Terrie Leigh Relf: What are your daily writing rituals? How do you prepare your space for these activities?
Vera Sanchez: I try to write in a different setting each time. For my second book, I wrote a chapter at the beach, another inside a church. Since I live in San Diego, I have a lot of options. A few days ago, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to write a chapter on my roof. Problem with that is I’m afraid of heights, so I refused to come down. My boyfriend had to negotiate with me to climb down the ladder. I refused for about 15 minutes until I had to pee. It was getting dark, so he had one of those flashlights that strapped onto his forehead, like he was working in a coalmine. As I was coming down, my boyfriend said it wasn’t a good idea to climb down the ladder barefoot with a pen in my mouth.
TLR: What about social media and marketing?
VS: I have some videos on YouTube. I also have a Twitter page that I hardly use and a Facebook page that I use too much. I should broaden my horizons more when it comes to media. My marketing strategies are not the best. When I was at Barnes and Nobel, I put in an order for my book. I gave the clerk a character name from my book because they were going to call me when the book arrived. So when it did and I answered the phone, I pretended to be Rose Roundtree. I went to pick up my book, but I didn’t buy it. I placed it at the front of the store with the rest of the New York Times Best-Sellers.
TLR: Do you have a “day job” in addition to being a writer? If you have an unrelated day job, how do you balance your creative and work time?
VS: I have a day job and a night job. I work as a social worker in the day, and I teach college courses at night. I teach writing, so it definitely keeps my mind balanced. I also don’t have any kids, so my free time is dedicated to my writing and my dog.
TLR: What tips do you have for other writers?
VS: Write whatever the hell you want, whatever you feel. Don’t write to please other people. Don’t write and worry about what everyone else will think. Have a “fuck it” mentality. I guess “fuck it” is my inspirational quote of the day.
TLR: What are your thoughts on the creative process in general and your creative process in particular?
VS: Let the creativity come out naturally. When you write, what’s in your head might be different when it’s transformed onto paper. Don’t let it hold you back just because it’s not what you envisioned. Be kind to yourself and your writing.
TLR: Where do your ideas come from? What inspires you? Intrigues you?
VS: My ideas come from my experience, my environment, my family. Sometimes people tell me awesome stories; sometimes I eavesdrop. The best stories are unexpected. I was at a bar one time, and I was overhearing a conversation. A lady was married for 30 years and then got a divorce. She made up for those 30 years in one night when she went home with a male stripper. They left the bar together, and he was wearing only her hat and a pair of cowboy boots.
TLR: What interview question would you most like to be asked? Least?
VS: I don’t have a favorite or a least favorite. I’ll answer all questions honestly. I’m a writer; my life is an open book.
TLR: What about upcoming publications? Awards and other accolades?
VS: I’ve spoke at schools ranging from elementary to high school and college. I’ve presented at the Grossmont Literary Arts Festival. My first book, Prison Letters: Walking to Honor, won the Beverly Hills Award for Best Multicultural Non-Fiction. I won by default because I was the only minority to enter the awards. I’ll take it.
TLR: What are you working on now?
VS: I’m working on my second book. Of course, what I had in my head is not how it’s coming out on paper. I was first writing about strong female characters and the mishaps they go through as females. Somehow, it’s turning into a mystery thriller.
TLR: Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years? Ten?
VS: My main goal is to become a full-time writer. I want to travel and speak to others about my experiences in hopes to inspire. I want to help other writers or aspiring authors to publish their work, so that they can tell their stories and leave their mark in the world. Together, our voices are more powerful.
TLR: Anything else you’d like to add that I haven’t asked?
VS: Go Chargers! Go Padres! Go SDSU Aztecs!
TLR: I think that’s the first time someone has added this to the end of their interview! Thank you again for participating in this interview.
Vera Sanchez is an award-winning author born and raised in San Diego, CA. She grew up in the tough barrio of Logan Heights. Vera began independently practicing her creative writing skills in third grade and wrote a story about a dog named, Spot. Prison Letters: Walking to Honor is her first novel, and it has already received great recognition throughout California and the United States. Prison Letters was the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Awards for Best Multicultural Memoir. The book has been #1 on Amazon for Western Region Memoirs, as well as five other separate categories on Amazon. Vera was named “Author of the Month” by writer and publisher, Tom Bird, in November 2013. In April 2014, Vera spoke at the Grossmont College Literary Arts Festival with award-winning author of Always Running, Luis Rodriquez. Vera continues to inspire the young, the old, and anyone in between, as a motivational speaker, by visiting multiple educational campuses as well as being a college professor. Vera still lives in San Diego, but makes several trips to Las Vegas, NV, as she is a professional craps player and dice controller. Vera has worked with the best dice instructors in the world in order to improve her technique. She also practices Bikram yoga in Kearny Mesa. Vera is currently working on her second novel. This is only the beginning of her journey.
Summary of Book:
Prison Letters: Walking to Honor depicts two cousins, Fernando and Vera, two inner city kids growing up together in San Diego. Through Vera’s stories and Fernando’s letters, the reader experiences the tales of an undefeated football team, a horrid sprained ankle, a bloody head, a Super Bowl party, a dysfunctional family, and a police visit that leads to the beginning of Fernando’s troubles. Like a young minority, Fernando is drawn to the dark side and getting involved in gangs and drugs. On parole, he is arrested and sentenced to five years in prison for possession of drugs. While he spends time in prison, he reminisces about his troubles, family life, hardships, regrets, dreams, and forgiveness, while growing into the man Vera knew he could become. In the end, he promises to leave the lifestyle that cost him his freedom. Can his best intentions survive his past?