| by Winter Lawrence |
2020 has been a crazy year for so many reasons, but despite all of its spectacularly low moments, there have also been some high points. For instance, on May 30th, SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully launched a crew up to the ISS. In July, NASA named its D.C. headquarters after “Hidden Figures” Mary W. Jackson, and “Hamilton” was released on Disney+. It was a good month! And throughout the following days and weeks, people have come together to spread love and tolerance. So, while 2020 has had its dark moments, there are always things to celebrate. And while the year did see book sales drop, because stores had to close their doors, reading still managed to become a tried-and-true way for people to remain entertained despite quarantine, and like me, lots of folks discovered new authors.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some interviews with some great authors who have had their books released this year. Today, we’ll be chatting with Marc Sanderson, whose contemporary eco-romance “A Siren Song in Jenns Cove” was released on June 24, 2020. Here’s what he had to say about Book Three of the Jenns Cove Romances...
(Q) Tell us about your current project. What was the inspiration behind it and how long did it take you to complete?
(A) In this third book of the Jenns Cove series I wanted my hero to be a marine biologist. I worked as a marine biologist for a few years when I was younger and wanted to infuse some of my love for the ocean and some of my diving experiences into one of the stories. The heroine is a musician who comes back to her hometown to get her life together. She and the hero had a history back in high school, and I wanted to explore how people experience love differently between first/young love and mature/adult love. It’s hard to say how long it took to write, because I started plotting and character development while I was drafting other things—in this case, books one and two of the series. Drafting by itself probably took three or four months.
(Q) How many hours a day do you put into writing and learning about your craft? Do you have any books or movies that you’d recommend to aspiring writers?
(A) I spend between three and six hours a day drafting, depending on how the writing is going and where I am on rewrites and editing stories where the first draft is finished. I aim for 1,500 words per day, minimum—though I don’t always make that. But on good days, I’ll write upwards of 5,000 words. I have a couple friends who write around 10,000 a day, but they’re maniacs!
I think everyone is different when it comes to helpful writing guides. I tend to avoid them because they mostly get in my head and amplify the already active editor-monster that sits on my shoulder and tells me everything I’m doing is crap wrong. The best guides are a good dictionary, Roget’s Thesaurus, and a good grammar guide (don’t trust Microsoft’s grammar checker, its wrong half the time). There is a useful series: The Writers Helping Writers Series. It consists of seven thesauri, for example, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression(1) by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. They’re helpful when I’m feeling stuck. For movies, just watch movies in the genre you’re writing to get inspired and hear the flow of the language.
(Q) Do you write based on particular themes, or does the story come to you first and then you incorporate important issues as you go?
(A) For the Jenns Cove books, I wanted to highlight the importance of ecosystems science on the one hand and big family dynamics on the other. So I guess, being a plotter, I know the themes I’m aiming at—though others creep in as the stories evolve.
(Q) When you were growing up, which authors inspired you and what was your favorite book?
(A) I am quite dyslexic, so I didn’t read my first book until junior high school. But my mother read The Hobbit to me and my brother on a long bus trip when I was ten, and I’ve been a Tolkien fan ever since. Rafael Sabatini, Samuel Shellabarger, Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Katherine Kurtz, Robert Ludlum, and Nora Roberts also influenced my love of reading. So, adventure, fantasy, and romance get my juices flowing.
(Q) Do you have an addiction to reading as well as writing? If so, what are you currently reading?
(A) Absolutely yes! I’m always in the middle of several books at once. Currently, I’m rereading Legends Lake by JoAnn Ross; slogging through The Case Against Reality by Donald D. Hoffman; Just finished Among Sand and Sunrise by Stacy Henrie; Blood and Roses by Helen Castor; started reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness after watching the Starz T.V. season 1—and a few other non-fictions about the Wars of the Roses (a series to write down the road) and ecological economics.
(Q) Marc, thanks so much for sharing all of your amazing thoughts and bits of wisdom. I’m excited to hear that you’re a Nora fan too and that despite your dyslexia, you’ve become an amazing author! It’s so inspiring! Do you have any upcoming releases that you’d like to share with our readers?
(A) I’m working on a revised edition of the first book in the Crystal Wiccans series – The Emerald Wiccan – which will hopefully be out in December. Book Two: The Amber Warlock should be popping up in the spring of 2021. And the as-of-yet untitled 4th book in the Jenns Cove series hopefully will poke its head out by the end of summer 2021.
(1) The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression (Second Edition) (Writers Helping Writers Series Book 1): Amazon Link
* * *
The fourth child in a mine-yours-ours-and-someone-else’s family of twelve, Marc Sanderson’s love of stories grew up alongside his love of science and history. Unable to decide which was most fascinating, he studied science, history, literature, education, and law, all of which pop up in his writing. At times he’s worked as a dishwasher, waiter, tortilla chip maker, marine biologist, teacher, paralegal, book reviewer, and editor. Currently a full-time writer of romance and fantasy, while caring for his elderly mother, he loves finding ways to infuse his passion for learning into his stories. When he’s not reading or writing, he can be found studying the ecology of the local streams in Central California, restoring eelgrass beds in the local estuary, hiking up mountains, camping or indulging in watching romantic comedies or European soccer. Lately, he’s taken up cooking as a hobby and is trying diligently not to poison his wife. So far so good!
Folks, to keep up with Marc, follow the links below...