Sandy Lo has one impressive resume: journalist, author, entrepreneur, soon-to-be C.O.O. of WHOA Magazine. She is the author of five books, including “Dream Catchers” and “Breaking The Moon” which reached the Top 100 Best Selling Coming of Age novels in Amazon’s Kindle Store. Her latest, “Take Me Home” is Book 4 in “The Dream Catchers Series”. She’s even been named one of “50 Writers You Should Be Reading”. It’s no surprise that by age 30, Sandy Lo has already conquered her wildest dreams. During our interview, she discussed her inspiring accomplishments, writing process and going for her dreams!
Q: At 18 you founded StarShine Magazine. What inspired you to do this and how did you end up talking to such big-name celebrities?
A: Founding StarShine Magazine was really a fluke thing. I was fresh out of high school and wanted experience interviewing people since I was somewhat terrified of that process. I formed an online “zine”, which is what emailed newsletters were called at that time. I interviewed everyday people; mostly young girls who wanted to be singers, but soon I was getting contacted from record labels and music managers to feature their up-and-coming artists. Things kept spiraling that way and before I knew it, I was interviewing idols of mine like Backstreet Boys and huge stars like Lady Gaga! StarShine became a place where fans and artists could connect on a more personal level. Needless to say, I overcame my fear of interviewing and blindly found my way in the entertainment industry.
Q: Good for you! Is StarShine still in existence?
A: I ended StarShine in 2012 to focus more on my novels. I miss it terribly, but aside from a few writers helping with articles here and there, the workload was a lot and it was all on me. I still freelance write for some magazines and am proud to announce that I will be the new C.O.O. of WHOA Magazine beginning in October. I’m very excited to take on a role like this!
Q: Congratulations! Even when you were interviewing celebrities for StarShine, you were writing stories on the side which you say was always a pastime. What draws you to the story writing process that is different than the journalistic interviews you were doing with StarShine?
A: With journalism and interviews, there is a focus on facts and discussing someone else’s art. I love it, but with writing stories I can throw away facts if I want to. I can create a new world and people I would want to meet, or vent about a past situation that happened to me by writing it out. Writing stories and novels is something that just flows from me whether I decide for it to or not. It’s an escape, it’s a passion, it’s something that I need to do or I feel like I’m going crazy!
Q: Many of us begin stories that never get finished. You’ve just released your fifth novel in late June, congrats! what was it like when you realized you actually finished your first novel? What was it like finishing your fifth?
A: Finishing my first novel was strange. To me, it wasn’t a novel still. It was almost like all my previously written stories that only a few sets of eyes would ever see. I kept having to remind myself I was publishing it. Once it was published, I already wanted to start on the next book! Holding a book I wrote in my hands was so surreal and still is sometimes. Now just publishing my fifth novel, the feeling is similar. I no longer have to remind myself it is a novel though. Still, as soon as I finish a book, I’m eager to write another one. I just love the entire process of writing and publishing!
Q: What is your writing process? Do you have any strategies for finding time to write and any tips that have helped you see a book to its end?
A: I am not one of those authors who outlines or plans a whole lot before I write. For me, that seems boring. I want to be surprised and not know what happens, just like a reader is while reading a book. I usually think of a couple of characters and their flaws, issues, talents, a setting and how they meet. From there, I run with it. As for strategies for finding time to write, wake up an hour earlier than you need to if you don’t have time in your day. As hard as it is to wake up sometimes, the excitement of writing is almost like waking up on Christmas morning! If you’re a night person, write before bed. Just make sure you write. Force yourself. Once you start, you’ll keep going, but you almost have to make it like a chore at first.
Q: You also write songs, some of which are featured in your books. What is your background in music/the music industry and where does your musical inspiration come from?
A: I do write song lyrics and sometimes melodies, but it’s not something that comes easy or naturally for me. I actually write songs better as my characters than myself. Writing songs as Jordan in “The Dream Catchers Series” was much easier for me than when I sit and try to write a song from my own experiences. I draw my inspiration from what’s going on in my characters’ lives. As far as my musical background, other than loving music and being in chorus in junior high, I have no background, haha!
Q: You get to combine your love of writing with your passion for music. Would you say you are living your dream?
A: Definitely! I may not be some world famous author/journalist…yet, but I have created a name for myself, met a lot of awesome people and sold way more books than I initially hoped for. Aside from that, I am doing what I love! I have reached so many personal goals and no matter what anyone says, I have succeeded in my dreams!
Q: That’s fantastic! Did someone along the way have a big impact on you, whether it was their encouragement or advice? On the other hand, have you experienced anyone trying to dissuade you or hold you back from your dreams?
A: Growing up, I came from a household of nonbelievers and non-dreamers. I was constantly told to be realistic and that there was no money in the field of writing. I suppose it was their discouragement that had a reverse psychological effect on me! Their negativity made me that more determined to prove them wrong. Thankfully, my parents and siblings did believe in my talents, though, and eventually became encouraging.
Q: What is the single thing you are most proud of?
A: I am proud to have kept a positive, upbeat attitude about life even when things were bad.
Q: What do you hope to have accomplished 10 years from now?
A: A New York Times Best Seller? Haha! That would be nice, but I hope to keep publishing novels and to expand my journalism to radio and maybe even T,V.
Q: Good luck to you! Lastly, what do you think it means to be positively smitten and in what ways are you positively smitten?
A: To me, positively smitten means you have an unquenchable thirst and love for life! I’m positively smitten by going after my dreams, no matter how big or small, and wanting to share them with the world!
To learn more about Sandy Lo, visit her website at http://sandy-lo.com/