Monday, February 27, 2012

Sadie S. Forsythe - The Weeping Empress

We are very pleased to have Sadie S. Forsythe with us today. She is promoting her book The Weeping Empress.

Where do you currently live?
Manchester, England, though I grew up in and out of the South-Eastern United States.

Tell us a little bit about your life.
By my life I assume you mean my upbringing and such. I had a somewhat unconventional childhood. We moved around a lot, so I was lucky enough to see a lot of American culture. There is a surprising amount of regional variation. I have often drawn on this wealth of experience in my writing. It also means that I am quite used to being the outsider of a group. As a result I tend to think little of the cultural distance between others and myself. This has come in useful as an adult. After university I spent seven years working in child abuse investigations. This is a job that would have been extremely difficult if I wasn’t able to clearly distinguish between practices that are simply foreign to myself and those that are patently abusive. The years I spent working with the families involved with the welfare system definitely affects my writing. It provides a well of hopeless, despair I would never have been able to reproduce without it. Though this is not to suggest that I saw no successes or heart-warming moments too.

When did you first start writing?
This is actually hard for me to answer. I’ve always been a reader, and I tell myself stories almost constantly. But it wasn’t until relatively recently that I started consistently writing them down. The problem is that I’ve felt like a writer for a lot longer than I have actually been writing.

What was your very first story about?
The first story I actually wrote down was when I was in my early teens. It was during one of the family’s frequent moves. I was stuck in the back seat for days as we drove from Tennessee to Washington State, and I hand wrote about 90 pages. I vaguely remember it to have been about a concubine who became a warrior. I guess I had already developed my penchant for strong female leads.

Have you written anything that you were too afraid to let anyone read?
I’m afraid to let people read everything I write. I am chronically insecure about it, but I just force myself to take a deep breath and move forward.

Did you experience anything you’ve written yourself?
Since I write fantasy that would be a little difficult. However, I think some of my personal worldviews slip into my stories from time to time.

Who are several of your greatest literary inspirations?
There are far too many to list, but I’ll try. I have to start with Anne McCaffrey simply because she was the first author to really grab me by the lapel and refuse to let go. It has probably been twenty years since I read my first Pern book, and I can still recite The Watchwher song. I admire Isaac Asimov for the way he could write stories almost fifty years apart with the same narrative voice. Frank Herbert’s ability to create an atmosphere that just absorbs the reader is definitely inspiration worthy. Lastly, all of the Bronte sisters deserve an honorable mention simply for being who and what they were, when they were.

What education have you received, and how has that affected your writing?
A fair amount is the short answer to this. I started college at seventeen, got a Bsc in Anthropology with minors in Comparative Religion and Archaeology. I wanted to be Indiana Jones, though any Archaeologist worth his salt will tell you Jones is a tomb raider, not an Archaeologist. I then moved across the pond to the UK and completed an MA in International Criminology. After a number of years as a professional I returned to university for an Msc in Social Change. I’m not done yet. One day I will be Dr. Forsythe. I may be 90 by then, but I am nothing if not persistent. My education absolutely comes through in my writing. It affects my choice of language, the way I, and by extension my characters, approach a problem, and complexity of issues I address.

How much research time customarily goes into your projects?
I don’t do a lot of up front research for a story, or at least not for the stories I have written so far. However, I tend to do a lot of spot research to verify things as I go.

Who is your favorite literary character?
I don’t know that I have a favorite literary character, but I have a favorite character type. It’s the extremely strong male who hides his strength behind the fa├žade of a bumbling idiot. Though not one of my favorites, Clark Kent/Superman would be an example everyone could recognize.

Who is your favorite character of your own creation?
This is hard to answer. It’s kind of like being asked to choose between your best friends. It is probably Senka from The Weeping Empress, but it’s hard to consider Senka on his own because he and Muhjah are so intertwined. I love the way he is so comfortable in his own skin. He’s damaged and he knows it, but it doesn’t hold him back. He depends of Muhjah to provide him with what he lacks and that is enough.

If you were ever to write an autobiography, what would its title be?
Barefoot in the City - I generally consider myself an earthy, natural kind of gal, but reality seems to be determined keeps me among the metros. I sneak out to slip my naked toes in the grass, have been known to dance in the rain and under the full moon.

