ONE night, back in 2012, I went to bed.
Nothing out of the usual there. I went to bed almost every night back in 2012. As I did every night in the years before that and the years after. I say almost every night, because a fair share of those nights may have really been early mornings.
However, I digress...
On this particular night, that welcome sinking sensation eluded me. I’d just gotten to the point where your body becomes heavy, completely relaxed and ready to succumb to six to eight hours of blissful darkness, when a sequence of images started filtering through my mind – a movie reel on repeat. Over and over the same section of film would play.
I spent hours, night after night, tossing and turning, trying to shut them off. I’d fail every single time.
My husband, having had enough of my restlessness, very nicely – with a hand pushing in the middle of my back and me out of the bed – suggested I write the images down to hopefully get them to stop.
115k words later I had my first full-length manuscript.
That’s how I got started.
My husband’s desperate need for sleep.
I was first published in The Australia Times online magazine with one of my children's stories, Imagine If and have gone on to have a flutter of short stories in the adult genre published also.
I'm also a mum with weird kids and wouldn't want them to be any other way.
I have been lucky to be surrounded by wonderful family and friends - they know who they are - who are kind enough to not question my sanity when I refer to my fictional characters as real people.
Love Big & Love Hard
Love like it's you last day on earth.
Luke ...the second in a LOVE story
I’m balancing an armful of drinks and attempting to carry two large bowls of chips outside when Maggie comes stumbling in, giggling. She throws an empty Canadian Club in the general direction of the rubbish bin, covering her mouth and mumbling something that I think is supposed to be an apology when it lands in the sink.
Smiling, she sways over to me – clearly a lightweight in the alcohol department – and dives a hand into one of the bowls I’m trying not to drop. She clips the edge and knocks both the bowls off balance, sending the salt and vinegars flying, scattering them over the bench and the floor. Some even land on top of the fridge. Maggie’s bug-eyed expression is priceless and no matter how hard I try, I can’t hold back my laughter.
Mortified, she drops to her knees, crushing anything within reach, and starts scooping up handfuls. Handfuls of chips, rubbish, pretty much anything within her reach.
Pinching back my grin, I kneel besides her and help, watching the strain on her mouth as she tries to hold back her reaction. Knocking my shoulder into her side breaks the seal and has us both cracking up. Maggie’s laughing so hard she curls up and lies down on her side, clutching onto her stomach.
“Stop making me laugh.” She’s pretending to be angry with me, but she sucks at the angry, so I don’t get offended. “You’re killing me.”
“What? You did this?”
“But you don’t have to make it so damn funny.” Maggie gasps for breath, pushing her bare feet into my side.
Oh, she wants funny, huh? I happen to be an expert on funny.
I grab hold of her ankles and drag her so I’m kneeling between her legs. Then I lean forward, raising her arms. I hold them in one hand over her head and attack her ribs, tickling her until she’s squealing and thrashing beneath me. She accidently knees me high on the inside of my leg, just below my balls. Reflexively, I flinch and end up lying on top of her, my mouth almost touching hers.
Her warm breath brushes across my face and fill my lungs. Then, just like that, Maggie’s all that I can see; all that there is. And now I don’t want to breathe anything else for the rest of my life.
Her eyes lower to my mouth, her tongue snaking out to wet her full lips, and I’m done. It’s a dog of a thing to do and we’ve both been drinking, but I can’t help it. I’m so gone on this girl.
My face lowers, jaw slackens, and my lips rest on hers. I mean to be gentle – the perfect first kiss – but the second I get a taste, my sensors explode; my nerve endings burn and zero in on my dick. My tongue’s in her mouth, invading her with all the passion that’s been building for as long as I can remember. All the wet dreams, the long cold showers that never worked, all the hard-ons – everything detonates into this one kiss.
Blog Interview Questions
Me: How have you gotten to this point with your stories?
Sandra:I started writing another manuscript (which hasn’t been published yet) a few years ago when the idea for Maggie’s story (Maggie’s Five ...the first in a love story) came to me. The moment I was done with the manuscript, I opened up a new word doc. and started writing.
Literally – I typed the magical words: The End. Saved the doc. Started Maggie.
When Maggie’s was done, Luke began to develop. It’s funny because I had my Maggie blinkers on during her story, and those things were dark. I didn’t really know much about Luke at the time other than he is a sweet, sweet man with blonde hair and blue eyes.
