Friday, May 22, 2009

Interview with Candace Salima

Hold the phone, people. It's been that kind of week. I wanted to add more to this interview before it posted but I didn't get to it before it got sent out, so my apologies to my dear friend Candace.

Now, having said that let's begin.

I first met Candace on the internet. She's one of those people who can pack more into a day than any ten people and I remember thinking, "Good grief, doesn't this woman ever sleep?" Several months later I finally got to meet Candace at a luncheon with some friends. I was blown away by her. First, by how truly nice and fun she is, and then, by how unbelievably dynamic she is. I don't know how much sleep she gets a night but she has the capacity to accomplish a lot of really great things.

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting Candace in person, here's your chance to get to know a little more about this wonderful woman, someone I am happy to call my friend.

Here's some background about Candace . . .

Candace E. Salima was born right smack dab in the middle of twelve children. In a family comprised of his, mine and ours, Candace can barely remember a time when reading wasn't an integral part of her life. Her love of books, reading and writing, was born of hearing her mother read nightly from the James Herriot series about a veterinarian's mishaps in the British countryside. She thrived in a family of readers, began writing original stories at the age of eleven and has never looked back.

The daughter of a father who survived the invasion of Hitler's war machine in his homeland and a mother who is an often controversial conservative columnist, Candace spent her childhood on the back of a horse or trudging through the mountains and valleys of the American west. Born in California, she lived in Nebraska, Montana, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico . . . all before she was twelve-years-old. As an adult she lived in Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, and another short stint in California before making her home in Utah.

She met her sweetheart at Brigham Young University in 1983. Ten years later she appeared on the Phil Donahue Show in defense of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which precipitated a reunion with him. In 1995, Alvin and Candace were married in the Bountiful Temple and settled in Utah Valley. Unable to have children, Alvin and Candace shower their love and attention on their nieces and nephews.

In the course of her life, Candace has been a reporter, a writer of health booklets, a screenwriter, and a teacher. Her philosophy in life is simple . . . everything can be turned into a good story. Hence her nine day rafting trip down the Colorado River, hiking the Colorado Rockies, or horseback riding in the northern Wyoming Grand Teton mountains. A love of BYU football, basketball, swimming, movies, plays, concerts and socializing with family and friends round out her life. All this, and she still prefers to be curled up on her couch with a good book, a cup of hot chocolate and a blustery Winnie-the-Pooh day brewing outside.

Here are the questions...Candace E. Salima

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

AUTHOR: Interestingly, I began writing original stories at the age of eleven, with a beginning, middle and end. I read books and would think to myself, this could be so much better. But it wasn’t until I took a creative writing class in college that I was steered in the direction of writing. Initially, I wrote screenplays but when I turned 40 and the movie industry hadn’t work out for me I decided to try my hand at writing. “Out of the Shadows…Into the Light” was the result.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

AUTHOR: I wanted to write romantic suspense. With my values being what they are, I knew writing that genre in the national market was not something I could do and live with myself, or look my mother in the eye. So I did a little research in the LDS market, sat down and wrote three chapters and sent them to a friend of my sister’s at Covenant. The editor who ended up with the chapters really liked them and asked me to finish the book and submit it. I did that, but we ran into some problems when we disagreed on how to handle certain parts of the book.

In the meantime, I attended the first LDS Storymakers Writers Conference and met Chad Daybell who was just launching his new publishing house Spring Creek Book Company. By June of that year, I signed a contract with Spring Creek on “Out of the Shadows…Into the Light”. The rest, as they say, is history.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

AUTHOR: Yes, I have been discouraged. Not in the beginning because I had three books out in the course of 18 months. Writing was cruising along and book sales were brisk. My husband became very ill, but I continued to write until it came to the point where I could no longer think creatively. As day after day by his bedside went on, I ceased doing anything creative and simply stuck to the task of keeping my husband alive.

I stressed about it daily but anything I sat down and wrote was far below the high standard I hold myself to and so I deleted and tried again. I eventually gave up and decided to concentrate on staying awake and Alvin alive.

