Sandra Shwayder Sanchez, Author of “The Nun”

What is your book about?

The Nun, my first novel about to be released in that 2nd Ed. is the story of two incarnations of one character: Sia (short for Odyssia).

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

The story came in a dream and I wrote Part One in about 4 days, it was like taking dictation and I never edited a word altho I did add some words about stone carving after researching that art. Then I went back to college and then to law school and wrote Part Two several years later.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

The truth is, I discover what is hidden IN myself by writing.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I’d have to say either all of it or the knowledge that once I start writing the characters will carry the story forward for me, usually right through to their demise.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

I had already read extensively about the Middle ages and one of my favorite authors was Zoe Oldenburg (I highly recommend her work to readers who like historical fiction). I did do more focused research for my last novel, The Secret of A Long Journey to be released by Floricanto Press April 1st. This story is set against the history of the Inquisition and the emmigration of conversos to the New World and my research was done from books I got at libraries including the library at the Alamo in San Antonio, which was in itself an amazing experience.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

I find my stories dictate their own endings.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I want to increase awareness, empathy and compassion for others.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I was a child people called “an old soul” . . . an aunt said I seemed to look right through people and I do remember having insights about what was going on inside the heads of adults and often felt very sorry for them. My mother used to discuss Freudian dream interpretation with me and that fascinated me as well as the mythologies and fairy tales I enjoyed reading. So it was I think inevitable that I would write books in which the world of our dreams and the world of consensual reality interface and merge with almost imperceptible boundaries.

Does writing come easy for you?

Writing has always come easy for me, a friend once said she thought it was like breathing for me and for years that was true. I’ve given it up now, all writ out you could say.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

The best advice I ever rec’d was from J.R. Salamanca (Lilith, A Sea Change, Embarkation, Southern Light and more) who said the permanence of the written word has more influence on readers than spoken words and to take that influence seriously and try to create a good influence and that is the advice I would give aspiring writers.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I did not always want to be a writer but writing was just something I always did, starting in middle school when I wrote the required essays for other students who didn’t like to write. Teachers were always telling me “Do something with your writing” and I do think being a lawyer and speaking up for clients who were victims of discrimination, poverty and exclusion from the dominant society was a good use of my writing skills, namely insight into people and the ability to convey that insight to others. The fiction was inspired and compulsive and is out there in case anyone is interested.

Do you keep a pen and notepad on your bedside table?

YES I do (or did) keep a pencil and paper by the bed to write down dreams.

What genre are your books?

My “genre” is magical realist.

At what age did you discover writing? When where you first published? How were you discovered?

I discovered writing as a skill when I was 12 and read Wuthering Heights about 3-4 times in a row because I was so taken with how Emily Bronte transported me to the Yorkshire Moors and made me experience the lives of her characters. That is when I consciously thought I’d like to be able to do that but didn’t actually write any stories until I was 17 for a high school creative writing class. As part of that class I submitted a story to the Seventeen magazine story contest and they responded that my story was not appropriate for the magazine but they liked my writing and asked if I would like to write a column for them. I wrote a column reviewing several books including one by Nabokov, but didn’t follow through on this potentially ongoing opportunity because I was not interested in the magazine’s contents. I have to admit I now regret that arrogant decision. My first short story that was published when I was 23, won the ARX best fiction prize but they told me in a letter that they didn’t have enough money to send me the $75 prize and not long thereafter went out of business. Oddly enough ARX was a literary journal in Austin, TX and Plain View Press, who published my first novel, The Nun in 1992 (when I was 45) was/is also located in Austin, TX. As for how was I discovered, I’d have to say I never was.

Thank you, Sandra! Where can we learn more abut your books?

Links:, &
for more info about the last novel, the “forthcoming titles” page at:
not sure when will have anything about The Nun, 2nd Ed. but I’ll have arcs soon and can be reached at
THANK YOU for this opportunity to discourse.