Hey there folks – Happy Friday to you all, let’s party started 🙂
For my guest today in the ongoing Author Interview series, I am extremely excited to introduce to you all to Sandra Hurst, as she chats about her debut Fantasy novel, her inspirations behind it, her writing experiences and her very own writing advice.
Have a fantastic weekend friends and enjoy the show.
Hi there Sandra, a pleasure to have you over here today to discuss your passions and writing influences.
Hello David, and thank you for inviting me. It’s great to talk to you and your readers about my book and the mythology and stories that made it possible.
Let’s start with your debut novel “Y’keta (The Sky Road Trilogy Book 1)”. Can you tell us more about the fascinating story/myths behind your series, what kind of adventures we can expect your protagonist Y’keta to encounter in this first instalment of the trilogy and the themes/premise of the series as a whole.
Native myth and folklore has fascinated me since I first moved to Northern Alberta and started learning about them in school. Y’keta is loosely based on one of those legends, the Thunderbird. Some Indigenous cultures see the Thunderbird as the Lord of Storms and Lightning. Thunderbirds are powerful beings who can assume human shape and walk among the people.
In Y’keta, a young outcast with a murky past, faces one challenge after another in his struggle to fit in to village society. Just when he thinks he may be safe, learning to hunt and take his place as the youngest warrior in the Red Lodge, the village is threatened by the cave-dwelling Utlaak, an ancient enemy, that murder and mutilate their victims. And, to top it off, there is Siann, the young Shaman, she doesn’t trust him and never stops prying, picking away at his defences, determined to discover who he really is.
The overarching theme of the Sky Road Trilogy is the search for genuine identity. What happens to a person when they bottle up who they really are to fit into societies expectations? What is the cost of being genuine? How much is too much to pay? In each of the books this conflict between societies expectations and individual needs will be played out in and around the war with the Utlaak and the life and personalities in the village.
I find it fascinating how Fantasy Authors build their worlds and the things that inhabit them. How do you go about picking and choosing the names for your characters, objects and the places in your world?
The language I used for the People borrows liberally from several modern native languages which I have ‘aged’ in different directions to suit the Sky Road. While I wanted to keep the feel of the original tongues, I tried to avoid having words that were too exact and would tie the story down to one tribe over another. So, for example, the Nehewak (Cree) word for Thunderbird (kitowak) becomes my race the Waki’tani and the Tlingit word for pig becomes a rude nickname that Siann calls her greedy little brother. It’s interesting to note that even now, the Nehewak don’t have a word for thunder. They say kâh-kitowak, the Thunderbirds call.
If your novel was to be made into a film (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?
It’s hard to think of actors in a fantasy novel, but I’ve narrowed it down to these two.
Y’keta – I would want someone as Y’keta who could show both the bravado of a young warrior and the vulnerability of an outsider caught in a situation he cannot control. I think Josh Hutcherson, best known for The Hunger Games, would be great in this role.
Siann – For Siann I wanted someone who would resonate as a Shaman and as a girl coming into her power in the world. I picked Grace Dove, a Shushwap actress, most recently known for her performance in The Revenant.
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
For me, the worldbuilding seems to come easily. I love immersing myself in other cultures and the whole history, look, and feel of the world dropped into my mind before I had the name for a single character.
Handling my own nature is the hard part for me. I tend to be very distractible and moderately obsessive. There is always that one more piece of research, a new book to read, and, Oh Look! I got a Facebook mention. My mind will bounce to anything new and shiny and sometimes when it lands on a topic I find it hard to let go and get back to the writing. There is a definite benefit to this type of mind though, once I start writing and the scenes are flying, I will keep going until someone pulls me out.
Who are some of the authors and historical figures that inspire you?
I love the authors who can make words dance and sentences MEAN things. This has led me to authors like Guy Gavriel Kay, and Don DeLillo. I would give my left ovary (not so dramatic a thing since at 54 those parts are hardly crucial) to sit down with either of these gentlemen, or even better their writing notes, for an afternoon!
There are so many people that inspire me, whether they are historical figures or literary ones. I think the common thread in all of them is that they had the opportunity to quit, every reason to say I’m too old, too tired, it’s just easier to let it be someone else’s problem. This kind of hero, unwilling, often flawed, yet willing to step up, gets me every time.
