Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Tuesday Ten With Sandra Byrd

It's time once again for today's Tuesday Ten! I know that it's been a while, but life has been NUTS since the start of the year. I'm so excited to have the wonderful Sandra Byrd on my blog today!

Q1: If you could go to any location in Washington to find inspiration for your next story, where would you go?

Sandra: Happily, my next book is set in Washington, on one of my two favorite places in my home state, Whidbey Island. 

Mimi: In all the years I lived there I never went to Whidbey Island. IF I were a writer I'd probably go to Olympic State Park because it's so stunning!

Q2: We're visiting England together, and you want to take me to tea. Where are we going and what kind of tea do you suggest I try?

Sandra: Oh, Claridge’s, absolutely.  There are many other places to try, in London, but Claridge’s has my heart.  (Scroll down to see the Tea, in this link.) The history behind the hotel is a story in itself—and I do think a book has been written about that—but the tea and tea treats are delightful.

The setting is amazing, and you can eat as much as you like.  I don’t think they counted on my then-teenaged son eating so many plates of dainties one time when we visited. But they were gracious!

Mimi: Oh my word, I'm ready to go there when you are! It sounds absolutely delightful and I'd make the most of the food as well!

Q3: What inspired you to start your tea & coffee mug exchange?

Sandra: When I was a kid, I loved it when my school would set us up with pen pals  - I looked forward to it all year. As a teen, I loved one summer’s month in France, and one in Germany, and how it expanded my understanding of the world, and friendship. 
Later, my husband and I hosted students from other cultures and made lifelong friends.

I love the idea of connecting reading friends I love with other reading friends I love.  I hope your blog readers will join us in 2020!

Mimi: I have enjoyed the two ladies I've done the exchanges with! I appreciate that you created this experience for all who participate!

Q4: You're given the opportunity to dress up and act in character in Williamsburg (or anywhere they have period actors) as one of the characters in your book. Which character would it be?

Sandra: Anne Boleyn, for sure.  I’m a dark brunette, and my husband is a strawberry-blonde like Henry XIII and can grow a huge, bristly beard if he wants to. I suggested he grow his beard, get costumes, and host a party.  He didn’t dig the idea of being Henry XIII. 😊 I know people think about the traumatic parts of her life, and there’s a lot of shaming that doesn’t show the whole woman.  I think she was a powerful – if imperfect – aid to the Protestant Reformation, which eventually led to tightening and strengthening the Catholic church, too.

I think I’d pick a period early in her marriage, though, for obvious reasons!

Mimi: lol I'd go with an earlier period of her life as well! I've been thinking about this, and I don't think I'd want to be a specific character, but maybe someone who was in the upper class so I could enjoy the gowns and parties... even if just for a day!

Q5: If you could go to Israel and visit one spot where Jesus had been, where would you go?

Sandra: Sea of Galilee. I have seen so many beautiful photos, and I can close my eyes and imagine being there with the first-century disciples.  I hope we can go some time.

Mimi: I think I'd want to go to Gethsemane. I've never felt a huge pull to go to Israel, but I know if I ever went it would be more that I could ever imagine.

Q6: What facet do you enjoy most when you're researching history for your period books? Is it the clothing, how they spoke, the setting, etc.?

Sandra: I am an immersive researcher. I eat what they ate (yes, even eels!) and try to walk where they walked. I watch films and read dozens of books.  I listen to YouTubes of dialogue and interview as many people as I can. I care immensely about getting the details right, whether they be cultural, professional, or personal. I hope that when my readers slip into the pages of the book, they are right there – and then – too!

Mimi: I really appreciate that as one of your readers! I definitely feel like the time period comes to life with your books. I can admit that I cringed when I read about you eating eels. 😬

Q7: If you could design your dream library, what would it look like? Would it be big with rows and rows of bookshelves? Would it be small and cozy?

Sandra: I have books in every single room of my house. Honestly, they are friends, and my home would feel naked and soulless without them.  So, I seek to make special places in each room a nook – or a shelf – for books, rather than one dedicated library.

Mimi: My dream would be to have a room with walls of books and there would definitely have to be a sliding ladder! But I'm with you, I like having friends nearby so having them in each room is fantastic! I have them around my house as well!

Q8: Since you do book coaching, do you ever find yourself giving a tip that you realize you should've used in your writing? Can you give us an example?

Sandra: I hope that, when I coach, I help my clients learn from the many years I have been writing, coaching, and editing.  I want to help them avoid potential pitfalls, when I can, and give them skills and tools it took me years to learn.  I wish I would have learned much earlier in my career how important it is to structure a novel a bit before writing it. It would have saved me many long deletions! I show my clients how to structure and create while retaining their voices.

Mimi: So fantastic that you are able to pass on what you've learned over the years from your own experiences.

Q9: What do you do to get into your "zone" as you prepare to start writing your next book?

Sandra: Once I slip into the next book, I am almost always in the zone.  I see things all around me with a view to the story. I take notes on my phone when I’m with my friends or family and something occurs. I cook from the culture or preferences of my characters. All of my reading and much of my tv is geared toward supporting the book. I slip away, as it were, and don’t really emerge until the draft is done.  The time at the computer is just an extension of that.

Mimi: Aside from the eels, I'd love to be around you as you're creating your books where the food is concerned. lol Sounds like you become one with the creation of the book as you're in process. That's incredible!

Q10: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you choose? Oh, and it's going to be the setting of your next book! 

Yes, ma’am, it is! Whidbey Island, and I’ll be there in just a few weeks and popping in and out all summer long!

Mimi: Sounds like a fantastic way to spend your days doing research, especially during the summer!

Be sure to keep up with Sandra via her newsletter from her website or on Instagram!


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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.