(This is a weekly feature that spotlights debut authors in hopes of introducing you to new authors you may not be familiar with… yet! Most of these authors are new to me as well, unless a review is posted.)
Today we are introducing S.D. Hendrickson! I’m pretty excited about this one! I’ve heard nothing but great things this week about her debut novel, The Mason List. It sounds really good, and I can’t wait to jump in myself (hopefully this weekend)!
Today, 8:15 p.m.
I hurt. I hurt so deeply, I felt the pain searing in my bones and jabbing like a hot poker into my heart. I knew nothing would make it better as the memories pulled from the crevices of my mind, detailing the bad and the ugly, filling my thoughts with regret as I slipped into the darkness. . . When I was eight, my mother was dying of cancer, my father lost his job, and the bank kicked us out of our house. I was forced to move to the strange town of Arlis, Texas where my father and I slept in our car in the hospital parking lot. Desperate and hopeless, we lived on fumes of our former life. Then one night, everything changed forever. A knock on the car window brought a family into my life that I only wanted to shut out. I hated charity and I hated the Masons. Well, except one. He made it impossible to hate him. Jess Mason had the biggest blue eyes and ornery smile of any boy I had ever seen. He was a ray of sunshine in my dark world. A boy full of adventure, dragging me across the meadow of Sprayberry Ranch; a beautiful Texas paradise full of horses and tree houses that got us into more trouble than anyone ever imagined. Jess was my everything as a kid until we grew up and the rules changed. Instead of living happily ever after with a boy full of love. . . I destroyed it. – Alex Tanner
Can you tell us a little about your book?
The Mason List is what I call an epic, coming-of-age, story that crosses the genre’s of young adult, new adult and chick-lit. It follows the life of Alex Tanner from age six to twenty-six. The book has an outline of present day time, which indicates something tragic has happened to the main character. The main portion of the story is told in flashbacks.
Jess and Alex meet when they are eight because of the circumstances in her life. I wanted to show the closeness that can develop between two people as kids. It’s a sweet and funny at times. It’s sad and angsty at others. Jess and Alex fight and pick at each because they know each other so well. It’s endearing and a little different than the typical story.
I view this as a story of life, love and friendship. And with all three of those, it’s not always an easy road. In the life of Alex, there’s a certain amount of baggage and hate that she carries with her and it causes the obstacles in her relationship with Jess. Here’s the synopsis.
“A story of love. A story of hate. A story that would last a life time”
(Sounds great, and I’ve been hearing great things about this novel!)
What led you to start writing?
I have always loved reading. Growing up, I was the girl with the book glued to her hand. I wrote some short stories as a kid. My first was The Bunnies of Easter Island written in pencil on notebook paper. When I was older, I wrote a few others but ripped them up. I still have the bunny story.
When I was in college, I was working toward a zoology degree but switched to journalism. I have always wanted to write a novel. It’s been on my bucket list. When I learned of NanoWrimo, it gave me the platform and the kick in the pants to get started.
I also love to research the story behind books, or even just the creative process people use when developing stories. One of the driving factors behind some of my favorite TV shows is the creative process – like Lost and Sons of Anarchy. When I finished The Fault in Our Stars, I spent two hours on John Green’s website, reading his creative drive behind the book. That was as fascinating to me as the actual story.
How long did it take you to write your book?
Since I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I completed a 50,000 word rough draft in thirty days. However, that was more or less, a very rough outline. I spent the next two years turning that into The Mason List. The following ten months consisted of working with an editor and beta readers to create what is currently being released. From start to finish, this novel was a three year project.
Can you tell us a little about your writing process?
Headphones. I need headphones on with very loud music, which blocks out the world around me so I can immerse myself into the one I’m creating on paper. I also do a lot of writing at Panera Bread in a red chair. My husband wanted to buy that chair as a present for my book release. I think they should give it to me, based on the amount caramel lattes I purchased.
What do you hope people take away from your book?
First – if you want to write a novel, just do it. Use NaNoWriMo as a platform to get started (if you need one.) Don’t be afraid to put your ideas on paper. If there’s a story brewing in your head, go with it.
Second – I like stories that make me feel something. Hopefully by the time the reader reaches the epilogue, the story of Jess and Alex will invoke some emotional connection with them.
Third – There’s a meaning to the actual Mason List. I don’t want to tell this meaning because it would be a spoiler. Hopefully, it might inspire a few people.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I have a day job where I teach computer software classes. I’m a geological software advisor to oil and gas companies. For the last three years, my side activity has been writing The Mason List and beginning my second book, Red Dirt Claws.
Other than that, I enjoy reading and I have two dogs, who think I should play with them every second that I’m home. I also enjoy cooking and Netflix binge watching. I love concerts.
What is your biggest book pet peeve?
When I say this, keep in mind I do read all genres. Sometimes I feel there’s words used to describe things in more adult book that are not that sexy, but are used in a sexy way. I’m not going to put it here, but there’s a word I hate to see in a book.
(Aww, way to be a tease!)
What is your favorite love story?
I don’t have a favorite, but if I had to pick I would say the cheesy answer of The Notebook.
What was the last book added to your “favorites” list?
I was the girl who always had a book in her hand. I read anything I could find as a kid and couldn’t wait for the book fair to come to school. I read all the Sequoyah books one year just to say I did it. As I got into high school, I was addicted to Danielle Steele. I read The Vampire Diaries when it was first published (I think that was around 1994) and at the same time, one of my favorite books was The Thornbirds. I also read Gone with the Wind and have a big fetish for historical romance – anything by Lisa Kleypas, Mary Jo Putney and Mary Balogh.
These days, I read a variety of genres – self-published, indie, main stream, best sellers, Romance, New Adult, Young Adult, Dystopian, Historical Romance, Semi-Paranormal, Classics, Contemporary Romance. I was a Twilight fan. I discovered Nicholas Sparks before he was NICHOLAS SPARKS. I say that in all caps because he’s no longer just a writer. I still read his books and even have a signed copy. I have a Kindle full of indie books. I found Colleen Hoover back in the day when she first self-published. I love Tracey Garvis-Graves and Fisher Amelie – can’t wait for the rest of the Seven Deadly Series – and Jamie McGuire, Jessica Sorensen and Tammara Webber. I was blown away by the Hunger Game books and felt equally enthusiastic about John Green. I loved The Sea of Tranquility. I read Fifty Shades around the same time that I also read The One and Only Ivan, which made me cry. I also really like Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style. I love The Night Circus and Water for Elephants – both of which are associated with NaNoWriMo. Sometimes I even read John Grisham and I was a huge fan of Gone Girl. I also consider The Great Gatsby and the Secret Life of Walter Mitty as favorites. So catch me on any given day or mood, I might be reading just about anything.
(Great well-rounded list!)
Tell us three random facts?I hate raisins.
I broke my hand in a dog suit.
I got married on a beach in Mexico.
S.D. Hendrickson lives in Tulsa with her husband and their two schnauzers. She loves chocolate, romance books, Oklahoma State Cowboys, music, Lost, chocolate, beaches, coffee, cooking, beautiful sunsets, Friends, chocolate, sad puppy stories, dreaming of Australia, guacamole, quotes, Netflixs bing watching, Dawson’s Creek, chocolate, hot tubs, exotic animal rescues, going on vacation, Friday Night Lights, writing, and of course, chocolate.
Visit www.sdhendrickson.com for more information on upcoming projects such as Red Dirt Claws and The Tunnels.