‘Is that your real last name?’
I was rather amused when I got that question the first time. They were onto something though. No, London is not my actual last name. Sandra is very much my first though. The reason for changing it up? Well, I have an extremely Dutch last name and I felt I needed something a little more international-sounding considering I write in English. This combined with my deep love for London and voilà, my pen name was born.
I was definitely a lot more quick to decide on a pen name than I was deciding on which genre of fiction to focus on. I have spent years trying to find which genre fit me best. I tried writing in all sorts of genres: drama, romance, thriller, detective, fantasy and science fiction. Pretty much anything you can think of, I probably have a draft in that exact genre somewhere in my archives!
It wasn’t until I wrote a short Spider-Man fanfiction last December that it finally clicked: short stories in the fantasy and sci-fi genres fit me best! Why? Well, because I enjoy using my imagination and my favourite stories often involve themes relevant to our current society but transferred to a fantastical or science fictional setting.
Once I decided that short stories were the way to go for me and that fantasy and sci-fi were going to be the genres I would be focusing on, the ideas came rolling in. As I type this, I have just written down the latest of a whopping 117 ideas in my notebook. Will I use them all? No, impossible! But it is rather amazing to see how many ideas I have after years of wondering if I’d ever get another idea again!
Why ‘contemporary’ fantasy though? Because I have noticed in my own writing that while I enjoy writing and reading ‘high fantasy’, I rather like adding some sort of contemporary feel to my own stories, whether that is through ‘urban fantasy’ or through the use of magic in everyday lives. So far the same counts for my science fiction. There will probably always be a connection to Earth, whether because it is set here or because characters originate from Earth.
However, I have noticed as I have been writing new stories that my fantasy stories often have a cheerful atmosphere while in my science fiction stories I deal more with the more serious elements of technology influencing our lives. I like exploring both the good and the darker side of that. So stories from either genres will probably feel very different!
I can honestly say though, in both genres of fantasy and science fiction in combination with a pen name that elicits a feeling of belonging in me, I have never enjoyed myself more than I do while writing my stories. I hope that comes across when you read them!