When I stared writing Luke and thought, ‘is he? Is he really that nice? Is anyone really that nice?’ He blew out to over 180k words, so I ended up splitting him in two.
Poor thing. ;)
Me:When did you first consider yourself a writer?
SF: Ha! I don’t know if I do yet.
Words come to me and I put them down. I let them evolve and see if they’ve got legs or not, then go from there. Sometimes they do and end up as short stories, sometimes they end up as more. Sometimes they become uncompleted pages in my computer.
Me: Now I love music just as much as reading, I normally listen to music while I am reading, cleaning taking a shower pretty much when I do anything. Do you think that your characters have theme songs? What would they be?
SF: I love music too, much to my family’s dismay. We seem to have a differing opinion on what’s good and what’s not. Obviously they’ve got it wrong.
I always have something playing in the background, and yes... the hum has been known to become more of an ear-ringing sound-fest.
I don’t know if Luke and Sophie have a song(s) as such. I like to mix up what I’m listening to. I do have a play list though that includes, The Kings of Leon – Don’t matter, Twin Atlantic – Heart and Soul, The Veronicas – You ruin me, One Republic – Love Runs Out, Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This. There’s also the Foo Fighters, Milky Chance, Pink, Ed Sheeran, Muse... the list could go on...
Me: Are the experiences in your book fact based or from your imagination?
SF: Sometimes I’ll catch a word, or phrase, a sentence, and something clicks, sparks my imagination. The rest just comes.
The hill race actually came from my nephew bantering with some friends. Of course I embellished fantastically. It grew into the beginning of Luke’s journey. Now whenever we’re all sitting around talking, someone ends up calling out, ‘Careful, you might end up in one of Sandra’s books.’
Everyone laughs... it’s so funny... and looks at me out of the corner of their eyes.
I think there might be a few people that would be okay with being in one of my books. Guess they better be nice then, so I don’t kill them off or make them ugly, huh? :)
Me : Which comes first? The character's story or, the idea for the novel?
SF: The characters story, for sure. I get a visual of what they look like and a feel for them. I start to put words down; sometimes I stop after a couple of chapters. Other times I keep going to the end.
Me: What kind of writer are you? Do your stories come to you in dreams? Or do they play like a scene from a movie over and over again in your head until you write it down?
SF: Definitely a movie reel on repeat in my head. That’s actually how I got started. I couldn’t sleep. I’d go to bed and toss and turn so much my husband, very nicely – with a hand pushing in the middle of my back and me out of the bed – suggested I write the images down to hopefully get them to stop. 115k words later I stopped and I had my first full-length manuscript.
Me :What was your motivation for Luke’s story?
SF:I needed to get to know Luke. I had this random guy staying with an old acquaintance after she lost her family. Weird, right?
I needed to find out more. What got him there? Why did he stay? Why didn’t he do something about Red? That was a big one. Why didn’t Luke do more to protect Maggie from Red?
I also didn’t want this book to be Luke’s version of Maggie’s events. I needed him to have his own story.
Me: Was there a point when you were writing that you stopped and thought to yourself no that character wouldn’t do that or that character wouldn’t say that?
SF: Absolutely, yes. My editor, Meg Hellyer brought it a few times too... ‘Do you think he’d really say that?’ ‘It doesn’t sound too much like a Nana Mouskouri song?’
Hey, The White Rose of Athens rocked in it day!
For me, Jon has a majority of the good lines, he’s charismatic and outgoing, a lot of fun to write. I had to make sure I kept his words separate to Luke’s.
Me: Are you one of those writers that follow a strict plot line and write how you draft it? Or do you let the characters do the writing for you?
SF: The character’s write themselves. I don’t know if this is ideal. I’d like to be better at plotting and using a timeline to keep me on track. But at the moment, this feels like the right way for me.
Me: Lastly how do you plan and moving on from this point? What else can we expect to see from you?
SF: I’m currently doing re-writes on the rest of Luke’s story.
Yes, there’s more. Boy, is there more.
The third book does need to be read after the second, but still not necessarily before Maggie’s Five. It was important to me that the first two books are separate journeys and can be read as stand-alones. Given I didn’t plan on Luke exploding into so many words, he does need to be read in order. Be prepared though, there’s no preamble, no soft and fluffies, when the third books starts, it starts.
I also want to get back to my original manuscript and polish it up.