May Showers not only bring May Flowers, but also some very interesting interviews from some of your favorite authors. Welcome! We are happy to have Ms. Sondra Rice Newman with us, and she will be talking a little about herself, and her book SILVER DREAMS. Coffee Time Romance wants to extend a warm welcome to Ms. Newman.
Who was Leigh-Heroine, based on and why?
Leigh Meredith is an amalgam of many single women in their 30s -- hard-working and overwhelmed by a demanding, but not satisfying, career that becomes the focus of their lives. I’ve seen my friends, and several nieces in that age group, struggle through that decade of life. The women who aren’t dating are miserable, and many times, so are the ones who are dating. So, it’s a very vulnerable time for the Leighs of the world. When it comes to emotions, I think “35 is the new 15.” Not every woman in this age group lives a glamorous Sex In The City lifestyle. Even as successful as Leigh was, it took Sven walking out on her to force her to examine her life and try to put some meaning into it.
Where did the idea of Whit Riley-Hero, with his baggage and wounds come from?
Whit’s another figment of my imagination. That said, it doesn’t mean we all haven’t known a Whit or two. You know the kind of man I’m talking about – someone who has so much going for him, but is his own worst enemy and keeps on making the same mistakes over and over. It was important for Leigh to gradually become aware of Whit’s strong points so that she could see him as a worthy romantic interest. Equally important was that Leigh not take on the responsibility for reforming him. I say this because I don’t believe that anyone can truly change anyone else. I wanted to show Whit changing from within after he had a reason to do so.
The minor characters such as Bibs McBride, and Bob Murchison-Newspaper Publisher enrich the story with a sense of community, were these characters straight from your imagination? Or were they real people in your life?
This is nice to hear. Almost everyone who has read Silver Dreams makes it a point to tell me how much they like Bibs, and I like her, too. Bibs, Bob Murchison, Albert, and all the rest are all fictional characters created to give my heroine, Leigh Meredith, a framework in which to operate. When Leigh chucks her life in the big city, she needs to slow down and grow up. Bibs McBride is supports and facilitates Leigh’s growth as a person. I wanted Leigh, not just to have exciting and interesting new experiences, but to be a different, deeper, and better person for having had them.
The idea of a disabled racing horse and a rag-tag group of people supporting his race to victory is an endearing concept, It tugs at the heart strings. Did it evoke those same emotions in you while you were writng?
Great question. And the answer is, “Yes.” Even though I’ve said that none of the characters are based on real people, I must admit that they are all very real to me. And that goes for the horse, too. I was really distraught when Silver Dreams came down with colic. For dramatic pacing, he had to be sick, but not too sick. A friend who read the first draft of the novel suggested that a villain kidnap Silver Dreams or try to injure him before a race. My love for animals is such that I couldn’t bear to write anything so horrible. Accidents and illness are unavoidable, but a human being purposely inflicting pain on an animal is beyond my comprehension and thus, beyond what I can write about.
Your knowledge of horses is extensive, how long have you been involved with them and do you still ride presently?
What made you decide to write about this subject?
My first equine was a long-maned Shetland pony when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Later on, in high school, I rode “Thunder,” a beautiful, athletic quarter horse that my father bought for me. I’d go tend him every morning, feed, water, muck the stall, and then, run in the tack room and change from my jeans into school clothes. I always arrived in time for Latin class – still, I’m sure, casting a strong scent of “Barn #5” over my classmates. I took a bad fall with Thunder, and though I loved him dearly, didn’t ride again for 20 years. After moving to Arizona a few years ago, I switched from western to English and rode regularly until a shoulder injury – not horse related – interfered. I’m hoping to be able to ride again by next winter. I chose to center my story around a horse because: #1 horses are just about the most beautiful creatures on earth, and #2 horses can take you beyond your usual self and, sometimes, change your life.
Is writing another passion of yours and is there another book in the works?
I love to write, and find that I enjoying re-writing and editing almost as much. (I must mention my husband here, who is also skilled and edits my work before anyone else.) My next fiction book has to remain a secret for now, but I thinking about squeezing a short non-fiction book into my schedule. It would be about nursing homes and how to help a family member cope with living in such an institution. The adjustment required for both the resident and the family is colossal and can be overwhelming.
What does your family and friends think of your writing?
My husband has been totally supportive. He’s a retired newspaper reporter and has written non-fiction himself, so he understands the process well. (When I’ve had a trying day he has an uncanny 6th sense, which prompts him to ask, “Would you go out for dinner tonight?” Bless him!) My family and friends have been so wonderful to ask about my work as it goes along. My creative process sometimes moves slowly, but they’ve never pointed that out to me. My friends have been happy for my success, and I’m lucky to have such a great family and wonderful group of loyal friends rooting for me.
Does it feel to have your first book published?
In a word, wonderful! Bob Reed, my publisher, has been wonderful to work with. And Elin Pendleton, the equine artist who created the cover art for the book’s dust jacket, contributed so much to the “look” of the book with her great painting. Those autumn woods look just like I imagined them. I’ve enjoyed the whole process: the writing, the re-writing, the editing, and now, reading the many terrific reviews that the book was fortunate enough to receive. It’s been a great experience. Thank you, Silver Dreams!
A Wonderful Interview, Once again we want to thank Ms. Newman for taking time to chat with us today. And thank you Ms. New from Coffee Time Romance. Join Ms. Newman on September 12th for a chat here at Coffee Time Romance!