Friday, October 2, 2009

Interview with author, Sandy Lender

INTERVIEW With author, Sandy Lender

Today, I have fantasy author, Sandy Lender, as my guest. Sandy recently released the second book of her "Choices Trilogy," Choices Meant for Kings. Be sure to leave a comment for Sandy so your name is entered into the drawing for a free copy of her book Choices Meant for Gods.

Here's a quick synopsis of the book:
Chariss is in danger. Her geasa is hampered by the effects of a friend’s marriage. The dashing Nigel Taiman hides something from her, yet demands she stay at his family’s estate where he and her wizard guardian intend to keep her safe. But the sorcerer Lord Drake and Julette The Betrayer know she’s there, and their monstrous army marches that way.

When prophecies stack up to threaten an arrogant deity, Chariss must choose between the dragon that courts her and the ostracized kings of the Southlands for help. Evil stalks her at every turn and madness creeps over the goddess who guides her. Can an orphan-turned-Protector resist the dark side of her heritage? Or will she sacrifice all to keep her god-charge safe?

Sandy has agreed to answer some questions about her writing and her books.

1. Sandy, please tell us why you wanted to be a writer.

Hi, Penny. I have to admit that I don't have a real reason. It's just always been in me since I was a little girl writing stories for my great grandmother...

2. Would you describe your writing process.

I used to be able to describe my process, but it's become so disrupted the past few years that now it's completely random. I write like mad any chance I get!

3. What draws you to the fantasy genre?

My characters draw me to this genre. They show up with facets of their persona that could only exist in a fantasy I'm forced to write them there.

4. You have a passion for swords and daggers. Do you feel this helps you with your fantasy writing and why?

The draw to sharp pointy weapons definitely helps with my writing. I've enjoyed researching it.

5. What comes first for you when writing - your characters, plot or your fantasy world?

The characters always come first. Even when I recently thought I had a world and a plot happening first, I realized that there were a couple of characters hiding out in my brain whispering it all to me...the characters were there first...again.

6. How do you create your fantasy worlds?

It starts with imagination and I throw in research from classes I've taken in history, English language, mythology, that sort of thing. But it's mostly imagination.

7. I noticed in Choices Meant for Kings you use the technique of being in more than one character's POV within the same chapter. This is more typical of romance than fantasy. Why do you think this technique works for your stories?

I think this works for me because I enjoy British writers more than American writers (always have) and this is a more international device than American device. Switching POV (or "moving the camera" as my publisher likes to call it) is tricky for American audiences, but I think it works in my stories because I broadcast that we're jumping into someone else's mind. I write in third person omniscient so it's not breaking with style to suddenly move from one character's POV to another, but I still make it as clear as possible that "Hey, we were looking at this scene through Nigel's eyes and now we've stepped away from that bubble and we're looking at Nigel and Chariss there in the bubble through Henry's eyes." Or something to that effect.

8. Traditionally geasa are compared to curses. In your series, this doesn't seem to be the case for the geasa. How do you define geasa as you use it in the "Choices Trilogy?"

The word "geasa" comes from uses that suggest discipline in the different texts that I've borrowed it from. The power called "geasa" that I created for my novel is one that the "good guys" wield and they must practice discipline when wielding it.

9. How do you create the words for your world, such as "ofersey'n" and the Ungol language?

I've got a degree in English and LOVED my classes that dealt with the history of the English language and the good ol' Anglo-Saxons and Celts and Jutes and those nasty ol' Norsemen, etc. I also studied a bit of Spanish because I had to. So when I create words for the world or for the Ungol language, I borrow from Old English and sometimes from Spanish to either coin a new word or to morph something together or to just flat-out USE something from the OE dictionary.

10. Once you create your new language how do you keep track of it?

Notecards! He he. Seriously, I have a notebook with some very basic grammar and conjugation rules. I've got a recipe box full of notecards with words and such. The thing I want readers to know is they won't be expected to learn the Ungol language at any point in the Choices series. I introduce a few words in Choices Meant for Gods, and at least one in Choices Meant for Kings, but these are explained and used sparsely in a context that makes them very easy to assimilate. I've got a very short list of vocabulary words at my Web site on the Worlds page if folks are interested in getting to know some of the language, but, truly, it's not at all necessary to enjoy the novel.

11. Please explain your road to publication. For example, how many queries did you send out? Did you have an agent? Do you think an agent is necessary? How did you find ArcheBooks Publishing?

If you want to get signed with a large, NY publishing house, yes, an agent is necessary. If you want to do just as much work with marketing and promotion, yet get published with a smaller, independent publishing house where you'll probably have some input on cover design and probably have more grace period for sales, you probably don't need an agent. I do not have an agent. I found ArcheBooks Publishing by signing up for a pitch session with the publisher at a writer's conference a few years ago.

12. Writing a trilogy seems like a daunting task. Did you know the story would be a trilogy when it first came to you? Were you overwhelmed by the idea? When you sought publication, did you approach the editor with the idea of a trilogy?

I thought the Choices series was going to be a two-book story. Oops. It's not overwhelming, though. It's just a long story to tell and, to make it marketable and of a reasonable price, it had to be cut into thirds.

13. What would you like readers to take away from this series?

Girls rock. He he. Seriously? Well...girls do rock, and amid all the chaos and confusion we may run into in life, we also run into people who make the road worth traveling.

14. Where can people find out more about Sandy Lender and your work?

I have a rather new Web site that went up in June at But I also have a blog where I'm announcing a fabulous contest for new readers of my work at

15. Any tips for new writers interested in breaking into the fantasy genre?

Write like mad every chance you get. I also recommend sleep deprivation to get those really good fantasy hallucinations...and then write like mad!

Thank you Sandy for taking the time to answer these questions today. Good luck with your writing.

Remember to leave your comments!


  1. Good morning, Penny!
    Thank you again for being my hostess today. This was a long and daunting interview, but I think folks will get some good info from it. Thank you for providing it. And if folks have follow-up (or just extra) questions, I'll be checkin' in to answer them.
    Sandy Lender
    "Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

  2. Sandy, you're welcome. I enjoyed spending time with you and learning about your writing.

  3. Hi Sandy:
    Interested in your mention of 'pointy weapons' and wondering if my own early experience with swords and Tolkien's influence later made my own swordfighting stories inevitable. Do you have any pointy weapons around when you write?

    I have a couple of daggers that were intended to go on the wall, and used to have a few Crimean War swords when I was a teenager -- rescued from the garbage dump. But then -- I write fights with rapiers and have never handled one.

    What I'd really like is a sword like Anduril, the sword that was broken.

    Chris H.

  4. Chris, that's a great question for Sandy. I know she does love those "pointy weapons!"