Sally Responds to FAQs
Where are you from?
I was born in Bath, Maine, as one of the eleventh generation decedents of the Reverend Robert Jordan who arrived in Maine from England in 1638, just missing the “Mayflower” boat by 18 years. I’m also a 9th generation Ames from England, as in the Ames “shovel” family. My puritan roots contributed to my conservative values and work ethic.
What inspired you to write?
Coming out of a technology and project management background in the banking industry and with no prior attempts at creative writing, I began my first novel in 2008. Frustrated by the pap from the media during the lead up to the presidential election, I was challenged by Joe, my husband and now my editor, to express my ire in writing. Adding a creative spin, I took one of the main issues bantered about in the news and twisted a little fact with fiction to create a plausible scenario. Surprisingly, to both of us, I discovered the love of writing.
How did you decide to become an author?
I took up the challenge posed by my husband and ended up with an eighty-eight thousand word novel. The next step was to ask a few friends, who are avid readers and erudite in their own right, to read my tome. After receiving a thumbs-up, I decided to self-publish. Four months later, I was under contract with Dunham Books, who subsequently republished my first novel Brotherhood Beyond the Yard, along with three others, completing “The Simon Tetralogy.” Now I’m in the process of completing my sixth novel, the second Max Ford Thriller, joining a complete new series of narratives.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
It chose me. As a political junkie who questions all issues and with a built-in conspiratorial mind, romance novels where not an option.
Who are your favorite authors?
Although, I write more in the genre of Brad Thor or John Grisham…who are on my favorite’s list, Lauren Belfer, author of City of Light, and Robert Hellenga who wrote The Sixteen Pleasures, initially inspired me. Their ability to weave fact with fiction is masterful. It is a challenging goal I try to attain in all my novels.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
One things I enjoy most about writing is the research, essential in the plot development. But what I find difficult is to maintain the discipline to stop, as more intriguing facts are uncovered. One fact tends to lead me to another as I dive deep looking for pieces of the puzzle. And because I mix a myriad of facts in with my fictional plots to inform the reader, it makes it that more difficult to keep the plot flowing. As a perfectionist, I admit to a lot of rewrites.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
After five novels, I’m still skateboarding along. Thus far, there has been no shortage of thoughts and words. Occasionally, I admit when writing a difficult chapter, I find myself bullet pointing specific issues and then I move. When I return to the tough chapter at a later time, it somehow seems to come together.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Put a pen to paper…or fingers to the keyboard…and start writing. Go with your stream of consciousness and don’t discount any thoughts or over-analyze your words…the editing comes later—Cut and Paste was created for a purpose.
What is your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My stories tend to develop as though a movie was playing in my head. So I enjoy writing the dialogue as it plays out in my mind. Oftentimes, I try to emulate my character’s emotions by making strange facial expressions or acting the scene out loud. I find when I step into the character it’s sometimes easier to put the feelings or actions into words. Fortunately, only my husband has witnessed me engaging in those strange antics.
Do the books have to be read in any specific order?
Writing the sequels to my first novel, Brotherhood Beyond the Yard was a major challenge. I wanted the subsequent novels in “The Simon Tetralogy” to stand on their own. At times, I found it necessary to refer to some past events so the new reader could follow the plot, but I had to include them in a way that a reader of my earlier books would not find it repetitive. It required striking a fine balance. And of course, I also wanted to pique the interests of readers to continue with the narrative in the succeeding books in the series. So they can be read out of order. But as the author, I believe you will find them more enjoyable if you read: Brotherhood Beyond the Yard, Noble’s Quest, The Ultimate Revenge, and then Redemption in that order. The novels in my new Max Ford Thriller series can definitely be read in any order, but I hope everyone reads them the moment they are published…then the order won’t matter.
What is your favorite thing to do when you are not writing?
Before my writing career took off, my husband and I were avid world travelers. Our roaming included visiting all seven continents, several African safaris, and high-altitude treks in: Bhutan, Tibet, Mongolia, and other countries. But now I tend to travel with my characters as I focus on the next book…and already I have a new series planned.
However, occasionally when I do suggest we take some time off between books he says, “Great!” But it doesn’t take long before he starts to miss the editing and is raring to get going again. I believe I’ve created a two-headed monster.
When have you been most satisfied in your life?
First, my marriage has been the most satisfying single event in my life. Second, is my career as an author; perhaps because it was the most unexpected, unleashing a hidden talent. The fact that my husband is also my editor is golden. How could I not be the most satisfied under these circumstances?
If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would you bring?
My husband, an ample supply of champagne, and Scrabble.
If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?
Definitely Granola. I strive to be a delicious balance between being a nut, a fruit, and a flake.
What is your everyday favorite food?
In our household, we call it the 3P’s. It’s frequently a toss-up between Pasta, Pizza or Panini…all homemade of course.
What is your favorite movie?
Without hesitation, it’s Casablanca!
If you could have any super power, what would it be?