It is only recently that I have begun to write again. I am still in the middle of the two books I began two years ago, but now have begun writing again on a daily basis. I knew one day I would be able to write again and am very grateful that time has come. In the meantime, I read books, worked with other authors, edited the manuscripts of others in order to keep my hand in the creative process and continued to hone my skills. Oddly, I am a better writer than I was four years ago. I hope to have one book out at the end of this year and another in the first quarter of the next.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

AUTHOR: I used to get up every morning at 4:00 and write in the quiet of the early morning awakening of the earth. But I haven’t seen 4:00 a.m. in awhile. So now I write when I can. I carry a laptop with me everywhere, although I caught a glimpse of Alison Palmer’s Mobile Pro and am considering purchasing one of those to keep with me at all times so that I can write during any downtime in the course of a regular day. There is a lot of that, oddly enough.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?

AUTHOR: I’m inspired by everything around me. A turn of phrase, a title to a song, the events unfolding around me, the news, my hopes, dreams and fears—all of them, somehow, trigger entire stories in my head and I write. I then take the outline and first couple of chapters to a select group to see if I have anything good. Their responses give me the idea of where I need to go with the story and the best way to bring that about.

I haven’t had a bad story come to mind yet. I have a very colorful imagination and am able to weave an intriguing story out of just about anything.

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?

AUTHOR: Read, read and read more. Be certain you are reading authors who can actually write. Bad writers, although they may be good storytellers, will actually affect your writing ability. So stay far away from those.

Attend writing conferences. Don’t spend a fortune doing so, but find the ones which challenge, teach and inspire you and attend them regularly. Not only will you improve as a writer, but you will also develop connections and friendships which will last a lifetime.

Create a critique group and listen. You don’t always have to take the suggestions offered, but make certain it is because it’s a bad suggestion rather than one of ego.

Get a story journal and for the first 5 to 10 minutes of each day do free form writing. Whether you purchase an actual journal or use your computer, it really doesn’t matter. But write. This will trigger the creative process and get you in the mode of storytelling. This was an exercise one of the best writing teachers I ever had utilized at the beginning of each class period. I was amazed at how well it worked. It still does.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline

AUTHOR: Stories hit me out of the blue, like a bolt of lightning. The fleshing out of the story takes a little longer. I start with a general outline, very general. I identify the research points and then begin my research. As I conduct that research the story begins to unfold and become three dimensional. I then began writing the actual story; a creative dumping of story and thought that only a mother would love, and actually, that might be in question too. Through that process, invariably, I will come upon points where more research is required. I make a note and finish the rough draft of the book. I then go and conduct the necessary research and then begin honing the second draft of the book. When that one is complete, I send it out to a select group of readers who fill out a questionnaire upon completion of the book. I go carefully through their thoughts, impressions and suggestions and use the ones which make sense. I then go through it one more time, looking for any mistakes and then submit that version to my publisher.

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's
block? If so, how do you deal with it?

AUTHOR: I just came out of a four year writer’s block. I tried everything I could think of to break free from it, but with the pressures and stresses of my life at the time, staying upright and fighting was about all I could manage. It was after my husband regained his health, finances eased up and life got on a more even keel I was able to begin writing away. I tried going up in the mountains. I tried gardening, exercising, playing music, anything. I tried going to Colorado. I tried reading. I tried everything I could think of, but until my husband was given a clean bill of health after eight very scary years, I was not able to write. My last book was released in February of 2006. By the release of my next book it will have been four years to the day. Not a good thing, but nonetheless, it is the way my life has played out. I’ve stopped stressing over, accepted that sometimes life just happens and there isn’t much you can do about it. But writing is as necessary as breathing and I’m so grateful to be doing it again.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?

AUTHOR: No, I don’t listen to music. I like to sing along to the music I listen to which makes it very tough to write. So I lock myself in my office and do my writing in absolute peace and quiet. I know. I’m spoiled.

