When a Goodreads friend told me to read The Mason List years ago I would never have expected to love this book so much that its author S.D. Hendrickson would become one of my “automatic one click” author.
And yet, that’s what happened. I devoured The Mason List and pre-ordered all of her books as soon as I knew one was planned.
So I’was feeling very lucky to have the opportunity to ask her my (many) questions!
She agreed immediately and you will realize she put so much care and time in her answers that I nearly fell from my seat when I got her replies.
So a huge thank you to you Stacy for playing this interview game with me!!! 🙂
Now Dear Readers, just read and enjoy!
- If you would be a color pencil which color would you be?
The color I wear most is black. Every shirt always looks better in black. But I always say my favorite color is green.
- Cat or dog person?
I love all animals. I really am both a cat and dog person. Had lots of cats growing up. I currently have two dogs in my house. Baxter and Tucker. They sleep on my bed. Okay. Let’s be real. Tucker and I fight over my pillow and Baxter is like stretched out across my feet. Haha
- What are your guilty pleasures?
I like wine. A lot. Haha. And I love Netflix binge watching.
- And a last one about you as a person: how was little Stacy like?
I grew up in rural, country Oklahoma on a dirt road. Farm. Small town. You mentioned The Mason List and some of the things that Jess and Alex did on the ranch. I ALWAYS wanted a four-wheeler. But my parents thought I would get hurt. Haha. I also wanted a horse. Didn’t get that either. Haha.
You mentioned reading as a kid. I lived in the country. This was before internet and computers. So you didn’t have a lot of contact (besides a wall phone) with your friends. So I do think that is part of what made me a reader. I had TONS of books at my house and I would stay up late reading to all hours of the night. My favorite two places to read as a kid – in the bathtub and in my closet.
- Did you always know you would write books one day?
I want to say yes to this question. I dabbled in writing growing up. I wrote some kid short stories. “The Bunnies of Easter Island” and “Plaid Pig”. I still have them. Haha. I did write a more adult type story in high school but I threw it away. As long as I can remember, I said I wanted to write a novel. I ended up with a journalism degree in college. But it was much later before I wrote an actual novel. NANOWRIMO – National Writing Month was the kick in the paints I needed. It motivated me to write The Mason List. And then I spent about 2.5 yrs after NANO working on the novel.
- Let’s get into your books now. The Mason List really blew me away and I got the impression it’s been a lot of writing, re-writing and … So what was your writing process for The Mason List? Did you change it for your other books? What are the “lessons learned” or the “mistakes” you would not do again? Did you cut many scenes? Did you begin your story with that frame from the start? Or was it a genius idea popping out of the blue like a light bulb suddenly?
Okay. So…. for that book. Yes. Lots of rewriting. To be honest. I had to find my groove. And it was a little more ambitious of an effort for my first book than maybe I should have tried. But it was also a learning book too. I break that setup into two parts. The forward story. And the frame, which is all the present parts. So I actually wrote the whole forward story first. I dabbled in the frame and had a few different ideas for it along the way. But the actual frame part I wrote last. I looked at where those pieces needed to go to keep the story (hopefully) flowing with the story.
The hardest scenes to write. Two of them:
*The Rochellas chapters. Because it was off the cuff for Alex. And I wanted her to make mistakes. But also the reader needed to understand why she made them. So I rewrote those chapters several times.
*The other chapter was the return from Paris. I know that chapter was written at least five times. From different angles. One even had Jess going to Paris, which was totally wrong. So I had to find the right angle. I knew the end game. But getting there was hard.
- About The Mason List again: did you experience such incredible friendship as a kid and adult? I was sometimes really angry at Alex for the choices she made were you frustrated with her as well? How did you cope?
So my views of Alex. The initial writing of Alex. I didn’t realize she was so angry and messed up and possibly not liked by the readers until like the last rewrite. Or possibly even the reactions from readers. Then I was like… woah. I see where they are coming from. And then I thought … well maybe that’s a good thing. Because it makes her more real I think. If the reader was angry at her and wanted to talk some sense into her – then maybe she was more real as a character to the reader. But I also think that I created Sadie as way to be the audience and say the things the reader would be saying to her.
- And my last one for the Mason List: How were you able to write childhood memories and kids dialogs with such rightness?
I have no idea. And if you think it was good then… YAY! It was hard to write as a kid. I don’t have children. But most of my friends do. And I observed them. What they liked to do.. like play with the water guns. And the Skittles actually came from a friend’s kid sitting next to me in a movie theater.
- Now let’s get to Waiting for Wyatt: Where did the idea come from? How did you build the story background? Did you visit dog kennels?
Wyatt always was a story about the dogs. I wanted to write a rescue dog story. I follow so many rescues. And support them. I sponsor hurt animals sometimes. A rescue will post where an animal needs a surgery etc. Since I can’t adopt them all, that’s my way of helping. I also used to volunteer at a rescue while in college. So for Wyatt – I just felt this desire to write the dog angle and I built the human story around it.
- Wyatt is very closed off while Emma is trusting and sunny. They’re opposites but complete each other. We have the same “pattern” with Alex and Jess or Katie (wants to blend in the background) and T Lucky (loves shining in the light). Do you believe in opposite attracts? And how do you choose and build your characters? How do you make them “flesh and bones”? Do you speak with them? Maybe rant and scold them sometimes? And do they hijack your stories?
