Saturday, June 27, 2009

Author Interview:

I had the pleasure of sitting down with fellow writer, Sandy Lender: Author of
'Choices Meant For Gods'.

Not even the gods noticed when Chariss was born with the mark of The Protector. Now she and her wizard guardian seek shelter from a mad sorcerer in a household not just full of secrets and false hope, but watched by the god who will unwittingly reveal her role in an impending war.

When an orphan sets aside a lifetime of running and fear to accept the responsibilities of guarding an arrogant deity, can she face the trials in the prophecies she uncovers? Will Nigel Taiman of her latest refuge dare to use his dragon heritage to bind her to his estate or to help her in her duty?
This is a romantic scene as Nigel Taiman and Amanda Chariss ride from the estate at Arcana to Arcana City. Her wizard guardian has already clued her in to the fact that Nigel wants to court her, and she's upset over it. The scene mentions the bear-like ryfel creature that nearly killed Nigel in the training arena...Nigel frowned at her. Spurring his horse slightly, he reached out to take hold of Shadow’s bridle. Bringing them both to a stop, he turned in the saddle to face her.

“Hey!” she objected.

“Indeed. Have I done something to anger you?”

Her cheeks reddened with embarrassment.


“You’re staring at me.”

“By the gods, Woman. All right, I’ll look at your horse. ’Manda,” he said to Shadow, “what have I done that’s made you angry?”

“I’m not angry.”

“You’re not a liar,” he spoke to Chariss again.

“All right, so I’m a little angry. It will pass.”

“And you don’t want to tell me what it is?”

She couldn’t blame her reticence today on worry over Drake. She also couldn’t blame her health because she’d completely recovered from her telabyrinth poisoning. With Hrazon and The Master attending the summer festival, she couldn’t blame some sort of timidity at being ‘alone’ in the city. No, she had to take a deep breath and be honest with him. Considering the number of suitors she’d sent packing in the past few years, this should have been an easy thing to do again. It wasn’t. She sighed, closing her eyes as if she could make the scene disappear.

“Do you agree that you’re my friend?” she finally asked.

He watched her open her eyes then, realizing where the conversation must be going.

“Yes.” It was said with exasperation.

“And that I’m your friend?”


“And does that please you?”

He sighed, but didn’t get a chance to answer.

“You see, Nigel, it pleases me. I appreciate your kindness, and I would be disappointed if we hadn’t built such a…such a…”

“Friendship?” he retorted.

“Such a rapport.”

He rolled his eyes. “A fancier word with even less affection.”

“My stay at Arcana is much more pleasant because I have this relationship with you. But someone has tried to convince me that your…your…”




“Well…your opinion of our relationship might be somewhat different from mine.”

“’Manda, just say what you’re thinking. You won’t hurt my feelings.”

She looked miserable then. “I don’t want to say what I’m thinking.”


“No, that’s not good. Hrazon thinks you’re…Hrazon believes you spend time with me because…” She paused, searching for the words.

“Because I’m in love with you?”

She nearly fell backward. “Just blurt it out!”

He chuckled slightly. “This is uncomfortable, isn’t it? I’m sorry to embarrass you. This conversation would be better in a darkened corner of Arcana’s parlor. ’Manda, I’m not going to lie to you. Hrazon has every reason to believe I’m after his ward because I am. It’s no secret to anyone I enjoy your company. What, where are you…You’re the only woman I know who can scoot that far away on a saddle without falling off.”

“I don’t think you should say those things.”

“Aye,” he sighed, watching her fidget with Shadow’s reins. But he made a decision to press the matter. “I’m going to say them and get them out in the open. Then we can decide if you’re to die of embarrassment, or slap me across the face.”

She couldn’t help smiling, even though her heart beat as if it would burst through her bodice from the tension she felt.

“I enjoy being with you because you’re my perfect match,” he said. “Have you noticed that we agree on almost everything? And the few things we don’t agree on are intriguing to argue because you make them intriguing. There’s no one at that entire estate, The Master and every intelligent student combined, who can hold my attention as you do. None of them compare.

