Author Spotlight: Sandra V. Konechny
We are pleased to introduce Sandra V. Konechny. Sandra recently published Rock Bottom with us, which is now available through the Word Alive Press Bookstore, and everywhere fine Christian books are sold. We asked Sandra to share a little bit about her new book and her writing. But first, a little bit about her.
In Grade Five, my schoolteacher assigned the class to write a short story. I came up with a story about a gang of thieves who used my grandparents’ abandoned two-story house in the south pasture as their meeting place and hideout. That story grew into something of a book, and my teacher was very encouraging. I sure wish I’d kept that scribbler, but it got trashed at the end of the school year.
My interest in writing remained as I grew older. I took some writing classes while working on my BA with an English major. I also participated in a couple of community-offered creative writing classes. One was with Manitoba author George Lalor, who singled me out for special encouragement. He seemed to think I had potential.
I wrote quite a few short stories, often reflecting a spiritual theme. Several times I memorized and then recited one at our church.
For a few years, my writing waned as my creative outlet turned to needle arts. I designed several cross-stitch patterns that were published in the Crafts Plus and Country Woman magazines, as well as a couple of newspapers.
Not long after we moved to Dalmeny, Saskatchewan, near Saskatoon, the Lord called me to establish a Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. I had said that if I ever wrote a book, it was going to be about the questions God asks in the Bible.
Well, one morning a co-leader presented me with an advertisement for a book-writing contest, saying that she wanted me to write the book and enter the contest. I thought about it for a minute and then replied, “Okay, I will.”
I did, and lo and behold, it made the shortlist! That was in 2006. With Word Alive Press, I published my first book, When God Asks You…
I meant to write more along those lines, but eventually the project fizzled. Teaching the class, marrying off our children, and making quilts took up all my time. Writing was reserved for helping a few university students tune up their essays.
Around 2017, bored with everything, I decided that I wanted something new to do. Without any better ideas, I settled on writing again, this time challenging myself to write a novel. I returned to a concept that had rattled around in my brain for years. A couple of seasons later, I entered that novel in another book-writing contest. It didn’t make the shortlist this time, but the judge sent back very positive feedback nonetheless. I kept writing, partly because my beta readers clamoured for more and because the story took on a life of its own.
Q: What inspired you to write this book and series?
A: I wrote Rock Bottom based on an image that stuck with me from a black-and-white movie I saw as a youngster. It was a cheerless scene of a man who had returned to his roots and found everything derelict. This story is how I imagined he would reset his life going forward. Once I reached the first resolution, I realized that I had to keep going, because some of the mysteries I had set up weren’t resolved. That took me to three volumes. Besides that, I had (unintentionally) created a community of characters in which something was going on for everyone. Hence, a series.
Q: What do you aim for in your novels?
A: I hope to give my readers a book that is compelling—as in thought-provoking or convicting, and heart-warming—and fun to read, along with containing a few warm fuzzies. I hope to do such a good job that the book will be recommended to others and passed around.
Q: How do you go about writing?
A: My station is a big, comfy armchair with my laptop on a TV tray in front of me. On both sides I have tables laden with books, Bibles, an iPad tablet, and sundry other things I need in arm’s reach. When I’m stuck, I hang over a jigsaw puzzle on the dining room table. While my hands are busy with that, my mind turns over and listens to where the story needs to go next. Insight comes eventually. And I don’t write without first asking the Lord to partner with me.
Q: Do you have any advice for other authors?
A: I’ve learned that inspiration comes while you’re writing. Start writing with your seed idea and a loose outline… and don’t be surprised when wonderful twists and turns show up.
I’ve had to learn to comfortably accept being in two places at once all the time. In my case, part of me is chronically living with my characters in Minitonas, day and night. As for the other part of me, it can be found in the real world of Saskatchewan—doing household chores, fixing meals, having grandkids around, and so forth. So far, being in two places at once hasn’t given me a headache.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: The fourth book of The Minitonas Diaries, which is already titled No Turning Back. I thought the series was done after book three, since I’d resolved all the outstanding mysteries and complications. I began to write an epilogue suggesting what the future would look like for several of the main characters—and then I saw, with bold clarity, that I had inadvertently set up another scenario for another story featuring different main characters from the same community. Now I’m running with it, and having fun too. It occurs to me that this series might just keep on going like the batteries in the commercial…
Q: How does your faith play a role in your writing?
A: It plays a big part. From a spiritual perspective, I have two aims. One is to impart wisdom for living as an older woman teaching the younger women (and men) as directed in Titus 2:3–4. I can do this through several of my characters. Secondly, through story and characters I can pass along the Gospel and therefore add my chip to Jesus’s Great Commission. Having said that, it’s important to me to try and do this without resorting to “Christianese.”
Q: Can you think of anything else that may be of interest to your readers?
A: I live with Michael, my husband of forty-nine years, on an acreage located fifteen minutes northwest of Saskatoon. We have four married children and nine grandchildren.