Author on the Couch: Sarah Andre
This week on Author on the Couch, I conduct a session with…
GIVEAWAY! Sarah is giving away a free digital or signed paperback version of TALL DARK & DAMAGED… Just do these two things:
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[Tweet theme=”basic-border”]”My body is the shell that holds ‘me’-not the key to who I am.” @SarahRSWriter via @Abbie_Roads #amwriting #giveaway http://wp.me/p5h5aN-yc[/Tweet]
Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.
Sarah: I’ve read enough of your AOTC blogs to know most authors answer with something profoundly tragic. I’m afraid I’ve led such a charmed and sheltered life that the only answer I have is: tandem skydiving at the age of 33. (On a dare, and the guy who pressured me wimped out once we got to the field.)
I remember the stark fear of watching a video tutorial and signing pages saying you understood the hazards and high probability of death. By the time I got into my jumpsuit I was in a full-body tremble. The tandem jumper showed me the 4 (measly) clips that would hold me to him (I’d be in front- meaning if the clips gave out I’d be sailing down alone instead of piggybacking him!) A group of us got in the tiny prop plane and I swear to you it climbed forever! The door was open so I watched the land recede until even sprawling barns were tiny dots. I shook like a leaf! Evidently I clasped my hands and bit my thumbnails -someone told me later it looked like I was praying.
It was our turn. He strapped me to him, any other day it would’ve been slightly erotic (he was a hottie). The propellers made speaking impossible so he did a series of hand signals and we crouched at the door, er..he did. My feet were the only part touching the ledge- the rest of me was leaning out in space at a 45 degree angle…the ground was so terribly far below, the noise of the engine deafening! His fingers counted down: 3, 2, 1 and he pushed off.
He spun me in a roll, did some 360’s and as disoriented as I was, I was well aware of the ground coming up crazy fast! There was no question I was falling to my death, the clips between us were straining to break. And a calm washed over me. I was going to die. The starkest memory was this thought: “I’ve been here before.” I hold on to that to this day and have no more fear of dying. I’ve done it before –I can’t explain that sentence more than those words. And as terrifying as it is getting TO the actual event, I know it will be a very peaceful end.
Any time I feel afraid of a new experience (not necessarily physical) I bring ‘that girl’ back, who took up skydiving on a dare and learned a lot about pushing through fear and ending up with one of the most exhilarating, rewarding experiences ever.
Me: Sarah! Wow! What an experience. I’ve heard that skydiving–for the non-adrenaline junkie–can be a really profound experience. The kind that you measure all other fears against. Am I falling to my death with only four clips holding me in? Nope. Okay. I can do this. It’s no big deal.
What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author?
Sarah: My perfectionism. While the story is unfolding, (at a glacier pace because I’m a pantser) I go back the chapters already written and keep revising and rewording before moving on. A book takes almost a year to write and a year to rewrite and revise. By that second year I have most of the book memorized!
Me: OMG! I thought I was the only one! I write that exact same way and I’m a pantser too! It’s a painfully slow process. I sometimes wonder what’s wrong with me that everyone else can whip out a book in three months and it takes me at least a year. I still struggle to embrace that this is just my process. No matter how much I wish it was different–being a slow perfectionist is what got me published.
What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author?
Sarah: Self doubt. The ‘what ifs’ and inner critic who don’t think I can pull off creating the next sentence. I’ve been to so many workshops on how to shut that voice down, but nothing’s worked. ☺
Me: I need to go back and tally the number of Authors on my Couch that struggle with self-doubt–it’s a definite majority!
What was your high point as a writer—a time when you were happiest?
Sarah:When I got my agent in 2009. She was a referral from an acquaintance who was kicking my butt to stop being lazy and query more. She handed me her agent’s name: “What’s the worst that can happen- she says no?!” Shamed, I queried, sent the full and three weeks later got ‘the call.’ The agent gushed for twenty minutes straight! That’s a long time to hear all the great things about your writing! (After so many rejections.)It’s in my nature to interrupt and tear myself down “oh, thanks, but I’m not that good” type sentences. And my mouth was even open to do so! Then I thought: you’ve waited for years for this kind of praise from an industry professional. Shut up, listen and bask in it!
