Hi everyone! Sorry this post is a bit late in the day, but I honestly hadn't been feeling well earlier today and I had a massive headache, so I spent most of the day in bed. My head hurts no more, so I am able to bring to you our featured guest this week - Sandra Cox! Yeah, we've had her here before promoting Vampire Island, but that's not what brings her back here. She's here today to kick off her latest release, Grounded!
This is a very unique and interesting premise. Gillian Stone, is a well-off girl with not much holding her back, except for one flaw in her genetics - she's a marble statue from dawn to dusk! Yeah, she's not too happy about it either, and she's off to find someway to end this stony existence of hers. [Don't you just love the play on words here? Gillian Stone. -> Jill E. in Stone! HAHAHAHAHA!]
I haven't had a chance to read this one yet, but it sure sounds pretty good, and I'm darned excited about it, so let's get to the interview!
ME: March has a few popular dates to celebrate. Which one are you more apt to celebrate, St. Patrick’s Day, or the First Day of Spring, or both and why?
SANDRA: St. Patrick's is fun, but Spring is magic. It’s like coming out of hibernation after sleeping through the winter.
ME: I agree with you, but because of it’s Irish heritage, St. Patrick’s Day is a big party day in Wisconsin (and many other areas) in which everyone gets in on the action from free pub crawl buses to breweries making green beer/spirits and some stores selling green colored/decorated food and sweets. Does anything similar occur in your area? Even if you do not participate, please tell us what activities are going on around you. Anything you feel is unique or especially interesting?
SANDRA: We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day but not with as much enthusiasm as there is up north. Nothing can top WI for celebrating St. Pattie’s unless it’s Chicago, with its parades and green river. Though, we do wear green. And the stores and bakery sell green sweets and treats.
ME: You know, green food sounds neat, but I just can't seem to bring myself to eat any, not even any noodles and don't get me started on green eggs (it may go with the ham Sam I am, but I would not eat it anywhere - we still miss you Dr. Seuss). Decorations, on the other hand, I like them green, especially because the Milwaukee Bucks are red and green and we have a few decorations up. What about you, do you like to decorate for spring/St. Pat’s Day or is this the time of the year where your house has a break from special décor?
SANDRA: I don't decorate for St Pat's, but when spring hits, I haul out the Easter Decorations, get ready for the Easter Bunny and seriously hope he brings me Fannie Mae chocolates. You know people in the South aren't familiar with Fannie Mae Chocolate? (Shaking head) I have the Fannie Mae catalog displayed in a prominent position to make sure the Easter Bunny doesn’t miss it. (g)
ME: We used to have a Fanny Mae shop (Chicago-based company) in West Allis, but it's since closed it's doors, but I don't think we noticed it too much because we still had The Chocolate House at the time, but whose product has disappeared from store shelves (very sad but I have called the number and it seems they are still in business, so I'll have to check that out!). As much I could sit here all day and talk about chocolate, I'd like to ask you about Ireland. Ireland is steeped in myth, legends and lore. Do you have any favorites? Please briefly share them with us (include links to other information for interested readers).
SANDRA: To me the best legend, especially around St. Patrick’s Day is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Didn’t you just love that legend as a child and desperately want to find that pot of gold? It would still come in mighty handy (g).
Leprechauns - real or blarney? Click here for the answer!
ME: I never found gold, but gold coated chocolate coins, yes. Ah, to be a kid again! Speaking of renewal...spring is considered a time of renewal, a time of rebirth. Do you do anything “special” to commemorate this idea such as planting flowers or cleaning out your house? Please share with us your way of celebrating this time of rebirth.
SANDRA: I’m a flower girl. When spring comes, I have to be in the garden and I can’t pass a nursery without buying a new variety of daffodil or Iris to put in it.
I must admit, I also get this insane desire to clean, something that I manage to ignore the rest of the year. I wait patiently for the cleaning fairies that never show up.
ME: I know, I wish I had some cleaning fairies too! Speaking of magic, it is often tied into Celtic myths and legends, or at least we like to think it is. Why do you think that is? Why, in your opinion, does Ireland carry so much mystery and magic for the rest of us?
SANDRA: That is a tough question. But you are right. When mysticism and magic is mentioned, the first place most of us think of is Ireland. Maybe, it’s because the land seems so ancient and mystical or maybe because its people keep the legend alive, maybe both.
ME: I like that answer! People need to keep the magic alive, and if not Ireland, where? If you could be any mythical or legendary Celtic creature or character, what/who would it be and why?
SANDRA: I’ve always had a yen to be a fairy. To have wings and magic would be outstanding.
ME: Ooh, I like fairies, but they're always so small. I think I'd rather be a dragon. However, I don't see how it would be possible to be a dragon and still read. One good hiccup and poof, there goes your best book up in flames...hehehe. Speaking of books, please tell us some of the favorite/best books you’ve read with Celtic myths/legends or ties in them. (They can be fact or fiction, just be sure to indicate what type of books they are in case our readers might want to check them out.)
SANDRA: One of my favorites is THE CIRCLE Trilogy by Norma Roberts, one of her paranormal romances.
ME: Those are on my TBR list! Before we get to part two of today's interview, let's take a break and watch the trailer for Grounded. Be sure to come back as there are more questions and an excerpt to follow:
ME: Cool cover, isn't? Now, let’s get back to the interview. What genre is your writing considered to be? Why this genre? What was the draw for you?
SANDRA: Paranormal and fantasy.
I love fantasy. The idea that fairy tales can come true, that anything we believe is possible is a wonderful high. I think we all find the idea appealing of stepping out of our day to day, sometimes mundane, existence into a world of magic, adventure and happy ever after.
