Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Hello, and thank you.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Sandra Bolton, and this is my dog, Sam.Let’s just say we are both ‘seniors’ but young at heart.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m from the States, originally California, and I’ve lived in many places in between – Florida, Spain, Sicily, and Honduras. For the past 30 years, I’ve called New Mexico home.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I have a B.A. in education from the University of West Florida and a Master’s Degree in counseling from Highlands University here in New Mexico. I retired from teaching after 25 years. I’ve outlived a husband, a partner, and my cat, Fidel, so now it is just Sam and me in the house. We do love getting out in nature and hiking in the beautiful mountains near home. I have three great children and six amazing grandchildren who unfortunately live far away. I love cooking great meals for friends and family when they come to visit.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’ve just released my latest novel, Raven’s Cry, Book 3 in the Emily Etcitty Mystery Series. The story follows the adventures of Navajo Police Officer Emily Etcitty and her east coast musician boyfriend, Abe Freeman as they find themselves once again enmeshed in a dangerous and puzzling mystery
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Unlike many authors, I never thought about becoming a writer until after my retirement, and I attended a writing class with local Southwest mystery writer, Steven Havill. One class led to another and my first novel, A Cipher in the Sand, began to emerge.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Once I self-published that first novel, I was hooked and started thinking of ideas for a second book.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I started thinking about my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras, all the close calls and adventures I had, and I incorporated my real-life experiences into a fictional mystery story.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I was stationed on the north coast of Honduras, right on the beach. The word ‘cipher’ refers to a secret or a code, which may lead to solving the mystery.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I do not write from an outline or even necessarily know where the story is going when I start. I guess you could call me a “seat of the panster.” Once I start writing, I am pretty disciplined and dedicate three hours a day to writing, or at least sitting in front of the computer and thinking about writing.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
If we are still referring to “Cipher,” a large part of it is realistic and based on my own experiences. The Emily Etcitty Mysteries draw from my experiences living on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico and teaching Navajo children. I had a unique opportunity to learn about the culture and traditions.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I did not travel. I relied on memory and researchand interviews with native experts who were knowledgeable about the Navajo culture.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I designed my first cover. The covers for books 1 and 2 in the Emily Etcitty series were designed by someone chosen by my publisher, Thomas and Mercer. My talented friend, Carita Tanner, designed the cover for Raven’s Cry.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
If there is one underlying message in all my novels it lies in the seeking of justice for the downtrodden and underrepresented minorities who have suffered at the hands of greed and power.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I’m impressed with the writing of Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl, and that of Joe Clifford, though both are dark and brooding. It is too difficult to pick a favorite author from so many greats. I love Margaret Atwood, John Steinbeck, Elmore Leonard, and Kurt Vonnegut.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I have belonged to the same writing group for nearly ten years now. Besides being a great critique group and fun to share dinner and wine, we all support and encourage one another and celebrate our successes.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I can’t imagine myself not writing, but I am glad I have a pension from teaching so that I don’t starve.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I might change the format somewhat – go to single spacing rather than 1 and a half that I did for older folks like me, but I am happy with the plot, characters, and flow.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned never to quit, and was reminded once again that writing is hard work.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
For my female protagonist I would love to see one of the talented Native American actors play Emily. And for the male, Abe Freeman, a sensitive brooding type like Daniel Day Lewis or Christian Bale.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
My advice is to not listen to advice. Everyone has their own style, preferred routine, and work ethic. Just stick to it and try to write every day, even if it only amounts a few words. Persevere!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I want my readers to be caught up in the story and not want to put it down. Be entertained! At the same time, I want them to learn something about people and different cultures.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am reading A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No. I’ve always loved reading from the time I was able to read, and that is too many years ago. I remember being greatly moved by Grapes of Wrath.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Anything silly, preposterous, ridiculous, or cute makes me laugh. But, I am not moved to tears by the meanness in the world but by goodness and acts of kindness. That’s what gets me every time.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I am actually an introvert, so I would like to be the ‘fly on the wall’ in the same room with Barack Obama or Stephen King, or any number of people though I am not overly impressed with celebrity.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
As I mentioned before, I love to cook all sorts of good things. I maintain a vegetable and herb garden and use fresh ingredients from my garden in my cooking. I also make walking sticks from carefully gathered tree branches when I have the time. I would much prefer being outdoors doing anything to being indoors.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I gave up TV over fifteen years ago, but recently bought a Roku TV so I can watch shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Right now, I’m watching Deadwood.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I am most comfortable with the warm earth tones: greens, oranges, and browns, kind of like the colors in New Mexico. I eat and enjoy all kinds of ethnic foods. There are very few foods I do not like. Maybe liver. And music, depends on my mood. I can’t listen to music when I write unless it’s quiet classic. Other times, I prefer some of the older standards.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
When the time comes that I am no longer writing I will probably be cremated and my ashes would be swirling in the wind over the landscape of New Mexico.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I have an isolated cabin in a place called Bear Canyon. It’s not far from my home, so I sneak away to go there as often as I can. I’d like to spend my last 24 hours sitting in that old rocker on the deck watching the deer and the turkeys and listening to the birds and the wind singing through the trees.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I do have a blog page. I need to update it, but it has a lot of my short stories and vignettes about my life. Here is the website and my Amazon page: