An Interview with Author Sara F. Hathaway
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I’m not your typical woman. I grew up with a passion for the outdoors. I fished a lot with my family on the Great Lakes of Michigan and learned to bow hunt when I was twelve. Stomping the woodlands on my horse, Kit, was another one of my favorite activities.
Now-a-days I love to learn about wilderness survival and train in self-defense. Teaching others how to prepare for natural disasters, and defend themselves, if needs be, gives my life an irreplaceable sense of fulfillment. I teach taekwondo and participate in jujitsu and sport jujitsu.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
Something really interesting happened to me after I published my first book, Day After Disaster. When I started to introduce it to people, they didn’t just want to know about the book, they wanted to know about the survival techniques that I packed into the book. They pictured themselves as one of the characters from the story and wondered how they would survive if rapid climate change did happen and they were forced to deal with some of the situations that the story presents. It made me understand that not only was I a fiction author, I had an important role to play in educating individuals on the importance of maintaining a relationship with the planet and learning to adapt and survive in a rapidly changing world.
What are some of your pet peeves?
On a superficial level some of my pet peeves include potato chip bag noises and loud chewers. On a deeper level my pet peeves include women that tell me, “no woman could be as strong as the lead character in my books.” These woman insist that following a collapse women would just be weak things that men use for their needs. It breaks my heart to hear because women are so powerful. We have a sense of empathy and can use it to deftly organize people into a fine working machine that supports a whole community. Women are also physically strong. Maybe not as strong as most men but with the right training, women are capable of defending themselves quite easily.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit in Michigan. I loved playing outdoors, but after a move to a more rural area of Michigan my passion exploded. I learned about gardening and canning, hunting and fishing, and moving quietly through the woodlands so that I could experience the activities of nature. I went to Catholic school for the first six years of my school life, that was an interesting experience and then was shuttled to a public school after that. I participated in many sports and enjoyed it, but I really wanted to train in martial arts. I was the type of girl who played ice hockey before girls were really allowed to do so and I spent most of the time in the penalty box. My mother thought I was already too rough and martial arts would only encourage that behavior. It wasn’t until I was twenty-two that I decided for myself to make my dream a reality.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
If I knew I was going to die tomorrow, I would spend my last day in the arms of my husband and my sons. It wouldn’t really matter where we were. I couldn’t imagine life without them, nor would I want to live it. They have been my constant passion for everything I do. My writing is inspired by them. My passion for natural disaster preparedness is fueled by them. I teach them so that they can survive without me. My drive to continue self-defense training is for them. I could never look them in the eyes if I knew I allowed myself to become a victim. There is no place else I would rather spend my last day on earth than cozied up next to a fire enjoying their company.
Who is your hero and why?
I actually have two heroes in my life: Chief Master Dan Lovas and his wife Master Debbie Lovas. As an athletic individual, I am eager to find mentors that can help me along my journey. Dan and Debbie have not only taken me under their wing but they have opened their hearts to my entire family. Each day I am honored to train under their tutelage and each day they expect me to be a better version of myself than I was the day before. Not only have I learned valuable martial arts lessons on how to be an upstanding individual in my community, I have also been trained to teach others to achieve the same goals.
Dan and Debbie changed my body, helping me to become stronger, healthier and self-defense ready but, more importantly, they have also changed my mind. They have taught me to love unselfishly. Their open arms have also taught my children and my husband to achieve more in life, accept their defeats and strive harder for successes.
My eldest son struggled a lot with bullying in his childhood and was at a major crossroads in his life when he started training with me. Their attention to detail saved his life. He is now a confident young man with the abilities to defend himself, the knowledge to know when it is appropriate and the spirit to take on any challenge with optimism.
I truly believe that Dan and Debbie Lovas were sent to this world from God to change lives. They don’t have to try to make it happen, it is just something they do every day.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
If I was in a position where I had to rule over people, I would be a humbled individual. Ruling over people is a responsibility that must be treated with the utmost respect. As a leader I would employ the principles in the Constitution of the United States of America and try to ensure that all people truly are created and treated equally under the law of God and Nature’s God, regardless of personal financial position. I would try to ensure that the power of the local governments was increased over that of the State Government or the Federal Government, making the voice of each community heard so that each individual knows they really could make a difference. I would try to remind the people about civic virtues and respect for one another.
What are you passionate about these days?
My writing is my absolute, number one passion. Crafting stories and experiencing the feelings of others as they go on the journey with my characters is the most rewarding feeling I can imagine. The second passion that I have is for fighting and training self-defense. The idea that I could become a victim is absolutely unacceptable to me. For the last seventeen years I have been training in various disciplines of martial arts. Currently I am a second-degree black belt in taekwondo and an instructor as well. I also train jujitsu as well as participate in sports jujitsu. When I am not writing and training, I am studying and teaching natural disaster preparedness. Living in the rural foothills of Northern California I get lots of practice on the forty acres we live on. Whether it’s taking care of chickens or hiking through the woods, the property always keeps us busy.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I don’t really know that I ever do unwind and relax. My inner drive is very strong and I am usually pushing myself to accomplish more. On a rainy day, if I am completely drained, I may bust out the Lord of the Rings or the Avatar the Last Air Bender series and watch them with my boys. There are often times in the evening that I put my writing aside to play some video games or a board game with my husband and sons. Honestly though, writing my stories is how I unwind. It is my favorite thing to do and it is a sedentary task so my body gets a chance to chill.
How to find time to write as a parent?
The main bulk of my writing is done at night when everyone else has fallen asleep. Mornings are oftentimes not my best time of day but at night I can write until the sun comes up. Producing my podcast and marketing for clients along with my novels keeps most of my days filled. I relish the precious hours when I have all of my other tasks complete and I can devote some actual time to writing. Another place that I get a lot of writing done is when I have an appointment where I will be waiting a while. I just take my computer and pass the time easily.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Tenacious, strong, organized, protective, loyal
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Even though I have been writing poetry since I was young, I never really considered myself a writer. My first book was a hobby project that I dabbled with on and off over a period of about eight years. When I was pregnant with my second son, I had to go on bed rest and I finished the book. My mom was so impressed that I wrote an entire novel, she encouraged me to find a way to publish it. I did and then I decided to write another book to continue the story. Honestly, I don’t think it was until I wrote my third book and designed the cover for it, that I really decided, I’m an author and I want to do this for the rest of my life.
Do you have a favorite movie?
My favorite movie is a martials-superhero movie called Silverhawk. Staring Michelle Yeoh, the movie presents a strong female heroine. She is an extremely good martial artist that learns that she cannot take on every challenge alone. She must give up her rigidity and use fluidity to ensure both her survival and that of the world.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
In my mind I can see the entire Changing Earth series as a television series. The story would start out with Erika in Day After Disaster and each book would represent a season with a riveting resolution that is carried out in the next season. In a best-case scenario, there would also be a non-fictional piece that accompanies the television show to showcase the survival lessons taught in the chapter and the realities of how they work so that viewers can learn the facts behind the fiction.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Often my family and I rent a RV to drive to Texas and visit with my husband’s family. Driving across the country gives you a unique perspective of the landscape, the people and the plants in an area. During one of these trips we drove the northern route to Colorado and down through Oklahoma to expand the geographic research. Since then my husband and I have also done the central route to Colorado so I could see what the Rockies and central Utah were like.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
The red-tailed hawk would be my spirit animal. It is so majestic and free, yet it mates for life. It is an adept hunter yet takes time to dutifully raise its chicks. They have patience when stalking prey yet move with an extreme agility.
Stuff about the Book:
What inspired you to write this book?
As a young lady who grew up country, I developed an understanding for the natural world. However, I was watching society become more and more dependent upon technology for day to day survival. As a person with a deep respect for the planet, I came to the realization that the planet is an ever-changing place. Human beings are so fortunate that the climate has remained unchanged for as long as it has. We can study the earth’s history and know that it has had many different climates even since humans have been in existence. However, the relationship that humans had with the planet allowed them to adapt and survive. If we become so dependent upon technology that our bond with the planet is lost, then we may be sealing our own fate.
