Meet author Sandra Orchard

Sandra Orchard writes fast-paced, laugh-out-loud whodunits and romantic suspense. Awards for her novels include: a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, a Daphne DuMaurier Award of Excellence, a Holt Medallion Award of Merit, a National Readers’ Choice Award, and several Canadian Christian writing awards. When not writing, Sandra hones her imagination by playing make believe with her young grandchildren. She also enjoys gardening, sewing, knitting, crocheting and woodworking.

Tell us about your newest book.

After spending the last twenty Christmas seasons in California, native Georgian Jillian Green celebrates returning to her family’s antebellum mansion by joyfully decking the halls of Belle Haven for the upcoming Moss Hollow Merry Mansions Tour. However, Jillian’s holiday cheer takes a nosedive when she discovers Herbert Gordon, a new friend of her great-aunt Cornelia’s, dead at the base of a tree while he’s helping string lights outside Belle Haven.

Although at first Herbert’s death appears to be a tragic accident, Cornelia insistently blames foul play, and handsome local coroner Hunter Greyson soon confirms her suspicions. Needled into action by Cornelia, Jillian takes a break from making merry to pursue a murderer. Unfortunately, Jillian quickly realizes that this case is more tangled than a strand of twinkle lights, and lead after lead winds up in a dead end.

Stressed out by exploring the limbs of Herbert’s family tree, helping a Chocolate Shoppe Bakery customer track down his high school sweetheart, and worrying about her grandmother, Bertie’s, odd behavior, Jillian feels her holiday spirit slipping away. However, she knows the best way to restore her festive mood is to uncover the killer before someone else in Moss Hollow gets hurt—if she doesn’t, Herbert’s night might not be the only one silenced this Christmas.

What inspired you to write Boughs of Folly?

Boughs of Folly is part of a special three-book set—Jingle Book Mysteries—releasing just in time to celebrate Christmas in July. They are set in the world of the Chocolate Bakeshop Mysteries by Annie’s Fiction and I was invited to write the first book. Once I acquainted myself with the characters of Moss Hollow, Georgia, and with Georgia’s Christmas traditions, I decided to create a cozy mystery that would be a twist on the ghost of Christmas past.

What genre do you focus on?

I write mysteries and romantic suspense because I love creating fast-paced plots that keep readers guessing to the end.

Who is your main character, and how did you choose that name?

My main character’s name was already established by the previous series, but I chose names for all the new characters I brought to Moss Hollow, like my poor victim Herbert Gordon. His first name just came to me, and when I looked up its meaning—noble—I decided it suited my character both in meaning and by sounding like an older person’s name. For his last name, I searched common surnames in Georgia and then chose the one that fit best. Gordon was #120 on the list.

What is the hardest part of being an author?

Writing the story. I love brainstorming the plot and creating twists and turns and I love editing it once it’s finished, adding extra layers to intensify the emotions and suspense. But the actual writing is hard slogging. It has become somewhat easier with writing for Annie’s since they require a chapter-by-chapter outline be approved before I start, since other authors are simultaneously writing books with the same characters later in the series timeline. But inevitably, while writing I still hit a point where I’m sure the plot isn’t working, something’s missing or …something!

What’s the best part of your author’s life?

I love the ministry opportunities it affords me—meeting people from all walks of life, the amazing stories I get to hear from my readers, the opportunities to pray for them, and I so very much appreciate the support of my readers and those in the writing community, especially the amazing prayer cover they gave our family during the difficult months after Jed’s accident.

What’s one unusual fact about you?

Although I graduated from university with an Honors Arts and Science degree, people are usually surprised to hear that I majored in mathematics—my favorite subject.

How have you changed or grown as a writer?

Turning to God for inspiration and guidance as I crafted stories that would have an impact on readers came naturally. What I didn’t expect was that messing up my characters’ lives and making them face themselves, their dreams, and the lies they believe would teach me so much about myself and how I need to change and grow.

What is your favorite pastime?

My newest hobby/passion grew out of the research into herbs and herbal remedies I did for my Port Aster Secrets Mysteries a few years ago. It inspired me to start growing herbs and wild-foraging for food, teas and medicines. The last couple of summers, I especially focused on infusing oils to create pain-relieving salves and drying herbs useful for sore throats, hormone balancing, respiratory issues and to boost immunity and nutrition, as well as making natural soaps and hand lotions. Given the pandemic, it proved to be a timely hobby.

Do you have other books? We’d love to know.

Boughs of Folly is my 25th published novel and this interview is part of a whirlwind blog tour to celebrate, during which I’m also giving away 25 books to randomly selected newsletter subscribers, Facebook followers and via a rafflecopter giveaway. I have a dozen titles from various multi-author series available through Annie’s Fiction. I have seven Love Inspired Suspense titles and two trade-book length mystery series—Port Aster Secrets set in Niagara, Canada, about an herbal researcher, and the Serena Jones Mysteries about an FBI agent, who specializes in art crime investigations. This fun series has been described as Miss Congeniality meets White Collar.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working a trio of romantic suspense for the McCades of Montana series, a multi-author series from Annie’s Fiction. The first novel will also be a Christmas story, set at a guest ranch inn and Christmas tree farm. I love writing Christmas stories!


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