Meet Sandra Ulbrich

Originally Posted at Bibliophile’s Retreat by Melissa Meeks

Well readers we are once again back to Firestorm of Dragons for my final installment on the tour an interview with Sandra Ulbrich.

Warning this is a mainstream Dragon anthology so not my usual reading but like I’ve mentioned before I couldn’t pass up Vern and some good fantasy.

Now on to my conversation with Sandra:

1. Who do you want to meet and why?
I’m a big Beatles fan, so I’d love to meet either Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr. (John Lennon is my favorite Beatle since he was also a writer, but I’m in no hurry to meet him.)

2. What’s your favorite comfort food?
Mac and cheese and chocolate—not at the same time!

LOL I love chocolate too but you’re right some things just don’t quite work together.

3. What would be your dream vacation?
A long European vacation where I could visit Liverpool, Ireland, Vienna, and Italy.

Sounds like a wonderful trip. I’ve only been to London, Paris and Provence myself but would to see more of Great Britain and the European mainland some day.

4. Is there anyone who has influenced / encouraged you to write? Who and how / why? –One of my writing mentors was Kathleen Massie-Ferch. She taught a writing class in the evening—I think it was the first one I took dealing with fiction writing. Although I’d come into the class with a first draft of a novel, I wound up rewriting it. She encouraged me to attend conventions and join BroadUniverse, an organization that promotes women writing fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Sadly, she died of breast cancer in 2002.

5. Can you give a brief synopsis of your journey to publication with your first piece of fiction?
I sent “A Reptile at a Reunion” out to a couple of magazines, including Strange Horizons and Realms of Fantasy. Along with my rejection from Realms came a note saying my writing was good but they got too many dragon stories. I thought about changing the story, but that didn’t feel right to me. So I worked on other projects for a while until I heard about Firestorm of Dragons through BroadUniverse, I sent in the story and waited for a response. When I found out another writer’s story had been accepted, I e-mailed the editor, expecting another rejection. Imagine my delight when she told me the story had been accepted. I had to wait a little longer while the editors found a publisher, but it was worth the wait to have my name on the back of the anthology.

6. What else have you written / are you currently writing (including unpublished works)?
Some of my unpublished novels include a fantasy set in a world similar to Victorian England where the seasons get magically mixed up every few years. My story revolves around the young women magicians, called Season Lords, who must set the seasons right. I’ve also written a science fiction novel about a Paul, a teenager who learns after his mother is murdered that he’s the clone of a famous musician. In order to make the murderer confess, the clone must travel to an alternate universe and meet the man he was cloned from. Finally, I’m currently working on an urban fantasy novel about a pair of sisters who learn they can shapeshift into birds after they are kidnapped by werewolves. The sisters must use their abilities to gain independence from the pack.

Oooo! The Fantasy/Victorian world sounds very intriguing would love to check it out when possible. I love historicals and fantasies and this sounds like it would meld two of my favorite genres.

7. What first gave you the idea for your story in FSOD?
Several years ago, the magazine Say… issued a story challenge around the question, “Aren’t you dead?” Around the same time, I received an invitation to my grad school reunion. I put the ideas together to come up with a magician who’d been thought dead returning to her school reunion, though I removed the “thought dead” part during revision.

8. What else would you like to share with readers about yourself or your contribution to FSOD?
This is my first sale, and I’m proud to be included in this anthology.

9. Share with us one of the craziest things you’ve done or that’s happened to you?
Probably dating my husband, Eugene. We met in college, and he asked me out at 6 a.m. after we’d been up all night talking in a hallway of my dorm. I gave him a definite “Maybe.” We’ve been together ever since, though after we graduated, much of the time we were in a long-distance relationship. We’ve had many misadventures along the way, such as the time I tipped our canoe over, but we are still very much a team.

10. What five books would you take with you to a desert island?
First of all, I’d want a survival guide. For pleasure reading, I’d want a poetry anthology and a complete work of Shakespeare. My favorite nonfiction book is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, so I’d bring a copy of that with me too. Perhaps I’d also bring a copy of the Tao Te Ching. I don’t know what novel I’d bring with me—it’d be too hard to choose just one or two!

I hear you I’d want to haul along the entire library granted I could manage to get away with it that is.

11. Why did you start writing and when?
I wrote a little bit in high school and grad school, but I didn’t start writing seriously until about twelve years ago. I was in a job I didn’t like and far away from my then-boyfriend. Then I saw the Beatles Anthology on TV, and something from it resonated with me. I quickly became a hardcore fan, and as I learned more about the group, I became inspired by the way the four interacted with each other to write about a quartet of young women working together. This became my Season Lord novel, and I’ve been writing ever since.

12. How do you choose names and get to know your characters?
I consider name meanings, the sound of the name, and the ethnic group of the character before I name him or her. I get to know them during the prewriting stage, when I think about the story. I don’t outline, so I tend to learn a lot about my characters as I write the first draft. Often, this means I wind up discarding my first draft and starting over, so it makes for slow writing.

13. What’s your favorite character / scene from your stories or books (so far)?
Paul, the clone I mentioned above. He starts out as a mischievous teenager, but personal losses force him to mature. As a side product of his being a clone, he also has a unique talent. I have two sequels planned with Paul at different stages in his life.

14. Do you have any teasers you can share for your next book or story to be published?
I’m still in the middle of revisions, so nothing’s ready to be shared yet, alas. However, I have a short-story prequel to my Victorian fantasy novel on my website. The story is called “Demon’s Diamond,”.

15. Are there any closing remarks you’d like to share?
If you’d like to learn more about me, you can check out my website or blog.

Thank you for taking the time to share with my readers.

Thank you for hosting me!

You can check out more info on the book by clicking the bookcover and also at the Firestorm of Dragons site. Be sure to get a copy for your Dragon fix using the bookcover link or links at the book site. And don’t forget to visit Sandra’s Website (click her photo). Check out my review of Firestorm, my interview with Kim Richards and my visit with Karina RE:FSOD and Vern.

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