While driving myself to The California State University of Sacramento from the foothills, I kept thinking what would happen if something happened while I was down in the city. Without my phone I wouldn’t be able to call and find out if my family was okay. Without my car it wouldn’t be such a short trip home. I was also reading The Children of the Earth Series by Jean M. Auel. I was so impressed by her ability to blend a fictional story with real archeological and herbal healing information. I decided to make sure that my books not only told the story of the character but taught hands on skills that the reader could utilize. That way, not only was my story opening their eyes to the possible future that we might be facing, they were also learning to survive it at the same time.
What can we expect from you in the future?
In the future you can expect more novels in The Changing Earth Series. Book 6, The Endless Night, will be released in June and book seven is already in the works. I also have another series that I am working on creating. I love to write and will be creating stories until I die.
My end goal is to have my novel series turned into a TV series. Every time I read my stories, I can picture them on the TV screen playing out in my mind. Through maximum effort, I hope to make this dream a reality.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
All of the characters that I create have deep backstories and character outlines. That way I can keep them all straight. Here are a couple of character backstories that readers may not know about.
Pastor Byron Scott makes an appearance in Without Land (Book 2). He lived in Texas when the Great Quake hit. He was a landowner with a large spread. After seeing the devastation taking place in throughout the country, he donated his land so they could build a youth orphanage there. He went to minister at the Las Vegas Refugee Camp in an effort to assist people who had lost everything.
Vlad Volchenchi is a merchant that makes an appearance in The Walls of Freedom (Book 3). He may pop back up but you’ll need to read and find out. He comes from a long line of fishermen but he enjoyed studying architecture. His family urged him to marry a Russian lady because she was from another prominent fishing family. However, Vlad had the hots for a Chinese woman that had moved to their town with her family. Vlad ended up marrying the Russian woman but she died of sickness in the chaos after the Great Quake. That is when he found his current wife Toni floating in the sea.
The leader of the militia forces in Texas, Jason Dixon, appears in Battle for the South and has a bigger role to play in future novels. Jason had just retired from the Marines as a Master Gunnery Sergeant before the Great Quake. His wife, Stephanie ran a bakery and their son Zakaria, was three. After the quake their town was leveled to create more farm land and they were put into the refugee system because he refused to reenlist. At the camp his wife and son died of influenza. He vowed to change what was going on and became the leader of the Texas militia.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in (Name of book)?
The lead character in The Changing Earth Series is Erika Moore. She is a wife and mother who started training in martial arts and natural disaster preparedness before the Great Quake happened. Her tenacious spirit and commitment to the principals of the United States of America turn her into a leader. Her resolve is tested many times by the powers in charge, but her loyalty to her family and virtuous personality give her an advantage over those that would plot against her.
Erika is married to Vince Moore. In the first book, Day After Disaster, Erika is unsure whether Vince and her son, Dexter survived or not. Vince is Erika’s center. He is an unsung hero that ensures she comes home safely to him time and time again. He has a love for gardening and can usually be found making sure that people will be fed long into the future.
Star is another powerful female character in the books. She makes her first appearance in book one, Day After Disaster, as an eight-year-old girl. After her father was killed in the Great Quake, she survived with her mother. Erika rescues Star’s mother from an assault but she ends up dying from the injuries she sustained. Star is adopted by Erika and becomes her daughter. Through the necessities of survival, Star becomes a beautiful woman who can kick some butt.
Dexter and Daniel are Vince and Erika’s sons. In Day After Disaster, Dexter starts out as a five-year-old boy. The readers watch him grow into a man during the series. He experiences love, loss and deals with the effects of having the Moore’s as his parents. Daniel does not appear until the second book, Without Land. He is the product of the loss of birth control methods that occurred after the Great Quake. Daniels’s character is an artist who learns to connect his artistic capabilities with his fighting style. Still a preteen, his heart is big but he still has a lot of growing to do.
