Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Impetuous Amazon by Sandy James: Interview


What do your significant other and family think of your writing career?


I started writing when my son was a senior in high school. My daughter was already away at college, so she didn’t have to face the hours of Mom staring at her laptop. Both children have been very supportive—my son is the best go-to person for creative ideas and my daughter has served as proofreader for most of my stories.

Poor hubby has had it a little rougher. His father is a writer, and there’s a certain amount of baggage to having a writer in the family. We can get a bit...moody and often snarl like angry lions when a deadline approaches or a story gives us trouble. Hubby thought he’d left all that behind when he grew up and left home. Nope. No such luck. His wife picked up the addiction.

He’s really wonderful about giving me plenty of time to write. Since he manages a small stable of harness racehorses as a second job, he’s often just as busy as I am after work. He also tolerates a lot of teasing about his wife writing romance novels. Since he has a great sense of humor, he handles all the ups and downs I throw at him very well.


Where do you dream of traveling to and why?


London and Paris are on my bucket list. I studied French in high school, and my teacher had us research the culture as well. I would love to see with my own eyes the places I studied, and I imagine a week in Paris would be the experience of a lifetime.

As far as London, I’m an Anglophile. I especially love anything to do with the royals. I’ve probably read/seen anything to do with the Tudors. I’m also very much in love with the Victorian Era. Some of my favorite shows are The Tudors (not so historically accurate) and The Young Victoria (much more realistic). The King’s Speech was fantastic. I tend to grab any book that has to do with Elizabeth I or Mary, Queen of Scots. Anything about royals, I want it. To visit London would be sublime.


Does travel play in the writing of your books?


I’ve traveled more since I started writing than ever before. Since I go to RWA Nationals almost every year, I’ve been able to explore the cities of Dallas, San Francisco, and New York. I always take time away from the activities of the conference to get out and just experience the cities. Each time, I’ve tried to use what I’ve learned to include those locations in my stories. Rules of the Game is set mostly in NYC. The Brazen Amazon has scenes in San Francisco.



What was your first sale as an author?


The first book I sold was Turning Thirty-Twelve. It was a book I wrote simply to please myself, not even thinking about publishing it. I wrote it specifically to have an older heroine, something we don’t see nearly often enough in romance. I also channeled a lot of my own personality into Jackie—the sarcasm, the way she looks at the world. It was so much fun to write!

I sent it in to BookStrand on a friend’s suggestion and to see if anyone else could appreciate a sharp-tongued older heroine as much as I did. To my surprise and delight, they gave me a contract. I probably receive more fan emails about that book than any of my other stories.


When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?


I’m a high school teacher. Although it’s an emotionally and physically draining job, I absolutely love it. Problem is it leaves me little time to write. I tend to come home after school and try to squeeze out some words. After supper, I settle in for a few hours (when I have the energy) to try to log more words.

I live for weekends and school breaks so I can pretend that I’m a fulltime writer. It’s not unusual for me to be with my laptop ten to twelve hours on days I don’t work. I still feel that kind of passion for the craft.



Do you have a milestone birthday coming up? If so, how are you approaching it?


Funny you should ask...I will be the big 5-0 in August 2013.

I’m hoping that birthday doesn’t throw me for a loop. I was all right with forty. Okay, maybe not “all right,” but I certainly didn’t find it traumatizing or fall into some midlife crisis. The weirdest thing I did was have the cartilage on the top of my ear pierced. Pretty mild reaction, I think.

I’ve been so busy writing, I haven’t stopped to consider the ramifications of turning fifty. Are there ramifications? I honestly can’t think of too many. Perhaps that’s for the best.

I suppose the thing that bothers me most is that my body isn’t my friend anymore. Part of that is because I have the autoimmune illness lupus. My body is constantly at war with itself. It tends to leave me exhausted and in pain quite a bit of the time. Add degenerative back discs, and...ouch. The past two years, the pain has become increasingly evident. I wouldn’t mind going back to the health I enjoyed in my thirties.

Other than that, fifty is just another number. And as I always tell my students, turning an older age is always better than the alternative.


Are the names of the characters in your novels mportant?  How and why?


The names of my Amazons were very important to me and were given much more consideration than whether I liked the name. Their names mean something, and I wanted that “something” to be a part of that Amazon’s role.