“I’m attracted to everything about you, including your compassion. Even now, when you’re on the verge of falling off a horse with embarrassment, your concern is for my feelings, not your own. Godric, who doesn’t deserve to wash your feet, who finds every excuse to correct you, gets your respect because you remind yourself that he’s your benefactor. Do you know what strength of character that shows? Do you know how it endears you to me to know you bite your tongue after his arrogant remarks to save my mother’s feelings?”

She merely nodded, her eyes cast down.

“And do you know how it endears you to me to know you would fight to the death for little Kaylin?”

She nodded again.

“And do you know how it endears you to me to know you instinctively threw yourself into healing spells to save my life?”

“You shouldn’t assume that means—”

“I remember sliding toward death that night, life spilling out of me, and poison seeping into me from that thing’s claws. But do you know what I remember most distinctly? I remember you commanding me not to bleed to death…and I remember your hands afterward. Once I was healed, once Master Rothahn became preoccupied with the dead ryfel, you crawled over to me and put your hands on me again, as if you had to be sure He’d done a good enough job of healing me. But you would’ve done it for any member of my family. I daresay you would’ve done it for any student in the school. And it’s because you care about others, and you want the best for everyone around you. And you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

The last comment caught her off guard. It didn’t seem to fit with the logical argument he tried to make.

“I fail to see how these things tell you you’re in love. Kaylin enjoys my company. Mia enjoys arguing with me. I saved Sorne’s life once. Does this mean they’re in love with me?”

“If love could be explained that easily, it wouldn’t be real.”

“But what makes you think it’s real now? If you can’t explain your feelings, how do you know you’re not misled?”

“How does the rose know to bloom in spring?”

“Oh, now that talk I’ve heard before. I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t think you should let yourself believe it now.”

“’Manda, I’m telling you the truth and I’m telling you what I know. If I’ve made you angry by falling in love with you, you’re just going to have to deal with it. Because you’re not currently interested in me, you have to give me time to change your mind.”

They were silent then; he waited for some sign that she wasn’t going to cast him aside, she waited for her heart to stop beating so loudly in her ears. As far as she was concerned, she was often a foolish girl, but her intentions at the beginning of this conversation were foolish beyond compare. She realized—with alarm—that the blood rushing through her veins, the lightheadedness, the excitement at getting to spend an afternoon with him, were all signs she had chosen to ignore.

She swallowed hard against the fear in her throat, and, with as much calm as she could muster, said: “What gives you the idea that I’m not interested in you?”

My interview with Fantasy Author Sandy Lender:

Deborah Panger: Hi, Sandy. Thanks for stopping by to answer a few questions. Can you tell us a little about your latest release?

Sandy Lender: Hi there, Deborah! Thanks for inviting me here today. My latest release is actually a chapbook called What Choices We Made that supports the fantasy novel I’m touring this month: CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS. This novel is the first in a series and it is my dream come true. It’s the story of an orphan who’s been running from a madman all her life. When she finally stops running and stands up for herself, she discovers how important she is to her society. It’s quite the Girl Power sort of story!
Here’s the “official” blurb:
Not even the gods noticed when Chariss was born with the mark of The Protector. Now she and her wizard guardian seek shelter from a mad sorcerer in a household not just full of secrets and false hope, but watched by the god who will unwittingly reveal her role in an impending war. When an orphan sets aside a lifetime of running and fear to accept the responsibilities of guarding an arrogant deity, can she face the trials in the prophecies she uncovers? Will Nigel Taiman of her latest refuge dare to use his dragon heritage to bind her to his estate or to help her in her duty?

Deborah Panger: Sounds interesting. What or who inspired you to write it?

Sandy Lender: The inspiration actually started with the bad guy. Jamieson Drake, the evil sorcerer who kills my heroine’s family, showed me Chariss. I fell in love with her instantly…not realizing he was in love with her, too. Duh. So I guess, in a sick and twisted sort of way, I have Drake to thank for the original inspiration. But my lovely Chariss took it from there. When a character as compelling as she is gets in a writer’s head, you can’t stop working on her story. It’s measured insanity until you get it all out.
Deborah Panger: How long have you been writing, and did you know at a young age you wanted to be an author?

