Sandra Wickham, physical trainer, writer, Inkpunk, and all around pleasant human being (don’t believe the picture) is our next Taos Toolbox profile.
Tamago: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
Sandra: I wrote my first full-length novel when I was nine years old. It was awful, I’m sure and exactly like the books I was reading at the time by George MacDonald. My grandmother typed it up for me and I remember her asking me not to write in yellow pencil crayon because it was hard for her to read. I used to write with and on anything and everything I could find back then. My parents still have a copy of it. I got away from writing for a long time and have just returned to it in 2008.
Tamago: How did you come to join the Inkpunks?
Sandra: We were a group of friends before we were the Inkpunks. We met through conventions and social media, people started to notice us as a group online so I came up with the idea of starting up a blog together. (yes, I’ll take credit for that!) We have since had a couple extra awesome people join us and we continue to be a group of friends that happen to blog together and support each other in writing and in life.
Tamago: Do you prefer to write short stories or novels? Why?
Sandra: I prefer to write novels. I really love the expansiveness of them, the work that has to go into fitting all the puzzle pieces together. However, I do recognize the value of short stories for honing your craft as well as for building your resume, so I’m making it my goal to focus a bit more on short stories while taking a break from working on novel length works.
Tamago: I know you are a fan of Urban Fantasy. What draws you to that genre?
Sandra: It’s a heck of a lot of fun! The weaving of the paranormal and fantastic into our own world is almost wish fulfillment for me. When UF is well done, it makes you believe these things really could be going on in our world, just outside our front door.
Tamago: Why did you sign up for Taos Toolbox?
Sandra: My mentor, Diana Rowland highly recommended it and thought I was ready to move on from where I was at with novel writing. The fact it focused on novels and not short stories was really appealing to me.
Tamago: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about attending a writing workshop?
Sandra: Go into it with an open mind, not only to learn new things, but also to make new friendships. I was so focused on having some sort of brilliant moment of writing wisdom to magically fall upon me during sessions, that I forgot to have fun. Once I started looking at it as “camp for writers” I had a lot more fun and met some people I intend to stay friends with for the rest of my life.
Tamago: Has your background and profession in physical training and weight lifting come in handy in any of your writing?
Sandra: Most notably, two things have transferred over.
First, I think the greatest advantage is discipline. I’m used to putting in hours and hours in order to improve, to having a set schedule to follow NO MATTER WHAT and to not give up in the hard times.
Secondly, I would hope it’s given me the skills to handle being judged and rejected. I stood up on stage for judges and fans to accept or reject me for ten years and I survived, so I’d like to think that has transferred to the writing world as well.
Tamago: Which authors have influenced your work?
Sandra: This is such a difficult question. When I was young and impressionable, I’d say Stephen King, Terry Brooks, Tolkien, Peter S Beagle, David Eddings and many others. Right now I’m inspired in the UF realm by Kim Harrison, Richelle Mead, Diana Rowland, Kat Richardson, Mark Teppo, Mike Hearn, and the list goes on and on. The people who are influencing my work right now are my peers, whether it’s them giving me feedback or me reading their work.
Tamago: What would be your dream writing project?
Sandra: You’re giving me the chance to dream? Thank you! This could be a long answer. I’d love to write a long running series that people get so involved in that I’m able to expand it into graphic novels, podcast stories and other media. It would be great to then be able to do a guide to the world of stories I’ve created, something similar to Kim Harrison’s “The Hollows Insider.”
I have always loved teaching, from aerobics classes to physique competition training. I’ve been promoting the biggest novice competition in Canada for almost ten years now. I’d love to transfer those skills to the writing world and host a writing retreat, conference or convention some day. (keep your eyes open for that!)
Tamago: Where do you hope to be in 10 years as a writer?
Sandra: I will refer you to the dreaming in question nine. It could happen, right?