Davalynn Spencer here, digging out from a Colorado spring snowstorm and gearing up for a weekend in the 70s. But in the midst of all this craziness, I’m pleased to introduce author Sandra Orchard and her latest book, Lass and Found.
Sandra, give us a quick thumbnail of your new title.
This is the fourth title in the multi-author series Scottish Bakery Mysteries about former college roommates, who reunite to open a bakery in Loch Mallaig, in Michigan’s UP, a place where the sound of bagpipes fill the air, kilts never go out of fashion, and mysteries surface with curious regularity.
Did anything in particular inspire you to write this book?
I absolutely love to plot whodunits that will keep readers guessing to the very end. For Lass and Found, the characters and setting were decided for me by my editor, but the plot grew out of a desire to write a mystery that didn’t involve a dead body and would incorporate my love of hiking with my dog. I then found clues in the ordinary events and actions of day-to-day life, things we think nothing of . . . until something extraordinary happens. Then each of those little things we did can take on a sinister twist.
I’m already on the edge of my seat. What was your greatest challenge in writing such an intriguing book?
Although this book is a standalone mystery, since it is part of an ongoing series featuring continuing characters, the greatest challenge was keeping those characters consistent with previous stories, none of which had been written at the time I wrote this one. The editor provided a detailed catalog of these characters’ identifying features, traits and backgrounds, but the lists occasionally get updated along the way, which in turn can lead to the need for some significant story changes.
That certainly does sound like a challenge as well as great motivation for trusting the Lord for help you in your writing. Has being a writer impacted your relationship with Christ?
The most surprising way being a writer has impacted my relationship with Christ is in realizing how He uses it to teach me. Turning to him for inspiration and guidance as I crafted stories that would have an impact on readers came naturally. What I didn’t expect was that messing up my characters’ lives and making them face themselves, their dreams, and the lies they believe would teach me so much about myself and how I need to change and grow.
Why do you write mysteries?
To entertain, to inspire curiosity, and to engage the reader in solving a puzzle. But there’s quite a bit more to the story. Four years ago, after my then three-year-old grandson was almost killed in a lawn-tractor accident, I shifted to writing exclusively for Annie’s Fiction, which distributes its books only through mail or E-subscription, thus freeing up a great deal of my time previously engaged in marketing my new releases.
I stayed with my grandson Jed and his family in the hospital for 3 ½ months, during which time, I had another grandson born at under 2 lbs. who was in the hospital for 2 ½ months. They are both doing amazingly well now, and my passel of grandchildren has grown from 3 to 9 with another on the way. That summer made it clear to me that spending as much time with my grandchildren in these early years and helping my children was more important than the countless hours I used to spend doing interviews and appearances and social media updates, etc. But I still felt called to write. I’m grateful for the ministry opportunities it affords me, the amazing stories I get to hear from my readers, the opportunities to pray for them, and I so very much appreciate the support of my readers, especially the amazing prayer cover they gave our family during those difficult months after Jed’s accident. So given the opportunity to continue writing, without the added demands of marketing, was truly a gift from God. The downside for my loyal readers has been that my latest books aren’t available through normal retail channels.
Do you have time to read for pleasure, and if so, what are you reading right now?
I read a lot of non-fiction both for personal development and to bring novel details to the books I write. Of late, I’ve been reading The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook and learning a lot about muscles and anatomy in an effort to alleviate some persistent physical issues. I’m also constantly referring to my gardening books and the Backyard Medicine book, as I prepare for spring planting and endeavor to identify the plants I see starting to come to life up here in Canada. In the evenings, I’ve been reading short novellas—romances, mysteries, or romantic suspense.
Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
I taught high school math before having children, then home-educated them through to the end of high school, and now help with home-educating my grandchildren. I also do some bookkeeping. I think my love of mathematical puzzles has definitely influenced my love of plotting story puzzles for my readers. And being around children with active imaginations is endlessly inspiring!
What are your hobbies or activities or passions outside of writing?
I enjoy sewing, painting, renovating, and knitting, but my newest hobby/passion grew out of the research into herbs and herbal remedies I did for my Port Aster Secrets Mysteries a few years ago. It inspired me to start growing my own herbs and to wild-forage for cooking, teas, and medicines. Last summer I especially focused on infusing oils to create pain-relieving salves and drying herbs that were useful for sore throats, hormone balancing, respiratory issues, and boosting immunity and nutrition, as well as making natural soaps and hand lotions. Given the current pandemic, it has proven to be a timely hobby!
What a rich and full life you have. With that in mind, what is your next writing project?
I’m currently working on my fourth contribution to the Scottish Bakery Mysteries (#20), in which the Bakehouse trio will join the town in cheering their local high school football team on to the State Championships and discover how seriously people take their football. For when Laura’s nephew becomes a target, the trio will have to race against the clock to uncover and stop the saboteur before it’s too late.
In the meantime, I pray that each one reading this interview will find rest in Jesus through these anxious times and find peace in Him.
Amen, Sandra. And thank you for sharing with us today.
For more about Sandra Orchard and her books, visit Sandra’s website.
May all that you read be uplifting.