ME: "Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you. If you're young at heart." Oh, sorry, got a little carried away there. Always seems to happen with a Bing Crosby song. All it takes is a little phrase and I'm singing away... Speaking of phrases, if you could describe your writing with a word or phrase, what would it be? Please be creative and delve into the core of your writing to tell us what word or phrase you want readers to take with them when they've finished reading your story.
SANDRA: That the improbable is possible.
ME: That's a great message, that no problem is unsolvable. This leads me to my next question, do you prefer magical or human ingenuity for problem solutions? Does that show through in your writing? If so, how?
SANDRA: I don’t think you can have one without the other. It takes human ingenuity to decide how best to use the magic. My heroines don’t randomly toss their magic around but use it judicially when they really need it to save themselves or someone else. Though, there is one exception to my rule, Bella Tremaine of Rose Quartz is always giving herself or someone close to her a beauty glam.
ME: Ooh, she sounds like quite the trouble maker and must have been very fun to write! With Rose Quartz as well your others, who decides what you write about, you or your muse? What kind of influence do you have over your story, or is the muse always the one strumming the harp?
SANDRA: Definitely, my muse. I try to outline, but the obstinate creature usually heads in a different direction entirely. I shrug my shoulders and follow her lead.
ME: Outlines, never work for me either because thins constantly change and you find yourself redoing everything you just did, lol! To coin an old phrase, "inquiring minds want to know," what was the character or creature that you had the most fun creating and why?
SANDRA: A lot of my characters have been fun to create, especially the aforementioned Bella Tremaine. But as far as creature/character, I’ve had a lot of fun with Merrick, Gillian Stone’s cat (Grounded). The first daughter of each generation has a wish-cat, a cat that is born when she is and will die when she does. Merrick is that cat, tough and surly, but would lay down his life for his mistress.
ME: That would be cool, but not if you were allergic to it! But I digress yet again. As readers, many of the characters can feel real to us. If you had the opportunity to meet just one of your character/creature creations in real life, who would it be and why?
SANDRA: That changes for me from book to book (grin). But at this moment, I’d like to meet Merrick. He fascinates me. He’s a testy creature and smarter than a lot of people I know.
ME: A good way not to offend any previous characters! Tell us, which of your character/creature creations would you never want to meet under any circumstance and why?
SANDRA: I’m conflicted over this question. I wouldn’t want to meet the Prices (father and daughter) from The Amulet series. These two are insanely evil. Just the thought of meeting up with them sends chills down my spine.
Conversely, I wouldn’t want to meet the villain from Grounded but I don’t want to say too much and give the plot away. Let me just say, this person is someone to avoid at all costs.
ME: Oooh, you've got me intrigued! Where's my copy? Oops, did I just write that? Sorry, let's continue with the interview. Of all the stories you wrote, which was the storyline that you had the most fun fleshing out? Why?
SANDRA: That’s another tough one. You have a gift for asking the tough questions! I usually enjoy whatever story I’m working on. Grounded was fun, because the storyline challenged me. Would it be possible to break Gillian free of her wish-spell? If so, how?
ME: That does sound like a challenge! As writers, inspiration comes from everywhere. What, specifically, inspired your latest story, Grounded the one we’re promoting here today?
SANDRA: Funny you should ask. I usually find that a hard question to answer but for this story I know exactly what nudged the muse. I was out walking and spied a gazing ball with a ceramic fairy on top. I stopped and stared at it thinking wouldn't it be amazing if a person was trapped in that ceramic figure and could only come out at night. And from that seed Grounded germinated!
ME: Oh that sounds very cool and I can't wait to read it because I want to know how this is possible! I hope we find this out in the book! Intrigued yet? I know I am! Let's go to the excerpt now and see what you think:
On the surface, Gillian Stone has it all: wealth, beauty, and the freedom to come and go as she pleases…at least from sunset to dawn. Unfortunately, from dawn to dusk, she’s grounded in several hundred pounds of marble. And if that’s not bad enough, her life expectancy is preordained to be short…unless, she can find a certain genie and reverse the wish-spell.
Be careful what you wish for.
While I’m dropping pearls of wisdom let me add, read the fine print.
Why am I wasting my time offering warnings that no one is going to listen to?
Because as humans we have this unconquerable urge to try to help others learn from our mistakes. Or in this case my great, great, great, great grandmother’s mistakes.
She came from a very poor background and consequently wanted it all, riches beyond measure, beauty. Need I say more?
Great-great-plus Grams stumbled onto a genie’s lamp and made her wish.
You don’t believe in genies?
Trust me. They’re real all right. Unfortunately, when my ancient relative made her wish she didn’t bother to listen to the genie’s warning of strings attached. This lack of foresight has a direct bearing on the first born daughter of each generation, i.e. me.
To put it mildly, my life is complicated. I am literally grounded forever.
I live on a lavish estate in the mountains of North Carolina. Between sunset and dawn, my life is my own. But during the day I’m grounded in several hundred pounds of marble. If you happen to wander by the Stone estate and peep through the fence, you’ll hear the rippling sounds of water from a lovely manmade pool surrounded by lush fragrant flowers. Beside it stands a life size statue of a young woman, with long flowing hair and classic bone structure, draped in a Greek toga, a cat at her feet.
The cat is Merrick.
The young woman is me.
ME: Oh, that does sound intriguing, and I got my question answered! This sounds really cool to me, so I hope you'll check it out!
For more info on Sandra and her books, visit her website: sandracox1.com. Don't forget to leave a comment or ask our author questions! We'd love to hear from you!