FEATURED AUTHOR: SANDIE WILL - Multi-Award-Winning Writer of Psychological Thrillers

 If you love Psychological Thrillers, then you need to know our featured author, SANDIE WILL. Sandie has published several multi-award-winning novels on Amazon.

Tell us something about Sandie Will, the writer. Why do you write psychological thrillers?

I wrote my first short story when I was in fifth grade. It was about the plight of a piece of paper that ended up lost in a garbage truck and narrowly returned home without being torn. I remember it well because my teacher made such a fuss about it and put it up on the bulletin board for others to read. 

When I was sixteen, I started to write a novel about a haunted house that wouldn’t let its victims go, but never finished it. It’s handwritten and I have it to this day. But I never thought of myself as a writer. Never thought I’d publish novels. It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I decided to try it. I had read a novel and didn’t like the ending. I was rather irritated with myself, because who was I to judge when I wasn’t even a writer? 

My first full-length novel was a time travel which I have not published mostly because I had no idea how to publish at the time and wasn’t sure if the novel was good enough. But then, my focus turned to writing dark. I had always watched horror and thriller flicks and read the same, but I wasn’t sure if I could get into the state of mind to be able to do it. I did with my first published novel, The Caging at Deadwater Manor, an upper young adult psychological thriller/horror, and I’ve been writing adult psychological thrillers ever since. 

There’s something that intrigues me about exploring the depths of minds, especially evil ones, thrilling the reader with the storyline, and then having the reader struggle with empathy for the villain. I always loved the feeling of being disturbed or moved by a story. One that gets into your psyche and haunts you later. And I try to bring my reader into the story with me and have them experience it through the victim or villain's mind. 

When a reader says to me, “Wow, I really felt that story,” or “For some reason, I feel sorry for the villain and don’t want to,” I feel like I’ve done my job. And if I can make them cringe, even better!

Can you share something personal about Sandie Will, the woman? What moves you? What is your driving force?

When I was in third grade, my teacher told my mother not to expect much from me. That I was not smart and I remember believing it as I watched the smarter kids learn how to write paragraphs in a classroom across from me, while I was made to watch The Electric Company with all the other dumb kids. This teacher tried to convince my mother to hold me back from fourth grade, but my mother knew there was something wrong and didn’t listen. That’s when I met Mrs. Kennedy, an older woman with fiery red hair and matching lipstick. She was kind and encouraging. She made me feel smart and within three months I was excelling, loved doing homework, and finally had the foundation needed to move forward.

What moves me is to try new things, to always be learning. My mind never stops. 

At times it feels like a curse, but it’s that drive that has made me successful throughout my life. Though I did well in high school, I never thought I could handle physics or chemistry or calculus. Those classes were for the smarter kids. It’s funny how the negative in your life can stick in your brain and never let go. 

It wasn’t until I was thirty that I decided to go to the University of South Florida and take these classes, see if I could handle them. I wanted to be a geologist, a curriculum that would challenge me. And I not only handled them, but I excelled, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Geology and later a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering Sciences from the University of Florida. 

Today, I hold an upper level management position, all because I learned to have faith in myself and listen to the Mrs. Kennedy’s in my life.

For me, writing is a driving force in itself. I never knew for so many years that I had a knack for creating stories. I had been a technical writer during my scientific career, but these reports were always based on facts. Learning how to write fiction was a whole other ballgame, but one that I love. 

There isn’t really an explanation of why I write. It’s more like I have to write. Something inside me pushes me to release the words on a page, to create characters, and to create worlds in the mind’s eye. 

And I always love finishing what I start. Publishing is the ultimate satisfaction on the business end of it, but it’s the feedback and accolades from readers that keeps me writing. It’s the one person who showed up to my author event, giddy to meet me or read a new story. It’s the reader who couldn’t put the book down, leaves a glowing review or can’t wait for the next book. It fuels my fire.

What type of research do you do while writing your novels? Do you visit the places in your novels? Do you talk to psychiatrists/psychologists?

As a scientist, I have a constant need to do research. It’s part of who I am. Whether it’s a character’s infliction, a phenomenon, a place, or a minor detail, if I’m not familiar with it, I’m researching it. I have not spoken with psychiatrists or psychologists, however, I have spoken with doctorates and counselors who majored in psychology. I do most of my research online and reading books, but I have visited the places I’ve written about, many times making the setting just right for the geology needed to make the story work. I like immersing myself into the surroundings of the story and paying attention to the smallest of details of what I’m seeing and feeling. I jot these down in a journal, so I can bring it back to the reader.

