It’s my pleasure to welcome Sandra Saidak to the blog today. Sandy writes prehistoric fiction, short stories, and fantasy. You can find her at www.sandrasaidak.com, and on Amazon. Her latest book, Keepers of the Ancient Wisdom, is out now, just in time for the holidays. In this book, after more than a year as a slave to the brutal horse nomads, Saidak’s protagonist Kalie returns to the Goddess Lands to face her greatest challenge. Kalie and Riyik must fight enemies from without and within to save their home. As the mounted horde bears down upon them, all Kalie can be certain of is the Goddess Lands will never be the same…
What motivated you to write your first book of prehistoric fiction, Daughter of the Goddess Lands?
I’ve loved prehistory for as long as I can remember. I used to imagine stories to go with the non-fiction I read. When The Clan of the Cave Bear came out, and restarted a genre I hadn’t even known existed, I realized I wasn’t the only one who imagined these stories. Later, as authors like Mary Mackey and Judith Tarr began taking the genre in a new direction, I found
their tales of culture clash between peaceful Goddess worshipers and violent horsemen fascinating and so gripping that I wanted to jump into the books and direct the outcome. That’s when I knew it was time to turn my imaginings into books—and finally make the story come out the way I wanted it to.
What differences did you find in writing your prehistoric series and your fantasy novel, The Seal Queen?Well, for one thing, the research was different. Writing prehistory meant getting some of my favorite books off my bookshelf and fitting my ideas into what was already known (although often debated) by experts in the fields of archeology, anthropology and history. Writing The Seal Queen meant going to the library and reading mythology and folklore until I found the right magical creatures, and one really amazing Irish folktale. I had known there would be seals in the story, and I had assumed they would be selkies (those being the only shapeshifting seals I knew of). But the more I learned about selkies, the less they seemed to fit in with my story. When I discovered the roane, I knew they were exactly what I had been looking for. The other big difference between the two was that Kalie’s Journey grew and evolved over many years, and was influenced by many other authors, while The Seal Queen came to me almost fully formed while I sat on a beach in Capitola for about two hours, just staring at the waves. So: reading what I love to read, sitting on a beautiful beach, staring and waves and daydreaming = research. You can’t beat that!
How did you learn your craft?
I took Creative Writing classes in high school and college, and I’ve been fortunate to be part of some really great writers groups and workshops, but I think I’ve learned the most about writing from reading. It was always my favorite pastime. Now I get to count it as work, too. Other than Jean Auel, most of my favorite authors write science fiction and fantasy: Spider Robinson, Orson Scott Card, Zena Henderson and Marion Zimmer Bradley to name a few.
What advice would you give beginning writers?
Write what you love to read. And if no one is writing what you want to read, then you really need to get busy writing that. Because if you want it and it’s not out there, it’s likely other people interested in the subject are out there, waiting for someone to write it. Join a writers group to get advice (and learn how to give it) but don’t listen to anyone who says “there’s no market for that” or “oh, that’s already been done to death, so don’t bother.”
What author would you most like to have dinner with?
If eating snacks in the green room of a science fiction convention counts, then I’ve already done so with three of the authors I’ve listed above! J Of the remaining two, it’s a hard choice. I’ll always regret never having met Zena Henderson when she was alive, but for this scenario, I think I’ll have to go with Jean Auel. There are so many things I love about her books, I could probably discuss them with her all night. Or just listen to whatever she wanted to share about the process of creating them.
What are you working on next?
My next novel will be quite a departure from the other books. I’ll be delving into alternate history with From the Ashes, a novel set in a late twentieth century where Germany won WWII. This novel was inspired by two ideas: first, the very real plan by Heinrich Himmler to create a series of museums of dead races, filled with “artifacts” taken from those killed in the death camps—in the case of Jews, many of those artifacts were books. The second was my own musings about what life would be like for the privileged children of the new world order. Repression breeds rebellion, even among the elite. I asked myself what would happen if some disaffected, angst-ridden college students wandered into one of those museums—and started reading. Without giving away too much, I’ll just mention that young Adolf Goebbels (grandson of Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda) becomes a rabbi. I guess I just can’t get away from history, even when it crosses genre lines.
Thanks for being with us today, Sandy!