SANDSTORM is a rough and tumble coming-of-age misadventure about a girl-gone-wrong who uses her intelligence, street smarts, and sheer force of will to survive as a forger, make right an art theft, and finally redeem herself.
Raised in New York by a father whose ideas about right and wrong are highly elastic, Sandie Donovan trains as a jewelry forger, thief, and con artist while developing her talent for disguises. On the run, she returns to Manhattan, where she discovers she can employ her acting and theatrical makeup talents for legitimate, as well as larcenous, ends. When she meets and falls in love with a film producer and inadvertently sets him up for an art robbery, Sandie’s conscience gets the better of her. She vows to return the stolen painting, even if it means making herself the target of the most dangerous fence in the city.
Joyce Yarrow recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, SANDSTORM:
Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?
The character of Sandie Donovan took shape first and held within it all the misadventures and challenges she would face in the book.
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
The biggest challenge was to develop Sandie’s voice in a way that shows her flaws but also convinces the reader to take her side as she uses criminal means to survive.
This was an opportunity to write a book with a complex character who challenges readers to follow her to places they have never been. As one GoodReads reviewer put it: “The story took me to dark corners of life that I’d never actually visit. But with Yarrow’s expert ability to create imaginable settings, I felt like I was there.”
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
SANDSTORM is a unique coming-of-age thriller with a strong character arc.
Without spoilers, are there any genre conventions you wanted to upend or challenge with this book?
Even in a book with a strong plot and high stakes, character development can reign supreme.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
Sandie, the protagonist of SANDSTORM, was inspired by my encounter with a school bully who I resisted fighting until the neighborhood kids surrounded us and I had no choice. I got in touch with my rage and rolled Sandie under a parked car. After I helped her get to her feet, we became fast friends.
What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you about this book, or your work in general? And, please answer the question too!
Q: Is the story in any way autobiographical?
A: Yes, up to a certain point. I had a tough coming of age, and my first boyfriend thought it was perfectly okay to rob a bookstore as long as the books he stole were of high quality. From him I learned that people can be multidimensional!
Joyce Yarrow is the author of literary novels of suspense that “appeal to readers who enjoy unusual stories with an international setting.” – Library Journal
Her latest offerings are SANDSTORM, a coming-of-age story of crime and redemption (D.X. Varos, July, 2021) and Zahara and the Lost Books of Light, a historical fantasy (Adelaide Books, 2020).
Joyce’s other published novels of suspense include Ask the Dead (Martin Brown), Russian Reckoning – available in hardcover as The Last Matryoshka (Five Star Mysteries), and Rivers Run Back, co-authored with Arindam Roy (Vitasta, New Delhi).
A New York City transplant now living in Seattle, Joyce began her writing life scribbling poems on the subway and observing human behavior from every walk of life.
To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.