I bring you another Brain to Books Cyber Convention author feature. Remember, this great event for authors and readers alike is coming to Goodreads this April, on the 8th, 9th and 10th.
Be sure to check out all the details and pertinent links for the event here:
Now on with the main event, our Brain to Books author feature.
Today I have a great interview with fantasy author Sarah Kennedy.
Interview with Sarah Kennedy
Oh, I’m just an ordinary person with a big imagination. My name is Sarah Kennedy. I am the fourth of five children. I’ve lived in the same small town almost my entire life. Some may view my life as empty or unimportant. You know, I’ve been tempted to that view as well from time to time, but there is truly not a lot I would change. I gave up a life of almost certain success for one that is way more precarious, yet I cannot imagine my life apart from my pen. That doesn’t mean I don’t have big hopes and dreams. I am the author of the new and emerging fantasy series, Prophecy of Hope Saga. I currently have two books out.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies?
Do you have a favorite author, or writing inspiration?
I am a big reader. It is not easy to name a single favorite author, however, because I read a lot and across genres. It’s mostly about the story for me anyway. Recent favorites have included: James Butcher’s, The Aeronauts Windlass and Andi O’Connor’s, Silevethiel. Old favorites include J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy… to name just a few. My favorite genres are fantasy and mystery but tell me a good story and genre doesn’t matter either. Overall, I would say the greatest inspiration to my writing is not of a literary nature. The greatest inspiration is a personal one and is in fact three-fold. First, I write because doing so is a vital part of who I am. I started writing at the age of four. My first book had a red construction paper cover and yellow yarn binding. It was about a dog and his bone. I both wrote and illustrated thatstory. I have since given up on the illustration part. I still write what comes naturally to me. I don’t write to hit it big, though if it happens it happens and that would be awesome! I’m just saying that is not the focus, or the purpose, or the driving factor behind my work. I write for me first and foremost. I write because I must to be true to myself. That being said, I would love if others loved these stories as much as I do! Second, I was first introduced to the fantastic as a young child when my mom would read to us. She read us all kinds of books even what many would view as above our level of comprehension. She awoke in me a love of story, a love of reading, and a love of writing too. My mother always encouraged my talent and has supported this artist’s life of mine, which is difficult for many parents to do and I thank her for that unwavering support from my very first “book” at the age of four. Thirdly, I would have to name my brother, Isaac, as a vital inspiration. Without him, my character Sgarrwrath would have literally never found his voice and therefore my debut novel, Sgarrwrath, Prequel to the Prophecy of Hope would have never been written and published, nor would it have since received three Honorable Mentions, nor would the Prophecy of Hope Saga be forthcoming.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Quite frankly I didn’t, not for a long time. The thought of being a writer full time never crossed my mind growing up. There have always been stories in me that have wanted to be told for as long as I can remember but writing was a very personal and private thing for me. For a long time it was a means of survival. You will forgive me if I do not give any more details than that. I think needing to survive is something many people can relate to, however. Life is sometimes very hard. Writing has helped me deal, heal, stay sane, yet even so I reached a point where I nearly gave it up for guaranteed success. Fortunately, I was placed in a Creative Writing class in college and the rest, as they say, is history. Today, I know writing is more than a hobby; it is my talent and more than that I believe it is my calling.
Excerpt from Arising:
“Must you go?” Lorshin asked softly.
Cadclucan glanced down at him. “To every season there is an added sorrow. Consider, nephew, the beautiful flowers of spring that wither in the heat of the summer sun; the trees that bring forth buds only to have those garments fall and rot upon the ground; the ground that freezes in winter locking up its bounty, but to every sorrow there is a purpose. There is always the promise. There is always Hope,” he answered cryptically.
Lorshin shook his head. “I don’t… I don’t understand this. How can you think of leaving? We need you here to lead us!”
“This world has had us to lead them from the beginning,” Cadclucan answered quietly. “Look around you, Lorshin, Darkness is everywhere and yet can anyone see it? They fight, but the One Whose Name is Not Spoken comes in many forms and they resist only in the ways that please them.” He shook his head. “No, this world has blinded itself, and now they must face their choice.”
“Not all have forgotten!” Lorshin cried.
Cadclucan sighed and the other Guardians with him. “I know.”
“Will you leave those who still desire only Light?”
Cadclucan held out his hand to Lorshin. “Will you come out of the Darkness?”
Lorshin hesitated. He glanced toward his sister.
“In good times, the world grows and prospers, but it is in the darkest of times that all living things find what is really inside themselves,” Cadclucan said.
Lorshin looked up into his uncle’s piercing eyes. “I know what is inside me.”
The Guardian smiled. “Do you, nephew?”
Arising, Prophecy of Hope Book 1 at its very core is a story about the rottenness that can be hidden (or not so hidden, as the case may be) inside a person’s heart and about how choices and actions affect not only that one life but those of everyone around them. However, for me this novel was really just another step in the healing process. Arising, is a very dark story. Some have described it as “apocalyptic” but I have never agreed with that label. Perhaps because I know what is coming. Arising is not an end of the world story rather it is a beginning…a world being broken, yes, but more important are the lives that are being broken. Broken, but only to awaken a need… a hunger… for what is promised. It is a matter of perspective as is explained to my character, Lorshin, in the partial passage above. Each supposed “ending” leads to a “beginning.” You can see that in the character arcs flowing between the prequel and Arising. You can see that in the storylines within Arising itself.
