Today we’re meeting the lovely Sandra Danby as our author interview of the day!
Tell me a bit about you and your latest work.
My latest book, Connectedness, is second in the ‘Identity Detective’ series of adoption reunion mysteries. It will appeal to fans of Lucinda Riley, Maggie O’Farrell and Jodi Picoultwith a mixture of Family, Suspense, Secrets and a touch of Romance. A reviewer said, “I think the characters came off as so realistic, I couldn’t not like it! I also think the cover is going to draw people in like hotcakes, it’s brilliant! Anyway, great plot and writing, it’s sure to be a hit!”
Although I write about adoption, I am not adopted. I’m asked that question a lot! But as a child I had an over-active imagination fuelled by reading, and wondered what it would be like if I was French and called Marie-Christine, lived in a city not at the seaside, my father was a pilot not a farmer etc. Then I started to wonder what made me, me. That was the beginning of my fascination with identity.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Small [5ft 1in]. Independent. Loyal.
How would you Twitter pitch your novel?
Art, adoption, love and loss move between London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Southern Spain.
What are your top 3 tips for aspiring writers?
Write every day even if something else stays undone. I’m sure most writers have dusty houses. Write even when the words won’t come. If your brain is mush, look for a trigger and write something completely unconnected with your WIP. I like using the senses – a powerful scent or taste can be the starting point for a story or a character completely unknown to me, but it doesn’t matter what it is or what you write, the key is to write something, anything.
Get some fresh air at least once a day.
Read familiar authors, new authors, different genres, the classics, short stories, poetry. As a writer, study the technique of published authors and identify the skeleton beneath the words. As a reader, notice what works and what doesn’t, what stops you turning the page, what makes you read on, what makes you abandon a book.
Are you a panster or plotter?
A plotter. I’ve always been an organised sort of person, tidy, a list-writer. I do nurture the pantser part of me though, because without that my books would be predictable. I ‘pants’ [is it a verb?] the most when at the planning stage of a new book, that wonderful ‘what if’ phase when I’m inventing characters and throwing challenges at them. This is when I write loads of instinctive scenes or exercises. When I stop writing an exercise because I think ‘it didn’t happen like that’ or ‘she wouldn’t say that’, then I know it’s time and plotting takes over. I don’t start writing properly until I have a plan although there’s always room for a little wriggle.
How do you choose your character names?
I start off with their date of birth and search historical lists of baby names. Fashions evolve surprisingly fast. Surnames often come from villages or adapted place names. Sometimes a name seems to attach itself to a character and I am never sure why, it just feels right.
Do you ever Google yourself?
I just did! I actually embarked on social media and launched an author website after Googling myself a few years ago and discovering I was beaten in the search results by a fictional character with the same name in a film called Pineapple Express. My results are better now; Pineapple Express doesn’t appear until the third page!
What do you do when you get stuck with your writing?
Go for a walk or, if it’s raining as it is at the moment, I will pop into a local coffee shop with my current read, or go to the library where I pick novels at random off the shelf and read the first paragraphs.
What do you find hardest/easiest about writing?
Knowing at what point in the timeline to start telling the story. My storyline is always longer than can be squeezed into the book and sometimes it is tempting to start telling it from the beginning. I think that’s why I over-write, by up to 40,000 words, and finish at 90,000 after editing. But I tell myself it’s like make a good red wine reduction; let it bubble away, slowly reducing, allowing the intensity to deepen.
Describe your writing process in 3 words.
Create. Write. Rewrite.
If your book got made into a film, who would play the main roles?
Jessica Brown-Findlay would make a great Rose. I can see Alex Kingston as the older Justine and Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta as the young Federico.
What’s been your biggest learning curve?
Accepting that I must write at my own pace and not become disillusioned because it seems slow compared to other writers. I am in awe of those who write a novel a year whereas I average one every three years. My novels have dual storylines, one of which is always historical, and I like to get this right. I also love history and don’t want to receive reader letters about Routemaster buses so I think this makes me dwell on research when I’m ready to push on into my fictional world.
Who’s your favourite author and why?
Kate Atkinson. I love her imagination, her bravery, her ability to cross literary and crime genres.
What’s your favourite book?
The novel I re-read most often is Pride and Prejudice, for its wit, the energy of Lizzie and the emotional rollercoaster that is the second half. Masterful.
How do you relax?
Reading. A walk on the beach, if I am near one. A walk in the woods, if I’m not.
And now for some silly questions just for fun…
Tea or coffee?
Beer or wine?
Yorkshire Tea. Sadly alcohol ceased to agree with me a few years ago.
Chips or curly fries?
Fat chips cooked in vegetable oil.
Puppies or kittens?
Kittens. One in particular: my wonderful ginger cat Gatsby, sadly no longer with me. Much missed.
Summer or winter?
Both. I love all the seasons, the transition from one to another. Always something new to anticipate.
TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, ARTIST JUSTINE TREE HAS IT ALL… BUT SHE ALSO HAS A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERYTHING
Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud thedeeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells formillions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?
Justine’s tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain.
A family mystery for fans of Lucinda Riley, Maggie O’Farrell and Jodi Picoult.
About the ‘Identity Detective’ series
Rose Haldane reunites the people lost through adoption. The stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases.The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever. Each book in the ‘Identity Detective’ series considers the viewpoint of one person trapped in this horrible dilemma. In the first book of the series, Ignoring Gravity, it is Rose’s experience we follow as an adult discovering she was adopted as a baby. Connectedness is the story of a birth mother and her longing to see her baby again. Sweet Joy, the third novel, will tell the story of a baby abandoned during The Blitz.
A proud Yorkshire woman, tennis nut and tea drinker, Sandra believes awalk on the beach will cure most ills. Unlike Rose Haldane, the identity detective in her two novels Ignoring Gravity and Connectedness, she is not adopted.
Thanks so much Sandra! You can grab her books using the link below, and don’t forget to follow her on social media!
‘Connectedness’ at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2q6qy5Z
‘Ignoring Gravity’ at Amazon http://amzn.to/1oCrxHd