Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the honor of interviewing Sandra Orchard, who is celebrating the release of her 25th book! She has a special treat for us, so make sure you read all the way to the end.
Welcome, Sandra! Please tell us about your book, Boughs of Folly.
Jillian Green’s holiday cheer nosedives when her great aunt’s friend, Herbert, is killed while helping them decorate for a fundraiser. But the case is more tangled than a strand of twinkle lights, and if Jillian can’t uncover the killer, Herbert’s night might not be the only one silenced this Christmas.
Boughs of Folly is part of a three-book Jingle Bells Mysteries set, releasing June 25, 2022, and sold exclusively by Annie’s Fiction.
What is the primary focus of Boughs of Folly?
The destruction that holding onto bitterness and grudges causes in our own lives and in others.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
It is better to let go and forgive and accept your new normal than to live in bitterness.
Such a hard lesson to learn! How has God used this message in your own life?
In the story, a character’s father carries a burden of guilt for something for which he could scarcely be blamed, and I realized that once again this theme of battling guilt has snuck into yet another of my stories. Over the years, it seems my subconscious recognition of a loved one’s heart-wrenching struggle with unfounded guilt has prompted me to cause my characters to do battle with this common malady. But what I finally realized, while writing this story, is that I harbor bitterness and resentment toward the doctor that incited the guilt in the first place. And that for my own wellbeing, I need to forgive him for myself.
Ouch. I hate when characters teach us hard lessons. So, why do you love writing?
It’s cheaper than therapy! Honestly, I think there’s more truth to this than humor. Journaling as a teen helped me work through a lot of angst. Writing as a young mom who’d lost my mother helped me work through my grief. So perhaps writing suspense now, besides helping me to process some scary times in my own life, is equipping me to face my worst fears if or when they materialize.
That’s beautiful. How did that transition from journaling to novel-writing take place?
I’ve always wanted to write, but I never thought I could write fiction. I imagined myself writing practical living type books. But Christian fiction helped me work through the grief of losing my mother. And the more I read, the more I started thinking I’d like to write it. Then one day, overwhelmed by the books overflowing our bookcases, my husband suggested I write my own. From that moment, I knew that’s what I was supposed to do.
After 25 books, you must have some touching moments with readers. Any you’d like to share?
A letter I received after the release of my first novel, Deep Cover, stands out in my mind in this regard. The story’s heroine has a special needs adult sister, and the reader wrote: “It has been hard for me to read about Ginny sometimes as I found myself projecting my own daughters into that role.” The reader gave more details, then ended with: “Deep Cover helped me think through some things I don’t ordinarily spend much time thinking about. More than that, it got me praying about things that need to be taken to Jesus.”
Receiving letters like these is the best part of being a writer for me.
It certainly is! Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
I’ve always loved to write stories and create crafts of my own design. But I’ve always loved math, too. I taught high school math and then home educated my children and still do bookkeeping. Math is logical—if A, then B. I think this affinity for math and logic is why I love to plot mysteries. It challenges my creativity, while exploiting my strengths in engineering a believable culprit that ideally isn’t on the reader’s radar.
Yes! Another writer who knows the joys of numbers! But there are other joys besides words and numbers. How about pets?
I currently have a husky and laying hens, but when my children were home, we had a horse, a goat, a cockatiel, many cats, a dog and laying hens. They have all been quite the characters, even the hens! They definitely inspire my writing, both in exhibiting traits that I give my fictional characters and in inspiring ideas for infuriating or comical incidents to use in my characters’ lives.
Living in a menagerie must make it difficult to keep deadlines. How do you do it?
I accomplish the most if I rise extra early and start writing before doing anything else—and don’t check emails or anything else online. I create artificially early deadlines for myself and always try to finish projects well ahead of the actual deadlines. When I’m pushing to finish something (even though the deadline is self-imposed), I’m blessed with a husband who is great about making meals and taking up the slack with neglected household chores.
What are your hobbies or activities or passions outside of writing?
Playing with the grandchildren, knitting, crocheting, sewing, painting, doing construction projects, cycling, hiking, creating homemade salves and infused vinegars (thanks to my research for my Port Aster Secrets Mysteries), basically, I love variety, so I enjoy trying new things.
That sounds like so much fun. Speaking of variety, please tell us about your next project.
First, I’d like to mention that Boughs of Folly is my 25th book and I’m celebrating by giving away 25 books! Please visit my blog for all the details, but don’t delay, because the rafflecopter giveaway for 10 copies of Boughs of Folly ends on Father’s Day.
Looking ahead, I have two, yet-to-be-titled romantic suspense releasing in 2023 as part of a new Hearts in Peril series from Annie’s Fiction. Each is a stand-alone novel, and I’m super excited to be writing edge-of-your-seat suspense again, with characters who will find their happily-ever-after in a single book.