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

AUTHOR: Hot fudge brownie sundaes? Okay, maybe not. As long as I am reading my scriptures and praying daily, get a little sun and exercise and eating properly I seem to do really well in the writing process. If I neglect any of that it gets a lot harder to pull that story out of my brain.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

AUTHOR: Nora Roberts and my mother. I absolutely adore the writing style of Nora Roberts, but not necessarily the scenes I have to skip when I’m reading her books. I find her to be a brilliant writer. When I was hung with the moniker of the LDS Nora Roberts it was the greatest of compliments. In the meantime, my sweet mother, Muriel Sluyter, reads everything I write and always offers honest, helpful critique as well as correction of punctuation and grammar. One disagreement we had about split infinitives triggered a scene in “Out of the Shadows…Into the Light”.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?

AUTHOR: I used to, now I just use my mother, my brother, my sister (all of which are painfully honest and see different problems than the others) and Tristi Pinkston.

M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?

AUTHOR: It’s hard to say. I love “Out of the Shadows…Into the Light” and am so pleased to be close to finishing the book in that series. It’s a romantic suspense that kept me thoroughly entertained and on seat’s edge throughout the entire writing of it. But then again, Forged in the Refiner’s Fire was a deeply inspiring book to compile and write. It has touched so many lives. I don’t know, I can’t choose between the two. Sorry.

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share

AUTHOR: Writing can be a lonely and difficult process. And yet, as we create characters and stories, breathe life into them and watch them blossom we find ourselves immersed in a world created in our minds. It’s a fascinating place to be and sad when we have to leave. So I make sure I spend time with family and friends, read, watch football and basketball games nephews and nieces are playing in, garden and spend time with my husband. All that makes me happy and a better writer, I don’t need angst to write, I need peace.

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

AUTHOR: is the best place to go, following the links up there. When Spring Creek declared bankruptcy it left my readership in somewhat of a lurch, so I reprinted both Shadows and Forged via CreateSpace and made them available on again. In addition, Provident Book in Pleasant Grove, UT carries my books as well. By next year, all my books will once again be available at your local bookstore.

Link to order "Forged in the Refiners Fire"

Link to order "Out of the Shadows, Into the Light"

Link to order "13 and 0: Reflections of Champions

Dream a little dream…
Salima Enterprises, LLC


Candace E. Salima said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Candace E. Salima said...

Thanks for interviewing me, Michele. It was awesome.

For anyone who wants to buy any of my books, here are the links:

Forged in the Refiner's Fire

Out of the Shadows ... Into the Light13 and 0: Reflections of Champions

Personage said...

Good interveiw! You are really good at that. P.S. Candace sounds like an awesome person.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Candace is totally awesome! I was so lucky to be her neighbor and work with her in our voting precinct. She truly is an inspiration, a wonderful sweetheart, and a great friend. This was a wonderful interview, Michele!

Janette Rallison said...

Candace is as always--amazing!!

Four in the morning? I've never gotten up that early except to feed babies.

And I love James Herriot too! I'm glad you're back writing now and that Alvin is doing well!

Candace E. Salima said...

Thanks, everyone, really. I'm blushing! And Janette, I'm glad I'm writing too!

Shirley Bahlmann said...

Fun review! Thanks, ladies, for making it possible.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

I love Candace!! :-D

Valor - Day to Day said...

Love you too, Nancy! You're all awesome.

JoAnn Arnold said...

Just finished reading your interview with Candace. She is a special friend to me and I've learned a few things I didn't know about her, through you. It was a perfect interview.

Sheila said...

Candace truly is an amazing woman. I admire her greatly. She inspires me in ways that I haven't been in a long time. One way she has helped me, seeing how you can be the best that you can be and not to be afraid to try.

I also think you are pretty amazing yourself Michelle! Fantastic interview.

Cheri J. Crane said...

Great interview, Michele & Candace. You are both wonderful women, examples, and writers. =)