You have just released your new book, The Replacings. What gave you the idea for this novel?

About six years ago, a character started following me around. He was a regular guy, a good neighbor. But he had an evil side. I started seeing the back of someone with wide shoulders, hunched over something. And there was a chain hanging nearby. It took me years to figure out what he was doing and that’s when I wrote The Takings, where it all began. 

A parent's worst fear is to lose a child and a youngster's worst fear is to lose their family. This story is a marriage of the two. Being that I had almost lost my child to an abduction attempt, I could tap into this primal fear and bring it into the story, but I challenged myself even more by writing from the abductor’s point of view. 

The Replacings is a stand-alone novel, but continues the story of The Takings seven years later. In this novel, I bring the reader the points of view of the victim as well as the abductor. Wyatt is still in the clutches of his captor and is struggling with Stockholm Syndrome, while the abductor is still mourning the tragedy that killed his family years ago. It’s a struggle between abductor and abductee and the complicated relationship between the two, as well as the struggle between good and evil within a disturbed mind — a modern-day Jekyll and Hyde.

Of all your books, which one is your favorite and why?

That’s easy. The Caging at Deadwater Manor will always be special to me. First off, I wrote this with the help of my dad who worked at psychiatric hospitals in New York and Florida. He used to come home upset sometimes, but he never told me why until I started writing. 

He was primarily upset that so many young girls were hooked on drugs and that so many families wanted to get rid of their family embarrassments, leaving these girls in institutions for years. He shared routines, treatments and the hospital layout with me. But the most disturbing thing he revealed was when he climbed the stairs and found two human cages locked away in the attic. There was a chain hanging from the rafters with handcuffs on the end of it as well. It was because of this recollection that the book was born, and I based the entire story around these cages. I couldn’t imagine being locked away in one of them at first, but as I opened my mind to it, I began seeing the attic, the cages, the windows and the rafters. I became Jeannie when I wrote, feeling and experiencing it all. Unfortunately, my dad passed away before he saw the book published, but I know he’s watching me with pride. 

There are several thoughts I wanted the reader to take away from the story. One is that the way patients were treated in psychiatric hospitals in the past was horrific and should never be repeated. 

The second is that we can grow to be strong when we need to and overcome adversities. 

And the third is a message to girls: if something in your gut doesn’t feel right, listen to it, and get away. Follow your instincts. They’re usually spot on. 

This story is definitely cringe-worthy, so a word of caution before you read.

When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite activity?

Honestly, I don’t have much time outside of working and writing, but I love watching movies, traveling, wine, art, Disney World, geology, and most of all, spending time with my family. That includes my husband, sons and their soon-to-be wives, as well as a new little Australian Shepherd that’s a bundle of energy at four months old and has captured my heart. Minnie is her name or otherwise affectionately called scuttle butt and platypus. We also have a cat named Mocha, who’s really my husband’s cat, but she steals my lap to get a good massage every once in a while.

Do you have another novel in the pipeline, after The Replacings?

I do. I’m re-writing my time travel into a psychological thriller with a time-traveling psycho. It’ll be set in Ireland during the Great Irish Famine—a genocide that’s right up there with the Holocaust and should be recognized more. It’s about a girl from today who meets a guy from 1849 Ireland. She needs to save him from his time before starvation and disease take the lives of him and his family. 

What should readers expect when they read your novels?

My readers need to like a good thrill and to have a high-threshold for disturbing reads. There is not much gore or sex, but the way in which I write, brings the reader into the scenes and minds of the characters. 

Do you have any advice for other independent authors?

Please have your book thoroughly vetted and edited. There are a lot of bad books out there which hurts the reputation of other independent authors who are trying to release quality work. Remember, too, that being an independent author means you’re running a business. Writing is only one part of it. There are three other parts: accounting, publishing and marketing. You must become proficient in these areas as well, whether you hire someone else to do these tasks or you do them yourself. If you’re not willing to do this, your book will go nowhere. It’s a long process, but you can do it. Don’t give up!

Thank you for this interview, Sandie!



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