Author interview with: Sandra Olson
1. Q: Why did you write your first book?
A: I’m a nurse and started writing medical thrillers ten years ago. I would come home from working in the hospital or the prison and tell my family about something strange that happened on my shift and they would be enthralled. My Mother kept saying, "You should write a book about these things." So I finally did. Several books, in fact.
2. Q: What is your writing style?
A: My books are fiction, but some reality is mixed in with the untruths. My medical thrillers are from settings where I’ve actually worked.
Rebirth is set in an obstetric unit, but delves into the controversy of embryonic tissue transplants. Murder by Proxy is set in a hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and is loosely based on the actual murders committed in a Texas hospital back in the 1980's. Behind Prison Bars tells of some of the bizarre incidents that happened while I worked in a women's prison as a nurse.
My detective series touches on some of the things appearing in the day’s headlines.
3. Q: Why did you decide to self-publish?
A: I chose to self-publish with CreateSpace after having several bad experiences with vanity and other self-publishing companies. They are great to work with and with the right word processing programs you can design your own covers and e-books. They make it easy. The other publishing houses set the book’s price out of market range. CreateSpace is more reasonable in their pricing. When they combined with KDP I kept using them.
I also had requests by a publishing house to put more sex in my stories. I want my grandchildren to be able to read my stories without being embarrassed by the fact that their grandmother wrote them. I leave my sex scenes to the reader’s imagination. Self-publishing allows the writer complete control of the manuscript.
4. Q: How do you come up with your cover designs?
A: I try to focus on one aspect of the book and make my cover design represent that aspect. Rebirth’s butterfly represents the rebirth experienced by several characters in the novel. Each cover reflects some part of my story
5. Q: Do you have any tips for someone who is considering self publishing?
A: If you’ve tried conventional methods of publishing and experienced frustration as I did, I suggest using KDP. They are associated with amazon.com and with a few skills it doesn’t cost you a penny. And Amazon provides you with a free author web page.
6. Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
A: It was harder when I started self-publishing because I had to be the author, editor, publisher and promoter. I was offered a book contract once if I would “sex” up my books. I don’t write that way. This way I can write the way I’m comfortable. I don’t even like to read other authors who put explicit sex in the story just to sell it. Too many times it has nothing to do with the plot of the story.
7. Q: How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
A: I expect my readers to be willing to learn something new. I often delve into medical issues in my medical thrillers. But I do explain things in fairly simple terms medically and have had readers thank me for that.
8. Q: What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
A: I think writers who base characters on a real person should be careful not to embarrass them. I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings and lose their friendship or trust. I have used some of my husband’s experiences in my books and I ask his permission first. I’ve used some of my nursing co-workers in books but I place them in a setting that’s not where they actually worked; ie. friends from the dialysis unit were placed in my book about the women’s prison and I let them know they would be in a book. They are usually pleased.