The final character that play a major role throughout the season is Patrick Bennet. Bennet makes his first appearance in Without Land as a trainer for the Rescue Team that Erika and her family become part of. Bennet is a strong mentor to Erika but he also has a deep loyalty to the Federal Forces of America (all of the military branches are merged). His role is ever evolving throughout the series as he struggles between his obligations to the Moore’s and the governing powers.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
The concept for Day After Disaster came to me one day while I was sitting by the river with some of my girlfriends. I asked them, “what if we lost power?” They responded, “We wouldn’t have blow dryers and our curling irons.” I was shocked at their response, as my mind thought of the lack of communications and refrigeration. I realized that our society is so dependent upon electricity and the conveniences of technology that we don’t even realize how much it supports our life styles. I was attending college in the city of Sacramento. Each day that I had to leave my family, in the foothills, and drive down the highway to school, I thought, what if disaster strikes while I’m down here and they are up there? I started writing the story of what could happen and Day After Disaster was born.
Some of the characters in my books are completely fiction and some are fictional representations of people that are a part of my life. When I create a character, I try to develop that character’s quarks and back story to make them more believable. I find an image on the internet that I believe fits that character and put them all in a book. That way, every time I think of that character I can go back to their image and story and do a good job of representing them.
There are also characters in my book that have been created or suggested by people I have met along my author journey. I do offer a subscription program to support my work on my website and on one level, creating a character is an option. I like creating these characters because I can’t think exactly like someone else. I will think about someone differently than someone else so to have them suggest a character is like being able to think exactly like that individual for a moment. Then, I take the character and set them off on their journey. I can’t always guarantee they will be nice people or live very long, though.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
Names are actually one of the most challenging thing for me to write in a story. For some reason my mind likes to fall back on a handful of names and I have to force myself to make sure that they are different and not to similar to characters that already exist. Mostly I just cruise through life using the names of people around me with a spin on them. I have also used forum meet and greet pages to find out new names, as well as, research back stories for characters. There are name generation sites that are available for free and I use those sometimes as well.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
The thing that I enjoy most about writing my books is hearing the feedback from people who read them. A lot of my readers have an awaking. They begin to realize how fragile our world is and put themselves in the characters’ shoes, wondering what they would do if disaster struck. As they go on the incredible journey with the characters, they begin to learn strategies that would keep them alive if they were in a survival situation. The readers face moral questions that would be serious issues in a long-term survival situation. Sometimes they agree with the actions my characters take. Sometimes they say that I should have eliminated certain characters or maybe not have been as hard on others.
Writing my series has also given me an incredible opportunity to teach people about disaster preparedness. I crafted the idea for a podcast where I present a chapter from my book and then take one of the survival topics and expound upon it with a guest on the podcast. Developing this format for my podcast has introduced me to so many incredible people, and given me the opportunity to add exponentially to my preparedness knowledge.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
In book one, Day After Disaster, the main driving force for all of the main characters, Erika, Vince, Dexter, and Star, is surviving the Great Quake. The story follows Erika on her journey home to find out if her family survived or not. There is so much chaos happening across the planet, that they have little time for anything else besides surviving. Individuals react differently to the extreme stress creating situations that require action.
Nine years later, the story continues in the book Without Land. Erika is deeply disturbed by the actions the federal government is taking to restore order to the nation. Vince, her husband, is concerned with growing food to make sure they can feed the refugees housed at the Las Vegas FEMA camp. Their daughter Star is growing into a beautiful woman. Erika worries about male advances on her, refugees are not treated with very much respect, and begins training her in self-defense. Her son, Dexter, is also growing into a young man with an authority problem. He has watched how the refugees have been treated over the many years in the camp and follows his mother’s lead. Their youngest son, Daniel, is growing up in the refugee system and tries to find a peaceful existence with his painting. During this story, Erika is introduced to Sergeant Patrick Bennet. The man is a passionate trainer and loyal to the federal forces. As he trains Erika, he pushes her to new limits and as Erika pushes back Bennet realizes, maybe things are not as black and white as he would like them to be.
