Sandra, tell us about your book.
Over Maya Dead Body is book 3 in my Serena Jones Mysteries series about a plucky FBI agent who specializes in art crime. Serena is supposed to be enjoying a little R&R on Martha’s Vineyard, but trouble finds her again—this time in the form of an antiquity smuggling ring that is not above murder.
That sounds exciting and out of the ordinary, for sure. Has God used the message of your book in your own life?
While on Martha’s Vineyard to research the novel, I discovered the unique beauty of sea glass and people’s passion for collecting it. This combination struck me as a powerful metaphor for life. At one time or another, most of us have felt broken, ugly or unwanted, just as sea glass once was. But over time, the action of the waves and rocks and sand transform it into something sought after and treasured.
Now whenever I look at the dish of sea glass I’ve collected, I’m reminded that the Lord can use difficult circumstances to hone strengths and positive qualities in me…if I’m willing. We are all a treasure in the making.
Such a valuable thought to cling to. What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
Not knowing which man Serena would start a relationship with at the end of the book until six weeks before the manuscript was due. This was because I invited readers of book 1, A Fool and His Monet, to vote and promised I’d go with the choice of the majority. The trouble was…book 1 didn’t release until three months before book 3’s deadline! To make it even tougher, readers didn’t pick the guy I’d expected them to choose.
Wow – what a surprise that must have been for you. What’s your favorite scene in this new book?
I loved writing every single scene. Serena’s pithy thoughts always make me smile. I know that sounds weird, because those thoughts come out of my head, but it doesn’t feel that way. I think if I had to pick one favorite section, I had the most fun depicting Tanner’s arrival and the scene following it, in which Serena’s mother and her Aunt Martha weigh in with their thoughts on the fact that two men have flown to the island to come to Serena’s aid. Both men obviously care for her more deeply than she’d realized. And she’s in no condition to cope with that fact! She has a murder to solve.
How has being a writer impacted your relationship with Christ?
Being a writer has deepened my prayer life in countless ways. It has taught me to wait on the Lord and trust in his timing and seek his will, not mine. Unfortunately, it has also revealed areas of my life that could use work. But you do understand the crimes I plot are fictional, right?
Oh, we do hope so! Why do you write mysteries?
Because I enjoy getting emails from readers complaining that I kept them up half the night because they couldn’t put my book down until they figured out whodunit. J
Great reason. What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?
That they should NEVER read a novel’s ending first. Writers, especially mystery writers, work so hard to plant all the clues and devise twists and turns and motivations and reveals to try to keep the reader guessing to the very end. Reading the ending first completely changes a reader’s experience of the story.
That’s wonderful advice, Sandra. Do you have pets? If so, do they inspire your writing or hinder it?
I do. My Alaskan husky keeps me fit by insisting on regular walks, which she insists are also good for filling the creative well with new sights and sounds, ooh, and smells. She also has a few quirks that have inspired a scene or two. On the flipside, however, she asks to be let out or let in at the most inopportune times, when I’m on a writing roll…like at his very moment!
What are your hobbies, activities, or passions outside of writing?
I’m a Jill of all trades (master of none). I love to learn how to do things, especially construction/carpentry projects. I also love creating things. I don’t do as much now as I used to before I started writing, but I’m starting to pick up a lot of my earlier hobbies again—painting, crocheting, knitting, sewing, cross-stitching, general crafts, and baking.
Tell us about your next project.
I am working on several cozy mysteries in different multi-author continuing series that are only available by subscription with Annie’s Attic. However, fans of my Serena Jones Mysteries are also urging me to write a spin-off series, so we’ll see.
Thank you for joining us today, Sandra.