Sandy Owens is legendary among the Golden Heart® crowd because she went from unpublished in 2013 to RWA® Honor Roll* less than five years later. As we started working together on this interview, I quickly realized why: the woman has an awe-inspiring capacity for turning out high quality work.
Question 1: In your new series, Aces and Eights, a trio of brothers own a biker bar in Miami as a front for their FBI work. How did you get your information about the inner workings of the FBI?
The World Wide Web is an amazing thing. You can find just about anything if you search deep enough. There are a lot of sites with information about the FBI, even a few hosted by the FBI. Also, I’m very fortunate to have a friend whose husband is an FBI agent, and I was able to ask him questions through her. One of my biggest questions for Ace of Spades, book three in the series, was whether there was a policy against agents dating each other. There isn’t, which was good because my H/h in that book are both FBI agents.
Question 2: Traditional publishing has served you well. Montlake Publishing offered you a contract based on your 2013 Golden Heart® manuscript and less than five years later you are an RWA® Honor Roll member. Would you ever consider self-publishing/becoming a hybrid? Why or why not?
Funny you should ask that. I’m self-publishing four books this year. I’ve always wanted to dip my toes in that water, and I decided it was time to do it. Yikes! I’m nervous as all get out because I haven’t a clue what I’m doing, but I have lots of indie/hybrid author friends who are being very patient in answering all my questions. I’m finding that some aspects of doing this myself are fun and some not so fun. The new series (out this summer) are small town romances, far different from anything I’ve done before, and I had a blast writing the stories.
Question 3: Tell us about the Harley trip you took through the California Mountains. When? What did you see/hear/smell that you’ve never experienced before or since?
My motorcycle riding years were some of the best in my life, and I definitely miss having a bike. Some years ago, my husband and I lived in San Diego, which is an awesome place to ride. In a single day you can ride along the coast, then into the mountains, and then end up in the desert.
One fall we decided to spend a long weekend riding in the Southern California mountains. The weather was picture-perfect, just chilly enough to feel refreshing and the sky was pure blue. We always rode staggered, with my husband leading. So, we’re riding on these awesome curvy roads surrounded by trees dressed in their fall foliage—golds, reds, yellows, and oranges. Our cheeks were rosy from the crisp air, and we could smell the clean, tingly scent of the pine trees. It was the kind of fresh mountain air that made you just want to breathe deep.
At one point, we came around a curve and a canopy of brilliantly colored trees covered the road ahead. The next few minutes almost felt surreal, as if we’d stumbled into a secret, magical land. Because I was following my husband, I was able to see the leaves falling from the trees float around him. I’ll never forget that moment because I felt so alive and so blessed to be sharing something that special with the man I loved. I need to write this scene into a book someday.
Bestselling, award-winning author Sandra Owens lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Her family and friends often question her sanity but have ceased being surprised by what she might get up to next. She’s jumped out of a plane, flown in an aerobatic plane while the pilot performed death-defying stunts, gotten into laser gun fights in Air Combat, and ridden a Harley motorcycle for years. She regrets nothing.
Sandra is a Romance Writers of America Honor Roll member and a 2013 Golden Heart® Finalist for her contemporary romance Crazy for Her. In addition to her contemporary romantic suspense novels, she writes Regency stories.
*The RWA® Honor Roll recognizes current RWA® members who have a work of romance fiction, excluding multi-author anthologies and multi-author boxed sets, that has: appeared on any New York Times bestseller list; appeared on the Publishers Weekly Top Ten bestseller list or any other PW best-seller list based solely on format, genre, or region; appeared in the top 50 of the USA Today bestseller list; or sold at least 100,000 copies in a single language, including copies from digital, print and audio formats, as well as reissues of the identical work that do not appear in multi-author anthologies and multi-author boxed sets.
Aw! What a beautiful image the third question elicited! I love that. (-: I’m a little shy about putting things so close to my heart into a story, so I’ve got to ask y’all: have you taken a heart-warming image from your relationship with your current partner, and put it in a story?
To be honest, it’s easier for me to put annoying stuff from past partners into books! There’s the distance thing, which makes me see the whole thing in context, plus, if I bungle it . . . there’s the distance thing again. (-: I should have a little more confidence, I guess!
Love this interview!
I ruthlessly use anything I have. The first short story I wrote that ever won a contest was a fictionalized version of my daughter’s coming-out story. I’m so much older than most beginning-of-their-career authors–the one advantage I have is a wealth of life experiences.
I remember something we read at McDaniel–a letter from a famous author–Dickens, maybe?–to a young, would-be writer. He said that in writers’ early works, their passion and pitiless self-exposure is what gets them through until their skill develops enough to cover the lack of those things. (Heavily paraphrased and re-interpreted, so don’t quote me.)
(-: Oh, I’m shameless about using FRIENDS’ situations — well, not quite shameless, because I usually add so much stuff that things don’t look like the same story my friend told me. I figure if it catches my imagination even though it’s not actually happening to me, it’ll probably catch other people’s imagination, too. The friends have already done some of the hard work of transforming the experience into a story that they tell their friends.
Hmmm. I’ll have to ask. Maybe my friends can point out the gossip I’ve told them that has caught their own imaginations . . . I could work from that.