The story continues in The Walls of Freedom and Battle for the South as the family struggles to find their place in the new system. Bonds of loyalty are tested and Vince and Erika learn they are still just pawns being moved about the gameboard. Taking the fight to the federal government, they attempt to help free the west but Mother Nature has not finished her wrath upon the planet. After the quakes begin again and the ocean level pushes further and further inland. Erika finds herself being hidden in Colorado so the feds can’t find her.
The new Supreme General of the Federal Republic of America sends out his finest bounty hunter TJ Swenson and the Commander of his secret police, Commander Grey, to bring Erika back to the central region. TJ Swenson is one of the evilest villains to enter The Changing Earth Series. A highly trained fighter, his weapon of choice is a whip and he uses it to carve his initials into his refugee “stock.” Taking pleasure in the agony of others, TJ is one of the most unyielding forces Erika has ever come up against. Entering the story at the end of book five, Dark Days in Denver, his role in the story is just beginning.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
The original name for Day After Disaster was going to be The Beginning of the End. However, there were already lots of books with that title so we changed it to Day After Disaster. I thought it was appropriate because I wanted to tell the story from the moment of the disaster forward. Lots of Hollywood films show up to the disaster and then it is averted or sometime after the disaster but rarely do they show the chaos that immediately follows.
The title for Without Land came to light during editing. Without Land tells the story of what happened to the people who lost their land or were not landowners at the time of the disaster. The government couldn’t allow them to run amuck all over the place. Skirmishes and lawlessness was gripping the country. All of the refugees and non-landowners were rounded up and put into FEMA camps. With the lack of oil, the landowners needed labor to farm and feed the people. A system was developed to adopt out refugee families to landowners to fill this gap. Thus, the title Without Land seemed very fitting.
The title for The Wall of Freedom seemed appropriate because as the Moore family is re-integrated into the new societal structure, they learn that all of the regions are separated by walls. The landowners call them “the walls of freedom” because they keep everyone on the inside safe from the chaos going on outside of them.
Battle for the South was an easy title to pick for obvious reasons. Vince and Erika head south to help save loved ones from a new ocean surge. The government is not going to try to evacuate anyone. Instead, they plan on dealing with the aftermath and taking back the south. On a mission to stop this from happening, Vince and Erika help the battle for the south to begin.
The title Dark Days in Denver seemed appropriate because this novel takes place in Colorado. Even though the beginning is a peaceful time of character development, the end is all about the battle for Denver. Mother Nature rears her ugly head again, causing further chaos and Erika’s life is forever altered.
My new book coming out in June of 2019 is titled The Endless Night. It is a dark time for the planet as well as Erika. She enters the Central Region as a hostage of TJ Swenson’s, believing her family has been murdered. Hopelessness and misery overwhelm her as the sun is hidden from the sky.
Who designed your book covers?
I design all of my own book covers. Originally, Day After Disaster, the original was designed by a self-publishing company that I used. I was unhappy with their work, so I educated myself on how to publish the book and design my covers myself. Originally the cover showed Erika paddling towards buildings. I wasn’t crazy about the idea and always wanted her paddling towards the mountains so I reworked the cover and now I am very happy with it.
