Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Karen Sandler Author Interview

Book Nerd Interview

Karen Sandler has published seventeen books, ranging from adult romance novels to middle-grade time travel. With Unforgettable and Night Whispers, published back in 1999, Sandler first explored the world of paranormal novels. 

Sandler’s newest novel, Tankborn, is her first YA science fiction dystopia. Released by LEE & LOW BOOKS in fall 2011 under their Tu Books imprint, Tankborn is the story of Kayla and Mishalla, two genetically engineered slaves on the planet Loka. When both develop friendships with higher-status boys through their work assignments, they must learn who to trust and what it means to be human. Kirkus Reviews called Tankborn “a good option for science-fiction fans interested in genetic engineering, rebellion and class issues.”

“I’ve been intrigued by genetic engineering since the mid-80s,” says Sandler, “back when the concept was nothing more than science fiction.” Sandler began working on a screenplay called Icer that toyed with the idea of genetic engineering, but later decided that the concept might be a good fit for a young adult novel. “Along the way,” she says, “my fascination with Indian culture and the caste system became interwoven into the story, as well as the notion of how skin color can so stratify a society.”

Sandler, a former software engineer of fifteen years, worked on the Space Shuttle Program and communications satellites. She is now a full time writer, though she tries to make time to ride her horse, Belle, at least four days a week. Sandler has two grown sons and a new granddaughter, and lives with her husband in Northern California.

Social Media

Tell me a bit about yourself.

I’m a native Californian, and I dreamed of being a writer since I was nine years old. I took a circuitous route, changing my major in college from English to math with a physics minor, then ended up working as a software engineer. I also have an MS in computer science. I figure all that science background makes me a perfect fit for writing science fiction.

Tell us your latest news.

Not all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed, but I can now announce that there will be two sequels to Tankborn from Tu Books. The current titles are Tankborn Awakening and Tankborn Revolution.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Southern California, in the Los Angeles area. I now live near Sacramento, California.

What inspired you to pen your first novel?

My first novel was a romance. I’d been reading romance novels and found I really enjoyed them, so I thought I’d try my hand at one. I’d been writing poetry and short stories for years. My first effort at a novel never sold (it was probably dreadful), but I did have an agent friend show it around.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

The closest I’ve had to a writing mentor would be my good friend Barbara McMahon, who writes romance. She took me under her wing when I was starting out. I’d tell her my latest, greatest story idea and she’d ask, “What’s the conflict?” Used to drive me crazy because I had no idea what a conflict was.

What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?

I was bouncing off the walls with excitement when I got “the call.” The summer before I sold my first book I was close to being ready to give up. Then the Friday before Labor Day weekend an editor at Kensington called to ask for my full manuscript (she’d read a partial). The following Tuesday, they made an offer.

I loved my first cover. Believe it or not, John DeSalvo (the “Cover King”) portrayed my hero, and it was drawn by well-known romance cover artist Pino.

For those who are unfamiliar with your novel; Tankborn, how would you introduce it?

Genetically engineered slaves and life-long friends Kayla and Mishalla are separated by their Assignments when they turn 15. But a despicable plot in which children are being stolen from their families brings Kayla and Mishalla back together. With the help of two higher status boys, the two girls must put their lives at risk to save the children. Along the way, they discover secrets about their creation they’d just as soon stay hidden.

How did you come up with the title and cover design?

Well, I didn’t come up with either. I do use the term “tankborn” in the book, but my original title was completely different and far too generic. It was my editor who suggested the title, and the cover artist came up with the cover design.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

You should read Tankborn because it’s both an entertaining read and a thought-provoking premise.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

Since most of my books are set in the “real world” and Tankborn isn’t, this is a hard question to answer. I suppose it would be cool if Kayla’s techie brother, Jal, could meet the main character, Kevin, in my middle grade book, Timewrecked.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about Kayla and Mishalla?

Mishalla’s scared of sewer toads. Kayla just thinks they’re disgusting.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing Tankborn?

The depth of editing necessary for a book as complex as Tankborn was unexpected.

Why do you feel you had to tell this story?

I started out wanting to write a YA book and to develop one of my scripts into a novel. I ended up with a book filled with diverse characters and thought-provoking themes that I’m proud to have written.

What is the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?

The Internet.

What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?

The quote from Mette Ivie Harrison about Tankborn was pretty fabulous: “Read this book and be changed.”

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?

I don’t think I have one favorite, but one book that stands out and happens to be outside my genre is Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford. It’s a marvelous coming of age novel (I suppose these days you’d call it YA). I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read it.

What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?

Tell us all about your horse, Belle.

If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?

Teaching writing to children.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.

I don’t think there’s one rewarding experience I could name. In general, it’s every time I have a chance to speak to a hopeful writer about publishing and am able to teach them something they didn’t know.

Which author would you love to co-author a book with?

It would be pretty darn cool to co-author a book with Scott Westerfeld.

What are 4 things you never leave home without?

Tums, lip balm, ibuprofen, and my glasses.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

I prefer to do most of my work in the mornings in my office. Sometimes it’s fun to take a “field trip” over to Starbuck’s.