Me: What was your low point as a writer—a time when questioned your path?
Sarah: I guess not getting the RITA nod this year for Best First Book. So many blog reviewers and Amazon reviews started with “I can’t believe this is a debut novel” (when in reality, btw, took 9 years and 5 rewrites) but I fed into my own press. I was a shoe in for Best First Book. So when the call never came, I definitely went through all the Kubler-Ross stages of grieving that day and weeks after. I got over it like I do all writing disappointments. The self-pity eventually stops and I get up stronger and more determined to show the world that my next story will be even better, damn it! ☺
Me: I love that you mention Kubler-Ross! We really do grieve those things we wish for, but don’t achieve.
What’s your writer’s mantra? Why does that mantra speak to you?
Sarah: I was the VP of the Golden Heart Network (an online group for all GH nominees over the years) and one task was coming up with fun stuff for registration Goodie bags. I found a desk poster with a quote from Steve Martin: Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You. I have it hung in my office so strategically, it’s the first thing my gaze lands on.
Me: I still have that from my goodie bag. I have it hung in my office too! I love it. It’s one of my favorite sayings.
What do you collect? Why? What personal meaning does this item have for you?
Sarah: I collect tiny bottles. The tinier they are, the more I adore them. I have shelves in my office! Personal meaning? I only recall as a seven-year-old child, seeing tiny food coloring bottles in a store and being enchanted. I begged my mother to buy one and she snapped out a harassed ‘no!’ So I stole one. (Only time ever, folks!)
I opened it in the bathroom sink and played with the dye until she called me for dinner. Naturally, I forgot about it until it was time for my 2 brothers and I to brush our teeth for bed. Mom saw the bottle and blue stains everywhere. She had no recollection of me begging for it at the store and wanted to know who’d taken this. I was so terrified I pointed to my brothers (8 and 5)and said, “they stole it.” No matter how much they protested, they got spanked long and hard.
As a counselor, Abbie, what do you think my obsession with tiny bottles means? ☺
Me: I think it means that you love tiny bottles. Lol. We all have those weird little quirky things that we are just attracted to for no logical reason.
What is something you thought was true for a long time, then found out you were wrong? Explain what that felt like.
Sarah: That my self-worth is wrapped up in how I look physically. I’ve been a rollercoaster dieter, and am well aware of the immense change in people’s (mostly men’s) behavior towards me when I am at my thinnest vs heaviest. Thin: they hold the door open for me, wave me in on a highway merge. Heavy: They wouldn’t spit on me if I was on fire- there’s no eye contact what-so-ever. Doors are not held, and slam back on me as I follow. It’s happened over and over so consistently during the rollercoaster years, that it’s not my imagination. And naturally I’ve fed into the subliminal message!
I was filled with self-hate during my overweight years. I’ve had a lot of therapy and probably time and maturity lessened that insane need to ‘fit in/be loved’ by strangers. I adored my 40’s because I learned not to care what people thought of me. Ironically, the second I adopted that attitude, I lost mega weight and kept it off for years. My body is the shell that holds ‘me’ -not the key to who I am. It’s my personality that’ll get me through life. But I’ve wasted SO many years caring about what others thought of me because of what size clothes I fit into.
Me: I think there’s something about the late thirties and forties for women. It’s like we finally shed all the bullshit that society placed on us and become the women we are supposed to be.
Tell me about your Romantic Suspense novel TALL, DARK & DAMAGED.
His Life Changed in a Heartbeat
Disinherited as a teen, Devon Ashby returns home twelve years later as a ruthless CEO, brilliant at negotiating deals, but emotionally stunted. In an instant all he’s struggled to build implodes. Amid the turmoil of saving his company from a hostile takeover, his engagement to a business partner’s high-society daughter hits the rocks. Compounding his troubles, he encounters his high school sweetheart, whose heart he smashed. The vulnerability she awakens leaves him at greater risk than all the crises he faces.