The two covers that I am most proud of are the covers for book three, The Walls of Freedom, and The Endless Night which will be coming out in June. It was tricky to make the word “Freedom” for The Walls of Freedom cover look like graffiti on the wall with the handprint underneath but I think it paints a powerful message. The cover for The Endless Night is spooky. During this story the villain, TJ Swenson, watches Erika constantly and the sky is always gloomy without sun. The cover is a black clouded sky with a tiny bit of orange glow at the bottom. Then, I blended TJ’s eyes into the clouds to make them appear like they are staring at the reader.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
If I had it to do all over again, I may have put more military technical information (like gear, equipment, etc.) into the Denver battle. However, I like to tell the story from an individual character point of view so the reader can feel like they are there rather than doing an overview. Also when you delve into to technical information like that it is lost on some readers and over scrutinized by others.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned that Arizona is a good deal higher than sea level. This is important to know where the water would go as it floods the land.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I have no idea but she would need to be one kick butt fighter. I am really bad with names and pay very little attention to the activities of Hollywood. I would like to see my series become a TV series and usually more obscure actors and actresses are chosen for these roles.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Hold on tight it’s a wild ride. Along the way you are going to learn a lot. You will face a plethora of ethical decisions. Characters you love will triumph and others will not make it. In the end, you will have a solid understanding of why our relationship with the planet is essential and why individual freedoms are worth fighting for.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
I have many favorites parts of all of my books but the thing that sticks out in my mind the most is Erika’s relationship with Bennet. Bennet is always pushing Erika to do more, be a better person and continue the fight despite the pain. They have a love/hate relationship that changes multiple times throughout the story. Their interplay is funny when Erika is playing a punk with him and heart wrenching when they must step up and look out for one another.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
If I could spend time with one character from my book, I would pick Vince’s dad, Earl. This character was created to be a fictional representation of my father-in-law. My real father-in-law passed away on Mother’s Day of 2018. After he passed, I realized how much he helped us every day without ever saying a word. The man loved his family so deeply that he sheltered us from a lot of painful realities that were suddenly made crystal clear when he passed. I wouldn’t do much during the day, maybe go horseback riding because that was his favorite thing to do. I would say thank-you. Thank-you for raising such a strong man. Thank-you for accepting me as one of your own family members and thank-you for everything you did.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
My characters are a mix of fictional based real people, fiction people, and reader designed characters.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
My characters hijack the story all the time! I sit down with a general direction of where I want the story to go but often times, I find that it has gone somewhere else entirely. I don’t mind. I adjust my timelines and keep going. I tease about having a “writing demon.” This is the real entity in charge. There at times when I read the stories I have written in disbelief that I crafted such a thing.
Convince us why you feel your series is a must read.
My books are an absolute must read because there is something for everyone. Action lovers with be delighted how the story rapidly moves from sequence to sequence. Intellectuals will become consumed with the information on societal rebounding, climate change and survival techniques packed into the pages. Family and romance lovers will become enthralled with the love story that plays out between Vince and Erika. The Changing Earth Series with make your heart pound, your brain think and keep you rapidly flipping the pages the whole way through.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Yes, currently I have book six, The Endless Night, finished. I am not releasing it yet because it is a serious cliff hanger. I am going to finish book seven and release them a couple months from each other as a respectful gesture to my readers. They seem to be very finicky when the story goes untold and this is a worst-case scenario of that situation and I don’t want angry readers knocking at my door, lol.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Pine, Erika loves the forest.
What did you edit out of this book?
This is a funny question. My husband always helps me to content edit my books. I tend to be a very nitty gritty writer even when it comes to sexual activity. There are often times, especially during my first books that my husband would make me soften these scenes so they were not so pornographic. I ensured that the sex scenes were typically between a married couple but they were a little graphic when I first started writing. I figured, it’s the end of the world why not?
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?'-type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book.
The biggest “Did you know” about my books is the story of Sergeant Patrick Bennet. He makes his first appearance during the story Without Land. However, when I originally wrote the story, he was not a character in it. Book 2 and 3 were supposed to be one story but as I was writing it became apparent that the story of the FEMA camp needed to be its own book. The story did not have a climax at that point so I went back in and created Sergeant Bennet as the character that would bring about the climax of the story. My audience loved him and he became a pivotal part of the series.
Stuff about Writing/ Reading:
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
1. Jean M. Auel – Author of the Children of the Earth Series
2. C.S. Lewis – All of the Narnia Books
3. Mary Stewart – She wrote a series about Merlin and King Arthur that I love.
4. Louis Lamour – My favorite books of his are The Walking Drum and The Last of the Breed
5. Raymond Dean White – The Dying Time Series
1. Good Housekeeping’s book Back to Basics – an awesome reference for any homesteading skill.
2. Johnny Jacks – Absolute Anarchy, Johnny talks about what the collapse will look like and how you can prepare to survive ethically through community building.
