Tuesday 6 March 2018

Interview: Sandy Day

This morning I am thrilled to be welcoming the lovely Sandy Day to The Writing Greyhound! Read on to discover all about her life, her inspiration, and her novel Fred's Funeral.

Firstly, please could you introduce yourself?
Hello! I'm a Canadian writer, semi-un-self-employed-retired. I live in a small town north of Toronto, Ontario where I have spent every summer of my life. It's wonderful to be able to devote myself to writing but on the side, I also sell dog halters to dog trainers.
How did you first become interested in writing?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. As soon as I learned to read, I started writing. My first poem was published in the Toronto Humane Society's magazine, Fur and Feathers, when I was in grade 5. It was a poem about a cat. 
I studied English Literature at university but after graduation, I ended up buying a gift store and spent the next twenty years selling knickknacks and raising two kids. I got back to writing in 2008 following a miraculous change in my life, which is chronicled in my soon to be released book, Poems from the Chatterbox.
freds-funeral, sandy-day, book

Tell me about Fred’s Funeral.
Fred's Funeral was inspired by the life of my Great Uncle, a shell-shocked WWI veteran who lived a long and sad life. It is a fictional account - Fred is a ghost at his own funeral. The story is fuelled by the rivalry between Fred and his prudish sister-in-law Viola. She remembers Fred's life a little differently than he does.
What’s the best thing about writing literary fiction?
Literary fiction is what I love to read so naturally it's what I aspire to write. It's a tricky genre though, because what does literary even mean? Every work of literary fiction is also a story belonging to some other genre, unless it's very "experimental", i.e. unreadable. I suppose the definition is that literary fiction is not written to a formula, but even that seems farfetched to me. I think literary fiction is a style rather than a genre, and it just happens to be the style in which I write.
What drew you to writing about history? Did you undertake much research for the book?
I wanted to write a story about my Great Uncle. I didn't know anything about WWI so I needed to do a lot of research. I am drawn to writing about the past. I like to record little details that place a story in its time. The internet is an amazing resource for historical research. I don't know if I would have been able to write Fred's Funeral without YouTube and Wikipedia.
How did you get inspiration?
For Fred's Funeral, my Great Uncle's letters, found in a box in the attic, overwhelmingly inspired me. When I transcribed the letters, my Great Uncle's voice became embedded in my mind. When I wrote what he thought and what he felt, it was as though he was speaking to me. I was also inspired by the injustice I felt transpired for him; I wanted to correct the story.
What’s your writing process?
I cook up a story in my mind about a character or two and then I plot it out. I figure out what kind of story I am trying to tell and I make sure I include in the outline all the elements a reader wants to see. Every day, I spend time doing creative work, whether it's writing a first draft project longhand, or editing a piece. Little by little, the scribblings come together into books. 
That is not how I wrote Fred's Funeral. It was more of a quilting process. I took all the snippets and pieces I'd been writing since 1986 and sewed them all together. It took ages. I never want to work that way again. 
Poetry is different. Poems arrive like speeding torpedoes in my mind and I have to race to a notebook to write them down. If I don't grab them when they're mid-air, they're lost forever. I haven't had a poem come in quite a few months.
sandy-day, author

What’s the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest part of writing is the blank page. Every time I work on a first draft, getting started is absolute torture. When people tell me that I must love writing, I think they're nuts. I love editing - writing is hard hard work.
What do you love most about writing?
I love when a piece works. I love when I write something and read it a few days later and feel delighted. I love when I'm in workshops and I write something that makes people laugh or gasp. Most of all, I love the revision process when all my skills come into play and I get to hone a piece to perfection, or some reasonable facsimile thereof.
Which authors inspire you?
I'm reading a book of poetry, Closer to Where We Began by Lisa Richter, and I have to set it aside because it inspires me so much. I think, not now, not now! I don't have time for this inspiration right now! 
When I wonder if I'm on the right track with my own writing I reread Alice Munro.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Write. That's the only advice I can give. Write and share your writing. Blogs are free. Facebook is free. Write and write and write some more. My only caveat would be before you publish, that is making something public, make sure it is EXACTLY how you want it to sound. Read it out loud to yourself, and fix up all your spelling. 
Also, I think all aspiring writers should look into self-publishing. There is no dearth of material on the www about how to do it and it is the way of the future. Don't waste your time trying to get traditionally published.
What are you currently working on?
I just finished the final edit on my soon to be released, Poems from the Chatterbox. And I am writing a new novel that I cannot talk about - I don't like to talk about a first draft in progress. In the spring, I will be putting together a book I wrote last summer and publishing it. Then I have a novel I've been writing for a few years that will become my editing project. Whew!
What are you reading at the moment?
I am reading an engaging YA novel, The Last Singer by Marjorie Lindsey, and the sweet romance trilogy by Penny Appleton (not sure how I feel about that yet, it may be a bit too sweet for me). I'm also reading the entire internet, it feels like.
What’s your all-time favourite book?
It's a toss-up between The Collected Works of Billy the Kid by Michael Ondaatje, or A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toewes. Both are writing perfection to me.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
As I head into my silver years, I hope to make a living from my writing. I will continue to be an indie-author and help others to publish their books. I think indie-publishing is the most exciting development in the book world now and in the foreseeable future.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I'm very interested in spirituality and spend a great deal of time pondering existence and non-existence. What is my purpose here on Earth and am I fulfilling that purpose?
Fred's Funeral is available to buy now. For more about Sandy and her writing, you can visit her website.

Will you be reading the book? What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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