Her Dream Job May Get Her Killed
While restoring art in a billionaire’s private gallery, Hannah Moore is unwittingly drawn into the dysfunctional family’s confidences. When she discovers the rich developer behind her and her sick aunt’s eviction is the family’s black-sheep son—the lover she’s never gotten over—her desire turns to fury. Always one to avoid conflict, Hannah must stand up to Devon and the growing menace of someone who thinks she knows too much.
A Decades-Old Secret Turns Deadly
When a family member is murdered, Devon and Hannah become ensnared in sibling greed, festering jealousy, and a tragic secret that’s divided the family. Amid their reigniting passion they race to expose the killer before they become the next victims in this cat-and-mouse game of survival.
Me: Share a few your favorite paragraphs with us.
“Stop flirting with Hannah and let her get back to work.”
Frigid chills blanketed her, followed by a flash of heat that knocked out her equilibrium. It took enormous effort to turn with casual disinterest toward that familiar tenor, but she pulled it off. Devon stood close enough that the overpowering stench of ash changed to coffee and something unique she’d forgotten until now—a kind of pheromone that reminded her of warmth or sunshine… Eyes the color of lapis lazuli squinted as he smiled, which slanted those wide, sexy brows further.
Presto change-o, her knees weakened to noodles. She tore her gaze back to his brother. Had she known Devon would be in Chicago, she would never have taken this project, lucrative as it was. That’s how much she couldn’t handle seeing him again. That’s how utterly un-grown-up she really was.
“I wasn’t flirting, big brother.” Rick winked at her, obviously to taunt him. Which was sweet, given that Devon was engaged.
“Beat it,” Devon ordered, his warm gaze still on her. “I want to talk to her in private.”
His brother saluted and sauntered out, whistling the K-I-S-S-I-N-G nursery rhyme. Even though she knew Devon’s fiancée was lost in the mansion maze, Hannah’s blush burned.
Devon, however, didn’t react as he wandered a few feet past her and surveyed the paintings like his siblings had before him. He stuck his hands in the pockets of his charcoal pants, which bunched the muscles of his back and triceps. She studied the hard curves with the same attention she gave a Bernini sculpture. When she glanced lower, at seriously tight curvature, her blood turned to liquid heat. There was a time she wouldn’t have thought twice about stepping behind him and cupping that.
Hannah mentally slapped herself. He’d delivered his message loud and clear in the library. Why was he here? She exhaled audibly, but he remained motionless, those luscious muscles still taut. She tap-tapped her pen on the clipboard. Instead of clueing in, he reached down and grabbed a can of expandable spray foam and read the label. She cleared her throat.
“Was there something you needed?”
He swiveled around, nailing her with the stare. The one that used to precede a long, lazy kiss. Her breath hitched, and, as if he’d read her thoughts, his mouth formed the ghost of a crooked grin. He put down the can. “Yeah, Hannah, there’s something I need. To come say a decent hello.”
She nodded like that were a rational sentence. What was a decent hello from someone who’d once meant the moon and stars? A handshake? A brief, one-armed hug where most of her body avoided contact with his?
While she debated, he closed the distance, and suddenly she was smothered in a bear hug like in the olden days, only formidably more powerful than an eighteen-year-old boy’s. Now the front of him was unyielding rock encased in cashmere, his arms defined steel. He palmed her head, burying his nose in the curve of her neck. She almost shivered at the intimacy of his touch. “You still smell like peaches and vanilla, Han.”
She closed her eyes and tried to capture this memory, then realized she stood there stiff as a surfboard in his embrace.
He drew back, his stubble pulling several strands of her hair. “Sorry,” he murmured, looking anything but, as he scraped them off his cheek and tucked them behind her ear.
She caught his curling fingers and stepped clear of him. “The wedding caterer is waiting to speak to you,” she bleated, much too loudly.
Purchase TALL DARK & DAMAGED!
Find it at retailers on June 3rd!
You can find Sarah here:
Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. Her debut novel RACE THE DARKNESS is available for pre-order now.
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