3. Rebecca D. Costa – The Watchman’s Rattle, Rebecca talks about evolution of the brain and moments where humans have reached new evolutionary plateaus and other times when societies have shattered.
4. James Hart - Urban & Wilderness Emergency Preparedness, James has compiled a shocking amount of information on every facet of survival that you could need.
5. Penelope Ody – The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope has a very well-illustrated and easy to understand manual of commonly available herbal remedies that can help your body heal.
What book do you think everyone should read?
I think that everyone should read the bible, even if you do not believe in God. There are many things in the bible that today’s society won’t agree with. However, there are also many powerful messages on the history of humans. Patterns that have taken place throughout our past and the consequences of those actions. There are also many virtuous lessons to be learned throughout the book. It is my personal belief that society is slipping because of a lack of moral values. Common decency for your fellow human should be something that is on display constantly as we are all children of God. Many people will falter along the way and this is understood as a shortcoming of the human being. It does not mean they are forever lost. They are just in need of a guiding light to lead them back home.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since I was a child. I used to write poems to express my feelings about things in life that were out of my control. I started writing my first novel in college. Attending business school, my teacher told me my writing was to “flowery” and I only needed to include the “meat and potatoes.” In an effort to release my urge to write creatively, I started crafting Day After Disaster.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
The characters in my stories mostly appear as I need them. There are some exceptions with characters provided to me by reader suggestions. However, most of the time I craft them as they are required within the story. Then I develop who they are and go from there.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Before I begin writing a book, my research is minimal. Once the story is created, a lot of research happens during editing. I want to ensure that some things are exactly correct, like herbal remedies, weather forecasting, fighting techniques, and escape strategies. Some areas I want to ensure have a fictional representation that is very close to reality. For example the planetary changes that are taking place within the book are possible. However, they are rapidly occurring things that may take hundreds of years to play out in reality or maybe not.
Do you see writing as a career?
Writing is 100% my career. Even though I don’t make much money at it, it is my passion. Only time will tell where my books end up going in the future but I strive very hard to achieve my goals that I have in mind for them. Nothing that I do brings me more joy than crafting stories and sharing them with the world so even if I never make decent money at it, I will always be a writer.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
I have very positive feelings about it and very negative ones at the same time. Currently, it is easy to write and publish a book. Never before has it been so accessible for anyone with an idea to publish their book. No longer do authors have to order thousands of copies of their books. Thanks to print on demand, struggling authors can order a few at a time to keep costs reasonable. I also have negative feelings because the market is flooded with new books being published every day. I heard a shocking statistic that 90% of authors don’t sell over fifty copies of their book! It’s eye opening when you think of all of the published authors out there that make this statistic a reality. The flooding of the market makes it very difficult to have your book stand out from the crowd.
Do you read yourself and if so, what is your favorite genre?
I do read myself, although I have been writing my books so quickly that I find it hard to fit reading into my schedule. I also do a lot of preparedness learning and teaching which also limits my time for fictional reading. My favorite genre is anything that has to do with survival, whether that is in prehistoric times or a modern-day thriller.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I prefer to write in silence, where I am alone with my thoughts. I do not have a problem writing in a noisy area or with my boys around but my eyes will glass over as I enter my fictional world. Blocking the noise out, I become consumed with the story and will often ignore those around me, even when they are desperately trying to get my attention.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I write one book at a time. I need to stay in that story and live the lives of the characters. I find it hard to have two going at once.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
I wouldn’t want to have written anyone else’s books except my own. I value other people’s work for the ideas and character representation that they bring to life. I guess if I had to pick one, I would say parts of the bible because then I would know the true stories that made it a reality not translated and recrafted ones that appear in the book today.
Pen or type writer or computer?
I like to write with a pen on paper. My brain works best that way. However, it is a very long process to write by hand and then type it into a computer. I am becoming more and more fluid at taking the story straight to type so I can produce books faster for my readers.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
I love the character Ayla in Jean M. Auel’s The Children of the Earth Series. She is a survivor in the truest sense of the word. She is a strong, powerful hunter but she is also vulnerable to the social nuances of society. She is beautiful yet humble and her heart reaches out to every person within the camp.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
I never wanted to become an author. I wrote. When I wrote a complete book my mom urged me to figure out how to publish it and I did. After that I kept on going and here I am.
