Oct 31, 2012

Posted by in Interviews | 25 Comments

Interview with Sandy Williams plus giveaway

Last year, while perusing upcoming releases, one book really caught my eye.  That one book was debut author Sandy Williams’ The Shadow Reader.  Yes, in all honestly it was the cover that caught my attention but it was the blurb that drew me in.  And when the book finally released in October 2011, the world, the story and the characters sucked me in completely and turned me into a fan of this new writer.  Well, book two hit shelves this week and I am super excited to have the talented and now sophomore author Sandy Williams here today.

Welcome to Yummy Men & Kick Ass Chicks Sandy!

Thank you so much for having me! I love your blog, and have always enjoyed reading your reviews.

Why don’t you begin by telling us about your McKenzie Lewis series?

Sure!  McKenzie Lewis is a human who not only has the ability to see the fae, but she can track them when they fissure (or teleport) from one location to another.  For the past ten years, she’s worked for the Realm’s king, first by tracking down the evil fae who abducted her from high school when she was sixteen, and then, by hunting the king’s other enemies.  But being at the king’s beck and call has taken a toll on her real life – she hasn’t seen her parents in years, she has very few human friends, and she keeps flunking her college courses.  She would give up her job as a shadow-reader if she didn’t care so much about a few of the fae, but her abilities are crucial to keep the good people in power, and to prevent vicious, bloodthirsty fae from taking the lives of innocents.

Book two in your series, The Shattered Dark, released yesterday!!!  Tell us about your latest installment.

The Shattered Dark picks up two weeks after the events in The Shadow Reader.  McKenzie is dealing with the decisions she made at the end of book one.  The Realm isn’t quite stable, a war is still going on, and it spills over into McKenzie’s human life.  Her best friend, Paige, has been abducted by the remnants of the king’s fae, and McKenzie is determined to get her back, no matter the cost.

Your books deal quite a bit with fae politics.  You have the fae engaged in a civil war – a war that has been going on for quite some time.  Their political set-up is quite elaborate and very detailed.  Did you borrow some inspiration from somewhere when you originally sat down to write your fae or did you invent every aspect of them on your own?

I doubt I invented every aspect on my own.  I haven’t consciously borrowed from anywhere, but I’m sure all the epic and traditional fantasy books I’ve read over the years – The Wheel of Time series, Game of Thrones, Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind, etc. – have influenced me.  Plus, I double majored in history and political science when I was in college.  I love political intrigue!  The trick is to not bog the books down with too much of it.

The fae in your books have their own language and you highlight a few words here and there throughout your books.  What made you decide to include them in your stories?

Oh, how I wish I could have written the book without another language!  It’s so difficult coming up with words that are pronounceable and that sound like they came from the same language. But the fae do have their own language, and even though some of them have learned English, it would read so weird if Aren used English curse words, or if he didn’t use any Fae words at all.  For me, throwing in a few words in Fae made the story seem more realistic.

Quick side story:  The audio rights to The Shadow Reader sold early in 2012.  Before the narrator, Amy Rubinate, recorded the book, she called me up to confirm the pronunciation of some of the words and names.  I hadn’t read my book out loud before, so when I went through her list of words, I wasn’t sure how to pronounce them!  The words in my brain and the words that came out of my mouth sounded so weirdly different!  I felt sorry for Amy after we went through that list!  And I’m still a little terrified of reading my book aloud.

The most common fae words you use are jaedric, nalkin-shom and edarratae.  Can you tell us where the idea for these three words came from and what they mean?

I didn’t want to bombard the reader with too many Fae words, so I only created Fae words for things that I felt were important or that added a bit of ambiance to the book.  Jaedric is the adjective form of the word, jaedre, which is a tree that’s found only in the Realm.  The bark from that tree is very, very tough, so the fae use it as armor.  Describing a character who’s dressed in jaedric armor seems more sexy and foreign than describing someone in leather or steel.

Nalkin-shom means shadow-witch in Fae.  That’s the name many fae call McKenzie, since the king has kept her identity (mostly) secret.  She’s been given other names that are less flattering, but she still considers shadow-witch to be a little insulting.  She thinks of herself as McKenzie, a fairly normal human, not some scary witch.  But a certain fae enjoys calling her nalkin-shom, so it’s almost become a term of endearment as well.

As for edarratae, it’s one of my favorite Fae words.  It translates to “chaos lusters” in English, and it’s the word that describes the lightning that appears on the fae’s skin on Earth, and on a human’s skin in the Realm.  It’s a visible sign that fae and humans shouldn’t be in each other’s worlds, and that they shouldn’t be together in a relationship.

McKenzie goes to many different places during the course of the first two books.  Germany, London, Nashville, Vegas…  How do you decide where certain scenes will take place?  What does a city have to have to end up in your book?

