Stevie Turner, Author
Interview with Sandra Farris
1. Your first novel ‘Can You Hear the Music?’ has won two awards for its video book trailer. How did you and your son construct the trailer? How long did it take to complete?
I wanted to have a book trailer made ever since I saw one on television. I thought it was a trailer for a new television show until the end, which showed the book and author’s name. I was hooked.
My son, Dennis Farris, does videos and had worked on a sci-fi movie doing the editing and special effects, also a small acting part in it. I really liked his work, so my next step was to present the idea to him. He liked the idea, but was busy with several projects at the time, though we did take one day and scout locations.
Every time we got together, we discussed how and what was to be filmed (his ideas were so much better than mine) and also the expense, since it was a period piece. And, of course, it was much more than I had, or could even save toward for the next ten years.
I researched grants, crowd funding, and the costs if we could get students studying acting at the college, in exchange for a copy of the trailer for their portfolio. No success with the grants and I didn’t think crowd funding would get us the money. Needless to say time passed and my dream was on the back burner.
Then my prayers were answered. I wrote a book for my ex-husband and an independent film company in Hollywood was interested in making it into a movie. I was paid $25,000 for my half of the rights. So part of that was designated for the book trailer.
We sent out a call for auditions and received more response than we thought we would. The local actors were all great, making a choice difficult. One man showed up slightly tipsy and even he gave a great performance. We hired a make-up person, rented costumes, some equipment and a hotel one night for the actors, since we had an early call the next morning. We were filming in Patagonia, Arizona. My sister came in from Bakersfield and did a lot of the still photography and assisted the director (my son). Another sister and I were the gopher and craft services people. It took a year because we had to work when my son could take the time and also on the actor’s schedule, so we had a lot of down time.
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMzcqsMzF5E
Visual effects video: http: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSt8P8b_Wfw
2. Are there any parts of your novels that are autobiographical?
Not really, but I always had an inferiority complex and I chose a hobo, which society put on the bottom of the ladder, so to speak, to teach Corey (and perhaps the reader) that everyone contributes to the “music” of life, each one as important as the next. The story came about after meeting several children through the years who lost their parents through car accidents and who had to live with relatives or in an orphanage. One child was a five-year-old boy named Kenneth Bell who lived at Buckner’s Orphans Home in Dallas, Texas. I was attending Mesquite High School at the time and one Christmas, my Home Economics classmates and I each drew the name of a child living at the home. Just before Christmas we went to the orphanage for the party, took our gift and spent some time with that child. This visit became one of my most cherished and heart tugging memories.
Years later, there were two young sisters who lived next door to me with their aunt and uncle. The aunt and uncle both were unkind to them, but not physically abusive. Corey James in “Can You HearThe Music?” is a combination of those sisters and Kenneth Bell. Her situation had to be much worse, though, to warrant her running away. The rest came from an over active imagination and lots of daydreaming.
3. Was there much rivalry between yourself and your sisters as you were growing up?
Not so much rivalry, at least that I can remember, but like most siblings, we had fights, mostly on petty things and name-calling. Those were with the sister next to me. There was such a difference in the ages, which prevented rivalry. I am the eldest. There is 18 months between myself and the sister next to me, then 8 years later the second set of sisters came along (they were 2 years apart), and finally 10 years later the last sister was born. I have two sons older that my youngest sister.
4. At what age did you start writing stories?
I believe I was 14 years old. Having to share a bedroom and life itself with younger sisters, I would go into the woods behind our house, climb into a tree for a little privacy, and daydream. Then I would tell the stories I came up with to my younger siblings, a captive audience you might say.
5. How did you go about selecting interviewees for your school newspaper?
I published a want ad of sorts in the school paper asking for students with an unusual story to tell. The first one who answered was a girl from Germany telling about the harrowing times her family had in their flight from the Russians. The headline was: Effie Kosin Tells Story of Flight From Bombing, Fear, and Hunger.
6. Did your college course help to hone your writing skills, or do you think the ability to write is inborn and can’t be taught?
It helped with the grammar part of writing, but I think writing is inborn and can’t be taught. Some people may disagree with that, but I truly believe you are born with the knack for storytelling, and I think the Texan part of me contributed. I grew up listening to tall tales, jokes and general reminiscing in my younger years when the family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) went camping on weekends in the Texas “bottoms”, lakeside.
