Get ready to meet a multi-talented writer who’s as diverse in her hobbies as she is in her literary creations. Sally Basmajian, the mastermind behind captivating rom-coms and gripping thrillers, is here to share her journey through the world of storytelling. But before we dive into her books, let’s take a peek into her life beyond the pages.
From her less-than-stellar golf swings to her daily dog-walking adventures, Sally’s life is a delightful blend of humor and quirkiness. And don’t get her started on line-dancing – she’s the one leading the jazzy numbers! With coffee in hand (preferably a dark roast), Sally spills the beans on her favorite movie, eclectic reading habits, and the unusual inspiration that led her to become an author.
But what truly sets Sally apart is her openness about the challenges of the craft. She discusses everything from handling criticism to her love-hate relationship with social media. Whether you’re an aspiring writer or a book lover, Sally’s insights and candidness are sure to inspire.
So, join us in this engaging conversation as we unravel the mind behind the magic of storytelling. And remember to check out Sally’s latest novels hitting the shelves this fall, because her world of fantasy and thrills is one you won’t want to miss. Find her on social media to stay in the loop, and let’s dive into the world of Sally Basmajian!
TW: What are your hobbies?
SB: In the summertime, I golf badly and often. Throughout the year, I walk my dog Parker for at least an hour every morning. I faithfully attend line-dancing sessions, and I even lead the class in one or two rather jazzy numbers. When I was young, I majored in piano at university—but lately, when I attempt to tickle the Steinway’s keys, my fingers go into painful spasms and try to assume a configuration reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands. Oh, and I sometimes play cards at euchre get-togethers, where I trash-talk the competition in a jovial kind of way and then wonder why nobody wants to join my table.
TW: Do you prefer tea or coffee?
SB: Coffee, and the darker the roast, the better. My mornings aren’t complete without it. Mind you, I won’t refuse a good chai latte, either, but that’s a frivolous afternoon pick-me- up, not an essential.
TW: What is your favorite movie?
SB: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It’s got it all—fantasy, martial arts, transcendent love, and Michelle Yeoh.
TW: What is your favorite genre to read?
SB: I have eclectic taste. Once I’m finished with a fantasy novel, I’ll pick up contemporary women’s fiction. When I’ve zoomed through that, I’ll turn to mystery or something literary. I just finished reading the Pulitzer-prize-winning novel, Trust, by Hernan Diaz, and was gobsmacked by it, not to mention humbled. I’m still gushing about it to anyone who will stand still long enough to hear me out.
TW: What inspired your craft, and how did you get started?
SB: After I wrapped up my corporate career, I moved to a small town and proceeded to go stir-crazy. I happened to see a posting at our public library, announcing a short story contest. With lots of time on my hands and little else to do, I wrote a 2500-word fantasy piece that ended up winning first prize. So, on my very first attempt at writing, I won a few hundred dollars and got to do a public reading of my work at a celebratory dinner. From that initial triumph, my writing career careened straight downhill. But you asked how I got started, not how I floundered in the wilderness. Thank you for being considerate.
TW: How do you approach the creative process, from idea generation
to finished product?
SB: Usually, I have a concept that nibbles away at my imagination until I just have to write it down. For my rom-com, So Hard to Do, I couldn’t shake the image of an unorthodox break-up between a mother and a daughter. From that one opening incident, the whole book spooled out. For my domestic thriller, Fountain of Evil, I was obsessed with the idea of a teenage girl attacking her mother. Again, the whole book evolved from that one introductory scene. Now that I think of it, there seem to be a lot of fractious
mother/daughter issues inspiring my work. Hmmm. Herr Doktor Wittkofsky, have I mentioned to you that I have an adult daughter?
TW: What are your favorite tools or resources, and why do you
SB: The biggest leap I took as an author was signing up for a novel-writing course (for the Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing) at Humber College in Toronto. Until that point, I was a Pernicious Filterer and a POV-violator. I do recommend formal training of some kind, because otherwise your storytelling, as vivid as it might be in your own noggin, may not seem as compelling to others. The textbook for that course was Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft (Burroway, Stuckey-French). As I recall, it cost a zillion dollars, but it was worth it. I still refer to it often.
