Interview with Willow Sanders

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm an avid swimmer- I swim between a mile and a half and two miles every day. In the past, prior to the "Great Meniscus Tear of 2013" I also competed in triathlons, however, now that the ole knee isn't what she used to be, Triathlons are out. I also have an unhealthy addiction to my Kindle, and probably read a book every two days... I'm pretty sure that Amazon has a picture of me up in the corporate headquarters in a gold frame with arrows and rhinestones and confetti that reads "#1 Customer" or "She pays our salary." I also love music and try to go to as many concerts as I can. Summertime in Chicago means outdoor concerts at Ravinia- which has been a tradition for as long as I can remember. My friends from High School and I have countdown calendars as to when the schedule comes out.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I'm part of a book club (a live in person book club I mean), so some of the books come from recommendations by my friends. I also belong to a few Facebook groups that offer free or discounted e-books, I depend heavily on Amazon's "recommendations" bar along the bottom of the page, and I'm on Goodreads, and see what other people are reading. I'll read pretty much anything if it sounds interesting - though memoirs, non-fiction, and other boring fuddy-duddy type of books typically don't receive a second glance from me. Because I tear through books, I tend to be kind of cheap when searching for books, and will a lot of times read the ones for .99 -2.99. I read a lot of inde work, and will watch the trends on Twitter, Goodreads, and look at the Amazon top sellers list to find books I haven't read yet that other people are talking about.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Well, my mom says that when I was really little I used to write stories for my sister who was still in utero, supposedly so she wouldn't get bored just hanging out in there with nothing to do until she was born. In third grade my teacher, Mr. Fisher, had "writing" day every Friday. He cut orange pieces of cardboard, and would "bind" our stories within the cardboard so we could bring them home and keep them. I wrote so many stories that year- I looked forward to Fridays, not because it was the weekend, but because for an hour I could let my imagination run free and actually be praised for day dreaming and going off to that place of glitter and rainbows, and whatever else an eight (?) year old writes about.
What is your writing process?
I have many. It depends on whether or not the book is one that absolutely has to be told NOW, or if its one that sat on slow simmer for a while. My favorite books are the ones that just explode out of you and your fingers can't keep up with your brain. It's the best feeling in the world. I have a journal that is specifically for story ideas. It's a jumbled mess, and color coded by post-it flags, but as scenes, dialogue, or general ideas come to be about a specific story I'll jot them down. Most of the stories don't even have titles. So my notebook has a lot of "that story you wanted to write set in Texas" or "that story about the lounge singer." Once they are a bit better fleshed out, I create Pinterest boards where I have pictures of the locations I picture in my head (or as close to them as possible) as well as how I see the characters looking. From there, it's just fingers to keyboard and I write. For the most part I write linearly though sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to just write the scenes I have playing around in my head and hope the rest follow rather than delaying the scenes in my head until I write all the connecting pieces.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I read so much as a child, I cant say for certain which was my first. I have strong memories of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," "Good Night Moon," and "Are You My Mother?" How did they impact me? I'm not really sure. When I was in second grade I read a book called "Mustard" about a cat, and I cried for days after reading it because Mustard dies at the end of the book. My house growing up was a reading household. At the end of the school year when kids were sent home with summer reading lists - with the suggestion that they pick 2-4, our mother had us reading the entire list... the ENTIRE list... every year. So whether by love or by force, we are all very well read.
How do you approach cover design?
Typically as I'm writing I already have an idea of what I want my cover to look like. So once it's time to design the cover I'll already have a few images pinned on a Pinterest board, and it's just a matter of assembling them and see what fits best.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
That's like asking a mother to pick her favorite child, seriously. I read so much and so often it's hard to pick five. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens- because I love redemptive tales and this is one of the best. As is A Tale of Two Cities... I cry every.single.time. I read it. Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility, Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe has haunted me ever since I read it, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic Series, Twenties Girl and I've Got Your Number all make me laugh, and anytime someone asks for a "good beach reach" those are my go-to recommendations.
What do you read for pleasure?
Everything (with the exception of non-fiction and memoirs). Though I'm on a romance kick at the moment.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle- it's my third actually. I use it to death, each of them having issues with their charging port that forced me to get a new one. But I honestly couldn't live with out it at this point.
Describe your desk
A hot mess.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I'm from the suburbs of Chicago, and you'll find Chicago references in all of my books. Even if they are set in other cities and states, somehow it always comes back to Chicago (either the character is a transplant from Chicago, or they travel through Chicago). I feel really lucky to have lived somewhere as great as this city. While I know I'm biased I think that it's the best of the large metropolitan cities. It's friendlier than New York, more wholesome than L.A. has a better Arts scene than some of the other major metros, plus our combination skyline/lake are some of the best views out there. Granted we have the WORST winters in the world and some of our politicians leave something to be desired BUT because of those things I am never lacking in things to talk about or reference in my stories.
Published 2014-06-04.
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