Author Interview: Sandy Richards: A Far Cry…from Home
When did you first start writing?
My love of books and writing began at a very early age. I had some wonderful elementary school teachers who pushed me to write and instilled in me how reading can take you “anywhere you want to go.” From my early readers to my beloved Nancy Drew mystery books, I was hooked. I began journaling (my diary) when I was about ten as part of earning a Girl Scout badge. Writing about happy times, family memories, teenage angst and devastating blows have helped me to not only remember the good times, but it has also helped me to heal from the traumatic times.
Why did you decide to write “A Far Cry from Home”?
This book was my healing journey after the loss of my sixteen year old son in an automobile accident. I promised him on his death bed that I would never let his memory die. I started this book many times but couldn’t seem to get the words to flow. I happened upon information about a writing opportunity that challenged participants to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days (NaNoWriMo) By writing every day, you begin to develop the habit that writers know is tried and true: the more you write, the better you become. I took the challenge in November 2011 and wrote the first draft of A Far Cry…From Home. The first three days were fairly easy with the excitement of the challenge. The following week was brutal due to the daily word count and topic of my story. I was dredging up memories that had been buried for a long time. I completed the challenge two days early with a total word count of 50,228. Twenty-eight days earlier I began with an idea, nurtured it with love, watered it with tears, watched it grow into something I could wrap my arms around and call “all mine.”
Before you wrote your memoir, had you published anything else? If so, what?
Before writing A Far Cry…From Home, I had written numerous magazine articles centered around high school athletics and college preparation. I also entered my short stories in various contests hoping to hone my story-telling skills and receive feedback from the judges.
How hard was it for you to write your memoir? Would you call it “therapeutic”?
I wouldn’t say that writing my memoir was hard, but it was certainly heart-wrenching. To relive moments in your life that have taken you to your knees was a process for me that opened old wounds but allowed love into those hurting places to begin the healing process. I wanted to share with the world that one can survive twists of fate and do something positive from a negative situation. Was it therapeutic? I can honestly say “yes”. However, since writing it, I’ve experienced a lot of ‘down moments” rom re-living everything each time I talk to people/groups/posts about my experience. It is an ever-changing force in my life. Broken hearts never truly heal…they just get patched with new experiences, both good and bad.
How long did it take to write your memoir and did it end up as you intended when you started? Explain.
The initial draft, as I stated earlier, took me twenty-eight days to write. However, fighting my “inner critic” and allowing others to read the manuscript took me another couple months. Once I received a bit of positive feedback, I began the editing process and finding a publisher. When I began writing the memoir, the story was told from my point of view. About halfway through the process, I wanted this book to be different from other grief recovery books. I revamped my work to tell the story from my deceased son’s point of view…through the eyes of an “angel.” What a difference that made in the story! Of course, I had to take a few “literary liberties” in a couple of passages, but I believe I channeled my son Tyler throughout the entire process. I’m a firm believer in fate and that there are no coincidences. I signed my publishing contract on September 19, 2012 (the last day I saw my son alive in 2003), submitted the completed manuscript for formatting/editing on June 4, 2013 (his 26th birthday), received the editor’s comments on July 28, 2013 (the number 28 is “my Tyler” number), and launched the book on the 10-year anniversary of Tyler’s passing, September 21, 2013.
Apart from the emotional aspects, as a genre, what things did you find most difficult about writing memoir?
The most difficult part about writing memoir is choosing what facts to keep in the story and what items to leave on the editing room floor. When you publish a story about your life, you must own what you write. There were memories that I had to leave out to protect my younger son Austin. It was a very personal choice for me.
How many words, or how many hours do you write in a typical day?
I spend maybe 60-90 minutes a day writing. I wish I had more hours in the day as I would love to write full time. I do my best work in the morning.
What is your method of writing ie. do you just let it flow or edit as you go?
I’m a “flow and go” kind of writer. I begin with my basic idea and just let the words spill out onto the page. I’m a bit obsessive with my editing and will write a couple of chapters and go back and do some editing.
About Sandy Richards:
Sandy Richards grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries and nurtured the dream of one day writing her own adventure and romance stories. But, as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans”. Sandy’s plans were horribly interrupted by the sudden death of her beloved 16-yr-old son in a car accident. As she recovered, she knew there was one book she had to write first: her memoir, “A Far Cry…from Home” Click this link to purchase your copy of “A Far Cry … From Home”