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Interview with Sandra Orchard

With twenty-five published books under her belt and eleven grandchildren keeping her on her toes, Sandra Orchard keeps busy in her corner of Ontario, Canada. She loves including a little mystery in her novels and because of this, spent a very memorable cab ride with a forensics pathologist...much to the chagrin of the cab driver!

You mentioned Boughs of Folly is an extra-special release for you. Why?
Boughs of Folly is my 25th published novel! And I’m celebrating this Christmas-themed release by gifting 25 books to 25 lucky readers. Anyone who’d like to participate can check out the details on my website’s blog page.

How fun! You have a lot of clever book titles. Do they just pop into your head, or do they take some work to discover?
Actually, I can only take credit for a handful of my titles. The rest are the brainchildren of my awesome editorial teams. Although for my Serena Jones Mysteries, which center around art crimes, even my readers got in on the brainstorming, and several they’ve proposed I still hope to eventually write.

You’ve been published by both traditional, royalty-paying publishers and a work-for-hire-paying publisher. What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed between the two?
Most of my work-for-hire titles are part of multi-author mystery series with common settings and continuing characters. So, unlike my traditionally published novels for which everything about each story is my own creation, to craft the work-for-hire stories, I’m given backstories and physical descriptions of the main characters and detailed descriptions of the settings. I then create chapter-by-chapter outlines of each story for editor approval at least eight months prior to my deadlines. This way, the series editor can ensure names of added characters, events, themes, etc., aren’t duplicated across books that are being written at the same time by different authors.

Since I’ve always been a plotter, the system works well for me, but I imagine it would be a lot tougher for pantsters.

Boughs of Folly is set in a chocolate shop. Would you describe yourself as a chocoholic?
Hee, hee. Only when I have writer’s block! There’s nothing like a chocolate fix to kickstart the creative juices.

What can you tell us about the characters in Boughs of Folly?
After her fiancé is arrested for embezzlement, Jillian Green returns to her ancestral home occupied by her grandmother Bertie and quirky Great Aunt Cornelia, both widows. At 78, Bertie hopes Jillian will take over the Chocolate Shoppe Bakery so it can stay in the family. And she’s not above setting Jillian up with the newest eligible bachelor in town, Hunter Greyson—never mind that he’s a mortician.

I believe you live in Canada, so why did you choose to set your book in Georgia?
This is one of those books in which the setting was chosen for me. Boughs of Folly is the first in a three-book Christmas collection titled Jingle Bells Mysteries. But the stories are set in the realm of another series from Annie’s Fiction called Chocolate Shoppe Mysteries that takes place in the fictional town of Moss Hollow, Georgia.

But this setting was extra fun for me to write, because my longtime writing prayer partner, Patti Jo Moore, hails from Georgia. So, she gave me insights into unique aspects of the people, places, foods, and Christmas traditions. Since I love researching the places I write about, my only regret is that pandemic travel restrictions kept me from visiting the sunny state in person.

Where do your story and character ideas come from?
Anything and everything can become fodder for my stories or characters. For example, a few years ago we had to dig a grave size hole next to our house to locate our buried well-head. Thankfully, we didn’t find a body, but my heroine in Digging Up Secrets did. Oh, and beware crossing a mystery writer if you don’t want to be cast as a villain. Just saying.

What is your writing routine? Any quirky habits or must-have snacks?
You’d think with my children all married now that having a routine would be easier. But they’ve blessed me with 11-plus grandchildren, from 0 to 11, who love to keep my life interesting. So, my modus operandi is: be flexible. The bonus is that little ones are very inspiring, so I always keep a notebook and pen handy to jot down little gems.

That said, once a book outline is approved, I try to write a fast initial draft by writing a chapter every morning. Of course … with the weather heating up, tending the veggie garden has usurped that time slot in favor of hot afternoons or the evening.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you as an author?
After my first Writers Police Academy, I shared a cab to the airport with a forensics pathologist and asked him if he’d be able to detect the method of killing someone that I planned to use.

The cabbie’s eyes snapped to the rearview mirror as the pathologist bellowed, “No, that’s an excellent way to get away with murder!” Our speed increased as he went on to advise: “Just be sure to jab the needle in an inconspicuous spot like between the toes.”

It was the fastest ride to the airport I’ve ever had.

You seem to lean toward writing suspense and mysteries. What led you to write in these genres? Any interest in writing other genres?
Yes, I’ve actually been contracted to write my first women’s fiction, although even with it, I plan to include a little mystery.

When Love Inspired came out with their suspense line, I knew I’d found the genre I’d like to write. Along with inspiring character growth and a happily ever after, I love the fast-paced action and suspense without the graphic ick. Diversifying into mysteries was a natural progression.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Probably too many different things! Spending time with my young grandchildren is my top priority these days. I also love to knit, crochet, sew, paint, do construction projects, spend time veggie gardening (that’s kind of a love-hate relationship), cycle, and hike.

Any tips or advice you’d give to newer or pre-published writers?
Don’t be in a hurry to publish. Connect with other writers, take time to hone your craft, and enjoy the journey. Every leg of the way, God will open unexpected opportunities for you to minister to others.

For example, my perseverance through rejection taught my children to persevere in pursuit of their dreams, while joining a secular writing group in my community gave me the opportunity to meet and minister to people I might otherwise never have met.
The Bible came to life for Christine Boatwright when she realized it told one, complete story—the story of Jesus Christ. When she's not working on her debut biblical fiction series, Christine builds Lego with her two kids, helps lead the ACFW Upstate SC chapter, and coordinates these Featured Author Interviews. Connect with her at

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