I’m so excited to welcome my friend Sandra Orchard to The Borrowed Book today. I first met Sandra a few years ago when I was coordinating the romantic suspense category of ACFW’s Genesis contest, and she entered her manuscript. I read it and thought it was wonderful. She didn’t win that contest but her story didn’t end there. She entered it in RWA’s Kiss of Death Chapter’s Daphne du Maurier contest and not only won the unpublished inspirational category, but her manuscript was named the overall winner of all the unpublished category winners. Right after that, her story was bought by Love Inspired Suspense, and it has just released.
Sandra Orchard lives in rural Ontario, Canada where inspiration abounds for her romantic suspense novels set in the fictional Niagara town she's created as their backdrop. Married with three grown children, when not writing, she enjoys hanging out with family, brainstorming new stories with fellow writers, and hiking or kayaking in God's beautiful creation. Her debut novel Deep Cover from Love Inspired Suspense is in stores September 2011.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
From the time my first story appeared in the school yearbook at the end of grade one. I still remember how thrilled I felt to see that story in print in a book.
After you began writing, how long did it take to make that first sale?
I dabbled in non-fiction writing when my children were little. But from the time I started to write fiction to my first sale was almost 6 years.
I know the title of your book is Deep Cover. Please give us a blurb about it.
Maintaining his cover cost undercover cop Rick Gray the woman he loved. Ginny Bryson never really knew Rick. He never gave her the chance. Not then, and not now, when he’s back with a new alias to gather evidence against Ginny’s uncle. The man’s crimes led to Rick’s partner’s death, and Rick wants justice to be served. But his investigation is stirring up trouble, and Ginny is smack dab in the middle. Someone wants Ginny to pay the price for what her uncle has done. But how can Rick protect her without blowing his cover, jeopardizing his assignment…and risking both their lives?
What inspirational message do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
We each take something different away from a book depending on where we’re at. My heroine experiences a truer understanding of grace, and my hero grapples with the shades of gray in his life as an undercover cop. I hope readers will relate to the characters’ struggles on some level, and perhaps as a result, evaluate their own approach or thinking in similar matters.
Which character in the book is your favorite? Why?
Zach Davis, the hero’s friend and sometimes partner is my favorite. I love the one liners he zings at Rick that get right to the root of Rick’s issues. And I love the vulnerability we glimpse in him in the last chapter when Rick shuts down Zach’s attempts to convince him to change. As soon as Zach came alive on the page I knew I wanted to write his story.
Where one has lived often affects the settings a writer uses in his/her stories. Have you found this to be true in your writing?
Absolutely. I’ve lived in Southern Ontario all my life, half the time in cities, the other half in rural settings. The fictional town I’ve created for this story borrows aspects of various real towns and blends them together to mold a town that best suits the needs of the series.
Having been friends with you for a long time, I know you are a busy lady. How do you juggle all your responsibilities and still find time to write wonderful novels?
Sheer determination. I can sit at my computer for hours upon hours one day and have very little to show for it, while other days I’ll write pages and pages in no time at all. The two most important things that help to keep me on track with my writing is to write every day and to always carry a notebook so that when ideas come while I’m doing other things I can jot them down so I don’t forget them.
I also know you had an adventure last year when you attended Lee Lofland’s Writer’s Police Academy. Tell us something you learned in your hands-on classes about working as a police officer.
Oh, wow. Attending the Writer’s Police Academy was such an awesome experience. I’m so disappointed that I can’t go back this year because it’s the same weekend as ACFW. They’re doing ridealongs in police cars! I’m actually posting an entire blog with photos about last year’s academy on September 14th on InkwellInspirations, but the single most amazing experience was doing the firearms simulation training. We were given a glock and faced a floor-to-ceiling screen of various criminal situations. We had to talk the criminal into dropping their weapon or releasing their hostage or whatever we needed them to do to ensure the scene was safe.
When we fired, our shots showed on the screen and the simulation changed accordingly. In one scene, a desperate man wielding a knife stood in an alley holding an infant in a car seat. We kept telling him to drop the knife, but he wouldn’t. He grew more and more agitated. No one wanted to take a shot, because we might hit the baby, or if we hit him, he might drop the baby. My adrenaline pumped, my mind wavered back and forth—should I take the shot?—even as I was shouting at him to drop the weapon.
After each simulation, the officer in charge explains what we should have done and why. In this particular case, even though there was a risk of him dropping the infant, we should’ve taken the shot, because at any second the man could have turned the knife on the baby. In fact, we were told that any officer in training who couldn’t take the shot would get kicked out of the academy! The experience certainly gave me a greater appreciation for the split second, seemingly no-win decisions officers are sometimes forced to make.
What are you working on now? Can we expect other books to release soon?
I’m working on revisions to the third book in my series, Undercover Cops: Fighting for justice puts their lives—and hearts—on the line. Book 2, Shades of Truth, releases in March 2012, and book 3 (Zach’s story) will be scheduled toward the end of 2012.
For the aspiring writers who may be reading this, what advice would you give them?
Persevere, but always move forward. What I mean by that is yes, you need to revise, revise, revise to make your manuscript publishable, but if it has been rejected time and again. Move on. Write your next book and the next one. Take classes. Read books on crafts. Read…a lot. Study your favorite books. Figure out why they work. Move forward. Or to coin John Maxwell’s term “fail forward”. So that book didn’t work for the publishers. You still learned something. You’re writing will be even stronger in the next one.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us that I haven’t asked?
Thanks so much for having me, Sandra. I must say that the most thrilling thing for me as a newly published author has been receiving emails from readers. Every day when I sit down to write I pray that God will give me the words to touch readers hearts and point them to his love for them. I’ve been so encouraged to hear how He has done that. And those letters spur me on to persevere when I’m floundering in the middle of the next story. We serve an awesome God.
Connect with Sandra Online:
Visit her website ~ www.SandraOrchard.com
Visit her personal blog ~ http://www.SandraOrchard.blogspot.com
Like her Facebook Page ~ www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard
Join her at Goodreads ~ bit.ly/Goodreads_SandraO
It's been great having you at The Borrowed Book today, Sandra. Thanks for telling us all about Deep Cover. I can hardly wait for the release of the next in the series.