Wyatt and Emma – I knew the person to save Wyatt would have to be someone who wouldn’t take no for an answer. He needed someone as a friend, as a love interest, but it couldn’t just be any person. Society walks away so much these days. Sometimes you have to keep pushing even when they tell you to leave. Wyatt needed someone who would not give up, which mirrored the rescue aspect of the dogs.
Lucky and Katie to me were a little more alike I guess. But mainly because they were both more on board with a relationship than the other two. Jess liked Alex but she it. And then Wyatt and Emma – she pushed for him but he was the one who fought the relationship. So for Lucky and Katie, I felt they both wanted the relationship. She was a little shy on that aspect. But you never doubted her attraction to Lucky.
- My Lucky Days is about a country singer meeting the girl next door: what’s your favorite music/band/singer/song? What you’ve done to them made me really bawl my eyes out so do you cry when writing moving scenes?
I’ve cried while writing. But a lot of those scenes with the dialogue, they will come to me when I’m not writing, like when I’m watching something sad, or listening to a sad song and I will write down dialogue with the intent of using it somewhere in the story.
- What do you need to write? And how do you deal with writer’s block?
I write typically while listening to music with head phones.
- Among your characters, who would you choose to go on a date? And which female character would most likely look like you?
Well, none of them are me. Haha. But I guess physical wise? I’m short. 5’2” with brown and blonde streaked hair. I have no tattoos. I think parts of me make it into all of my characters. Even the guys. I am scared of heights but I love country music and it feels wrong to hear anything else while in Texas – aka Alex and Jess. I am not always the best with social situations – aka Katie. I love animals and I have been a pushy person in the past – aka Emma.
- Can you share a favorite quote with us? Be it from your books or elsewhere? (Mine is “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference. While living one day at a time and enjoy one moment at a time. And accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.” The Serenity Prayer)
I am a Christian. So as you mentioned, I do add biblical stuff along the way in the stories. But I think the world is made up of imperfect people who are always trying to be better and do better and love better. But they make mistakes. And that’s okay. These are the characters in my stories.
“When this whole adventure started with Lucky, I felt like I was living in a fairytale. And it was true. I was living in a whimsical world with someone I loved—just not the right fairytale.
Instead of being the princess in the story, I was Wendy, wishing for Peter to stay with her. But as everyone knows, someone who has the ability to fly shouldn’t be chained to the ground. It wasn’t fair to clip the wings of a rare gift.
“You’re funny.” He kissed my cheek. “And beautiful. And sometimes I forget to breathe when I look at you.”
The nervous waves floated through me. His words made me feel special in a way that was hard to accept sometimes. He was just so free with them, like he said whatever popped in his head.
“You should put that in a song,” I whispered. “Might make you famous.”
“Maybe.” I heard his laugh as he held me a little tighter. “Or maybe I just want to say it to you.”
“I don’t know what scared me more when you left,” he whispered. “That you wouldn’t come back. Or that you would.”
He rested his hands on my shoulders, fiddling with my scarf. I knew he was sad that I was leaving and he was worried about me driving in the middle of the night. I wished that I could say, I’ll text you when I get home. But that’s not how things worked between us.
“I’ll be okay,” I whispered.
“I know. I just . . . I know.” He let out a deep breath, pulling me to his chest. His mouth found my lips, tugging possessively until they were slightly sore from his kiss. And then he abruptly released me. Backing away a few steps, Wyatt let his eyes wander over me as he slipped away into some hazy stare in the moonlit shadows.
“I’m just trying to remember you like this.” His low voice hung on each word. “With your hair falling down around your shoulders and that sleepy look in your eyes. And your lips all red from me kissing you. That’s what I want to remember. When I’m out here alone and I feel like I’m losing my mind. I want to picture you like this.”
I stared back at him, feeling my heart beat wildly in my chest. After a few moments, I climbed inside my car and drove away as my insides turned into complete mush. That might be the sweetest and most heart-wrenching thing Wyatt had ever said to me.
I knew if he ever kissed me, this truce would be over. I would drift away into the feel of his lips. I would let him do anything he wanted, and it terrified me. I couldn’t lose Jess again. I needed him. I needed him the way I needed air: a little bit every day just to survive in this dark world.
His blue eyes spoke a thousand words all rolled into a heartfelt stare. They calmed the panic inside my body. In the silence between two friends, the air carried an entire conversation. His dark lashes blinked back a vow I knew he meant more than anything: I promise this will not destroy us.
“Alex, I’m not sorry for finally kissin’ you. I know it scares you and sets off one of those internal arguments. I see it goin’ on right now inside of your head. You need some time to think ’bout it. I understand. I’m scared too, but I know I’m right ’bout us.” He smiled. “I won’t kiss you again until it’s your idea. I promise. I want this to be one hundred percent from you. We’ve got somethin’ that people look for their whole lives. We just found it when we were eight. Because of that, I can wait a little bit longer.”
“I don’t want you waiting on me,” I whispered.
“You don’t really got a choice in that. Actually, I believe a little in fate.”
“Fate…is just wishful thinking.”
“For a girl who wishes on stars, you just don’t get it. I’m tryin’ to say some things are just meant to be.”
- What are your advices for aspiring writers?
Don’t stop writing. Don’t give up. Put your words down on paper, no matter how long it takes. There is no age or time limit on publishing a book.
- Could you tell us something about your future books?
I’ve got a couple in the works. It takes me a little longer than some to write. But I’ve got one that is different than anything I have done in the past. It’s a little dark. And I’ve got another that is more like the others… but with a bite. Main character is named Violet.