cluttered with decisions, yet my soul soaring, and I feel proud, happy even.

My best sowing happens at writing conferences and conventions. It's like a switch is turned on when I'm around other writers, other creatives.

My best harvesting happens when I'm alone at my beach house without a schedule, no one to make me feel guilty, just me, shitty wifi and lots of wine.

How many books do you read in a typical month? Do you read in your genre while you are writing? What’s your most recent “great” book?

I used to keep a log of all the books I read—more than fifty a year. I even used to rank them and discuss them and blog about them. How did I ever have the time for that?

These days, I read maybe four books a month, one for the neighborhood book club, one for pleasure, one on audio to keep me walking longer than I want and one for my genre, to keep me "on point."

I start my writing day reading something dialogue strong from a collection of crime shorts on my book shelf, and then a short poem, to flex my brain, make it plastic.

Recent great books? Okay, I'll admit it. I loved Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. Right now, I'm reading and really enjoying Harlen Coben's The Stranger.

What is the most challenging area for you as a writer? What are you doing to address the issue?

I work best on deadline, under pressure, with the idea of failure looming around every corner. If I don't have that need it now-get it done-someone's depending on you thing happening, then I won't do it. I still go to the work, I still fart around, but I get distracted and stray off course, and the longer I stray, the less personal the work feels. That's dangerous territory. Also, I buy too many shoes.

In the past I've solved this by joining writing groups that issue deadlines with word counts, and bi-weekly meet ups. There's no cheating those. As an added plus, the writers give great feedback and keep the story true to its purpose.

I really need another group like this, maybe an online/email group, one that can keep me on task with my trucker mystery series and push me through my next project—a new adult book about competitive dog walkers in Atlanta.

Anyone interested?

What motivates you to write?

This writing thing? It's the one thing that comes easily to me. It feels like a gift, one that I accept with great appreciation and ultimate respect.  

Everyday that I write, I grow and learn—from the basics of the craft to the scary world of publishing. It's never ending, it's never the same. But even when it's frustratingly difficult, I can't walk away. Writing is part of who I am.

The other part of me is a competitive, stubborn optimist. I don't hear not you, I hear not that book, not today. So I keep pushing on and pushing on, driving my agent bonkers, waiting for my space on the shelf to open up.

How did you develop the idea for your most recent work?

The basis for 3 Women Walk Into A Bar came from the idea that everyone Googles their own name for one reason or another. Of course, I had to take this a little bit farther.

The noir-esque bits developed from my love of noir films, and the settings are all places I've been or lived in the past. The rest of it came from people I've met, stories I was told or things I've done. I'll let readers guess which is which.

What motivates your protagonist (if not a series, then use the protagonist of your most recent novel)? What influenced who they are today?

In 3 Women Walk Into A Bar, the protag is ex-stripper and karaoke star turned Private Investigator Bill Tedesco. He's a good guy, but merely wading through life, doing as little as he can to get by. He's left his sordid, boozy past in the past and seems fine with his humdrum life—until his ex- girlfriend shows up and asks him to help solve her daughter's murder.

Bill realizes he needs to be wanted, and he wants to be loved, whatever the cost.

Now that I've piqued your interest, maybe you'll want to read more of my work, send a pal a book or simply stay connected. Pop over to my website for info on books and appearances , as well as a blog for writers and readers ( http://linda-sands.com/ ) Click to subscribe. You can also follow me on Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/LindaSandsAuthor ).  And, if you like your banter short, but not necessarily sweet, I'm always logged onto Twitter as @lindasands . Thank you!

See you on the page,

Book Blurb for 3 Women Walk Into A Bar

It might sound like a joke, but there's nothing funny about three beautiful women murdered in an Irish pub in Syracuse. 

The cops think it’s an open and shut case, pointing the finger at the dead guy with the gun, bar owner James John Smith. But when a mother of one of the victims hires her lover, Bill "Free Willy" Tedesco, an ex- stripper and karaoke star turned PI to investigate, the secrets of the dead surface and the question of who pulled the trigger becomes more important than why.

Here's the direct purchase link on Amazon.


  1. Super interview once again. I've added 3 Women to my "to read" list!

    1. Less than 2 months before we see your answers, Judy. Then folks will be adding you to their TBR list!