S. S. Bazinet lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After raising a family, she’s gone on to write more than a dozen books. Her favorite theme revolves around the ways that a person can embrace change and learn to appreciate themselves. Whether in a romance, fantasy or thriller, the theme of self-worth is usually woven into her stories.

Time to chat with Sandy!

What is your latest book?

The title of my latest book is Forgotten Blood. It’s about a demonic ghost named Col whose only aim is to destroy those who once called him a brother. When it came to fighting Col, nothing worked. Col was a master when it came to using anything combative or aggressive. And even worse, he knew how to manipulate a person’s mind, taking advantage of their guilt and fears. Being a ghost who had all the time in the world, he also had the advantage. No matter how long he had to wait, he promised he’d have his fun tormenting his victims.

While I was writing the story, Col was so unrelenting in his desire to wreak havoc that I began to worry about the fate of my main characters. I wondered if they would ever find a way to stop his destructive need to mete out misery. I was amazed and relieved with the way the problem was resolved in the end.

Is your recent book part of a series?

Forgotten Blood is part of a series, but it’s also a stand-alone book. It’s the kind of scary story that can capture a new reader’s attention very quickly. Plus there’s an ample amount of back story included. Without too much detail, new readers will quickly be brought up to speed with previous characters in the series.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

I’m very fortunate, my first series, The Vampire Reclamation Project, chose me. It’s a metaphysical fantasy about reclaiming vampires. I’d had writer’s block for many years and grappled with a harsh inner critic. Finally, I surrendered. I decided to just have fun and appreciate whatever story came forth. It was the best thing I could have done.

Shortly after my decision, I sat down in the back yard with pen in hand. I didn’t know what type of story I was going to write, but a story began to write itself. I soon went from pen and paper to writing on the computer because the story was flowing out so fast. Within a little more than a year, I had the first drafts of six books. It’s taken me all this time to edit them and let them come to publication on their own timeline. The sixth book in the series, Forgotten Blood, has just been released.

I find it interesting that the series and I share in the idea of surrendering. In the first book in the series, Michael’s Blood, my main character, Arel, is desperate to get his life back. Believing he’s cursed, he’s willing to do anything to accomplish his goal. Before I wrote the series, I was desperate too. I’d been suffering from writer’s block for so long I didn’t know if I’d ever write successfully. We both got the help we prayed for. I couldn’t write fast enough after I let go, and Arel had an angel show up on his doorstep. The angel becomes his friend and mentor.

We were both “reclaimed” in a sense. I began to channel a beautiful story of love and devotion, and I also had an inner renewal. I began to take long, meditative walks, listen to music, and dance. I became a much happier person. While Arel, with the help of his angelic friend, Michael, was able to come to grips with his inner demons and his curse.

All these years later, I’m so grateful that this series and genre chose me and that all my books continue to write themselves. Could a writer ask for anything more?

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

After having writer’s block for so long, I love it all, whether it’s starting a new book, editing it numerous times, or finally declaring it finished. For me, every aspect of the writing process is an adventure and a gift.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Yes, indeed. As I explained in an earlier answer, I had to deal with a demonic ghost in my latest book, Forgotten Blood. This ghost was a totally despicable entity with no redeeming qualities.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I’ve found social media to be a perfect vehicle for meeting other writers and authors. Many of these wonderful people are happy to share their thoughts and offer support. However, social media can be very time consuming. Therefore, I’ve had to decide how long I’m going to be on it each day and stick to that decision.

Do you ever have animal characters in your books? If so, do you find it a difficult thing to do? If yes, why?

Some of my stories have included dogs, cats and even pet mice. I find it very easy to describe their behavior and how they relate to humans. Maybe it’s because I’ve always loved animals and have noted the way they express their friendship and moods. In my story, Vampire In Heaven, a dog named Nippy becomes a very close friend and helper for my main guy, Alan.

What else have you written?

One of my favorite novels is Traces Of Home (Book 1 of Open Wide My Heart). I loved writing about all the characters and the story. In fact, I loved everything about the novel so much that it took me a while to release it. What if someone hated it? Finally, I had to let go and surrender it just like I had to surrender my writing in the first place. Happily, many people have also loved the novel. I’m so grateful for that blessing.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

I always wait until a story is not only finished but thoroughly edited. When I give the story to someone to read, I want it to be a wonderful adventure. If it’s not at its best, it could be disruptive to that experience.

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?

At first, writing a synopsis was really tough. Now, after so many attempts at trying to convey what needs to be said in a few words, it’s getting much easier. The important thing is not to give up. Try writing one synopsis a day just for practice. Give yourself five minutes and then stop. If you do that for a couple of weeks, hopefully it will help.

Do you have any advice to a new author if they asked you whether to pursue the traditional route to publishing or to start out as an independent writer?

If you decide to be an indie writer, you have to be prepared to do all the jobs that a publisher does. All in all, it’s a big undertaking. Happily, with so much information available on the internet, you can research every part of the process and learn what generally works. After that, you can customize the information you’ve found and use it to fit your needs.

