Interview with Sandy Day

What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book, Fred's Funeral started as a short story I wrote back in 1986 after returning home from the funeral of my Great Uncle Fred. I wrote and rewrote the piece many times over the years and in 2011 I discovered something that compelled me to turn it into something more than a short story.

It turns out there was a box of letters in my uncle's attic that were written by Fred between 1916 and 1919 while he served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. My first step was to read and transcribe the letters. My mind was blown. I began researching WWI and tracing where Fred had been during various battles. I discovered that he had been hard at work tending to horses and leading an ammunition wagon during the battle of Passchendaele.

Poor old Uncle Fred suffered from shell shock as a result of his time in WWI but it presented as we now know PTSD does - after he returned home to Canada. The real Fred, and the fictional Fred, was institutionalized for the remainder of his life and I wanted to know more about that. Lucky for me, my great-grandfather, my grandfather, and Fred kept every scrap of paper and correspondence that passed through their hands so I was able to imagine a story based on real events.

In 2015 I attended a novella writing workshop and decided that Fred's story would be best told in that format. The idea of the ghost came to me one night and I was able then to write what is now Fred's Funeral.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Southern Ontario. In the summers we lived in the family cottage on Lake Simcoe. That landscape dominates my imagination and my writing.
Who are your favorite authors?
I was talking to a writer friend the other day about Margaret Atwood. We discovered that back in the day we had both loved The Edible Woman. I mentioned to my friend that I'd also loved Surfacing, I'd read it many times. My friend had never read it and as I described it to her I realized how much Surfacing runs through my writing. I often write about lakes and oceans, swimming and drowning, stays with relatives, cottages. . . I have to thank Ms Atwood for that influence.

My other favourite authors are Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje, and Miriam Toewes.
What is your writing process?
I write longhand in notebooks. I am inspired by other people's writing and by songs, as well as by events in life or stories I hear other people tell. For stories I now plan out how the story is to proceed. My first books were pieced together like quilts but it is profoundly difficult to cobble together a book that way. Now I plan.

After I've written the story longhand I dictate it into a Google Doc, then I copy that document into my MS Word and work on editing. Revision is my favourite part of writing. The blank page is excruciating. When people suggest that I love writing I can't disagree enough. Writing is hard and horrible, reading what I wrote the next day is much more fun.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a self-publisher so I spend a lot of time working on manuscripts and marketing. But I also run a company for a veterinarian - we sell a dog training product, and I do bookkeeping for the vet business.

I live in a small town now so I go visiting and exploring. I love to have coffee with friends and just talk and talk and talk.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
One of the first stories I ever wrote was a satirical piece called My Teacher. It was grade 2 and the teacher had handed out slips of paper with topics on them for creative writing class. My slip said, My Teacher. So I let her have it. I don't know why I thought it was a good idea. I made fun of how she looked and then thought I saved the day with my last line, "But everyone loves Miss Lennie." She wrote across the top of it, "Very Interesting".

I have come to know that "Very Interesting" is code for I hated it!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I am too old to wait for rejections from agents and publishers. I have always been tech savvy and entrepreneurial so I decided to self-publish my work to get it into the hands of my readers as quickly as possible.
What are you working on next?
My next book is a collection of stories I wrote in the summer of 2017. The working title is Yellow Flags. It's about my move from a small apartment in Toronto to live with my sister in our family cottage on Lake Simcoe. All the family ghosts are present, as are a cast of wildlife characters I didn't know would play such a large part in my life and in my writing. I felt a dry humour about what I was writing but some of the stories turned out kind of dark.
Published 2017-11-14.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Chatterbox Poems
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 12,390. Language: English. Published: July 13, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Female authors
Chatterbox is 110 poems, tiny tellings written during a year of marriage disintegration. The poems explore a world of bewildering emotions ranging from sadness & terror to anger & enlightenment. The reader enters a world conjured from fairytales & dolls, the Garden of Eden & the Wizard of Oz; the pages abound with moths & mice, dogs & horses, roosters & crows, oranges & apples, the moon & the sun.