What is your favorite food?

Chocolate. Ice cream is a close second.

Where can your readers stalk you?

My website is, my blog is and you can follow me on Twitter at @karensandlerYA.

Best friends Kayla and Mishalla know they will be separated for their Assignments. They are GENs, Genetically Engineered Non-humans, and in their strict caste system, GENs are at the bottom rung of society. GENs are gestated in a tank and sent to work as slaves as soon as they reach age fifteen.
When Kayla is Assigned to care for Zul Manel, the patriarch of a trueborn family, she finds secrets and surprises—not least of which is her unexpected friendship with Zul’s great-grandson. Meanwhile, the children that Mishalla is Assigned to care for are being stolen in the middle of the night.
After weeks of toiling in their Assignments, mystifying circumstances enable Kayla and Mishalla to reunite. Together they hatch a plan to save the disappearing children. Yet can GENs really trust humans? Both girls must put their lives and hearts at risk to crack open a sinister conspiracy, revealing secrets no one is ready to face.

You can purchase Tankborn at these following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Karen & Hannah for making this giveaway possible.
3 Winners will receive one Signed Copy of Tankborn by Karen Sandler.
3 Winners will receive one Signed Bookmark by Karen Sandler.


Britney W. , Melissa H. & Nyles @Book Quotes and Lyrics
3 Winners will receive one Signed Copy of Tankborn by Karen Sandler.

Lisa H., Lydia M. & Thilde E.
3 Winners will receive one Signed Bookmark by Karen Sandler.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love this quote from Shatter Me

    “I always wonder about raindrops.

    I wonder how they're always falling down, tripping over their feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble out of the sky toward an uncertain end. It's like someone is emptying their pockets over the earth and doesn't seem to care where the contents fall, doesn't seem to care that the raindrops burst when they hit the ground, that they shatter when they fall to the floor, that people curse the days the drops dare to tap on their doors.

    I am a raindrop.”

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. my fave quote is
    "just because you can, doesnt mean you should" acheron from sherrilyn kenyons darkhunter books

    thanks for the giveaway :)

  3. My favorite quote: "What's good for the goose, is good for the gander". :D
    Great giveaway! Thanks so much!! :D
    Angie Edwards

  4. Favorite quote....:/ ugh to many!! Can i say TO MANY is my favorite! LOL:)))
    thanks a million for the giveaway and love the interview as well!


  5. Ummm.....I have so many fave quotes but one that always comes to mind is:

    “I would always rather be happy than dignified.”
    ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

  6. My favorite quote would have to be:
    “She decided that if Lucas was gay then she was going to have to get a sex change operation. He would be so worth it.”
    ― Josephine Angelini, Starcrossed

    LOVED this book so much!!!

    Thank you for this great interview and giveaway!!!


  7. “The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche~

    elizabeth @ bookattict . com

  8. “Wear the old coat and buy the new book.”
    - Austin Phelps

  9. "Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true."

    Nylez @ Book Quotes and Lyrics

  10. Simon: “Have you tried talking to her?"
    Jace: "No. We've been punching her in the face repeatedly. What? You don't think that will work?”
    ― Cassandra Clare, City of Glass
    Love me some snarky Jace ;)

    Thanks for the giveaway!!!


  11. I have 3 favs and I hope it's ok to post all 3 lol...

    “And now I’m looking at you,” he said, “and you’re asking me if I still want you, as if I could stop loving you. As if I would want to give up the thing that makes me stronger than anything else ever has. I never dared give much of myself to anyone before – bits of myself to the Lightwoods, to Isabelle and Alec, but it took years to do it – but, Clary, since the first time I saw you, I have belonged to you completely. I still do. If you want me.”
    ― Cassandra Clare, City of Glass

    “My name is Ashallyn'darkmyr Tallyn, third son of the Unseelie Court...Let it be known--from this day forth, I vow to protect Meghan Chase, daughter of the Summer King, with my sword, my honor, and my life. Her desires are mine. Her wishes are mine. Should even the world stand against her, my blade will be at her side. And should it fail to protect her, let my own existence be forfeit. This I swear, on my honor, my True Name, and my life. From this day on..." His voice went even softer, but I still heard it as though he whispered it into my ear. "I am yours.”
    ― Julie Kagawa, The Iron Queen

    “There is no pretending," Jace said with absolute clarity. "I love you, and I will love you until I die, and if there is life after that, I'll love you then.”
    ― Cassandra Clare, City of Glass

    *SIGH* Love them all. (sorry for such a big post) And thanks for the amazing interview and this awesome giveaway.

  12. I have so SO so many favorites, from my language to yours, usually my favorites goes around books, fashion and women.

    But because we are talking about books here, I will share this quote:

    "The lofty bookshelves sag
    Under thousands of sleeping souls
    Silence, hopeful ----
    Every time I open a book, a soul is awakened."

    And I LOVE horses as well Karen!! Thanks for the giveaway!!

  13. "If your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt."
    -Henry J Kaiser