An important lesson I’ve learned is not to have impossible expectations. Building a readership and establishing a sound knowledge base takes time and patience. Enjoy the journey as much as possible. For me, writing and sharing my stories is a reward in itself.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

I think a professional, eye-catching cover design is crucial. It gives the reader a heads up idea of what your book might bring to the table. It can pull them in or leave them flat.

Have you ever started out to write one book and ended up with something completely different?

I never know exactly what kind of story I’m going to end up with. For example, I didn’t know that my story, In The Care Of Wolves: My Brother’s Keeper, was going to be a werewolf thriller. I didn’t know I could write one. I simply started writing about two teenagers. Before I knew it, the story morphed, and they were fleeing from people who were out to kill them and their families. However, the story has other elements that I found very comfortable to write about. Besides being a thriller, it’s a story about family, love and loyalty. It’s also about going beyond the narrow labels that people give themselves and believing in who they are. I call it a thriller with heart.

I also got a big surprise when I began writing Dying Takes It Out of You. I was writing the story in the third person when all of a sudden I noticed that the story was being told in the first person. I guess my main guy, Dory, needed to have a stronger voice. After that I noticed that I enjoyed writing in a first person POV. It’s like I can get a little closer to my character and understand what he sees and feels.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were younger? Five years ago?

When I was younger, I wish I could have questioned and rebutted my negative self-talk. Five years ago, I wish I knew enough to check out a negative review without getting upset about it.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

Really spicy food doesn’t work for me, but Italian food, that’s another story. It’s the coziest.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?

My children! I call them Earth angels because they are the best ever!

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

A cup of morning coffee. ☕️








EHH photo 1 head shot 2

E. H. Hackney is a retired engineer, now writer and novelist. When not writing he’s riding a bike, hiking or playing jazz guitar on the east slope of the Sandia mountains in New Mexico, where he lives with his wife and two opinionated cats.

What is your latest book?

I self-published my first book, By The Blood, Book One, Revelation, a fantasy, in September of last year under the pen name Geoffrey Ganges. It’s the story of Quint, a dwarf wizard and healer, abandoned by his mother as an infant and tortured by his stunted, distorted body. On a quest for a long forgotten enemy of his people and his own history, he is threatened by his companions, outlaws, giant wolves and ancient foes. As the wizard confronts his origins, his world is shaken. Of all the dangers he faces, his own kinships may be the most deadly.


Why did you choose a pen name?

There are two reasons I write under a pseudonym. First, my given name is Ewing Haywood Hackney. I couldn’t think of any name I could derive from that which would be a good name for a fiction writer, especially a fantasy author. I have gone by the nickname Hack for decades, which is no help. Second, I have started works in other genres. I believe readers associate an author with a certain kind of book. If I published a fantasy under one name, then wanted to publish in another genre, I would need a different name anyhow.

What else have you written?

I’ve had a number of humorous and non-fiction pieces published in local newspapers and magazines, but wanted to write fiction. I have written but not published a modern morality tale, and have good starts on a young adult book and two action adventures. But once drawn into By The Blood I knew it was the story I most wanted to tell.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

This has been a revelation to me. I was an engineer in a previous life and trusted planning and organization. I had heard other authors say that their characters took over their stories, and didn’t believe them. I do now. Many of the events and elements in my book surprised me. I have discovered that writing fiction is not a process of invention but a venture of discovery.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

Writing is fun! Editing is work. Promotion is torture. (Couldn’t agree more!)

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

I begin with a detailed outline developed down to the scene level. I tend to follow the outline and write scenes in order, but sometimes jump around, especially if I’m stuck and another scene looks like it will be easier to write or I have a clearer vision of it. Often writing the new scene will help me work around the problems with the difficult one.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I edit a little as I go, but for the most part I want to get the story down. Then I revise and edit several times. I do later edits in hard copy. When I believe the book is in relatively good shape I make copies and send it to my first readers. My first readers’ feedback reveals a number of problems and I go back to revising and editing. When I take commas out on one pass then put them back on the next, and can’t stand to look at the damn thing anymore I decide I’m finished. I confess to being a poor editor—especially of my own work. Even reading aloud I will miss the same mistake time and again. A trick that works for me in the later edits is to have the computer read the book to me. I will hear incorrect words, missing commas and even missing periods that I did not find on my edits.

After working for a very long time on a novel, many authors get to a point where they lose their objectivity and feel unable to judge their own work. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what have you done about it?

I never feel that I can be objective about my own work. So far I have written what pleases me—what I would like to read, and I don’t know how in tune I am with a modern reader. I rely on my first readers for that. In fact, in my instructions to first readers I ask them to tell me if they gave up on the book before the end and to let me know where and why. It was a relief when none of them did.

What do you like best about the books you read? What do you like least?

