Steven Sandor is an author who got his start with a paper in Morinville, Alta. He also worked with Westlock News, Vue Weekly in Edmonton, and wrote an Oilers Column concerning hockey culture alongside John Turner. His passion for sports intrigued me. Curious, I learnt his sports writing started with his initial column with Vue Weekly, since then inspiring him to write two hockey books, cover World Cup qualifiers, and lobby for a soccer column when Toronto FC was launched.
- Being a member of the Writer’s Guild of Alberta, what benefits would you say joining the organization gives an author and when did you first join?
I think it’s about being part of a community. When you’re working on solo projects pretty much all of the time, it can be easy to lose touch. The WestWord magazine is important and relevant. And, in a era with changing copyright legislation, digital issues in terms of rights, we need advocacy now more than ever. We need an organization that can respond to what’s a very confusing mix of traditional and digital.
- On your website, books are available for purchase for young readers. They all seem based in sports. I’m curious, where is your passion for it all rooted?
I fell into sportswriting… I had done some small-town papers, but it wasn’t until that “In the Box” column was launched at Vue Weekly did I think, “Wow, this could be something.” It grew to the point where I’d written two hockey books. Soccer has always been a passion of mine, so in Toronto I lobbied to have Sun Media (24 Hours) launch a soccer column when Toronto FC was launched. They thought it was a good idea and I loved it. By the time I got back to Edmonton to edit Avenue, I had it in my blood.
- Of the multiple books you’ve written for young adult readers, one in particular caught my eye. Stick Pick. The protagonist, Janine, is left paralyzed from the waist down following a car accident. As I have a physically disabled grandfather, I find it refreshing to read of a character that is depicted with one as well! What motivated you to focus that particular story on a demographic that seems to be under represented in the Young Adult genre?
It’s personal. My brother is disabled – so in talking to him as I prepped to do the book, he told me things about his injury that he’d never told me before. I know I’ve been criticized because some readers have felt that Janine is too unlikeable. But, in hearing that, I feel I’ve got it just right – because if I can make that character NOT seem overly sympathetic, I think I’ve steered clear of what could have been considered pandering.
- Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring authors, or those faced with the dreaded ‘writers block’?
Find what works for you. Sometimes you need to pry the words out, and that’s OK. You can always come back and massage it. And I can’t stress this enough, don’t take yourself so seriously. I see so many writers nowadays who turn into idiots when they’re on Twitter or have to deal with criticism. Let others take from your work what they will, or you can drive yourself crazy. I’ve always felt the best art comes from people who weren’t really sure if they were making art in the first place. They were just doing what they loved.