Welcome to another AccessAbility Arts interview! I'm delighted to be able to shine a light on the fantastic work being done by inspiring women, multicultural groups, LGBTQIA+ community members and disabilities in the sphere of art and accessibility. This time, I spoke to Sandra Bond. With a diverse background that includes working as a cashier, librarian, paralegal, and logistics manager, Sandra's experiences have led her to discover her true passion in writing. Despite an early setback, she returned to writing in what she humorously refers to as "middle age" and has since gone on to publish two novels with The Canal Press and a forthcoming collection of verse titled "Poetry Slum." Her commitment to her craft is evident in her performances at open mic events and similar gatherings across the north Midlands, as well as her appearance at the inaugural Shrewsbury Pride in 2023. Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Sandra Bond.
Here is the interview
DK: What led you to pursue a wide range of professions before ultimately returning to writing in your middle age?
Sandra: Middle age? Middle age?! Get off my lawn, you rotten kid… Ahem.
Prosaically: I kept on finding that I was good at jobs, but very bad at coping with office life, colleagues, and so on. In particular this was the case when I was a solicitor; good at the law, atrocious at being a member of the legal community.
I’d tried to write in my youth, but struggled with it. Somehow I got the idea that if you weren’t able to support yourself writing full time, you’d failed, so I gave up. This was utterly incorrect, and if there’s one thing I wish I could tell my teenage self with exclamation marks and underlining, that would be it.
DK: How has your experience living in different parts of the world impacted your writing and creative pursuits?
Sandra: I’m a nomad by nature. I struggle to see anywhere as my home; only a place where I may happen to be living at the moment. I’m not sure how much that influences my work, other than it being a part of my psychological make-up which is perhaps relatively unusual.
“The horizon is my home” – Frank Turner.
“I refuse to have an emotional attachment to a piece of ground. At one end of the scale it’s called patriotism, at the other end, gardening.” – Bob Shaw.
DK: Can you provide more details about your published novels, "The Psychopath Club" and "The Devil's Finger"?
Sandra: The Psychopath Club was a deliberate attempt to tap into the Stephen King part of the market; a psychological thriller with a supernatural twist. I don’t think it’s too bad a King pastiche, but the trouble with trying to attract King’s readers is that he has written such an awful lot!
The Devil’s Finger is a more overt comedy; the elevator pitch for it was “Imagine a Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright film, only it’s a novel, with a shapeshifter.”
A third novel, Three Men In Orbit – a steampunk sequel to Jerome K. Jerome – is due in summer 2024.
DK: We all know how important it is to look after our mental health, so tell us, do you have any strategies you use to maintain positive mental health in your daily life?
Sandra: I could rant for hours about the struggle I’ve undergone for years trying to get mental health support from the NHS. I’ll spare you that… Establishing regular habits is important for me – sleeping, eating, writing, remaining in touch with friends. That’s easier when you have a job, of course…
DK: What has been the most rewarding part of your journey?
Sandra: The people I’ve met. I have encountered some amazing human beings in my lifetime, and I’m not done meeting them yet.
DK: Poetry and art can be a great tool for society and looking back at history. What do you think is the power of poetry - or any art - and what role do you believe artists have in modern society?
Sandra: Our current crop of politicians are woefully prone to the attitude that the arts – literary and otherwise – are of little or no value to society. It’s easy to blame them, but in truth, they are only mirroring what too many people believe. But when our current civilisation collapses, or morphs into something that would be unrecognisable to us, by what will future historians judge us? Our wars, our divisions, our petty squabbles, our vicious and wanton destruction of natural resources and our only home planet… or our arts and crafts and literature?
DK: What keeps you motivated and engaged in writing poetry, despite the financial challenges it may present?
Sandra: I no longer maintain any illusions that my writing will ever provide me with more than a couple of pennies to rub together. But rubbing pennies together is at least a harmless hobby and keeps me off the streets… and more seriously – see above, once more – if I’m not doing something creative, on an ongoing basis, my mental health takes a nosedive.
DK: How do you manage to balance participating in open mics and similar events with your other writing commitments?
Sandra: At present, this isn’t difficult, given my ongoing absence of regular employment. As and when I finally get another job, I shall have to revisit this question.
DK: And lastly. We all need to relax, chill, and switch off sometimes. So how do you relax?
Sandra: I play cards; online and offline, poker and bridge. I am a profitable poker player – like my writing, it brings in a very modest sum, but I’m not good or lucky enough to turn it into an actual career. I also listen to a lot of music, and enjoy digging into old, unknown records. I contribute a lot to 45cat.com, a site for collectors of 7” vinyl singles. I don’t buy them any more – no money, no room – but I derive just as much fun from unearthing information about other people’s obscure records as I would from owning them myself.
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