TW: How do you handle criticism or negative feedback on your work, and what steps do you take to improve?
SB: First of all, I consider the source. Not all feedback is useful or empowering. If certain people hate my chosen genre, they are not the experts for me. If others have a mediocre grasp of style or language, perhaps the same thing goes for them. On the other hand, if I hold high esteem for someone who gives me negative feedback, I open my ears and soul to what that individual has to say. Maybe it will hurt my feelings temporarily, but if I apply their advice to my work, I’m pretty sure my writing will end up being stronger. I have a good buddy who often writes “OTT” across paragraphs I’ve written. She’s telling me I’ve gone too far, usually in terms of being overly zany, and she’s rarely wrong. Really, receiving any feedback at all is better than being ignored. So often, we submit work and never hear a single thing about it. At best, we might get a form letter that tells us nothing other than our work wasn’t chosen. It’s so hard to improve when only the crickets are chirping!
TW: Who are your favorite creators in your craft and why?
SB: In Fantasy, it’s Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Gaiman is a vivid storyteller who manages to delight me (Anansi Boys) and terrify me (Coraline). Pratchett created a whole world—the Discworld—and populated it with unforgettable, highly comedic characters. I’m such a fan of both authors,
and I have paperbacks galore of their work. In Rom-Com, it’s Sophie Kinsella, all the way. Light, breezy, inconsequential, escapist—a cream-filled éclair for the girly soul.
TW: What is the most challenging part of your craft?
SB: Social media makes me quake with anxiety. Until my first book was released, I shunned it, preferring to live in my private, happy place where only I knew just how wacky I was. After my dear publisher gave me some gentle
(followed by some not nearly as gentle) pushes, I ventured onto the various social platforms (Instagram, TikTok, my own website, etc.) and attempted to learn a whole new set of skills. Bear in mind that social media is not fun for an
older author. I look like I’m close to death on TikTok, and I’ve had to make my much better-looking dog the star of my videos. He has his own book club (Parker’s Book Club), and I must say, he’s both attractively fluffy and very well-
TW: How important is research in your process?
SB: For most of my projects, research isn’t all that important. My middle-grade novel, Apprentices in Magic, is pure fantasy, which comes straight from my imagination. The setting for So Hard to Do is based on my own office career. The only part in that book that stumped me was when one of the characters had to go shopping at a sex-toy store. I wrote it during Covid, and everything was locked down, so I had to rely on the internet to research the types of products she purchased. My search history must have been pretty steamy.
TW: How do you handle rejection?
SB: Over and over and over. I’m like that old Chumbawamba song—I definitely have to keep getting up again after being repeatedly knocked down. It helps that I’m a realist. I expect a high rejection rate, but I also know I will achieve success if I keep going, as long as I continually improve and refine my submissions. My rule is: if a piece is rejected, take a good hard look at it, make some wise changes, and send it back out into the world. Never give up. And don’t eat a vat of ice cream every time bad news arrives.
TW: What does the future hold for you?
SB: The immediate future is kooky. I have two novels launching this fall, from two different publishers. Apprentices in Magic is a fantasy for middle-grade readers and up, and Fountain of Evil is a domestic thriller for adults. The combined launch party is later this fall, and I’ve decided to go with the magical theme because the evil one doesn’t scream “celebratory party,” and I’m afraid guests might be scared away. Although, just for fun, I’m thinking about having a chocolate fountain—I mean, it might be an evil chocolate fountain, right? After I get through the frenetic launch weeks, I will jump back
into my long-neglected project, which is a book about two sisters who use music in a magical way. It’s an adult magical realism story, fairy-dusted with romance. I love it, and I miss it, and I need to finish it.
TW: Where can my readers find you?
sallybasmajian (@sallybasmajian) | TikTok