Sondra Hickman is the author of Before Life Got Complicated (2006). This interview with Sondra Hickman was first published in January 2008.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Tennessee and raised in South Carolina. My book surrounds all my wonderful and not so wonderful adventures of childhood.
What was it that first got you into writing and when did you start writing?
I have always been a big journal writer and I kept a diary too. I did hate to type and found it almost unbearable to write by hand...but when the keyboard came out and computers hit the mainstream I began to seriously do some writing. After moving from my beloved South to the hustle and bustle of New York City, I found writing as a great way to take me back to the home I loved and missed so much.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Once I wrote a note to Stephen King, asking him what makes a great writer? I was fishing for an autograph, and what I got back was a prefab card, but the advice was good...he said write what you know. As a child I was influenced by books like “The Black Stallion” and I've always loved classic stories written by the greats such as Mark Twain. I love a good mystery, and real life stories about real people. I enjoyed reading “A Walk Across America” and “Into the Wild”.
What kind of things do you write?
Writing is like everything in my life, there is no one thing that keeps my interest. I write many things based on actual experience, or take an experience I've had and adapt it to a story. My book “Before Life Got Complicated” was published in 2006 by Publish America. It is based on my love of dogs, horses, and adventure. The stories all came from my memories of all the wonderful dogs I grew up with and the horses I was able to ride and my love of being outdoors and never being afraid to jump head long into life. I have also written articles for web based news magazines. Articles of various topics such as “Ground Zero Still Claiming Lives” which was written about the death of a paramedic who worked at ground zero and later died of mesothelioma. Other titles included “Fast Food Giants Sending the Wrong Message”, “A Carolina Straphanger” was published in the Subway Chronicles, and “the Prize Defined” which I'm especially proud of a piece of research material which clearly shows the prize the current administration was trying to win with the war in Iraq. One book still waiting for a publisher I adapted into an ebook on my website. The book is “Snowman to Dixxebell”, and its based on a crazy unbelievable internet scam.
What are you working on now?
Currently my project is my first attempt at a fiction novel. The work is entitled “Montana Briscoe Diaries, Book One, The Desert Stalker”. I hope to write a series based on this heroine. I'm very excited about this project since it takes place in one of my favorite spots on earth...the Southwestern USA. Another project is a collection of short stories. I have been adding a few when I can and I hope to have 10 or 12 done by the end of the year.
What is your writing day like?
I have to be in the zone to really put word count on paper. First I go with an idea, then I go back and work it over and over until it feels like it’s telling what it should. I love to stay at the keyboard all day when I'm writing, I don't eat, I don't sleep until the thought I am dying to get out is out.
What’s the most exciting thing about writing for you?
The most exciting thing about it is when someone reads it!
What’s the most frustrating thing about writing for you?
It’s so frustrating to try and market your work when you really are not into that part of it. It's hard to talk about yourself as if you're bragging, and that I find difficult. I'm better at it now than in the beginning. I also find all the zillion submission guidelines to be very frustrating...wouldn't it be great to have one type submission guideline? Imagine that. It reminds me of when I used to try to win the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. You had to search for all those little stamps, and stars, and everything had to be just right or it went straight to the reject pile. I also hate that it takes so long to receive my rejection letters.
What’s the best piece of feedback that you’ve had from your audience?
My audience tells me they feel that I'm sitting right beside them, almost like I'm there telling them my story. That's great news to me cause that is what I strive for. I want to become real, not just the writer of the story, but a reading companion.
Do you write for a particular audience, or is your first priority to satisfy your own creativity?
Well first and foremost I do write for me. Then I have to try and find an audience, now we are back to the market thing. I can sit down to write page after page, then when its time to write a bio about myself I freeze. I am always thinking of "who will want to read this," as I'm writing though.
Do you have a homepage? Do you have any short stories or poems published online? (If so, please provide the URLs):
My website is at http://www.dixxebell.com and my book “Before Life Got Complicated” is available there and on all online book stores and favorite book stores by request.