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
I originally didn’t think that I was researching to write a book. About five years ago, my husband found out that he was part Cree. At that time, I went back to the indigenous legends I’d learned growing up in Northern Alberta as a way to teach my son the history and culture that my husband never learned. I started studying the Nehewak language 2 years ago, and have taken several on line courses on Indigenous Cultures through Athabasca University. Most recently I have been trying to teach myself to speak Tlingit, with not much success so far. Honestly, it never occurred to me how much of my research has been based around the languages of the People. But the way people speak and how they choose to express themselves says more about a culture a dozen textbooks can.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
When I was little, we had a burgundy set of children’s encyclopaedia’s and I would put on performances in the living room and insist that my family listen to the stories and legends that I had read. I grew up on the stories of Robin Hood, King Arthur, and the Fae. What else could I ever be?
I write because the words are my way of exploring a world I can’t see. I’m a mythmaker, there is nothing that gives me more creative juice than asking a question and then building a world to find the answer. Myths and fantasy give us the opportunity to look at ourselves in new and often unusual ways, to play a huge game of ‘what if’ and see where the answers will fall.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
I like to shake things up when I’m in a slump or struggling for ideas. I will sometimes take a side character and re-write a scene from their point of view. It helps me see with new eyes and often gives me the next question that I need to ask or the next move I need to make. Another good trick is to pick the one thing that my character would really hate to have happen, and make it so. Are they afraid of water? Then maybe the boat sinks.
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Just start now!
Don’t say that you will wait until you are more settled, more educated, have more time, or the kids have grown up. It won’t happen. If you are going to start, start now.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing, I read. I think that is most author’s go-to response. But it’s true. I read anything from Shakespeare to ketchup bottles. I also run a blog and try to keep up with the crazy world of social media. I love to karaoke or go to concerts and I love the theatre. I enjoy swimming and love to cook. My most recent adventure is learning to cook East Indian food.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
I’ve got three projects on the go at the moment, with a never empty folder of ideas on the backburner.
The next book in the Sky Road Trilogy, D’vhan, is in the ‘necklace’ stage of drafting. I’ve got several pearls but I’m missing the chain of story movement that will tie them together.
I am working on a romance that will be part of an upcoming series of novellas expected to come out in September this year with my contribution, Peace Out, slated for Christmas 2018.
There is also a chapbook of poetry in the works, although at the moment the prose has centre stage.
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
Find ways to connect! There are amazing writers, editors, and publicists out there who can and will help you learn your way through this maze. Find them, lean on them, and when you can, let them lean on you.
Remember-Baboon Crap happens – first drafts aren’t supposed to look pretty.
The first thing I was ever told, and still the hardest for me to do. You have to learn the Doberman writing method. SIT and STAY.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for spending time with us today Sandra, we can’t wait to explore your books and worlds further 🙂
Bio:- (in her own words)
“Hi, my name is Sandra Hurst, the author of the Sky Road fantasy series.
As a child growing up in England, stories and legends surrounded me, I learned how important imagination was. When I was 8, we moved to northern Canada and the legends changed. Stories of the Fae and the little people were replaced by legends of the Thunderbird and stories of the woodlands. I never stood a chance. What could I be but a writer?
Growing up in Northern Alberta gave me a great love and respect for the wild lands and indigenous cultures which made its way into the worlds I create. A mythmaker at heart, I started writing poetry in middle school and graduated to epic fantasy.
Myths give us a way to interpret the world past our normal experience. To ask questions and explore answers in a larger-than-life game of ‘what if.’ We need to make room for myths and mythmakers in our fact driven world. To give space for worlds that are brighter and clearer than our own. For it is in doing so, that we have room to become more fully human.
My first book, Y’keta, is loosely based on the Thunderbird of North American legend, Y’keta is a Young Adult, high fantasy set in an ancient world where legends walk and the Sky Road offers a way to the stars.
I now live in Calgary, Alberta with my husband and son, both of whom I love dearly, and have put up for sale on e-bay when their behaviour demanded it. My day to day life is a balance between my outside life as a paralegal counsellor and my inner life as an author/poet. In between, I work on improving my writing, study Cree Language and aboriginal history, write book reviews, blog on my website, and study mythologies from around the world.”
You can connect with Sandra via the following Social Media links:-
Facebook:- Sandra Hurst – Author (FB)
Twitter:- @_SandraHurst (Twitter)
Website:- Delusions of Literacy – The Website of Author Sandra Hurst
You can buy her books here:-
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.
Still want more? Well, Sandra’s series has a legend of birds walking among people and forming a mutual relationship with each other, even though we are different species and this relationship could be considered as symbiotic, since it is the living together of unlike organisms. For more articles that also capture a theme of ‘Symbiosis’ then check out the links below:-
1. The Dandelion Contessa – Ashes to Ashes Dust to Mud
2. edges of cliffs – Tiny Fawns Writings
3. Time (6) – This is Nobody’s blog
4. The Royal Purple High Road… – Random Thoughts and Musings
5. The Daily Post March 26th 2017 Daily Prompt Symbiosis Haiku – Tanka – Mick E Talbot Poems
6. Can’t! – Wings Of Poetry
7. Le Drake Noir – High five prompts
8. Man’s best friend… – Mums the Word Blog
9. My Happy Place – Symbiosis
10. Purple Symbiosis – erintypes
11. Grief for that which never was – Debbie Gravett
12. My Personal Blog – Symbiosis in Social Media
13. MC’s Whispers – The incomprehensible female nature
14. Mainline_Matter – Devilishly Clear Symbiosis
15. There Are More Poets than Stars in the Firmament – always a double standard
16. Symbiosis – kittysverses
17. Her Consistency – awesomeloopy
18. Dronesville adventure #17: computer’s cold calculating logic, human perspective, a model mother earwig – a nerd’s confession: when-iam-68
19. Alpha is Omega – Green Symbiosis
20. Myammy! Moving in together at 50… – Uh, oh! Crazy Town
21. Willow’s Corner – An interesting read
22. MISPLACED PEACES – Purple Malaise
23. Steps Times Two – Repercussions
24. Seambiosis – Beach Books Blog
25. awesomeness – #17 Of Hurts and Promises
26. in action – Run and Travel
27. CONTENT FOR YOU – To Focus Completely on a Remarkable and Unique Content
28. PARTNERS FOR LIFE – Rainbow
29. NeuroBead – The world will sing along
30. A Symbiotic Sensation – Dream Desire Achieve
31. used to be a flower – Love it Now
32. Symbiosis – Life With Grace and Beauty
33. Symbiosis – Visual Imagineering
34. Swimming through life among the anemone… – Mums the Word Blog
35. Symbiotic – aroused
36. Symbiosis – My Toby and Me – littleborneogirl
37. Symbiosis- Daily Prompt – Lori’s Reflections
38. WHICH TYPE OF RELATIONSHIP ARE YOU IN? – LifeBlog
39. The DP Library – What Are You Really Eating?
40. Leaves dropping – THEGIRLVSTHEWORLD
41. Toortsie, Kameel en Bokbaaivygie se blog – Toortsie se goedvoelstorie 17 – The hills are alive!
42. Sagesse :|: Oblige – All One Together
43. Finding Hope Ness – Fear and Trembling in Hope Ness
44. a cooking pot and twisted tales – Perfect Symbiosis…
45. Symbiosis – Book Meets Girl
46. Mosque, bath, and garden: symbiosis in the urban landscape of Sana’a, Yemen – America For Yemen
47. Symbiosis? Give me a break! – The Bag Lady
48. Dad – Southern Pause
49. logicaldreams – Drabble: Tangled Together
50. Second Chances – Girl Writing
51. domestic diva – ..Bordering on Depression
52. Unlike, we alike – Scribbled by M
53. An Ordinary Woman – Harlem Cafe
54. helen meikle’s scribblefest – Daily prompt: Not one of my favourites
55. Mutually Assured Construction – a nomad in cyberspace
56. Bombs Away … – jansten56
57. Symbiosis Relationship – Life, more than existence!
58. Live Free 2 Sail Fast – Meet and Greet Sunday
59. Art and business – fades in…
60. y – it’s unsafe to say
61. Wells Baum – Art drives commerce. Commerce drives art.
62. Just Brittany Moments – Pass to the Puffin
63. Symbiosis – Image & Word
64. The Useful Symbiosis – rupalislale
65. The Price of Turnips – Dangerspouse
66. Symbiosis – In2Lauren
67. Jibber Jabber with Sue – The Not So Symbiotic Nature of Marriage
68. Parasitic or Symbiotic – atrangizindagieksafar
69. Bubble wrap thwarts curious pedestrians – Your Nibbled News – 2017 YNN
70. Zombie Flamingos – “Things I saw Yesterday” Sunday
71. Symbiosis is a Beautiful Word (Daily Word Prompt is Symbiosis) – My Loud Bipolar Whispers
72. Pigtails and Frog Legs. Kid’s Cookbook. – kindergartenknowledge.com
73. Gut flora – indisputably inconclusive
74. naturekids – Lichens
75. Basic Consideration : Water – stbarbebaker
76. It’s The Little Things – Rainy Weekends – “Cook Up a Storm!”
77. Symbiosis – wordsareallihavesite
78. Live! Love! Travel! – London Strong
79. It’s All in Finding the Right Words – Enjoying Symbiosis
80. How Do You Want Your Eggs? – Creativity for You
81. B_ live – Ongoing Show
82. We’ve Got Each Other – My World With Words
83. Symbiosis – John Jr’s Blog
84. my internal journey – thinkinkadia
85. Betcha Didn’t Know! – Symbiosis
86. Power & Religion Symbiosis – Islamic Methodologies Made Easy
87. Predator & Prey – Compass & Quill
88. WALL-E… Our Future? – Two Travelin’ Chicas… A Grand Adventure
89. A ROSE AND A SPIDER – LIGHT&SHADOWS
90. The Flittering Soul – Love at first sight?
91. Symbiosis between Young and Old – On a mission
92. It still feels like yesterday! – Palpable Pennings
93. The Cat Chronicles – Daily Feline Prompt: Feline Symbiosis
94. The Flittering Soul – Tango of flavours!
95. Diamante// Symbiosis – /Suzhalgal
96. A Caregiving Marriage – Symbiotic Shoulder Cat
97. New Ideas And Inspirations – Symbiosis
98. I’ll be your Symbiont – Paulina Angela
99. mycreatorscreation – A Gripping Case Of Interrupted Symbiosis
100. A Perfect Match – Inner Whispers
101. simply.cindy – Outdoor Program Snapshot
102. Faith Unlocked – Perfect Unity
103. Exploring the World around us – Symbiosis
104. Symbiosis. – This & That & Everything Else by Sowms
105. Covert Novelist – Symbiosis
106. rhymes with symbiosis. – Migraines From Hell
107. Scrambled, Not Fried – Symbiosis At Its Best
108. Catch the Wind in your Snails – artiche
109. I want to jot it all down. – Symbiosis
110. With One And Other – emotionsoflife2016
111. Symbiosis – @HumbleBirdLove
112. Na’ama Yehuda – Interconnected
113. The Symbiosis of DeGrasse BOB – Live Free & Love On Purpose
114. sonja benskin mesher – symbiosis
115. Flowers and Breezes – Symbiosis
116. Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss – Symbiosis with my camera
117. lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Out of Scope: Symbiosis from Afar
118. An Upturned Soul – Appreciation and Expectation
119. Cahlas Tawkin – Just Keep Going
120. The Anonymous Life – Symbiosis of Souls
121. Moments – Storysite
122. The Abject Muse – Three Days
123. Water Programmes are Essential – stbarbebaker
124. SERENDIPITY – SYMBIOTIC DOGS
125. Facing death – Oh, border!
126. juantetcts – The Beginning and The End
127. Charron’s Chatter – Catching Nemo
128. mylocalweb – symbiosis of its kind
129. MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO – Wild Woman Finds Her Warrior
130. Ming Buddhas – Don’t hold your breath
131. On Tonight’s Show… – I’m a Writer, Yes, I Am!
132. musings and mishaps of an unconditional lover – [POST] the between
133. A cooperative garden ⋆ Obsolete Childhood
134. Satisfaction – Thoughts of Words
135. Rosemary Carlson, Freelance Writer – Protecting the Environment
136. Dronstad – Bunker X29
137. Symbiosis (And treasure where their hearts belong) – Write Ally! Write!
138. A wise soul among the rest – Decade Drift
139. Affluence – Zeckrombryan
140. Alleviate The Ruckus – The Psalmist
141. For such a worm as I – As I was saying…
142. Fire cleanses the ranger – Poetry, Fiction, Politics (PFP)
143. Success: Never Give Up… – Success Strategies
144. Christie & Adam: My Poor Boy – Rexine Rawhead
145. Rideo, Ergo Supero – Meaningless Symbiosis
146. A beautiful symbiosis… – Emotions That Matter.
147. Perceptions Unplugged – A symbiosis between an Introvert and society
148. Cimmerian Sentiment – #18 Too Close For Comfort
149. Awl and Scribe – Symbiosis
150. I wrote a book. Now what? – Building chemistry
151. Match made in heaven – Playing with words
152. Symbiosis – All About Writing and more
153. Frank Prem – for differentiation
154. Lost Property Repository – The Long P