Interview with Sandra Gail Lambert


What is a current project you are working on?

Right now I’m mostly immersed in the travel, article writing, and interviews that come along with the release of a new book (A Certain Loneliness: A Memoir), but I’m also shopping around a finished novel. It’s called THE SACRIFICE ZONE and is a near future, post-calamity mystery centered on a biological weapons accident that results in a worldwide quarantine of the United States. My next new project needs to be a series of book reviews. My memoir’s release has been accompanied by the generosity of so many other writers that it’s time for me to pay that forward.

What is the piece of writing advice, good or even bad, that you have received that has impacted you the most? 

“Just write the next sentence.” This advice was given to me in the context of expanding the emotions of a piece, but I’ve found it helpful in other contexts as well. From procrastination to a plot that’s not holding together, I don’t think there’s a writing struggle that can’t be helped by just writing that next sentence.

What are some of the greatest influences upon your writing, whether other writers or outside influences?

If you figure reading at least a hundred books a year for sixty years, that’s a lot of books I’ve read over my lifetime. I find that as I write on a new essay or novel, a scene or character or setting from a book read a quarter of a century or more ago will percolate to the top of my memory. It often turns out that what I’m writing now is a type of response to that remembered book. Unfortunately, since the advent of smart phones in the bedroom, there’s been a huge drop in my book reading.

What was your inspiration for this piece? Is this a common thread through your writing or is this piece experimental in that way? 

Traveling through the natural world and finding answers there is perhaps the most common thread in my writing and my life.

Do you have a  favorite place to write, or are there any habits, rituals, inspirations, etc. that help you write best? 

I write in bed propped up by pillows. And it’s important to me to have a view. So there’s the bed in my writing studio at home that looks out through drapes of Spanish moss, the one in the back of my camping van that I take to state parks in Florida and open up the back doors to wild turkeys and dry prairies, and a whole variety of beds at writing residencies and cheap hotels with everything from the Gulf of Mexico to northern forests outside the windows.

Can you recommend one book that you think everyone should read and tell us why?

Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. I’ll admit that it’s a tome and I’m only half-way through, but his premise is that—and this is almost criminally simplified on my part—rather than the rich and powerful using people’s supposed inherent racism, they actually created and instilled the racist ideas in a calculated plan to gather more wealth and power. His recounting of these moments in history both horrifies me and gives me hope.