Hmm. There isn’t really a requirement to what a city needs to have to end up in the Shadow Reader novels. Most of the cities that have made it into the book, though, are cities (or countries) that I’ve been to.  I grew up outside of Houston, so I did the whole “write what you know” thing and made McKenzie go to college in Houston.  I’ve been to Vegas quite a few times, and all the lights and flashing slot machines and technology in that city made it a good location for McKenzie to end up in eventually.  I also lived in London off and on for a little while, and I absolutely love that city and miss it!  Putting it in The Shattered Dark was a little way for me to travel back there.

When you describe a building or a setting in the Realm – where your fae live – everything is so visual and it all sounds so beautiful.  Do you have a visual inspiration for the Realm that you use or does it all just come from your head?

Oh, thank you so much!  I love that my descriptions of the Realm come off the page visually and beautifully.  I consider writing descriptions one of my biggest weaknesses, so I’m always worried I don’t do it enough or well.

For the first two books, I pulled most of the descriptions out of my head.  Because I’m not a visual person, it’s something I struggle with.  What I’d like to do in the future is use more images and photographs for reference.  I adore Pinterest, and have seen so many cool places there that I would love to translate into words.  I think it’ll help make my descriptions more vivid and unique.

Let’s talk a bit about your covers. When you first saw them, did you think to yourself “What the hell is McKenzie doing with a freaking sword?!”

lol.  Yes.  I believe my first words were, “What the hell?!”

It’s so funny because I made a Seriously Big Deal about McKenzie not being able to use a sword at all in the book.  She is a fairly normal human aside from her Sight and shadow-reading abilities, and normal humans don’t know how to use swords.  Plus, the fae train with them their whole lives!  She has very little chance of killing a fae or defending herself from a fae attack.

McKenzie does touch a sword a little longer in The Shattered Dark than she does in The Shadow Reader (and there are plans for book three), but not by much, and it’s still kind of a joke that she has one at all.  In fact, I wrote this when McKenzie is given a sword toward the end of the book:

His gaze locks onto my sword, and I swear to God, I see his eyes widen.
Great.  I look as ridiculous as I feel carrying this thing.

My excuse for the covers, though:  McKenzie sure as hell can fake being able to use one, so that’s what she’s doing with the swords on the covers.

Seriously though, your covers are just beautiful!  Did you hug either The Shadow Reader or The Shattered Dark when you first saw their covers?  Because, I think I would have if they were covers for a book I wrote!

Yes!  I pet them often.  They are absolutely GORGEOUS!  I was excited and terrified to open the cover file when The Shadow Reader was first sent to me.  I’ve seen some horrible covers, and I knew that I wouldn’t get any say in how they turned out because I’m such a newbie and a nobody.  I wanted a cover I could be proud of!  And I got it!  I love all the swirly magic and shadows Gene Mollica captures on the covers.  And I have to say I have zero fear about my next cover.  I have complete faith in Ace and Gene.

Your series is set to be a trilogy.  What made you decide to wrap up the story arc in three books?

Fear, plus the fact that I can only torture McKenzie so much!

Regarding the fear:  I don’t feel like I’m a long series kind of writer.  I like things to end, and I’m paranoid that, if I tried to write a series with five or more books, the quality would go down after a while, and they’d become filled with filler.  I want the series to end with readers wanting more, not with readers grateful it’s over.

And, I like McKenzie.  I want her to have her happy ending.  Sure, I could keep the series going with her hunting down false-blood after false-blood, but she’s been doing this for a decade already.  That girl deserves some peace and quiet!

Of course, the Realm is a big world to explore, and you never know what might happen in the future.

The final book in the series is not due to release until (gulp) January 2014!  Holy frack that is a long ways away!  Does the long-away release date have anything to do with the fact that you have one year old twins at home?  And speaking of your twins, how on earth do you find the time to write, you know, full length novels, with them around?

I know!  It’s forever away!  I was told that it’s not my fault.  LOL   I wouldn’t be surprised if it was, though, because I’ll be honest:  writing The Shattered Dark while pregnant and then with newborns was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  In fact, I didn’t really write the whole nine months I was pregnant.  I was so, so miserable.  From May until I delivered in mid-July, I didn’t sleep more than 2-3 scattered hours a night due to PUPPs and a condition called cholestasis, both of which caused unbearable, constant itching.

As for how I found time to write with the boys around, I don’t!  I had to hire a part-time nanny so that I could get some writing time in.  And I have to leave the house.  If I don’t leave the house, I want to go help if I hear them fussing, or go play if I hear them laughing and being happy.  So, three days a week (currently four since I’m kind of behind on my deadline), I have help.

After reading book two (especially the way it ends!!) I have so many questions about book three!  Can you give us any hints about the next book?  Do you have an idea for a title?

Hints about book three, eh?  Well, McKenzie has some, um, personal matters to work out.  She also has important decisions about her future to make.  The Realm isn’t quite stable, and her enemies aren’t quite finished trying to kill her and the fae she loves.

I don’t really have a title for it yet. My working title is The Shackled Night, but I don’t know if it’ll stick. My editor came up with my previous two titles, and I like that The Shackled Night is consistent with The Shadow Reader and The Shattered Dark, but I feel like there’s something better out there.

