Sandy Bazinet writes about vampires. That was enough for me to ask her for an interview! It appears that, like my own stories, her vampire stories are about being human and about relationships. Stuff to make you think. I also love her book covers. Let’s find out how she got into writing about vampires.
Sandy Bazinet grew up in Kansas, spent many years in the Baltimore, Maryland area and currently lives in New Mexico. After raising a family, she found out that she loved computers and worked in website design. Since 2008, she’s been passionate about writing. Her books include The Vampire Reclamation Project series, the Sentenced to Heaven series, as well as the YA thriller, My Brother’s Keeper, and a dystopian novel, Dying Takes It Out of You.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love walks in the desert, working jigsaw puzzles, and graphic design! Graphic design is particularly nice when I’ve been writing all day and need to switch to a different way of expressing the artistic part of myself.
What is your favorite childhood book, and why?
A favorite was and still is Mr. Snitzel’s Cookies, by Jane Flory. It has a wonderful message. Do what you love and you’ll succeed!
Do you remember the first story you ever read and the impact it had on you?
It wasn’t the first story I read, but I read Wuthering Heights when I was about twelve years old. I think the intense, emotional states of the characters impressed me the most. I still feel that strong character development is a must in the books that I write.
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
I’d tell my younger self to stop worrying about getting everything perfect, to relax and have more fun with life and writing.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Have you thought about joining with another author to write a book?
Actually, my two grown daughters and I used to have a writer’s meeting once a week via a conference call. After a while, we decided to co-author three stories. Each week, one of us would write a section of a story and then pass the story on to the next person. It was great fun and also challenging since we each had a knack for leaving our section on a cliffhanger. We enjoyed the process, however, the stories got so complicated that we never completed them.
What gives you inspiration for your books? How did you come up with the idea for The Vampire Reclamation Project series?
Actually, I had writer’s block for many years. I took writing very seriously, and I think my mind’s ideas about how to write got in the way of my creative side. In frustration, I finally threw up my hands and decided not to worry about what I wrote. I decided to just write for the fun of it.
With that thought in mind, I sat down with a pad and pencil. I didn’t have a clue about what to write or what my story should be about. And I’m so grateful that I was in that open, receptive state. A story began to flow in on its own, a story about a wonderful angel named Michael and a desperate vampire named Arel. After that, I had to start writing at the computer because I couldn’t keep up with pad and pencil.
Do you try to be original in your storytelling or to deliver to readers what they want?
Nope, since I gave inspiration permission to lead the way, I have never tried to steer the stories I write. I’m always as surprised as any reader as the story reveals itself. Maybe that’s why writing is so enjoyable for me.
Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
In my series, The Vampire Reclamation Project, each book is complete in itself, but the characters change and grow as the series progresses. In that way, they build on each other. In my other books, the stories are always able to stand on their own too.
How do you select the names of your characters? Are your characters based on real people?
None of my characters are based on real people. A couple of times, it took a little longer for a name to come in, but most of the time, I begin to write about a character and a name pops in on its own.
What was your hardest scene to write?
The worst scene I had to write was one in which one of my main characters remembers a past life when he was burned at the stake. I don’t like violence or writing about violence so that was very hard to write. Thankfully, the brutality was kept to a minimum.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
Sorry, but that’s like asking me to name a favorite child. I love them all.
When you develop characters, do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
I start out with a blank slate. I don’t know who or what will populate a story. My characters are in charge and definitely develop as the story progresses. For instance, in the vampire series, the main character, Arel, is suffering from low self-esteem when the story begins. He’d had a very abusive childhood that left him nearly crippled with fear. However, as he’s helped by his angelic mentor, Michael, and some humans who “adopt” him, he comes out of his shell.
In each book, Arel becomes more himself, and we learn just how strong and gifted he truly is. However, in the last book, Tainted Blood, his attempts at finding the perfect partner were hard for me to watch and write. I felt like the protective mom who’s observing their adult child flounder. However, I never have to worry. My stories have a way of working out in the end. Thank goodness!
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I read my book reviews, but I try not to assign much weight to a negative one. Everyone has their perspective, and I respect that. What really helps is that I love writing, and I’ll write no matter what someone else thinks about my books.
What writing/publishing wisdom would you bestow upon new writers?
Don’t try to rush anything. Take your time and make sure that your book is the best it can be before you publish it. Make sure it’s well edited. Also, find a good designer for your cover! A cover is the first thing a person sees when they look at your book.
What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?
One reader said that my story helped them to reexamine their own life. They found comfort in the characters finding ways to give themselves a break and live happier lives. Another reader said my story gave them the courage to carry on in very adverse circumstances.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment as a writer?
In a world that is often stressful, I love the idea of providing people with stories that they can enjoy. If in some small way, I can contribute something positive and inspiring to others, I feel doubly blessed.
Thank you, Sandy, for sharing your answers with us. I can so relate with the non-planning way of writing. It is so much more exciting to wake up and not know what is going to happen next. And what great comments by your readers! It is a huge boost when you learn that you have had such a positive influence on someone 😀 .
Where can we find you online?
The Vampire Reclamation Project series has five books now. Check them out!