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Sandra (Thomas) Bolton (1941) grew up in northern California's Sacramento Valley.
Immediately after graduation she married her high school sweetheart, Tom Bolton, and left California on a Greyhound Bus bound for Memphis, Tennessee to join her husband. That was her first introduction to racial inequality, and it made an enduring impression on her life.
Sandra spent the next 25 years traveling from one coast or country to another while her husband completed a Navy career. During that time, she raised three children and completed a college education, receiving BA's in Elementary Education, Special Education, and Science Education as well as a Master's Degree in Guidance Counseling.
She has maintained an abiding interest in social causes and environmental issues for as long as she can remember and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras from 1985-87. Sandra currently resides in Raton, New Mexico where she divides her time between reading, writing, hiking, gardening, photography, and gourmet cooking.
Key Witness is her second novel. Her first, A Cipher in the Sand, was published in 2011. She is currently working on a sequel to Key Witness.
What makes you proud to be a writer from New Mexico? I love this state, the diversity of its people, and the beauty of the landscape. I am thrilled to be able to introduce the rest of the world to the culture and traditions here.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? I began taking writing classes and workshops from southwest mystery writer, Steven Havill. Once I started the process, I was hooked.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing, and did you use it to your advantage? The environment played a distinct role. The novel takes place in the southwest, and the New Mexico landscape is highlighted throughout the book, sometimes to add drama, and at other times to invoke a sense of serenity.
When did you begin writing with the intention of being published? I never considered publishing any of my writing until I self-published in 2011.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? My most rewarding experience happened when I received an email from Thomas and Mercer stating that they were interested in publishing Key Witness.
How many books have you published? I have published two books so far. Another is in the works.
Do you come up with titles before or after you write the manuscript? I start with a working title and change it later.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre. I write mystery/suspense because there is so much material that sparks my imagination, and it is challenging to create a mystery. I generally start with a kernel of the truth and elaborate until the story grows.
Which book title would you like featured in this interview? Key Witness.
What inspired you to write this book? My partner, a classical pianist and now deceased, came to New Mexico from the East Coast. Though all similarities to the main character end there, the awe and since of mystery or discovery he experienced until the day he died remains. It is in partial a tribute to his memory.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? I would remind authors to keep writing, even if they think what they are writing is crap, because the first draft usually is. But, stick with it and try to write every day.
What is your favorite author and why? It is hard to come up with one favorite, as there are many. I love Kurt Vonnegut because of his ability to employ humor in his writing and his wonderful way with words.
Heading west for the serene deserts of New Mexico with his three-legged dog, Patch, Abe Freeman hopes to escape the memories of his girlfriend’s lost battle with cancer. He expects his cross-country journey to be healing, not life-threatening. And he definitely doesn’t plan to wind up as the main suspect when a drifter he meets along the way, Easy Jackson, gets murdered.
When Abe’s lost knife turns up at the crime scene and Easy’s key appears in Abe’s backpack, Abe finds himself hunted by the police, biker gangs, and drug dealers, all of whom are determined to get their hands on that key. Caught up in the violence, Abe becomes desperate to prove his innocence. With help from Navajo police officer Emily Etcitty, he just might survive…and his heart just might find another reason to keep on beating.
Key Witness by Sandra Bolton is gaining mixed reviews which shows that readers are talking about this book.
A cross country trip starting in New Jersey with Patch, his three legged dog, Abe Freeman, an unassuming gentle Jewish man seeks mind and spiritual healing after he successfully assisted in his girlfriend’s death when she was dying with cancer. The trip into the desert of New Mexico goes terribly wrong when he becomes a suspect in the murder of Easy Jackson.
Unsure of his arrest, Abe struggles with these logical questions: Had they linked him to Sharon’s death, where is Patch, and what is the penalty for possession of personal use marijuana in New Mexico?
Strong characters, good dialog and descriptive writing keep readers turning the pages with a plot that involves the incendiary mix of FBI, Navajo Nation Tribal Police, Aryan Brotherhood, Mexican Mafia and Kansas City Mafia.
Author Sandra Bolton grew up in northern California's Sacramento Valley. After marrying her high school sweetheart, she spent 25 years traveling from coast to coast and one country after another during her husband’s Navy career. She received BA's in Elementary Education, Special Education, and Science Education as well as a Master's Degree in Guidance Counseling. Perhaps it is her service in the volunteer Peace Corps in Honduras from 1985-87 or her residence in Raton, New Mexico that gives her the inspiration for her descriptive writing, strong characters and complex plot.
I share with you this passage from the book. “Darkness descended on the mountains, carrying with it a sudden influx of cold. Abe shivered and cursed himself for having left his jacket in the Bronco. But the cool air provided clarity to his thoughts as he puzzled over the significance of the key. Abe’s dog ran ahead, sniffing at new intoxicating smells. Without realizing it, he and Patch had walked far from the hunter’s cabin. Deer had recently used the trail, cluttering it with their brown-bead droppings. Now, however, nothing moved in the forest. Even the small gray juncos had given up scratching the ground for seed. They perched in silent groups on pine branches, as if anticipating some unknown danger.”
I, Theodocia McLean endorse Key Witness by Sandra Bolton. I purchased this book from Kindle. This review was completed on December 5, 2015.
Even before the plane touches down in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Sarah Nelson questions her motives for being there. By the time this feminist adventure novel ends, Sarah's life is forever altered as the naive and idealistic woman encounters more intrigue, danger, and mystery than she ever bargained for.
The year is 1985, and Ronald Reagan is president. Following a recent divorce from her husband of 28 years, Sarah decides to join the Peace Corps. She leaves behind her Minnesota farm, a teaching career, and two grown children to begin a new life on the northern coast of Honduras, a poverty-stricken, tropical paradise, caught between the U.S. funded Contras and the Nicaraguan Sandinistas.
The Garifunas, a unique Afro-Amerindian culture, are her nearest neighbors. Her closest ally in times of trouble is the ancient female tribal leader and spiritualist, Xiomara, who draws her into a mysterious world of the supernatural.
A Cipher in the Sand offers the readers not only a glimpse into a fascinating third-world culture during a turbulent time in history, but also tells the story of Sarah, who, given a second chance at life and love, discovers a greater understanding of herself and the complex world in which she lives.
The following is the most recently submitted review of her debut novel, A Cipher in the Sand:
“I bought this book (Cipher) on a whim and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The story is fast-paced and the main characters are engaging and easy to relate to. Few words are wasted as images, scenes, and conversations come alive.
The story itself is clever, filled with unexpected turns which weave a detailed story of naive Peace Corps volunteers who are thrown into a world of corruption and deceit. Innocence evolves to maturity as the protagonists make tough choices to put their own lives at risk to make the world a better place.
Not in the straightforward ways they envisioned when they joined the Peace Corps, but in ways which tested their commitments and forced them to challenge their own government's complicity in schemes which harm the very people that the volunteers are supposed to be helping.
As someone who travelled through Central America shortly before the time frame of this story, I found Bolton's portrayal of the antagonists' behaviors and values to be disturbingly realistic as she exposes the political and military double-dealing which went on in that part of the world during the era of the Iran-Contra scandal.
Somebody really did their homework before they wrote this novel! But the story is then told in a very personal, touching, and intimate way.
I literally could not put the book down. I was captivated from the first page, and I will keep an eye peeled for future works from the same writer.”