Science Fiction & Fantasy




Author Spotlight: Sandra McDonald

Why hotels?

A favorite movie when I was younger: Somewhere in Time, with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve. Hopelessly romantic time-travel love story. A favorite place to visit, even if I can’t afford a room: the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. They filmed Some Like it Hot there, with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. Bucket list hotel: the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. I used that as an inspiration in a story about military veterans a few years ago. I grew up near Revere Beach in Massachusetts, which was the first public beach in America and had its share of rambling old structures on the ocean. I live now in Jacksonville, Florida, and put one of its historic old hotels (now long since vanished) in this story. The gables and porches, the ocean and sun, the promise of doing nothing: all personal squees. As a writer, if you don’t include your interests and delights in even some small way, where’s the fun?

Why selfie?

I love how new words or meanings pop into our language, although I always feel about a year behind the curve. For instance, bling. I had no idea what bling was until I heard it in a night class at Harvard Extension some years ago. Sometimes it’s an old word, but new to me: Recently, I learned what a case quarter is, and at my last job someone taught me the meaning of top-shelf guy (or gal). When I want to gross out students, I tell them to look up meth mouth. (What a great name for a horror story!) The word selfie is pretty well known now, thanks to Ellen DeGeneres and the Oscars, but it was relatively new to me until six months ago. I tried to push that word to its logical extension: another self, walking around on a temporary lease for a specified purpose. If I had a selfie, I’d send her off to grade college essays all day while I wrote the great American novel in coffee shops. Alas, I can’t afford one. And I don’t really like coffee.

Why time travel?

Time travel is so much fun! It’s ridiculously fun to work with in fiction. You can bend time, flex it, stretch it, condense it, twist it up like a knotted necklace and then spread it apart again like warm bread dough. The time travel mechanics in this story are very firmly fixed in the 1960s Irwin Allen show The Time Tunnel, although I was thinking of the Stargate episode “2010” and Vancouver’s Plaza of Nations for the main time terminal. The Plaza of Nations was a beautiful glass structure on the water that I was lucky enough to visit when my friend Janine Shahinian and I did a fangirl tour of the city. She was our sleuth, hunting down Highlander, The Sentinel, and Stargate film sites. She even got us onto the set of Stargate and we met Richard Dean Anderson, who was great. In any case, the Plaza of Nations is gone now, but if I had a time machine, I’d take people back to visit it. Just gorgeous. But since we don’t have time machines, I use stories instead.

Why the moon?

Here’s another personal squee. As part of its publicity and public relations programs, NASA periodically hosts social media events at its various facilities. I had just rejoined Twitter after being inactive for a long time when I saw a call for an event at the Johnson Space Center from @NASASocial. I signed up, thinking I surely wouldn’t have luck of the draw first time out, but got picked. Off to Houston I flew, not sure of what to expect, and crashed on the sofa of author Amy Sisson and Dr. Paul Abell, who himself works at NASA. Our group had a great time, including a visit to the historic Mission Control for the Apollo programs. I sat right where Gene Kranz would have sat during the nearly disastrous Apollo 13 flight. My long love for the space program was reignited, and that’s why the mom in this story lives on the moon.

What’s next?

Everything. Short fiction is my first love, because each story is a prism, however flawed, held up to the sun to reflect and refract the world around us. I’m hoping to make many more prisms this year. In the last few years, I’ve been writing YA novels for LGBTQ teens, which has been very rewarding, and I’m taking that into new directions as well. I’m also working on a big fat SF novel about the folly of intergalactic war, and another novel about magic and Newfoundland, and a romantic comedy about a home renovator and a veteran of Iraq. And sooner or later I’d like to write a transgender Sherlock Holmes. Wouldn’t that be marvelous? There’s a long parade of colorful characters in my head demanding stories, and the only constraint is time. Maybe duplicating myself really is the way to go.

Enjoyed this article? Consider supporting us via one of the following methods:

Jude Griffin

Jude Griffin

Jude Griffin is an envirogeek, writer, and photographer. She trained llamas at the Bronx Zoo; was a volunteer EMT, firefighter, and HAZMAT responder; worked as a guide and translator for journalists covering combat in Central America; lived in a haunted village in Thailand; ran an international frog monitoring network; and loves happy endings. Bonus points for frolicking dogs and kisses backlit by a shimmering full moon.