Is there a story behind your book Calculated Risk?
Most certainly. I wanted to write a story in which at least one character was an actuary. (Actuaries evaluate the financial risk of insurance companies.) Before the profession grew, actuaries received the bad reputation of being weird. Well, in many cases that’s true in behavior, dress, and social skills. I’m allowed to say that because both my husband and I are retired actuaries. We, along with hero Nick, are in the sixty percent who aren’t very weird. Nick is analytical, private, and doesn’t like being wrong. Because I write romances between extreme opposites, I had to go with the job of a marketing rep for social, vibrant, and expressive Cisney. As the rare creative, expressive, analytical, introverted actuary, I was able to get into Cisney’s head and into the head of Nick, the guy who had to deal with her.
What distracts you from writing the easiest?
Editing. I’m an edit addict. I have to set up rules, such as I’m allowed to edit no more than the last scene I wrote the day before. Most people can probably identify with taking a break and getting sidetracked and involved in an activity. Their breaks can last an hour. That’s what happens when I stop writing and eye the last several fat paragraphs, each begging to be whittled down to a few tight sentences. I’m hoping as I continue to hone my craft, I’ll leave my writing alone until “The End.”
What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I enjoy reading many genres, but I especially enjoy witty romances with sassy or droll heroines. Much to my husbands’ chagrin at bedtime, I laugh through Jenny B. Jones’s adult and young adult books. Reading her books gave me permission to use my dormant writer’s voice. Check out her Just Between You and Me, So Not Happening (YA), and In Between (YA). I also loved the heroine in Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
You mean, like when I was twenty and accepted a ride in a taxi with a drunk American stranger in his fifties in
that was the stupidest thing I’ve
ever done, and lived unscathed to mention. Let’s see… How about when I was ten
and my sister, two friends, and I walked on ice to the middle of a lake in
Norfolk, VA, and all fell through? No, that was just dumb. Quirky…quirky. Did
you notice my cover? At the recent ACFW writers conference’s
come-as-your-character dinner, I dressed up like Cisney with yellow stickies
plastered all over my suit and hair. People didn’t remember my name, but the next
day, they said, “You’re the one who had adhesive notes stuck to her outfit.” So,
the quirky part is, I’m going to wear my Cisney costume to my upcoming book
signing and to my launch party. Bangkok,
What is your strangest habit?
Eating what I call Potpourri. I like to have a yummy collection of tidbits of different foods for lunch and dinner. One lunch might be a bowl of dry Froot Loops, peanuts, Craisins, and dark-chocolate covered pomegranate nuggets. One dinner might be cheese and pepperoni cut in “appetizer” chunks along with bing cherries and chips. No candy bars for me at the movies. I have popcorn and Sno-Caps, or some other candy that comes in morsels. Of course, I eat one piece at a time, savoring it. I used this habit for Cisney when Nick, his sister, and his cousins take her to the traditional movie on Thanksgiving evening.
What place have you enjoyed living in most and why?
I grew up on the move. From age seven to ten during the rise of Papa Doc, I lived on a mountain looking down on
Even though I experienced the excitement later of being evacuated from Port-au-Prince, Haiti Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
during the Cuban Missile Crisis and of living in Thailand
during the Vietnam War, exotic
was my favorite place. It was a lush place at that time. But now, I love living
on a hill in the Haiti Blue Ridge Mountains, looking
out at the mountains and down on a valley. From my writing office, I watch sheep
and cattle graze, farmers plow and grow corn, and seasonal pumpkins and
Christmas trees grow.
Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?
I like northern
The first time we were in Italy
during a Footsteps of Paul cruise, I was reading Francine Rivers’s Voices in the Wind. I’d read about some
monument the characters walked by, and then I’d see it. I’d read about Christians
mauled by lions in the Coliseum, and then I’d stroll around the Coliseum,
looking down into the compartments where the lions were kept. Later in Rome , our tour guide
shared so much of what Francine Rivers described in Voices in the Wind. At an ACFW conference not long after the cruise,
I approached Francine after she gave the keynote speech. I told her we must
have had the same guide in Ephesus .
She said she’d never been to Ephesus .
Now that’s a woman who can research. Ephesus
Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
Yes. The spiritual themes center on women learning that God always works things for their best interest, and so it’s time to give up control to Him. Because her father has a strong opinion of the type of man Cisney should marry, she panics when she loses the guy of her father’s choice. She thinks she has to find another man like him. God uses the man Nick is to help her see things from God’s perspective.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I recently finished another contemporary romance. Here’s what it’s about. After running out of her inheritance, as embittered young woman crawls home to Daddy. But Daddy has conditions. Like caddy for him on the PGA seniors’ tour. There she meets a caddy who can read the warp and woof of putting greens and has promise of becoming a PGA player. He’s a perfect match for the girl who loves golf, except he’s content to be her best buddy, and she hates his sleazebag father who stole her father’s golf scholarship.
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Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart