Marlon LaSean Sanders

Marlon LaSean Sanders

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
October 19, 2006

Q.    Who is Marlon LaSean Sanders?

A.    I’m a native Memphian, and a bachelor. I attended Overton High School, then later went on to attend Shelby State, and later went back to school for graphic design. I’m an amateur gourmet cook who loves Mexican cuisine. I love jazz, particularly all of Miles Davis and John Coltrane’s work. I’m also an art lover. Nostalgic movie posters, black-and-white stills, any photos with historical relevance—African-American musicians, athletes, entertainers, leaders. I also play a mean game of 8-Ball.

Q.    What inspired you to write the novel THE OTHER MAN?

A.    The Other Man was inspired by The Jennifer Wilbanks Story, the runaway bride who duped authorities into thinking she was kidnapped in order to escape the pressures of a wedding only two days away. After watching it on the news, I felt like it would be an ironic beginning for a story. We see so many AA novels where the female characters are looking for that one man to fulfill certain emotional and physical needs, looking for the “Mr. Right” type character, but Freedom Dandridge is a woman who actually finds what she’s looking for—and still isn’t happy. Now here’s the twist: Instead of the female character looking for love, that eventually leads to marriage and the quote-unquote “Happy Ending,” Freedom Dandridge finds love from the very beginning...and wants out.

Q.    How did you come about the title?

A.    After going through several name changes, I felt like a straightforward title for the book was the best way to grab the reader’s attention, something that would get straight to the point. When I thought of THE OTHER MAN, it sounded plain, but I later realized it was a title that female readers would relate to and connect with.

Q.    How did you come about Freedom’s character?

A.    The novel was initially began in multiple POVs. As I began developing the characters, and after many false starts, I began to focus more on Vance’s wife, Freedom, then named Angela, and as her voice slowly materialized, I felt that her character alone was the most compelling to carry a full-length novel. I decided to write from the bride’s point-of-view because I believed women would be curious to experience the ordeal through her eyes. Whether the reader may or may not have been in a similar situation, exploring the emotions and logic that makes a bride back out of her marriage—after saying yes to the groom—makes for a good story.

Q.    How did you come about Vance’s character?

A.    Vance’s character was created as the flip side to Boney McIntyre’s character, which is one of the greatest conflict’s in the story. It leaves Freedom torn between two totally different men. Vance is level-headed and responsible, whereas Boney is the dangerous bad boy. Vance is more family oriented, and tries to be faithful to one woman. Boney lives a bachelor’s lifestyle, and has a history of womanizing. And the contrasts go even deeper. And because there are so many differences, Freedom loves both men equally, but for totally different reasons.

Q.    How did you come about the idea surrounding Toi’s ordeal and Boney’s situation?

A.    In the story, Vance Dandridge had an affair with Toi Maxwell—an affair he tries unsuccessfully to hide from Freedom. Toi is a real estate agent who’s been searching for lost family members, ever since her mother passed away. Genealogy was a great way to connect her to other characters in the story. And Boney McIntyre is the other man. His checkered past is the result of a lifestyle he’s trying to leave behind, and a relationship that left him emotionally crippled. Both characters have an impact on the two main characters in such a way, that their presence is felt, even when they’re not in the scene.

Q.    How did you come about the situation surrounding Freedom and Pauletta?

A.    Pauletta Alexander is Freedom’s alcoholic mother, and their relationship was destroyed by a family secret that left Freedom bitter towards Pauletta, but still hoping to reconcile. Throughout the story, we see the effects of that damaged mother-daughter relationship, but it isn’t until the final scene at Pauletta’s home that everything comes full circle. Things we didn’t understand about their relationship start to make sense, and by learning more about Pauletta, we become even more intimate with Freedom’s character.

Q.    How long have you been writing?

A.    I started writing five years ago, but when I began, my goal was to write screenplays, which later turned into full length novels. For me, it was more fulfilling to write the full-length novel versus the screenplay. There’s just so much more you can say and do with it.

Q.    Are you currently working on another novel?

A.    Right now, I’m finishing up my sophomore title, The Professional, slated for 2007. The story is about Suki Jamison, an ex-Marine Corps sniper turned underworld assassin, who’s hired by her ex-lover to do a hit on a government witness, but the job isn’t as easy as she anticipated. Throughout the difficulties she faces, she ultimately has to come to terms with her lingering feelings for the man who hired her, which means confronting her past once and for all. You can read an excerpt of “The Professional,” and “The Other Man,” at my website,

Q.    What message would you like readers to receive from reading THE OTHER MAN?

A.    The Other Man is a memorable story about female empowerment. It’s the story of a woman who’s afraid of her future, and doesn’t know how to let go of her past. When Freedom realizes she really doesn’t love Vance, and that he’s been having an affair all along, her situation inevitably goes from bad to worse, and she falls back into the same destructive pattern she was in with Boney before she got married. It’s a cautionary tale that explores the vicious cycles of unhealthy relationships.