It is true my character, Sgarrwrath, has intentions that are very dark and destructive, but the Prophecy of Hope stands against him. As long as the prophecy stands the end cannot come. The Prophecy of Hope Saga, as a whole, is like a game, or a dance. Darkness moves; Light counters. Arising is a story of darkness, but things grow and change so expect that to be countered by Light, and so on as the series continues. I mean, what would be the point in planning a series if everything was ended in the beginning?
You can read a free chapter from both Sgarrwrath, Prequel to the Prophecy of Hope and Arising, Prophecy of Hope Book 1 at www.sgarrwrath.com
Are you working on another book?
Absolutely! I know it has been a while in coming, but hang on because I think it will be well worth the wait! And let me just stave off the question that quite often follows this one. No, this is not going to be a classic trilogy. There is much more to come. From the very beginning, I knew that the Prophecy of Hope Saga would be told over the course of 7-9 books depending on how it all flows together. I am leaning closer to nine (counting the prequel) these days.
What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?
My work in progress is titled, Mhorag, Prophecy of Hope Book 2. This return to the saga weaves a tantalizing tale of supernatural forces increasingly embroiled in a war older than time. The story picks up where Arising ended. One throne for the world is the price of the ill-fated Empire of Light. Their Mark of the Promised riven, the Royal House of Caladrius is weakening, and the throne stands in Darkness. Sgarrwrath has risen but the deepest foundations of Light remain unscathed. Thus Sgarrwrath’s quest for domination of the world is interrupted by his growing obsession with the object of his eternally forbidden desire. The name of Mhorag is whispered in every land. For some there is no greater dread. For others there is no greater hope. But in this Age of Rage and Wonder, what is hope? Through the annals of time all have felt the godling’s presence. All have desired him, most without realizing what they are truly seeking. His existence alone endlessly pits the forces of Light and Darkness against each other for this thing called hope. Now, Sgarrwrath knows the Source of everything must fall if his Void is to stand.
But soon, one boy, conceived on the night Flame falls from the sky, is caught in the middle of this brooding war. Upon his shoulders rests the fortune of all. His name is Drakon Caladrius, to him both Men and Guardians bow, but will he even survive his mysterious infancy to become the Promised King that is destined to save the world from Sgarrwrath’s evil? Or will the name of Mhorag and all hope die with him?
This book contains some firsts for me as an author. Most notably among them is warfare. Some of my most pivotal characters in this book are royal bodyguards. When I started with them, I wasn’t prepared for the fight that ensued. This proved to be a real problem as I was working on a scene in which the life of my main character was at stake! With some quick research on my part, we survived. Anyway, I went on to sit in on a sword fighting class and took detailed notes on the basics of defense and attack. I have also spent time actually practicing the moves since then. Hopefully it helped. I think it has, but I also hope to improve upon this as the series moves forward. As far as secrets go, well, I will say this. Mhorag, Prophecy of Hope Book 2 is going to reveal secrets and create new ones. This book in conjunction with the next two that are planned to follow it will together form the decisive core of the series. They fuel everything that will follow and everything that came before.
I am very excited about this book. Writing it has been insanely fun! It has also been a journey. For the latest updates on my work please feel free to join me at either my series page or my author’s page.
Why did you decide to write in the fantasy genre?
I’ve always loved fantasy. I was shy as a child—and today I remain a private person—so writing has always been my way of expressing myself while still protecting my essential nature. I write fantasy because that is what comes most natural. My personal history has driven me to build walls, to protect my heart. When I write, those walls come down. I have found there is so much freedom in writing fantasy, yet there is truth too if I am willing to let it out and really that is the most important part. By writing these stories, I learn about myself; I deal with things on the page in fiction so that I can also deal with life. Sometimes when I write, I let it all out on the page and move on. Sometimes it is just another step toward gaining a different perspective.
What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
Honestly, the greatest challenge is me. My figurative walls and my very tangible fears to be exact. My decision to give up guaranteed success, while supported by my immediate family, was one that few others thought was right. This can really wear a person down, and when you work and work and work and see nothing happening, well those doubts can really begin to creep in. I have really struggled with self-doubt and depression and to be blatantly honest I really started to believe I had made a mistake, but instead of giving up I held on, barely, and not by my own strength. The stories just refused to die. I had to write. It wasn’t easy. It still isn’t sometimes. I still struggle; I still have to deal with doubts and fears, but what it boils down to is that even on the lowest day I have this confidence that even though I can't see it now there is a purpose for this handiwork and it helps me hold on...to hope...
I am a writer down to the very core of my being, which for me basically means that every word is a beat of my heart. I love the spilling of ink which connects the two. My favorite part of the process is that sense of euphoria that comes when my characters surprise me. It is then I know the story is truly alive.
I have been writing since the age of four and my passion for the story has largely been fostered by my mother. To hone my craft, I have taken courses with the Institute of Children’s Literature and Long Ridge Writer’s Group but ultimately I write because that is what I was born to do.
You can follow Sarah Kennedy and her writing on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@Sgarrwrath or at her website: http://www.sgarrwrath.com/
I'd like to thank Sarah Kennedy for stopping by today, and be sure to check out her virtual booth at the convention this April.