Writing for a generation

October 9, 2016

"Writers are a form of psychologist ... you must get to know your character well"

It is the psychological aspect of authors that fascinates me and there is nothing more interesting than to speak to the author of a book you have recently read to find out what makes them tick.

I just closed the cover on Murder, Mayhem and Men on Pause by Sandy Curtis and picked up the phone to speak with her.

Sandy is no stranger to Australian readers—the author of seven suspense thrillers published by Pan Macmillan and Clan Destine Press, and three contemporary romance novels released by Ormiston Press—her latest offering is a treat for Boomer-lit fans.

If you are new to that genre, that’s literature written for the Baby Boomers who are seeking tales they can relate to and characters in their own age group.

Sandy, a Boomer herself, has been writing for decades fuelled at a young age by her grandparents.

Reading and writing from a young age

“When very young my grandmother, from my father’s side, was wonderful,” Sandy recalls. “She would sit down with us and tell us fascinating stories. Mum couldn’t afford to buy much although she also loved books, but my aunt and uncle would have The Reader’s Digest and Saturday Evening Post.

“As a teenager I was trying to write stories and find someone to publish them, but there were no writers groups in those days, or none that I had heard of and it was really difficult,” she says.

It wouldn’t be long before Sandy signed a major publishing deal and amassed a large fan following.


The inspiration

Sandy believes that you are born a writer. “A lot of people come to it at a different time in their lives but I have always been interested in stories.

“You can’t help it … the stories are there; your head is full. I have four books I want to write.”

Sandy says her characters come to mind prompted by observations, reading, television or thoughts.

“I give them history and a background. I flesh them out beforehand and provide them with a CV [Curriculum Vitae]. This is what forms them,” she says.

Despite now living in Bundaberg, Sandy’s inspiration for her stories goes back to the “days of growing up in Brisbane”. Sandy tells me of a time when she was working in New Farm for an accountant and was required to do an audit at a factory on the top floor where they made suitcases. From Sandy’s book I immediately knew what was going to happen on that floor!

Books for the Boomers

Sandy’s latest book will please the grey nomads and Boomers seeking characters they can relate to in their reading.

I quickly bonded with the main character of Murder, Mayhem and Men on Pause, Ellie Cummins and her close friends Cass and Kandy. We had a number of things in common, maybe because I am a baby boomer or maybe because I also catch up with close friends over a glass of wine and talk about things that girls like to talk about. Things we can’t talk about with our partners.  It’s about female conversations.

“Writers are a form of psychologist,” Sandy reminds me. “You must get to know your character well, the reader expects it.”

Sandy’s characters reminded me of my friends in their  forties and fifties. I felt part of the group and we understood each other.

There are interesting twists in this story, some totally unexpected.  I loved that I could relate to the areas around Brisbane, some of which I recognised .

The story is also about self discovery, the other side of life outside of the bubble and stepping outside our comfort zones. Most of which we can all relate to at any age.

I am waiting to see what else will happen to Ellie and her friends in Sandy’s follow-up novel Passion, Penguins and Pregnant Pauses .

Sandy says of her books: “All of her romance thrillers titles have a double meaning,  as well as the obvious.” There’s a challenge – see if you can work them out.

Meet and connect with Sandy Curtis

Sandy will present a workshop “Whose head are you in?” in Brisbane for the Queensland Writers Centre on Saturday 3 December from 10.30am to 4.30pm. To book or for more information, visit – here.

You can purchase your e-book of Murder Mayhem and Men on Pause on Amazon.

Connect with Sandy on her webpage or on Facebook.

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