Hello there everyone, welcome back to my Author Interview realm once again.
We have a returning guest in our midst tonight, as we speak to her to find out more about the latest Fantasy book release from author Sandra Hurst.
You can find the original Author Interview that I did with Sandra here:-
Author Interview – Sandra Hurst – “Y’keta (The Sky Road Trilogy Book 1)” (Fantasy Series)
So, let’s get cracking and find out what Sandra’s latest book is all about.
Thanks for reading and have fun this weekend friends! 🙂
Hi there Sandra, a real pleasure to have you here with us today to chat about your latest book release “Guardian”, which is Book 2 in your Sky Road Trilogy series.
Hello David. Thank you for inviting me to come back and talk to you and your readers.
What is the significance of the title “Guardian” in your latest book? Is it a key to understanding the themes of the book itself?
It is definitely a big ‘hook’ for the theme of the story. One of the main themes in the book is knowing that sometimes you have to accept your responsibilities, even if they might mean you have to act for the good of the group over what you think is in your own self-interest.
Y’keta, the one of the main characters in this book, hates it! He thought that he had escaped his position as heir to the chief when he left his own tribe to live in Esquialt. Now he finds himself pushed into a position of authority again. But if he runs this time, the village, and everyone in it, could be destroyed.
How did the idea for this tale take shape? Is it a natural progression from the first book in the series or are you taking the series down another different path entirely? Please tell us more about the plot and themes of “Guardian”.
There is definitely a natural progression from the first book to Guardian. The first book in this series ended with Y’keta earning a place in the village and renouncing his claim as the heir to his father’s title. This book comes out of that decision. It explores the very human things that we all face as we mature; responsibility, acceptance, and self-sacrifice.
Five cycles (years) have passed since the end of the first book. The Utlaak, whose attacks against all the villages of the People are becoming increasingly frequent and vicious, are on the move again. The People don’t know why they are under attack or what the Utlaak want, just that they come again with each new moon.
The plot follows the evolution of the two main characters of the series, Y’keta and Siann. Y’keta is a warrior in Esquialt. His life is simple, and he likes it that way. He goes where the council tells him to go, fights the Utlaak and comes home. Siann, a young shaman, has always dreamed of being more than just her mother’s daughter, of having a position of influence in the village on her own merits. Now she has all of that, and it’s not what she thought. She feels isolated and alone even with people she has known all her life. Only the elders, who don’t fear her power, and the young shell-head, Y’keta, treat her as just Siann.
Can these two people, each lost in their own way, find a path to save the village from the attacks of the Utlaak? Is there any way to understand a violence so seemingly mindless?
Did you do any specific research for this novel that differed from your debut book in the series?
Researching this book was very different than researching for Exile (Y’keta). I think that might be because the world-building for the most part was set and, with a few refinements, I was happy with it.
Without getting spoilery, I spent a great deal of time studying the effect of trauma on young people. How tribal cultures dealt with death and bereavement fascinated me. Their outlook is much more holistic than our western mentality and in its own way, I think, more effective.
Do you write listening to music? And if you do this then what music were you listening to when you wrote your latest book?
Living in a very busy household, I find music, and a good set of headphones, essential for my writing process. I’ve learned to listen to instrumental music when I’m writing. I shudder to tell you how many times lyrics have inserted themselves into my dialogue! Much of Guardian was written to the instrumental theme music from the video game, Nier Automata. The big battle scenes required something heavier and more intense. For them I listened to a mix of Sabaton and a Mongolian rock band called The Hu.
What aspects of your characters in this book would you say that you relate to on a personal level?
Ahh… now you want to know secrets! I think its human nature to look for reflections of yourself. So, in every character I see something that I can recognize as me, but Siann is my shadow in the Sky Road series. I’ve always been a people pleaser and I understand her struggle between the need to be accepted and respected and the counterbalancing drive to break out of that mold and rebel.
What were the hardest parts of this book to write? And what were the easiest?
The easiest piece to write was the love story between Dahi and D’vhan. I thought they were just meant for each other from the beginning. The hardest part? Oh! That’s hard to answer! I think I’ll duck and move on to the next question – since they tie together.
Were there any significant concepts that you had to edit out of this book that seemed like a good idea in the first draft but became too unwieldy as the story progressed?
To answer both this question and the one I ducked earlier…. There was a chapter written late in the story where I dealt with the death of a child. This was both the hardest, and the most personal, part of the story for me to write. I had intended to deal with the effects of the little one’s death and how it fractured relationships in the village, but I found that although the writing was good it added too much weight on the end of the story. The whole arc was pulled out and might make an appearance as a short story later on.
If this novel was to be made into a film (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?
Y’keta – I would want someone as Y’keta who could show how both sides of Y’keta are in conflict with each other. The warrior who took an oath to defend the village, and the frightened young man who desperately wants to blend into the background. In my first visit with you I picked Josh Hutcherson, best known for The Hunger Games, and I still think that he would be great in this role.
Siann – I want someone who would could show the growth in Siann’s character and who would also have the strength to stand up where it was needed. We’d have to work on the accent — but I think Emma Watson would be perfect.
What are you views on audiobooks and would you consider having your novels made into audiobooks? If so, then who would you get to narrate them?
I listen to audiobooks often and getting my books translated to audiobook is on my bucket list! My favourite audiobook narrator is Simon Vance. But I think his voice might be a bit too English, and a bit too old, for these characters. Since I have point of view chapters for both Y’keta and Siann, I might need to get more than one narrator for the books.
If you could invite any one of your characters to dinner, which one would it be and what would you cook for them?
I’d definitely invite D’vhan. His humour, wisdom, and joyful outlook on life would make a wonderful night! I’m not sure what I’d cook though, anything barbecued would be familiar to him, but I would like to see his reaction to something totally different. Can you imagine a warrior from the iron age faced with pasta, crepes, or tacos. Just make sure the wine is flowing and anything would be fun with D’vhan.
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?
Ouch! This question is so timely for me. After Guardian was finished my plan was to roll straight into Lifebinder (book 3 of the Sky Road series) and it just didn’t happen. I’m fighting the block myself at the moment. I’ve tried freewriting, not writing, and writing on other projects but so far, the words aren’t coming. I’ve got a good plot outline set though – so it will happen soon!
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
You are stronger, smarter, and braver than you think. Don’t wait to understand it all – just start now.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
I love to read—anything from Asimov to Shakespeare. I love to sing, much to the dismay of my family. They suffer through ‘opera night’ regularly. On those nights I only speak in faux-operatic arias and sing everything I say in the key of F flat. I also love to camp and will be headed into the woods in early July for two weeks of wi-fi free relaxation.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on the last book in your Sky Road trilogy or have plans in the pipeline for other projects?
Sky Road book 3 is underway with the working title of “Lifebinder.” This will be Siann’s story. Guardian leaves her in a pretty bleak place when she finds that her new power has a dark side and that she isn’t fully in control of it. Can she find a way to reclaim her life? Or will the Lifebinder drive her to kill again? My next project will be a space opera/military thriller based around a combat team who finds out that their handler has been selling their services on the galactic black market.
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, again, for the opportunity to speak to your readers. I hope they enjoy Guardian. See you out there on the Sky Road!
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:-
Buy Sandra Hurst’s books in the UK/Europe
Buy Sandra Hurst’s books in the US/Rest of the World
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.