Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sandra Robbins, a former teacher and principal in the Tennessee public schools, is a full time writer for the Christian market. She is married to her college sweetheart, and they have four children and five grandchildren. As a child, Sandra accepted Jesus as her Savior and has depended on Him to guide her throughout her life.

Her first book Pedigreed Bloodlines, a cozy mystery, released in Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents Mystery line in the spring of 2008 and was a finalist in the prestigious Daphne Du Maurier national contest sponsored by the Kiss of Death Chapter of Romance Writers of America. Following her success in mystery writing, Sandra sold a romantic suspense novel Final Warning to Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Suspense line, and it released in August of 2009. This book was recently honored by being a finalist in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Contest sponsored by the Southern Magic Romance Writers of America Chapter. Mountain Peril, a romantic suspense, releases from Steeple Hill in April 2010 and will be followed by Yuletide Defender in December 2010. As a change of pace from mystery and suspense, Sandra has two historical romances releasing soon from Barbour Publishing—The Columns of Cottonwood in September, 2010, and Dinner at the St. James in 2011.

It is Sandra’s prayer that God will use her words to plant seeds of hope in the lives of her readers. Her greatest desire is that many will come to know the peace she draws from her life verse Isaiah 40:31—But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

When did you decide to be a writer?

I’ve always had a dream that someday I would write a book. In 2004, I decided the time had come to follow my dream, and I began to write. At the time I knew nothing about the craft of writing. I only knew I had a story in my head that needed to be told. While I was writing that book, I joined American Christian Fiction Writers and became a member of a critique group. Through the efforts of people I met in the organization and the writers in my critique group, I began to learn, and my writing improved.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

It took some time for me to get to that point. I kept second guessing myself on everything I wrote. Then when I sold my second book, it dawned on me that now I had an editor who would tell me what she wanted. I also was fortunate to get an agent who reads my material and tells me how to make it better.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

I’m a very disciplined writer. I retired from my job as an elementary school principal in 2006, and that has given me the freedom to write more. I approach it in the same way I did my job in the school system. Writing is my job now, and I spend hours each day at my computer trying to get better at what I do.

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

Of course reading is one of my favorite ways to relax, but I also like to play the piano. Family is very important to me, and I love the time I get to spend with my husband, children, and grandchildren. My mother is 88 and is one of my biggest fans. Being with her always gives my spirits a boost.

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

I have many favorites. Some I read years ago, and some I have read recently. Years ago I read all of James Michener’s novels and enjoyed his stories that spanned generations in books such as Hawaii and Centennial. Exodus by Leon Uris is another book that stands out in my mind, and I especially enjoyed reading The Kite Runner. Also, I recently read Julie Lessman’s three books in her Daughters of Boston Series, and I’m hooked as a fan of hers. At the top of my list of favorite books I’d have to say is Stephen King’s The Stand. I had never read Stephen King’s books because I don’t read horror, but I kept hearing that book mentioned and decided to try it. I read the unabridged version, and I couldn’t put it down. It is a story of the struggle between good and evil for the world after a deadly virus kills off most of the population. I highly recommend this book.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?

It gives me insight into how another writer’s mind works. I enjoy reading the works of mystery and suspense writers to see what kind of plots they’ve come up with and how their characters react in the world the writer has created. Nothing irritates me more, though, than to read a book that is set in a place I know well and see that the author has given wrong information.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

My latest book is Mountain Peril from Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Suspense Line. It is set on a college campus near the Appalachians. The heroine is Danielle Tyler, Dean of Students at the college, and she has suffered the tragedies of having her college roommate and her graduate school fiancĂ© murdered. When a website surfaces depicting her roommate’s murder scene, it evokes concern on campuses across the country because it hints that a murderer is stalking college campuses. The website is a prank, but soon the girl who posed for the site is murdered. Detective Jack Denton vows to find the killer, but Danielle doesn’t dare let him get too close. Death seems to be the destiny of anyone she cares for.

Where did you get your inspiration for Mountain Peril?

The setting came from the fact that I’ve always lived in a college town, and the campus has been an important part of my family’s life. As for the plot, I read some articles about websites that were hoaxes, and I thought it would be a good story line.

Which character is most like you?

Both the hero and heroine have problems that make them different from me, but Danielle does have a faith in God like I do. She tries to share her faith with Jack, but he’s unresponsive until he comes up against something he can’t solve on his own. That’s the way many people are. They turn to God when all else fails.

Who is your favorite character and why?

I really felt drawn to Jack. Maybe it’s the mother in me that felt sorry for the little boy in Jack who longed for the love his father never gave him and who grieved for the mother with her mind lost in the darkness of Alzheimer’s. His torment that his wife wouldn’t have died in a car crash with another man if he’d been a better husband made me want to assure him that he couldn’t be responsible for other people’s choices. I knew there was a tender heart underneath his hard facade, and I wanted Danielle to find the man I knew was hiding there.

Did you know how Mountain Peril would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

I did know how it would turn out. I had plotted the story so that the killer would be revealed toward the end. However, there were a few twists and turns that crept in when I wasn’t looking.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

I hope readers will come away with the assurance that God is near all the time. He never forces us to accept Him, but He waits patiently.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

I have a trailer that readers can view. It can be seen at

I also have done interviews on author websites and blogs, and I have featured the book in my newsletter.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

I have just finished another book, Yuletide Defender, for Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. It will release near Christmas. I also have completed The Columns of Cottonwood in the Alabama River Heritage Series that will release in Barbour’s Heartsong Presents Romance in September, and I am working on Dinner at the St. James the next one in the series. I also am working on a romantic suspense series that is set on a barrier island off the coast of North Carolina.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

My advice to anyone wanting to achieve publication is to keep writing. Attend as many conferences and workshops as you can and join a good critique group. The best advice, though, is to pray that God will give you the message He wants you to send into the world. When you do that, you’ll be amazed at the people and the opportunities God places in your path.
Want more? Be sure to check out The Borrowed Book Tomorrow for an excerpt from Mountain Peril by Sandra Robbins!


  1. Hey Sandra,
    It was so good getting to visit with you at Mississippi Writes! I am really looking forward to your historical series coming especially since you stole it from me! Oh wait, I was the thief wasn't I. :) Also looking forward to seeing you again. A great interview, by the way.

  2. Thanks, Aaron. It was great spending time with you and Diane at Mississippi Writes. What a great writing team you two are. I'm enjoying The Mockingbird's Call, and I look forward to your Mississippi historical. Thanks for dropping by to see my interview.

  3. Hey Sandra,

    Thank you so much for being such a gracious guest. Best wishes to you in all your writing endeavors, my friend!


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