Tell us about your featured book.
The Weeping Empress is my first novel. I’m really excited about it. It’s an epic fantasy about a modern woman who becomes the subject of scrutiny when she is named fulfiller of an arcane prophecy in a previously unknown land. Scared and uncertain of her immediate future she joins forces with two local troublemakers. Together they try to change their fates.

While it should appeal to adult lovers of fantasy and fiction, it will be especially appealing to those who appreciate Japanese manga or anime. Such readers will feel right at home in the atmosphere of Dashkalil.

Why did you write that?
The initial seed came from an off-hand comment about the often encountered plotline in which some pure, good-hearted young girl is magically whisked to a far away land to save the world (usually with her untainted love). I commented that these girls never seem to mind. They leave home, family, and friends behind without a second thought, adjusting easily to their new surroundings. I wondered aloud how a real woman, one with something to loose, would deal with the situation. “I might just go mad.” I said. And so a story was born. I had to walk a delicate line to avoid creating just one more of the very plotlines I was wishing to parody, but I think I accomplished it.

Is there anything special you would like your potential readers to know?
In my spare time I study Japanese, and the Japanese have a charming habit of asking, “Please take care of me” when they meet new people. I am humbled by the reception The Weeping Empress has thus far received, and would ask that the readers continue to treat it (and me) with such kindness.

What’s a negative trait about other people that you most notice, or that bothers you the most?
I dislike it when people feel the need to one-up all the time. If you won $10, he won $12. If you ran 5 miles, she ran 6 – that kind of thing.

Do you ever notice it in yourself?
I don’t think I do this. I am conscious that sometimes in an attempt to relate to people I try to share similar stories to theirs, and if I do this too much it could come across as one-upmanship. But as I am aware of it, I generally manage to keep myself within acceptable limits.

Do you own any kind of art collection?
I don’t, thought I do own a number of signed Audrey Kawasaki prints. I would happily collect her art if only I could afford it.

What is the hardest thing about growing up?
Loosing the excuse to do ridiculous things. The young can dress up in costume, or stay up all night, or sing at the top of their voice at the bus stop without being thought loony. Such behavior is overlooked with an amused, though admittedly condescending “oh, they’re just young.”

Was it worth it?
Absolutely, I don’t know about others, but when I was young I didn’t have the confidence to do such things. I was shy and awkward. As an adult I may have to moderate my behavior, but I am much more comfortable with who and what I am.

What is something you absolutely must have in your kitchen?
Good coffee. I don’t care if I have to make it in a pan and drink it out of a bowl as long as it is good, smooth coffee.

What is pain to you?
A sign that something in wrong – I don’t like pain or anything, but I also don’t consider it a wholly bad thing.

What is your dream house?
My father was a builder, who spent most of his free time remodeling whatever house we lived in. I was extremely lucky to live in some practical pieces of art. He had a very Frank Lloyd Wright like style. My dream home would be one built by him, on a couple of acres, near running water and a small forest…with fast internet.

Where would you want this house located in our wide world?
Middle Tennessee - I want to travel and see the world, but when it is time to settle down I want to be close to family.

You’ve been forced under various circumstances to choose a personal motto. What is it?
There is pleasure sure in being mad which none but madmen know. John Dryden said it first, but I think it is fabulous.

Have you ever received a present you really hated? If so, what was it?
Years ago there was a large teddy-bear shaped candle that was being passed around the family as a Christmas present. Whoever got it the first time, and I don’t even know who it was, hated it and so did everyone else. It became a joke, so getting the bear for the year became a laugh.

What’s the first thing you would do if you could become invisible?
Freak out, I rather like my corporeal form.

Do you ever have recurring dreams? What is your most common one about?
I used to. They were really frightening, often about questions of what constitutes true evil. I was too young to be facing such questions though, so they just scared me.

What is the kindest thing that anyone has ever done for you?
I don’t know what the kindest thing might have been, but the most recent thing to give my heart a little flutter was an airmailed box of pastry. I wasn’t able to make it home for the holidays this year. Every Christmas my Aunty makes fabulous Viennese Almond Pinks. They are one of my all time favorite things. She wrapped, boxed and paid the exorbitant price to express a small box of pinks to me as a surprise. I wanted to cry I was so happy.

Our special thanks to Sadie for taking the time to answer our questions. Her book can be found in eBook and paperback format. Start with the link below.

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