Sandy Lender: This is funny because I used to write books starting with the front cover, then a title page, then a table of contents (complete with page numbers for the chapters, of course). I think I figured out I was no good at guessing page numbers when I got into second or third grade…
I used to write stories for my great grandmother and she’d share them with her neighbors. I thought that was pretty cool, so I decided I wanted to keep doing that. I also wanted to be a teacher, so I would set up my dolls in little rows and teach them from “books” I wrote for them. Once I got into junior high and high school, I realized I would need a job that paid better, so I thought about becoming a newspaper editor. It took one semester of newspaper class in college to figure out THAT sucked wind. The daily deadline (and this idea of living in New York were there are no sea turtles) depressed me. I still wanted to write novels (fantasy novels, to be exact), and the pressure of daily deadlines was going to wreck that. So I went into magazine publishing instead and that loosened things a little bit.

Deborah Panger: Do you have a special place in your home where you like to write? If so, what does it look like?

Sandy Lender: Oh my. I used to have this fabulous den that looked out over this messy, weed-choked pond that attracted herons and deer and frogs on the back of my property. The den was clean and tidy. I’d painted it a sort of pale brown with these dark brown bookshelves lined with my Old English literature and Bronte books. Fabulous candelabras and iron candle holders speckled the room and an antique-looking book stand held my Klaeber edition of BEOWULF on my harp-leg writing desk. I had a replica of a section of the Bayeau Tapestry on the wall. It was just a lovely room to enter and feel as if you’d been transported to a deep, older realm.
That house was taken in foreclosure after a series of horrible circumstances that stemmed from me choosing poorly in marriage. Luckily, I’ve gotten out of that marriage and now my writing takes place anywhere and everywhere. My favorite place to write is where I’m free. And, thank God, I’m free. But, I have to say, I love to write on a notebook on the steering wheel of my car in traffic because I like to imagine it freaks out the other drivers. Bwuahahahahaha.

Deborah Panger: LOL. I hope a cop doesn't happen by. :) Okay, it’s time for a list of your favorites.

A. Color – lavender (like Chariss’s eyes)
B. Number – 28 (Nigel’s age at the beginning of the Choices trilogy)
C. Food – anything in chocolate
D. Drink – amaretto on ice with amaretto-soaked maraschino cherries
E. Music – Duran Duran (this would be categorized as an obsession)
F. Author – Charlotte Bronte
G. Actor/Actress – Hugh Jackman OR Michael Shanks/Katharine Hepburn
H. Movie – Finding Nemo (I quote it daily)

Deborah Panger: If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could have only one person there with you, who would it be, and why?

Sandy Lender: Oh, man, I could get in so much trouble for answering this honestly. Ummm…let’s say…my pet sun conure, Petri. I can’t live without him. We’re bonded. I know he’s not technically a “person,” but he thinks he is. He thinks he’s my person. And I’m his. (For folks who just went “huh?” a sun conure is a fabulously gorgeous small parrot.)
Deborah Panger: What advice would you give someone just starting out in this business?

Sandy Lender: Get addicted to speed.

Deborah Panger: And last but not least, is there anything else you would like to tell your readers? Perhaps something that no one would guess about you?

Sandy Lender: I’m not actually addicted to speed. J
Seriously, I’m not even allowed to have caffeine because of my migraine condition. Can you imagine?
I spend an enormous amount of my life moving at high velocity, but this is without the use of illegal drugs. Believe it or not…

Again, thank you for stopping by. It has been a pleasure talking with you. Take care.
Sandy Lender: Thank you for hosting me today, Deborah. It’s a pleasure to meet you and your visitors. Folks can ask me any questions they want ‘coz I’ll be checkin’ in with the comments section, but you’ve already asked cool stuff. Thank you!