The Long and the Short of It is very happy to interview Sarita Leone, whose newest work Sandswept is available from Whiskey Creek Press. Sandswept is the second installment in Sarita’s Chincoteague Island Mystery series. “I’ve got to admit,” she said, “it’s much darker than anything I’ve had published before.”
I asked her to share a little about the book with us.
Sarita said, “Sandswept is the story of a woman who believes she will never find happiness, love, contentment, peace—all the things we hold dear—again. Kelley has been through a horrific ordeal and, years later, still carries around the burden of her experience. She doesn’t feel she deserves any pleasure from life but although she would rather just lie down and die, she can’t. Wishing herself dead doesn’t make it so. With little else to do, Kelley goes on with her life as best she can. When she meets a handsome stranger on a windy, barren beach her life begins to look up—but only in small measure. I guess everyone knows that happiness can’t come from the external world, but must be cultivated internally. That’s a fact that Kelley will have to learn for herself—the hard way.”
Sarita told me that she wanted to be two things when she grew up. She wanted to be happily married and she wanted to be an author. She said, “Not just a writer, because when I was a child I wrote in notebooks constantly so I considered myself a writer even then. But I wanted to be an ‘author’ because, in my child’s mind, having a book in a cover and available for others to enjoy was the sign that my scribblings were worthy of being read. I’m blessed to be able to say I accomplished both of my childhood ambitions.”
She writes every day so most of her days follow a pattern. “I’m a very early riser,” she told me, “so before the sun even peeks over the hills I’ve answered emails, posted on readers’ loops, and caught up on the day’s pressing business. Then, I write for three or four hours. When my husband wakes up, I walk away from my desk. I may get another couple of hours writing time in a few afternoons a week, but basically I’m done by breakfast.”
She also makes time for reading. Right now, she’s reading John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas, “for the umpteenth time,” she told me. “It’s a redemption story and I love those. It’s good to see a character come to realize what’s really important about the holidays.”
Normally, she reads mostly holiday-themed books in December. In February, Valentine’s Day stories. And October? “That’s the time for Dracula,” she said. “I guess I just really like it when someone can scare the pants of me!”
Which leads us to her favorite author of all time—Stephen King. “I love the way he pulls me into a story,” she shared, “usually right from the first page. When I begin one of his novels, I am almost single-minded; all I want to do is sit down, open the book, and dive in. Every time he has a new release, I’m useless for the first few days.”
On more of a personal note, Sarita’s favorite pizza is cheese pizza smothered with fried peppers and onions with extra cheese and sauce made fresh from the garden. “My husband makes the most amazing pizza,” she told me. “I think he’s spoiled me for any besides his. He makes incredible calzones, as well.”
She’s a vegetarian—she said, “I don’t eat anything that had a face before it landed on a plate.” Then continued, “I’m actually very discerning (my husband would say fussy!) when it comes to food. If something looks weird, even though there’s no meat of fish in it? Count me out! Like I said, I’m very particular about what I put in my mouth. What I shove in my brother’s mouth? Now that’s another story.”
Of course, I wanted to know more. “I have never eaten a crayon,” Sarita confessed. “But, and please don’t tell anyone else this, I have fed them to my brother. Not in a long time, but I did feed him a crayon. Or two. Or six or seven. My brother is younger than I am and I guess I just wanted to see if he’d eat them. He did. Boy, was my mother shocked when she changed his diaper! So, no crayons for me. I’m saving them for my little brother.”
I also asked Sarita if she can unwrap a Starburst with her tongue. “I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I can’t,” she said. “I never put paper in my mouth. See? The whole picky eater thing again. But I can do some pretty amazing things with my toes. Does that count for anything?”
Finally, I asked Sarita how she felt about thunderstorms.
“I’m crazy about them!” she exclaimed. “I love the noise and the power of a good storm. Thunderstorms are a great reminder that even when we’re feeling our most empowered, we’re fairly inconsequential in the scheme of things.”
You can keep up with Sarita on her blog, http://saritaleone.blogspot.com