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In Conversation With Sandy Graham Author of You Speak For Me Now
From:
Norm Goldman --  bookpleasures.com Norm Goldman -- bookpleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, QC
Monday, November 22, 2021

 

Bookpleasures.com welcomesas our guest Sandy Graham.

Sandy is a dual citizen ofCanada and the United States. He spent 35 years with The BoeingCompany in a variety of engineering and management positions.

After retirement, hesatisfied a long-standing urge to delve into creative writing. Sandyhas authored the Pillage Trilogy, The Pizza DoughKing, Murder – On Salt Spring?

His most recent novel,You Speak For Me Now is about to be published.


Good day Sandy and thanksfor taking part in our interview.

Norm: What is the onething other people always seem to get wrong about you?


Sandy: People sometimesthink I’m probably a conservative, analytical engineering type whenactually I’m a free-thinking, creative individual.

Norm: What pet peeve doyou have about other people?

Sandy: People with closedminds and a lack of respect for or tolerance of others particularlyirritate me because they are such a menace to society, human dignityand harmony.

Norm: What is yourphilosophy of writing, and is your writing an art or craft or somecombination of both? 

Sandy: Writing shouldengage readers, make them feel they are living in the story.

I think that takes afairly simple, quick flowing style without a lot of backgrounddescription or lecturing.

Having said that, mystories all contain messages and educational value of one sort oranother. They tend to interfere with that objective.

My writing is an art form,certainly not journalistic in nature. The words flow from myimagination and middle of the night meditation. I never produce awritten plan or outline. However, craft enters the picture duringreview and refinement of wording.

Norm: Do you thinkabout your reading public when you write? Do you imagine a specificreader when you write?

Sandy: Not a specificreader or reader type. I prefer to think everyone can read, enjoy,and get value from my stories.

Obviously, their reactionto my messages will range from right on to utter rejection.

While I often slip in sometasteful eroticism, I steer clear of outright porn and feel my booksare suitable for mid-teens and on. 

Norm: How did youbecome involved with the subject or theme of You Speak For Me Now?What served as the primary inspiration for the book?  

Sandy: Two unrelatedfactors were involved. My original objective was to write an engagingstory that illustrates how extroverts and introverts relate to eachother.

Specifically, to show howthey can form a very productive team and how their differentoperating styles can cause severe problems.

By 2015, the growingthreat to democracy in America, due to takeover of the RepublicanParty and the right-wing media propaganda machine, became something Ihad to speak out against.

It’s taken fouriterations of the story to arrive at the current version. Hopefully,it has lasting value and won’t be overwhelmed by future events.

Norm: What was thetime-line between the time you decided to write your book andpublication? What were the major events along the way?  

Sandy: The first of thefour versions just mentioned was a novel title Ickee Mushtapublished in 2015.

It quite accuratelyforecast what happened in 2016 but it was more or less obsoleted bysubsequent events, so I pulled it off the market.

Next, I tried a CharlesDickens serial approach, releasing a chapter each week. Readershipremained low.

Late in 2019, I publisheda hard-hitting version titled Eclipse of Our Soul which dealtmore with the couple’s adult life.

Increasing violenceculminating in the Capital insurrection left me fearing for myfamily’s safety and prompted me to withdraw it from the market.

However, I refused to giveup on the plot and the book’s fundamental message.

This version is the resultof removing most of the specific criticism of politicians and theadministration, placing the emphasis more on a societal level, andreducing the pontification. I feel the result is a more grippingstory.

Norm: What were yourgoals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel youachieved them?  As a follow up, what purpose do you believe yourstory serves and what matters to you about the story?  

Sandy: I have a deepconcern that democracies around the world are threatened by forcesadvocating an authoritarian form of government.

To me, that meansreplacing human equality and a universal pursuit of happiness witheconomic and social inequality plus increased poverty levels anddegraded living conditions.