I like books to take me to places I could never go or through experiences I would never have, teach me new things and at the same time be believable and reveal a kind of truth. That’s a lot to ask, I know. The best fiction reads like the telling of something that actually happened, even if the characters are fictional, the world has never existed and all the events are made up. Many books today, movies and TV shows, too, feel fabricated to me. If you can see the wires allowing the hero to fly or part of the rabbits ear is sticking out of the hat, the magic is gone. I don’t like books that are too hyped. If your novel starts with the broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped hero, with three percent body fat, uncoiling his six foot six frame from a Bugatti Veyron, I probably won’t get to page two. I might add that I have read enough dystopian, post-apocalyptic thrillers to last me this life.

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

I did a moderate amount of research for this book, and most of it was somewhat practical and mundane. I wanted to write a believable story about genuine characters in a real place, with its own history and culture. I used leagues rather than miles, and chose another way of measuring time rather than hours and tried to use older words for some common things. My main character is a wizard and healer; I invented names for some of his remedies. So a lot of my research had to do with what was a league, how big do horses get, what’s a hand and a stone, how far can a horse and wagon , or a sailing ship, travel in a day. Book one takes place over several months, so I studied what plants were in what stages of growth in different parts of a year. I did a lot of this research after the first several drafts, sometimes when I had found lapses and disconnects. I do all my research on line. I even use an online dictionary. My battered paperback Webster’s is missing too many good words.

This leads me to what I think is an interesting topic. My story take place in a fictional land—not on earth as we know it. The people would have their own language, lengths of days, plants, seasons, moon cycle (or not), and units of measure. I needed to invent some things to give the flavor of this new and different place,  but if there are no similarities with things we know, the reader will be confused, and I didn’t want to spend pages of explanation about language and seasons and what kind of plants grow there. I don’t have a simple answer for this, but I hope in my book I found a compromise that is interesting but not confusing.

Do you have any advice to a new author if they asked you whether to pursue the traditional route to publishing or to start out as an independent writer?

I am hesitant to give advice. Maybe I will be less so when I feel I am a successful author. I will say that, were I younger, I would have tried the traditional approach before self-publishing. But I’m in my seventies. Given the warnings that it can take a year of more to find an agent, if you find an agent, and a year or more for the agent to find a publisher, if they find one, and a year or so for the book to be published, I didn’t  want to take the time.

Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?

I write best early in the morning up until noon or so. I get up around six but need a mug or two of coffee to get my brain working. Everything else is optional. Music is an interesting idea. I love jazz. If I have music I like playing, I get into the music and it distracts me from writing. If it’s music I find annoying, it distracts me from writing. A lot of music wouldn’t distract me, but also wouldn’t help. I have an opinion, though. I am a writer after all. I think the best music for writing would not be that which makes you comfortable, but music that would support the writing you are doing. If you are writing a bar-fight scene, for example, I think driving blues or a quick country two-step would support your writing more than say classical string quartets. I have not tried this.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get around it?

I suffer from getting stuck. I don’t like to call it writer’s block because once it is labeled it can become like an affliction and then an excuse. Sometimes giving my mind a few days to mull over the problem can work. Any more than that, I’m just loafing. I’m good at that. Often when I am stuck I think it’s because I’m trying to work the wrong problem—trying to force the plot or characters in the wrong direction.

Have you ever started out to write one book and ended up with something completely different?

The first scene of my book started as a short story I had intended to enter into a contest. I realized it was not appropriate for the contest, but there was much more to tell. I was well into By The Blood when I realized there was too much for one book unless I made it a thousand-page doorstop. That’s too big a book for a first writer, so I decided to make it a trilogy. I’m working on book two now. I did detailed planning for the first book, but by the end of the first draft, the book was totally different. I guess I could have simply said yes.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

My wife and I live in ponderosa, pinon and juniper on the eastern slopes of the Sandia Mountains in New Mexico. I can step over three strands of sagging barbed wire at the boundary of our yard and be in a National Forest. We are regularly visited by raccoon, fox, coyote, bobcat, deer, wild turkey, bear and an assortment of  birds and hummingbirds in their seasons. We have talked about moving somewhere near water—Portland, Ft. Bragg in Northern California, Port Townsend in the rain shadow of the Olympics in Washington state, but it would be hard to leave this place.

What was your favorite year of school? Why?

I enjoyed the last three years of college more than any time before. I was not very social in high school; I was a nerd before it was cool. In fact my best memories of my high school years are the people I met on my first part-time jobs and playing jazz guitar gigs on the weekend. I don’t consider myself antisocial, but have always been more comfortable engaged in things and talking about ideas, than in socializing.

 What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Reading the Sunday paper in front of our woodstove in the winter is a treat. It’s hard to beat the first mug of coffee in the morning. My wife makes me laugh two or three times a day. I don’t think I have ever taken a bad hike. Walking a trail through rocks and trees always rejuvenates me, and it often helps me work around writing problems. I haven’t had a gig in years, but I still like playing jazz guitar.




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