I do feel it was the right decision because it happened without me planning it. Writing is just who I am.
A day in the life of the author?
On a typical day, I wake up and make breakfast for my seven-year-old son. After packing his lunch, I take him to school. When I return home, I eat and take care of the chicken flock that we have. After a morning workout, I am either doing interviews for my podcast, putting the podcast together, building websites for clients I work for and then marketing both my books and for clients. By then it is about time to go pick my son up from school. After picking him up, I eat lunch and do household chores until my husband arrives home from work. We usually have an early dinner because in the evenings we go to the martial arts school as a family for a myriad of classes that we participate in. After martial arts, I come home and shower and then go to work on my books until the wee hours of the morning. I finally lay my head down on the pillow, waking up to do it all over again.
Advice they would give new authors?
I would advise new authors to follow their hearts, craft the material they want to and don’t worry about the opinions of others. Art is a unique thing. Some people are going to love it and some people aren’t. I would also advise new authors to watch out for self-publishing companies. They are greedy entities, charging big money for things that you can easily learn to do yourself it you just take the time to do it. There are also many sharks circling in the water, just waiting for new authors to enter. They have high dollar marketing schemes that will guarantee your book will be a best seller. Don’t fall prey to the sharks but look out for the people that are really out there trying to educate. There are some great mentors that can help you along your way and I wouldn’t be where I am now without some of them.
Describe your writing style.
My writing style is action packed. I am a girl who loves to fight and it is reflected in my books. I want my audience turning the pages so rapidly they are frustrated when the story comes to a halt. Whenever one door closes, I want another one opening so they can’t put the book down as they eagerly await the outcome of the next drama in motion.
What makes a good story?
A good story is built through characters. You need to be able to identify with them. They can’t be so unrealistic that the reader can’t imagine themselves there, walking in the characters’ footsteps. The reader needs to feel the emotions of the characters, see what they see, smell what they smell and taste what they taste. This way the events that impact the character will inadvertently impact the reader, causing them to explore their own idea of self.
What are they currently reading?
Currently, I am reading book seven in my series over and over as I craft it and edit it.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I always start with an idea of where I want my story to go but it doesn’t always end up there. As I start writing, my “writing demon” takes over and sometimes the story takes a turn that I never expected. I do outlines when I write non-fiction but never with my stories. They need to develop organically. I write the story chapter by chapter and then develop a title once I am done.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
The self-publishing trap is very common. Often times an individual will believe they don’t have enough money to publish a book when they could do it easily on their own with the right education.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
My writing Kryptonite is my training and my family. I can easily put my work aside to and take time to train my body or play with my family.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I have never thought about what the readers want. I believe that writing should come from the author’s heart. When painters sit down and paint, do they think about what a person wants to look at? Maybe, but I’m willing to be the answer is no. It is the same with a fictional novel. No book is going to please everyone, just like no painting will be beautiful to everyone. As an artist you have to develop some thick skin because you will have negative feedback. However, those that relate to your work will love it and they will carry you through the rough times.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would tell myself, take it easy on the sexual content. Remember that being an author is a marathon not a sprint. Stay your course because great things are coming your way in the future. Be you and train hard.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
When I grew up, I was considered a “Tom Boy.” Most of the times I hung out with the guys and I’m still that way to this day. Given this, I often find it easier to write male characters than I do female characters.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
My first book, Day After Disaster, took me eight years to write. It was just a hobby project that I worked on now and again as I lived my life. Without Land took about a year but since then I have been producing about two books a year.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Personally, I don’t. My imagination just keeps going and going much like my body when training. However, I can understand how individuals may get stuck with their writing. I often find that while driving or working on other chores is when the best ideas for my books come to me. Maybe taking a break is the key to beating writer’s block.