Sandra Carrington Smith

Sandra Carrington-Smith is an Italian-born author who relocated to the United States in the late 80’s after marrying a US soldier who was serving overseas. Although writing was Sandra’s deepest passion since childhood, her dream of becoming a published author had to be placed on hold for several years. Moving to a new country provided several challenges, the biggest one being the language barrier she encountered when she first arrived. In order to become fully integrated, Sandra tapped into her love for reading, and over time her vocabulary grew extensively. She gave birth to three children and devoted most of her time to raising a family. By the time she was in her late 30’s, Sandra decided to revisit her old passion for writing, and penned a novel of paranormal suspense, The Book of Obeah. After signing up with Krista Goering from the Krista Goering Literary Agency, Sandra followed her agent’s advice and also wrote a self-improvement book, Housekeeping for the Soul: A Practical Guide to Restoring Your Inner Sanctuary. Both titles were sold to the same publisher and released in 2010, and The Book of Obeah went on to win an international book award. Currently, Sandra is working on two new novels: The Rosaries (the sequel of The Book of Obeah) and a new murder mystery the title of which has not been announced yet.

Interview with Sandra

                                                             Sandra Carrington Smith

Okay, now let me get this all straight: Your father was a devout Catholic, your mother was a voodoo priestess, and your grandmother was a Christian healer. Was all of this very confusing to you as a child?
In the beginning, probably quite a bit. I suppose it can be compared to the challenges encountered by a child raised in a multi-lingual home – in this case the languages I was exposed to were spiritual, but the process is quite similar. I think the hardest thing for me to understand was why so many people would look at alternate belief systems as “evil”, while I never saw anything spooky or evil take place. Most of what my mother and grandmothers did was strongly centered on helping others, so I never saw much evil in it. Later on in life, I understood that people tend to label evil what they don’t understand – the unknown is always a bit scary.

Did this experience help you to keep an open mind?
Most definitely. First of all, I came to understand one thing: True practitioners – those who are led by the spirit of God rather than the spirit of money – see things from a different perspective, and they would not willingly harm anyone just because their egos are bruised. Also, after being exposed to different belief systems, it is easy to see that after one shaves off the superficial differences, most spiritual paths are one and the same: They promote good and denounce evil, they see a higher power at work behind everything that happens, and they try to steer humans toward enlightenment and toward reaching their highest potential. In other words, they are different routes leading to the same destination. When I wrote The Book of Obeah, I set out to do a little experiment. I mixed names and rituals from different traditions to drive a specific point home: No matter what tradition one follows, the essence of Spirit and the power of faith remain the same. Some readers caught on to that, some didn’t.

You obviously have a vast knowledge of voodoo. Was your interest in the subject a direct result of your mother’s influence, or did you find it fascinating regardless?
In so many ways, we are a by-product of our parents’ beliefs, so I’m sure that my mother’s interests affected me quite a bit. That being said, the whole concept of voodoo was very intriguing to me and I felt that it could easily co-exist with my Catholic beliefs, since saints are a huge part of Catholicism.

Is there a lot more to the voodoo culture than meets the eye?

Absolutely. While there are differences between Vodoun and Voodoo, Santeria and other traditions, the main thing that’s common to all of them is the belief in one creator. There is a huge stigma attached to voodoo, since most people have been exposed to the theatrical rendition thrown out there by skilled screenwriters. Fear sells, so why not attach it to something most people know little about? Like all other systems of belief, voodoo isn’t evil – just because some shady practitioners choose to do things that are shameful and not in line with spiritual tenets at all, the whole belief system should not be branded because of it.

Was there any particular inspiration for your book, The Book of Obeah, other than the obvious?

Believe it or not, there wasn’t. The first few sentences of the first chapter just popped into my mind unexpectedly, and I decided to write them down. I wasn’t even thinking of writing a novel at the time, and for the longest time I believed I was just writing the book for myself.

The book must have required at some degree of research, despite your vast knowledge of the subject. Has any of your research ever led you into deep, dark places the average person would fear to tread?

I didn’t do much research. However, my consulting editor, Dena Patrick, certainly did. I’m sure it sounds like a cliché, but I really wrote from my heart. As I said, at the time I was not envisioning the book getting published.  After it was finished, I let several people read it and they really enjoyed the story, so I started looking at the possibility of going further with it. When Dena joined me on this venture, she did quite a bit of research to make sure the information was solid.

I understand that some ministers have even used material from your blog posts in their sermons. What was that all about?

My blog posts are much more laid back than the novel, and they are based on analogies drawn on observations from ordinary life. Many of those reflections are included in my nonfiction book Housekeeping for the Soul, and they are conducive to spiritual discussions.

How do your friends react to your interest in the voodoo culture? Do they keep an open mind, or do some of them seem a little leery of it?
I think most of my friends knew that about me even before they read the novel. I don’t usually broadcast what I believe in, but I don’t spend too much energy hiding it either.

What’s on the horizon for you right now? Any more books about voodoo in the pipeline?

I have several works in progress. The Rosaries is the sequel of The Book of Obeah and the second book in the Crossroads Series. The first draft is finished and just waiting for some rewrites and edits. I am also writing another murder mystery taking place in Raleigh, NC, but I don’t have a title yet. Other projects include a nonfiction mini-series and a novella I am co-authoring with Abagayle Allegretto.