The human brain, even anintelligent one, falls victim to lies and myths spewed out by mediapropaganda.

The result is asignificant percentage of the population closed to rational argument.

My goal was to couch analternative message in an engaging work of fiction in an attempt tomake some of them think twice about the road they want to traveldown.

I feel the story isengaging. Initial feedback indicates it is even powerful. Those onthe side of democracy will likely see it as a rallying call. I don’tdelude myself with respect to those on the other side but hope, evenif vainly, that it will have some positive effect.

Norm: It is said thatwriters should write what they know. Were there any elements of thebook that forced you to step out of your comfort zone, and if so, howdid you approach this part of the writing?  

Sandy: You’re adifficult taskmaster, Norm. While a lot of my writing is couched inwhat I know about, many unanticipated things crop up.

For example, the idea ofwho actually won the Civil War never dawned on me until triggered bysomething I read. It led to the main theme of a battle betweenuniversal human welfare and the rich maintaining their wealth andpower.

A fundamental part of mymakeup is a drive to create new things and concepts. With oneexception, that tends to mean my comfort zone is not bounded.

The exception, mentionedearlier, was the possible provocation of reprisal from extremists. Myapproach to alleviate that involved desensitizing the rhetoric andstressing the positives more than the negatives.

Norm: How did you goabout creating your three principal characters, Emma Simon,Johnny McEwan, and their toddler son, Peter.

Sandy: I wanted John toepitomize the flamboyant extrovert personality. Making him anattractive, intelligent man with considerable musical talent toentertain the audience he craved served that purpose.

Emma was to be the strong,quiet introvert heroine. To throw as many obstacles in her road aspossible, she became deaf and a woman of colour, though stillattractive and clever.

The whole concept of Peteras a child musical prodigy emerged as the story developed. He becamea strong contributor to the emotional impact of the story.

Norm: Did you learnanything from writing your book and what was it?  

Sandy: The book sharpenedmy focus on human nature and the workings of the human brain.

It made me think seriouslyabout the dangerous plight of life on our planet; human, otheranimals, and plants. It also caused me to observe and analyse thebehaviour of friends and strangers more carefully.

Norm: What is yoursecret in keeping the intensity of the plot throughout the narrative?

Sandy: Conflict. A writingcoach once told me every page should contain conflict.

I thought not allowingsomeone to brush their teeth without dropping the toothbrush a littleextreme, but yes, conflict is important. Suspense is also important.

I feel moments of intenseemotion interspersed in the story contribute greatly. If a passagemakes me choke up a pit each time it is read, it’s fair to assumeit will entertain readers the same way.

Norm: Where can ourreaders find out more about you and You Speak For Me Now?

Sandy: My Website

Norm: What is next forSandy Graham?

Sandy: I have a halfwritten historical fiction novel centered around some of my maternalancestry.

Based on a distantrelative’s extensive research, my mother descended from theelopement of a captain in the British Army occupying New York duringthe American revolution and the daughter of a sergeant in theRevolutionary Army.

After the war and a fewyears on Log Island, they joined the United Empire Loyalists andsettled in Nova Scotia. I also have a growing collection of shortstories and vignettes that may someday become a book.

Norm: As this interviewcomes to an end, if you could go back ten years and give yourself onepiece of advice what would that advice be?

Sandy: Please let me goback sixty years. For ten, the answer is perhaps to question theadvisability of getting involved in political topics.

It’s led to a lot ofanguish and at times put a strain on friend relationships. But then Ihasten to say the gravity of our political situation cannot beignored.

And Norm, thank you forthis interview. Your questions are so thought-provoking, it feelslike I just went through a doctoral oral exam.

Norm: Good luck with all of your future endeavors

FOLLOW HERE TO READ NORM'S REVIEW OF YOU SPEAK FOR ME NOW

 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Norm Goldman
Group: bookpleasures.com
Dateline: Montreal, QC Canada
Direct Phone: 514-486-8018
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