Interview with Sally Fernandez

headshotSally Fernandez, a novelist of provocative political thrillers, wasn’t always twisting facts with fiction. Heavily endowed with skills acquired in banking, she embarked on her writing career. Fernandez’ focus on computer technology, business consulting, and project management, enhanced by business and technical writing, proved to be a boon. Her books of fiction also reflect the knowledge garnered from her business experiences, while living in New York City, San Francisco, and Hong Kong. Fernandez’ foray into writing fiction officially began in 2007 when the presidential election cycle was in full swing. The overwhelming political spin by the media compelled her to question the frightening possibilities the political scene could generate. As a confirmed political junkie, she took to the keyboard armed with unwinding events and discovered a new and exciting career. A world traveler, Ms. Fernandez and her husband, also the editor-in-residence, split time between their homes in the United States and Florence, Italy.

Tell us about your new release.

front-coverCLIMATIZED is my fifth novel and the first in the “Max Ford Thriller” series, featuring Maxine Ford as the female protagonist. Max debuts in her role as a private investigator and right out of the starting gate she is hired by the wife of a prominent senator to determine the cause of his untimely death. During her investigation, she discovers that three world-renowned scientists had lost their lives days before they were scheduled to testify before the late senator’s investigative committee on climate change. Meanwhile, a fourth scientist has gone missing. Max determined he is the key to unearthing the motives behind the deaths. Following the many twists and turns, Max uncovers a powerful organization responsible for the killings. Cogent evidence is provided to the president, forcing him to make a crucial decision—to cover up a diabolical plot—or bring down a multi-trillion-dollar world-wide economy.

What led you to write this book?

While conducting research for two earlier novels, I discovered that there is a disconnect between the scientific data and the public policy as it pertains to climate change. And I am sure we could all agree that climate change is a topic up there with religion and politics, one that creates not only heated conversations, but much confusion. As with all my novels, I weave fact with fiction, holding to the words of Francis Bacon, who said, “The truth is hard to tell, sometimes it needs fiction to make it plausible.” Therefore, using this style of writing, I believe Climatized will help the reader put to rest much of the confusion and shine a light on the real science.

Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book?

Tackling an area of science where I had only a peripheral peripheral knowledge level was challenging and provided an unexpected education as I delved heavily into the science behind the causes of global warming. It also forged some interesting acquaintances. With Climatized, I altered my style slightly by incorporating a few real-life experts in my fictional plot, unbeknownst to them. One happened to be a New York Times bestselling author and the others where NASA Apollo Space Mission veterans and members of The Right Climate Stuff research team. After the manuscript was completed, I decided out of courtesy, to contact these experts and offer them a copy of the manuscript to fact-check to substantiate my research. I’m proud to say that the scientific data I weaved into my plot was spot on and I received their acclimation and full endorsement. Their continued support has been invaluable and has opened other avenues.

Which is more important characters or setting?

For my storylines to be plausible, everything between the pages must be believable, especially my characters. They tend to develop alongside me, like any relationship—notwithstanding my vivid imagination as I thrust them into various situations. But most important, the characters must stir emotions, good or bad, leaving the reader to want to learn more about them. The scenes are as important and must be vivid, transporting the reader to that place and time. Often I’ll use locations and real characters where I’ve shared experiences as a basis, but I also use locations, hotels, restaurants, or streets where I’ve never ventured. In those cases, I believe it is crucial that they be described accurately to add to the realism. Thanks to the Internet and satellite maps there is no reason not to make them as real as possible. Given my reel-to-reel writing style the reader always has a clear vision of the local scene.

Do you have a favorite fictional character by another author you’d like to meet?

I am a tad embarrassed to admit that I tend to read the works of my male counterparts, attempting to step in the shoes of Thor, Baldacci, Silva, et. al. And while their plotlines stir me, I’ve never been overly carried away with their female characters. Maybe that is why I was so compelled to give Max Ford a stage of her own in this new series. But going through my “guilt” pile of books I’ve started reading Janet Evanovich and I’m loving her Stephanie Plum character. While Max may be my alter-ego, Stephanie is definitely Max’s.

What do you hope readers take away from your work?

With all my novels, I have the same three goals: to create an entertaining read, to inform the reader, and to challenge the reader to ask the ultimate question, “What if?” In Climatized particularly, it is to arm the readers with the facts, so they can make an intelligent decision about a topic that is here to stay for some years to come.

Do you have a favorite writing place or writing rituals?

My writing environment may vary with the offices in my home in the United States and another in my home in Florence, Italy. And while these locations may somewhat inspire aspects of my plot, they primarily provide a quiet haven for creating. Then comes the hotel room somewhere in the world, when my husband, who is also my editor, and I need a change of venue. What does not change is my ritual. Each day starts with a morning workout to clear my head to prepare me for six to seven hours of steady writing and/or research. At the end of each day, I’m greeted with a glass of wine from my husband. That’s when we discuss the status of the book, what I am working on, what he is editing, or what is in the offing. Both of us are retired from our corporate careers, so we’re fortunate to be able to ignore the phones and the daily disturbances. And he cooks the dinners. It’s an amazing collaboration with our days being filled with all aspects of writing and publishing books. The only downside—is when we are not—my husband calls it our Post-Partum Publishing Syndrome. Overall, call me incredibly blessed!

Do you have a reoccurring theme to your books?

To quote another luminary, Pericles said, “Just because you don’t take an interest in politics, doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” As a long-standing political junkie, I take contemporary political events and weave them into a fast-paced, fictional, suspense thrillers. And you won’t be able to keep yourself from learning along the way.

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