The heroine in book 1, The Reluctant Amazon, is Rebecca Massee. She’s the Earth Amazon, so I decided to find a name to truly fit her and her powers. One origin of “Rebecca” is the Hebrew culture, and the name means “to tie.” Earth has the power to send vines hurtling from the ground to tie up her enemies. In addition, the Rebecca who appears in the Bible was considered kind and beautiful, qualities I wanted for my Rebecca. Her last name—Massee—is a variation on “earth” or “land” in several different languages.

Her hero is Artair MacKay. Since Rhiannon is also known as the Lady of the Lake from the legend of King Arthur, I chose “Artair” as a Gaelic version of Arthur and also because it translates as “rock.” That gives him a tie to Earth.

(I chose the rest of the heroes names to be significant as well, but should I explain them now, I’d be giving away some of the twist and turns of the Alliance of the Amazons. So you’ll simply have to be patient to find out about these special men for my special ladies as their books release.)

Megan Feurer is the Fire Amazon. I chose “Megan” because it means “child of light” in Greek. What better name for a character whose essence is fire? Her surname is German for “fire.” Megan’s story, The Impetuous Amazon, released on January 13th.

The Air Amazon is Gina Himmel. Gina comes from several cultures, most of the time referring to royalty or being well-born. At the time I wrote the first book in the series, I had plans for a twist in her book that involved her being a princess. Alas, I am a pantser—an author who writes by the seat of her pants. I might have plans for a book, but oftentimes the characters lead me down another path as Gina did when I wrote her story—The Brazen Amazon. “Himmel” translates as “the heavens.” A good fit since the sky is her domain. You can read Gina’s story in May of 2013.

I racked my brain for the proper name for my Indian Water Amazon. I turned to a former student (thanks, Deepika!) for some help in both naming Water and in developing her character. I wanted her to properly reflect her culture. After a few of my student’s suggestions, I settled on Sarita Neeraj. “Sarita” means “river,” which is perfect since Sarita’s patron goddess is Ganga (as in the Ganges River). “Neeraj” is a Hindi name that means “born in water.” What better name for a Water Amazon? Sarita’s book—The Volatile Amazon—will be the finale of the Alliance of the Amazons and will be published in September of 2013.

Megan Feurer is strong and impetuous, like the Fire element she represents. She is an Amazon, sworn to protect humanity from demons, demigods and all manner of supernatural beings who wish ill upon the world. But her fire burns hot and fast, and her unpredictable control of the element brings into question her fitness as an Amazon.

Johann Herrmann chose the life of a Sentinel—a trainer of the four Amazons—to save his sister's life. Now bound to the patron goddess Rhiannon, he knows his duty demands a solitary existence. But when he's assigned to evaluate the Fire Amazon, his sacrifice becomes much more difficult.

Megan's passions ignite a flame that neither she nor Johann can control, and the goddess Freya has reason to fan those flames. A mysterious force is gaining power, and Megan and Johann must join together to fight. And once a passionate fire has started, it's nearly impossible to stop…

Sandy James lives in a quiet suburb of Indianapolis with her husband of thirty years. She's a high school social studies teacher who especially loves psychology and United States history. Since she and her husband own a small stable of harness racehorses, they often spend time together at the two Indiana racetracks.

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See all of Sandy’s books HERE 
Enter for a chance to win a free digital copy of The Impetuous Amazon.
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Sandy James said...

Thanks so much for having me as a guest, Laurie!!

Rebe said...

I loved The Young Victoria. Cried buckets at the end, though, because we know how little time they have together. Still, a fabulous movie! Also, I'm super impressed you eek out words after teaching all day! I'm exhausted after teaching!

Jennifer McGowan said...

Sandy, I am so impressed that you are able to write despite your work and your lupus/back pain. Your books sound like so much fun as well, I am glad to have learned about them!

Carol said...

I loved "The King's Speech".

Amazons make such a good theme - history's strong women with fighting skills.
Favoured format is e-pub.

Jim Cangany said...

Sandy, you're amazing. Can't wait to read about Gina and Sarita. I laugh sometimes when I think of the time I put into my characters' names. Long live the Amazons!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Sandy, learning how you named your heroines was fascinating. I think over my characters before I name them. When I write historical, I use names from that period. Many of my main characters have family names. Wishing continued success and better health for you!

Denise Z said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us. I really enjoyed the interview. I am new to your work and am really intrigued by the Alliance of the Amazon Series, it sounds like loads of fun. I am a Kindle girl so kindle/mobi or pdf works for me - fingers crossed here, as well as everything else that still crosses :)

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Anonymous said...

I prefer ePub format

Sandy James said...

Thanks so much for all the great comments and the entries!! :D