7. Do you believe in love at first sight?
I believe in attractions at first sight, but love takes a lot of commitment and work. Having been in two marriages taught me that.
8. Who is your favourite author?
Boy, how to answer that. Can you have more than one? I have a lot, but I guess the most books I have read by one of them would be by Nora Roberts.
9. What is your favourite piece of music?
Another hard one. I would have to say a piece from the movie, Somewhere In Time, titled Rhapsody on a Theme from Paganini. It makes my heart and soul swell.
10. Do you prefer the single life, or would you rather be married again?
I prefer single life definitely. I have been single 27 years and I don’t think I would be able to share anymore. I like being able to come and go as I please without stepping on toes. Besides, I didn’t do well with the first two.
11. Are your three sons creative?
Yes. My eldest, Roland, was on the Dean’s list twice in the city college he attended studying electronics. He was also in a band and wrote music. I think he would have accomplished much had he lived.
My second son, Dennis, is a graphic artist, writes screenplays; also is a videographer, director, film editor, producer and does special effects.
My third son, Kevin, is an artist as well and holds that title where he works. He works with a company that makes artificial rocks, flora and fauna. He bends steel and shoots concrete to form displays in aquariums, zoos, and theme parks and has worked all over the world. He uses architects concepts and sometimes tells them why their idea won’t work. To his credit, I have 2 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren and another one on the way.
12. Has cancer changed your priorities in life?
Not a whole lot. I do pay closer attention to my health and my body’s complaints. I suppose I am a little more apt to do things that in the past I had second thoughts about and perhaps left them for another day, which a lot of the time didn’t materialize.
13. Like you I am a cancer survivor. Do you ever worry that your cancer will return, or do you tend to live in the present and take each day as it comes?
Most of the time I live in the present unless I have a pain that can’t be explained, like my gallbladder problem, then I will see a doctor, worrying about cancer returning. There has been so much cancer in my family and most have passed away. A sister and I have so far survived it. I worry about my sons and grandchildren developing it more than myself.
14. If you had to move from Tucson, where would you want to live?
That is a good question, one that I have asked myself many times. I don’t know. I love Ireland, but it is so far away from family. Everywhere else in the States has major weather problems. I have lived through earthquakes and fires in California, tornadoes in Texas and Iowa, major snowstorms in Colorado, so I think I will just take the heat here in Tucson.
15. Has your car ever broken down in the desert? If not, what would you do if it did and you had no mobile phone signal?
I had a flat once in the middle of the desert with my elderly mother-in-law in the car before cell phones, and a kind Hispanic man stopped and changed the tire for us. He wouldn’t take money, said he would only hope someone would do the same for his family. He followed us for quite a while to make sure everything was okay then he went on his way.
16. If you could live your life all over again, what one thing would you change?
I think, give more love to my sons. They grow up so quickly and are gone, either to live a life of their own, or through a life ended. You never know how long you are allowed the privilege of having them grace your life. I had one go before me, which is not as it should be.
17. If you had to save one possession in a fire, what would you save?
My pictures of family, and if I have time, my hard drive. I miss those little boys my sons used to be. With my photos I can go back and visit them. Other possessions can be replaced but photos can’t because so many in the photos are no longer with us.
18. Now you are retired, do you miss the hustle and bustle of your previous working life?
In some ways I do, but not very often. I think mostly I miss the contact with people. I worked at the county courthouse at the traffic and criminal window. There was always something different going on there, but I keep very busy with my writing and life in general.
19. You’re also an amateur photographer. Which is more important to you – the ability to go outside and photograph the beautiful scenery around you, or to stay indoors and write?
I have to say stay indoors and write. I do take my camera with me everywhere I go, though. I learned that when I missed some beautiful sunsets and a large patch of wildflowers growing in the Saguaro National Park, a place I pass through almost everywhere I go.
20. What is number one on your bucket list?
I think the number one thing on my bucket list is to see “Can You Hear the Music?” made into a movie. It was the first book I wrote and over a period of time I grew a close attachment to the characters. When life got in the way, I put the book aside. That happened over eight years. It would be another ten years before I would publish it because of lack of confidence. Since then I have published four books and two short story e-books.
Link to Sandra’s books and author page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Sandra+Farris
My thanks goes to Sandra Farris for the interesting and informative interview.