Sandra Cormier always loved the arts and aspired to be a famous painter one day. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that she stumbled into the world of writing and never left it.
NG: Yours is an interesting path: you have a passion for horses, painting and graphic design, and photography. Where does writing fit into the mix?
SC: I don’t know if it was being a Gemini or a middle child, but I had always explored multiple avenues of creativity. My mother was a painter and a singer, but never pursued a career. My father was an accountant. The creative spark came from my mother, but my dad always knows how to turn a phrase.
I started drawing when I was a pre-schooler. Horses were my first love. But I also loved devouring books and wrote stories all through school. I dumped all those stupid Science classes and concentrated on Art and English courses.
I had planned to enter the Fine Art world, but limited finances forced me to explore Community College. I tried Advertising (where I wrote kick-ass copy), and thus discovered photography. I switched gears and entered a Visual Arts Instructor Program in college, graduating with High Honors.
After college I worked in camera stores, selling equipment and taking pictures whenever I could. In fact, that’s where I met my husband. Later, my manager at a Toronto camera store moved me into their Advertising department, where I was back to making ads and writing copy.
Fast forward a couple of decades, an ad job at a newspaper, and two kids. My husband gave me a refurbished laptop. I began to craft the stories that had been building in my head for years. I plugged in, tuned out, and wrote during Prime Time when everyone was engrossed in TV.
NG: That’s quite a path! Your book BAD ICE is published by Champagne Book Group. What was the timeline between spark and initial publication, and what were the major events?
SC: BAD ICE was one of those stories that played like a movie in my mind as I fell asleep. It was almost too easy to transcribe it onto my computer screen, and after about six months of writing and revising, I shopped it around to agents without success. After revisions, Champagne took it on and published it within a few months of submission. It still does well after five years. Did I mention I love hockey?
NG: Your novel-in-progress on the site, MALLET, tells the story of an artist who gets ushered into the world of high-stakes polo. What inspired you to write this rather unique story?
SC: My friend was dating a wealthy retiree who played polo for fun. I had been going to charity polo matches for a few years, but this time I was able to see behind the curtain and learn how these people really lived. I then read an article about the deaths of a team of polo ponies in Florida, which prompted me to write this novel.
SC: It must be the way I look at the story with a photographer or a painter’s eye. All is color and movement, as if a camera is panning around, capturing the scenes. Wait… should I be a screen writer?
NG: Maybe that’s the logical next step! Let’s talk about the mystery elements in the book. How did you decide who the perpetrator would be? Is it something you just knew from the beginning?
SC: I haven’t decided yet! I’m very close. I don’t outline. The characters constantly shift, revealing themselves one secret at a time. I’ll reach The End within a few weeks, then go back and tie up the loose ends and trap any plot bunnies that might have escaped. But, boy, I am having a great time with this one.
NG: What is the one mystery book you most admire, and what has it taught you about the genre?
SC: My earlier mystery influence was Agatha Christie, but Dick Francis is my greatest inspiration. His spare writing and unassuming protagonists appeal to me. Plus, horses! It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I would have to say REFLEX.
What they taught me was not to say too much. Some writers make that mistake, and the reader almost feels cheated when they figure it out before the protagonist does.
NG: Why are you on Book Country?
SC: Through Colleen Lindsay. I had followed her blog & Twitter, and when she changed careers I investigated her new venture and jumped in with both feet. The community is upbeat and helpful, and I hope to contribute more now that the kids have moved out.
NG: I’ll see you around the site, then! What is something fun that we don’t know about you?
SC: Like my main character in MALLET, I hate phones. If an agent or editor ever thinks about making The Call, they’d better change it to an email or I’ll probably have the Mother of All Panic Attacks.
Wait. That’s not fun.
NG: Haha, they should just text you, right?
Thanks for being our guest and good luck with your endeavor!