Our next guest on the Crime Cafe podcast will be Sandra Woffington. Check out her guest post and book giveaway here!
Scroll down for the giveaway details. But first, let’s hear from the author! And, I have to say, I love the headline. 🙂
Write the Story in Your Heart, Even When Terrified
When I landed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1979, I was twenty-two and a new bride to an American who’d been in The Kingdom for years. I found myself living inside one of my favorite books: 1001 Arabian Nights. That experience led to my writing Unveiling, inspired by a meeting with renowned Saudi artist, Safeya Binzagr. But it took me years to build the confidence to write that story. My fictional heroine, Sara, is an artist driven to capture her quickly disappearing landscape in paint—mud dwellings replaced with European marble—and old customs. But Sara also pushes against traditional values that cast a veil over her artist’s eyes.
What possessed me to think I could write from a Saudi point-of-view? Because the story burned in my heart and soul.
I set out to write the novel fully willing to trash it if it did not live up to my high expectations of authenticity. I’d grown up on novels written by Westerners about other cultures, like James Clavell’s Shogun and historical novels portraying places and times the author never visited. That bolstered my confidence.
After extensive research, which included reading original accounts of visitors to Saudi Arabia over the centuries, I delved in. I gutted the novel twice and started over, but eventually Unveiling was born. I even created three pieces of calligraphy in Arabic for the novel, credited to the main character, Sara. Now, it was time to find a worthy reader to critique the novel for authenticity.
I sent out inquiries and located a woman who lived near me. Lina earned her MA in Arabic Literature from King Saud University, and she had taught in Riyadh. She happily accepted the task. Her advice was invaluable for the final rewrite. For example, I had used Arab names but not all of them were common in Saudi Arabia. Lina highlighted a list of common Saudi names, and I renamed a few characters. What I didn’t expect was Lina’s heartfelt approval of the novel’s authenticity and voice. I was overwhelmed with gratitude.
I snapped these images of the annual camel races outside Riyadh.
Since then, my heart continues to leap to stories it wants to tell—ones I’m terrified to write for similar reasons. What makes you think you can write about that?
The Warrior and Watchers Saga series involves seven adolescents who must save the world—but Kami is deaf, Amir is blind, and Chaz is in a wheelchair. The other warriors also have challenges. Each novel takes place in a mythological underworld, starting with Hades’ Tartarus in Evil Speaks. Evil Hears (released soon) takes place in the Japanese and Chinese underworld. Again, it took massive research accompanied by a flight of the imagination and pure, pulse-pounding desire to create worlds both familiar and completely new.
My newest venture, Wine Valley Mystery series, is Noir Crime/Traditional Detective. Despite the fact that my fictional Wine Valley (based off of my local region—Temecula, CA) is less exotic that my earlier novels, I find the same exhilaration in concocting stories that drive me along pathways to research poisons, pesticides, and other pernicious plot elements.
I’m currently collaborating with 17 amazing WSJ, USA Today and bestselling authors for a boxed set titled, Dead Silent. Grand Cru and Gangs, a prequel to the Wine Valley Mystery series, is only available in this set, which is 99 cents on preorder. I’m thrilled to be in the company of so many talented authors.
I’m no longer afraid. The fear of “Can I do this?” has transformed to the excitement of “Let’s do this!”
Write from your heart, even when terrified. Give a voice to your characters and a heartbeat to your stories.
I’m an Amazon #1 bestseller and an award-winning author. I completed the Humanities Honors Program at UC Irvine and earned my MFA in Creative Writing and MA in English from Chapman University. I’ve spent 15+ years teaching multiple subjects to middle school students. I love to teach as much as I love to write. My students inspire me!
Another writing influence is extensive travel. I’ve crawled inside a stone tunnel to stand in a chamber within a Giza pyramid, walked to the Gate of the Sun to stare down at Machu Picchu, toured the underground city in Turkey, rode a camel and cruised the Nile in Egypt, learned to scuba dive in the Red Sea when I lived in Saudi Arabia, and also lived in London and briefly in Rome. I still have the travel bug and a thirst to meet the people of my world.
Wine Valley Mystery series is Noir Crime/Traditional Detective. The boxed set hit #1 Best Seller on Amazon upon release. The prequels of light and cheery Detective Max King and dark and disturbed Dr. Joy Burton are FREE.
Max’s story: https://bit.ly/2CPyKhv
Joy’s story: https://bit.ly/2rO025D
Reed’s story is NEW: Grand Cru and Gangs is in the Dead Silent boxed set of 18 WSJ, USA Today and bestselling authors. 18 books, 18 murders for ONLY 99 cents on preorder. Join our Facebook group Dead Silent Reader’s Group and meet the authors.
My debut novel, Unveiling, a stand-alone, takes place in the colorful deserts of Saudi Arabia as well as America. It won Honorable Mention from the Writer’s Digest SP book awards.
Evil Speaks, first book in the Warriors and Watchers Saga Series, a middle grade mythological fantasy, was Finalist (4th place) in the Reader’s Favorite 5-star awards (that’s out of all of the 5-star books in that category for the year).
Thanks for spending time with me! I love to hear from readers, so please reach out!
Website (sign up for my bi-monthly newsletter with giveaways): SandraWoffington.com.
FB Readers’ group (I post updates and freebies): Woffington’s Reading Warriors: Mystery, Murder, Magic & More for
Follow me on Amazon.
3 Kindle copies of Wine Valley Mystery, Books 1-4 boxed sets.
To enter the giveaway:
Email me at sandra[at]sandrawoffington[dot]com, mention The Crime Café, and I’ll add your name to the list! (I do not harvest email addresses; if you want my newsletter, signup on my website). I’ll select the winners on December 20. Good luck! And remember to download the free books above.