Monday, January 15, 2018

Lace and Blade 4 Author Interview: Marella Sands

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Lace and Blade 4 offers a bouquet of sensual, romantic, action-filled stories.Order it from iBookKindleKoboNook. Table of contents is here.

Deborah J. Ross: Tell us a little about yourself.  How did you come to be a writer?
Marella Sands: In fourth grade, our teacher wrote a sentence on the board first thing in the morning, and we had to use it as the first line of a story. I still have some of those stories, and they are truly terrible in a funny way. My favorite was about me living in a haunted house. The ghost was so powerful, it killed everyone else on my block, so I moved. Apparently, I was a rather practical nine-year-old. Anyway, after that, I never really stopped.

DJR: What inspired your story in Lace and Blade 4?
MS: A few years ago, a Pakistani man I know introduced me to the game of cricket. He was so excited about it that I guess I just caught the fever, because then I started watching it (also, I read "Cricket for Dummies," which is actually a real thing). For my birthday that year, I asked for a subscription to Willow TV (all cricket, all the time). While I was watching a match and wondering what to do for this story, I suddenly thought, why aren't there more team sports in fantasy stories? Not just mentioned in passing, or set up as a bit of world-building, but introduced as something so integral to the plot, you couldn't have the story without the sport. Almost instantly, I had my four main characters, who play a very cricket-like game in a vaguely West African-like land. 

DJR: What authors have most influenced your writing?  What about them do you find inspiring?
MS: The first two that come to mind are Richard Adams and J.R.R. Tolkien, because the two books I couldn't put down for years were Watership Down and The Lord of the Rings -- sweeping fantasy stories that just carried me away into worlds so completely I was almost distraught I couldn't actually go there. If I lived in the world of Fahrenheit 451 and had the opportunity to be a book, I'm not sure I could choose between them.

DJR: Why do you write what you do, and how does your work differ from others in your
MS: I write fantasy and horror, but the fantasy gets darker all the time. Not sure why, except that I'm pretty happy with my real life, so it's kind of fun to explore the dark recesses of the mind. When I'm not happy, I don't want to write about dark things.
My writers group says my horror is different because I don't flinch. So, for what it's worth, that's the feedback I get from those who see my early drafts.

DJR: How does your writing process work?
MS: It really depends on what I'm writing. If it's historical, I end up doing a lot (maybe months) of research first. If it's horror, then I might just delve right in because I want to capture the character, setting, and mood that have hit me before I get distracted by the next thing. Then I try to write maybe 2000 words a day for 5-6 days a week. That's not always practical, of course, especially during the semesters when I have papers to grade and classes to prepare for. But you gotta have goals!

DJR: What have you written recently? What lies ahead?
MS: This year I've written five short stories (fantasy and horror), two novellas (dark fantasy), and am working on an alternate history novel. The novel was originally a screenplay written by myself and Mark Sumner back in the mid-1990s. A publisher of alternate history is interested in seeing the story in manuscript form, so that got moved to the top of the project pile. I need to get back to my series of novellas and I would like to rewrite a straight fiction novel that got some good rejections ten years ago. I think maybe I know what to do with it now that might get it an agent. We'll see.

DJR: What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
MS: Learn to take critique, and write write write. I meet far too many people who think that coming up with the idea is the hard part, and they'll get around to the writing bit "when I have time." You don't get better without practice, and nobody has the time. So make the time, realize you have to get better, and work your ass off.

By day, Marella is a flamingo wrangler in the Florida Keys. By night, she directs a local
gnome theatrical group...or maybe that's only what she says when she's jetlagged. Her inspiration for this story occurred while indulging in one of her favorite pastimes, watching cricket matches on telly. Suddenly, she thought of all the fantasy stories she'd read in her life and wondered, "Where are the team sports?" In the meantime, Marella continues to work on her Angels' Share series and writes horror stories to keep them from haunting her.

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