Okay, Flash Four time
Flash Four questions about books and writing ~

How long, from start to end, did it take you to write “The Shattered Dark”?

If you include the nine months that I was pregnant and staring at a blank screen:  17 months (including multiple edits)

If you include only the time I actually got work done:  8 months (including multiple edits)

Did you see yourself being a writer as you were growing up?

I always wanted to write, but I didn’t see myself as a published author.  I saw myself as a firefighter, then an astronaut, then a lawyer, then an archivist.  I never pictured myself making a career of this!

In what room of your house do you write from?

None!  I have to leave the house to write, so I go to my local Target Starbucks!

Do you tend to come up with the title for your book before you start writing it, while you’re writing it or when it’s all done?

I’m pretty terrible at coming up with titles.  I always have temporary titles before hand, though!

Flash four questions about random things ~

Sweet or salty snacks?

Salty! Love me some potato chips!

What color is your toothbrush?

Um, turquoise, blue, and white. Yeah. It’s as ugly as it sounds.

Your high school experience:  good or bad?

Bad!!!

What do you like on your pizza?

Everything, but especially mushrooms!

Thank you very much Sandy for visiting the blog today! I love how visual your writing voice is – it works perfectly for your McKenzie Lewis series. And I hope everyone who is a fan of Urban Fantasy books will give your books a try because they really are great. And with the way book two ends! Holy jumpin’!

(If you guys are interested, you can read my review for book one, The Shadow Reader, here. Also, my review for book two, The Shattered Dark, will be posting tomorrow so be sure to come back so I can convince you even more to give this series a try ;))

Thanks again for having me!

There is a copy of The Shattered Dark up for grabs!  To enter, simply leave a comment below by Sunday November 4th 2012 11:59pm est.  Giveaway open Canada / US.  Good luck everyone!!!

Here’s where you can find Sandy –
Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

 

  1. The first book of the series was fabulous, so I can’t wait to read The Shattered Dark!

  2. Jennifer @ The Book Nympho says:

    One if my favorite series has fae (Fever series) so when I saw this series I out it in my wish list. I can’t wait to read it after seeing so many great reviews. Thanks for the interview and giveaway.

  3. Marie-Claude says:

    The first book was sooooo amazing!!! I can’t wait to get my hand on the second one.

  4. This looks like a good series. I need to check it out. Thank you.

  5. I just got book one to read. So, I sure would love to win book two! I always enjoy hearing from the authors.

  6. I’m really intrigued by this series. Would love to win this. Thanks for the giveaway.

  7. Love that the world setting is Fae. Great interview. Thanks for offering the giveaway.

  8. Wonderful interview!! I read Shadow Reader after seeing Julie’s amazing review on it, and ended up adoring the novel. Now I am sincerely looking forward to Shattered Dark. Please put my name into the running for the giveaway. : )

  9. The Shackled Night fits the rest of the names of the books. I suppose it also has to fit the story line. Can’t wait to find out where McK’s story takes us in the third book!

    Please don’t pick me as a winner. I already pre-ordered my copy; I’d love to have somebody else win the book to spread the love!

  10. Great, a second book!!! Thanks for the interview!!!

  11. I would love to win a copy of this book. The Fae are some of my favorite paranormals.

  12. I would love to win a copy. I absolutely love this series!

  13. Great interview! I really want to read this now.

  14. I haven’t checked this series out yet, I’ll have to add it to my TBR pile.

  15. I would love to win a copy of Shattered Dark! I loved the Shadow Reader and can’t wait to see what happens next.

  16. Very nice interview.

  17. Thanks for the interview.

  18. Chrissy DM says:

    Great interview-and it has prompted me to read The Shadowreader which I have had for a while! Thanks!

  19. I just finished the first book and I can’t wait to get the second one! 🙂

  20. Barbara Elness says:

    I loved the interview and I think this is a great series. I’d love a copy of Shattered Dark.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  21. Pizza with everything..yum. Well minus the mushrooms =)

    The sword (even though she doesn’t really know how to use one) does look pretty bad ass. Love the covers!

  22. Iswari Sharma says:

    Thanks for the great interview Julie! I really enjoyed The Shadow Reader and am looking forward to reading The Shattered Dark for sure. She has such an interesting take on the Fae world and I know it will be a great trilogy.

  23. Loved the first book and can’t wait to read the sequel.

    Um, I’m going to have to agree that there’s something better out there for the title of the third book (Yea! Thrilled there will be another one!). The Shackled Night sounds a bit too much like it belongs in the Fifty Shades genre.

  24. This series looks great! Thanks for the giveaway!

  25. Wait, what?! It’s only a trilogy?! I didn’t know that before. I get why the author wants to end it in three books, but I’m bummed. I loved The Shadow Reader.

    My two cents about the working title for the third book. If I have a book titled The Shackled Nights, no matter what the cover looks like, I’d have to try and hide it on the subway because I’m sure people will think it’s some S&M book.

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