I’ve been a writer as long as I can remember but I didn’t become a professional writer until 1984, when I sold the very first novel I ever wrote to Harlequin. I’ve been writing for them ever since. To my delight, I’ve been a
Where do you get the inspiration for your books?
Inspiration is everywhere! I’ll notice a couple seated in a restaurant, deep in conversation. What are they talking about? Why is she reaching out to touch his hand that particular way? I admit, shamelessly, that I often eavesdrop on conversations in public places.
I’m big on visual inspiration, too. For instance, a couple of years ago, driving along a road at night in the rain, I saw a motorcycle spilled on its side, a car with a crunched fender and a man in a leather bomber jacket squatting beside a woman seated on the grass, trying to shield her from the rain. That scene triggered an immediate reaction in me and, ultimately, it was the seed of a Presents I called The Sicilian Surrender. More recently, I watched a big, good-looking guy peering into a toy-shop window. He looked out of place and wistful at the same time. Next thing I knew, I was sketching out my current Presents, THE SICILIAN’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE.
What makes you mad?
Cruelty, especially to animals.
What’s the most romantic thing that has ever happened to you?
I met my husband when I was fifteen. Several months later, when I turned sixteen, he gave me a locket. He’d had his name and an infinity sign inscribed on the back. I still have that locket and cherish it to this day.
What in a hero makes you drool?
The courage to stand up for his convictions. Never turning away from someone who needs his help. Physical strength combined with a tender heart. And, in more down to earth terms, I love a guy with a pony tail and an earring. (My husband has both!) Add a hard body and I’m good to go!
If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
A wildlife biologist, working with wolf or grizzly populations. Growing up, I alternated between dreams of that career and dreams of becoming a writer. Writing—my first love—won.
What do you do to relax and wind down?
Read. Everything from romance to suspense. Walk in our woods. Bird watch from our deck. Travel, go somewhere for a weekend or a month—I’m happy either way. The Gulf Coast of Florida is a favorite for relaxation. So is the
Actually, I don’t have to get away to relax. Going for a drive along our narrow country roads is wonderful. So is having a glass of wine by the fireside on a snowy evening.
How do you get out of a writing rut?
By writing. I just sit down at the computer and write, even if what I produce is far (very far) from perfect. Sooner or later, the creative gates will open. At least, they always have so far. (That sound you hear is me, knocking wood.)
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Can I have two choices? Winters, I’d live in a house overlooking the beach in
Summers, I’d live in
On the other hand, I love living here in
Who would you most like to give a hug to for a fabulous book you’ve read?
Barry Lopez, a sort of naturalist/philosopher, for a book called ARCTIC DREAMS. Nobody can express understanding of and respect for the natural world the way Lopez can. (If you’re starting to think I’m hung up on nature, I have to admit that you’re right. But I love cities, too.
What music do you listen to when writing?
I love music, everything from hard rock to soft rock, from medieval chants to Beethoven. Unfortunately, I find I can’t do much listening when I’m writing. Believe me, I’ve tried. The score from Last of the Mohicans. A wonderfully romantic collection of 13th century music called Love’s Illusion. Chopin. Fleetwood Mac. Pink Floyd.
I end up humming, conducting an imaginary orchestra, getting up and dancing, even—I’m shuddering at the thought—singing. When I don’t do is write. So I’ve learned to pop in a CD only if I’m taking a coffee break. Then, music’s a great idea.
Tell us a secret nobody knows about you?
I’d sooner starve than eat snails.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
In what I think of as my former life, I was president of a board of education in
It wasn’t. I figured that out as soon as I saw the urinal… and the guy standing at it. He was, mercifully, zipping up! He turned red. I turned redder. “Just checking to make sure everything’s ship-shape,” I said briskly, and walked out.
What have you had to celebrate in the last year?
Professionally, seeing all four of my 2006 novels on the Waldenbooks list. Also, completing my 65th novel. (I can’t believe it, either.) Creating a new trilogy my editor’s very excited about. Seeing my Knights Brothers trilogy break new ground for Presents by combining hot passion and high-octane danger.
Personally, seeing my not-quite five year old granddaughter confidently climb on the bus the first day of kindergarten. She has the kind of self-confidence all little girls should have. Watching my three year old grandson changing all too quickly from baby to little boy. Now, if he’d only really, truly give up diapers…
And, always, my heart celebrates the amazing fact that I still adore that guy I met at age fifteen.
What’s beside your computer when you’re writing?
Everything. I am, I guess, a pack rat. While I’m working on a book, things just pile up.
Right now, for instance, there’s a two inch stack of notes about Andalusian horses to my left because my current hero—an oh so sexy Spaniard—breeds them. Beneath it are some articles I clipped from the NY Times, from Vanity Fair magazine, from Vogue. Let’s see… what else is here? To my right, there’s a telephone I forgot to put back in its cradle. My portable computer, open alongside my desktop computer for absolutely no good reason. My cell phone. Two, no, three flash drivers. A cup of cold, forgotten coffee right next to the electric warmer pad I meant to stand it on. Honestly, I don’t think you want to hear any more. As I said, I’m not the neatest person in the world when I’m working.
If you could kiss anyone in the world who would it be?
Why stop at one? I’d kiss the character Daniel Day Lewis portrayed in Last of the Mohicans. Talk about sexy! I’d kiss Lucas Davenport, a hero created by suspense writer John Sandford. And if I could be sure I’d survive it, I’d love to plant a kiss right between the eyes of an Alpha wolf.
What are you working on now?
The final book in the trilogy I mentioned earlier. It’s about three good friends: Nicolo Barbieri, Damian Aristedes and Lucas Reyes. The men are all royals, all pure Alpha. They’re rich, powerful, sexy and, yes, gorgeous. They’re also quite human, as my heroes always are, meaning each has a good heart, a sense of humor, and they’ve all had to fight their way to where they are now. Not a one is ready for love or marriage or, heaven forbid, fatherhood, but that’s what Fate (and I) have in store for them.
Sandra's latest Presents novel, THE SICILIAN'S CHRISTMAS BRIDE is out now in North America!
Check out her website and blog for more.