Sandra Koehler, who writes under the pen name of Alison Chambers, was Vice-President of Executive Director, Inc., the largest association management company in Wisconsin. She has traveled extensively and served as Executive Director of several national medical associations, where she was responsible for marketing, communications, and public relations, as well as overall management. She has been quoted in USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and other national media and has received four awards for excellence and dedicated service. She has also written for newspapers.
Koehler, who majored in political science and history, earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She first started writing when she was a teenager, sparked by an interest in Nancy Drew books and a desire to tell a good story. She enjoys keeping her hero and heroine in dangerous and exciting situations against a backdrop of exotic settings, lost treasure and unsolved historical mysteries and conspiracies. She has written seven novels and besides writing, enjoys reading, playing piano and Green Bay Packers football. She lives in Greendale, Wisconsin, where she is working on her next romantic suspense novel.
Sandra, I'm so pleased to host a fellow Wisconsinite (and Packer fan) on Tattered Pages Today! Whoo wee!
Start us out by telling us how your writing career began.
I wrote a number of short Nancy Drew stories when I was in my teens. I enjoyed the mystery aspect and the idea of a brave female heroine. Then I wrote my first novel—sort of a fun spy story—when I was eighteen. I’ve been writing ever since. I can’t stop!
I know what you mean. Writing is sooo addictive. Does that mean you stick to one genre or do you write across several lines?
I love romantic suspense (kind of grown up Nancy Drew stories) but I also have written several political thrillers since I majored in political science and history in college.
Both Poli-Sci AND history? Wow! That's impressive. What’s the most important lesson you learned in your path to publication?
Never give up, keep trying, reading and learning and write what you love.
Speaking of writing what you love, of your published works, which story is your favorite and why?
The one I’m working on now called “Prisoner in his Arms.” It’s a follow-up to “The Secret Sentinel” with a lot of “National Treasure” clues and rhymes. It takes place in a number of mysterious settings around Boston and Washington, D.C. I love developing the relationship between the characters—he the sexy bodyguard and she the damsel in distress searching for the mysterious Virgo Stone which she must find or her father will die.
I love stories like that. I'm adding these to my TBR pile. Have you ever considered self-publication?
I self-published “The Montezuma Secret” on Amazon and Smashwords and am planning to self-publish some of my earlier works too. I notice a lot of other authors are doing that as well. It’s exciting to have that freedom. E-books and e-readers are wonderful.
I totally agree. Care to share a blurb from "Prisoner in Arms"?
Three Missing Cornerstones. Three Dead Men. Hidden Clues to a Secret that will Unlock a Mystery of the Ages. A Desperate Race to Stop a Terrorist Plot.
Alexis McHenry has only ten days to find the answers with an ominous masked stranger acting as her bodyguard. If she fails, her father will die and deadly attacks will be unleashed on Washington, D.C. during the Presidential Inauguration. Can she find the mysterious Virgo Stone in time? And is the masked stranger her sworn enemy or do his loyalties lie somewhere else?
Ohhh...that sounds so good. So after finishing this story, will you take some time off or dive right in to the next one?
I'll take a couple of weeks or a month off before diving in, but I always know what the next story line is going to be generally, if not in specific detail.
Tell us what's on your nightstand reading pile right now.
I usually read three books at a time: one fiction, one non-fiction, and one ‘how to write’ book. I’m reading an old Sandra Brown book “The Witness,” David Crowe’s biography of Oskar Schindler, and a Writer’s Digest book called “On Writing Romance.”
If you had to pick one person who most influenced your life, who would it be?
My mother. She taught me to be tough and never give up and to have faith in myself.
I LOVE that. So, do you have critique partners or belong to a writers group?
I just joined Working Writers of Wisconsin and am looking forward to networking with my local writers. It’s also helped belonging to a lot of Yahoo romance chat groups, particularly the one including my fellow Wild Rose Press writers! Their advice has been invaluable. I learn something new every day.
Yay WRP authors!! I totally agree. Does your husband read your work? And if so, what's his reaction?
Yes. He loves my work and always gives me loads of encouragement.
That's awesome! And now for some fun... Jay Leno or Letterman?
Martinis, of course!
LOL! You are a girl after my own heart. What are your hobbies?
Playing piano, doing crosswords and crostics to sharpen my word skills, watching sports on TV or in person, traveling, cruising the Caribbean, reading, movies, dining out…
Busy girl. Got any pets?
Nope. Allergic to cats. Love dogs, but can’t have one in my condo.
Okay, all. That about wraps up our interview with Sandra. But keep reading to learn more about her latest release:
"The Montezuma Secret"
NOW Available on www.amazon.com
Click to purchase: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004JU0IX6
SUMMER SALE: Only $.99 in e-book format for your Kindle, PC, MAC, iPhone, Blackberry, iPad, or Android
FIVE STARS: "Excellent writing! Enjoyable hero and heroine! Great romance! Fast pace! I read it straight through! Author thorough in research! I lived the experience!"--A reader on Amazon.com
"Up?" she pointed, unable to believe her ears.
Trey gave her a hard shove. "Get going!"
"Grab the vines and pull yourself up!" he shouted over the thundering rain.
"You must be joking! It’s got to be one hundred feet high!"
"Good calculation. Now move!"
She stood her ground. "But why?"
"A. There’s no other way. B. I’m ordering you to. And you’ll listen if you ever want to get out of here."
Trey stifled an urge to smack her luscious wet bottom and watched in amusement as she struggled to grab hold of the slick vines, then smirked as she scrambled up a few feet and then landed in the muck with a splat. Her thick mane of black hair, once so splendidly coifed, was heavily matted and caked in mud.
"Again!" he yelled.
Raindrops, big as bullets, pelted her mercilessly. "I can’t do it. It’s impossible."
"Watch the master," he said, stowing the camera in his backpack.
He brushed her aside and grabbed one of the sturdier vines, then pulled himself up arm over arm with the agility of a spider monkey until he reached the top of the cliff where he had a perfect view of the lush jungle canopy and could see for miles.
"Now you know how it’s done. Get your ass up here or I’ll leave you behind."
"You can’t do that. You wouldn’t."
"Pull yourself up, Kingsley. If you have to, use the side of the cliff to push off and boost yourself higher. But watch out for the holes. There may be spiders and bats hiding in those nooks and crannies."
Erica re-tied her sagging ponytail and pinned it to her scalp. Her breath was ragged, her heartbeat erratic.
From above, she heard the sudden monotonous drone of a plane’s engine cutting through the rain splatter, then listened to the sputter as the motor spit and coughed, struggling to stay aloft. Wings slashed through the jungle over her head five hundred feet from her, both turbo props flaming. The plane wobbled and rolled before hitting the ground with an ear-splitting shriek of steel against steel followed by a blinding explosion of light that knocked her off her feet.
A sickening sensation shot through her and she suppressed the urge to vomit. The stench of black smoke as dark as blood filled her nostrils. She knew what had happened. She hoped to God she was wrong, but more than ever she wished with all her heart and soul that she was still safely home in Miami Beach and that she had never come.
From a safe distance, comfortably positioned to witness the entire spectacle, a smiling figure breathed a sigh of relief. It had all gone according to plan. On schedule and on time. They were right where they needed to be. Soon they’d both be dead and no one would be the wiser. Untimely accidents. Marauding terrorists. Ancient Mayan curses. Any excuse would do. Completely believable, considering the dangers of the jungle. They’d just disappear. Perfect. Simply perfect.
Thanks, AJ, for hosting me! And you can visit me at www.alisonchambersromance.com and http://alisonchambers.blogspot.com/