The spirit of the forest, Elanraigh, speaks to a young girl, whose own spirit rides the wind in the body of a Sea Hawk. Oh, I love the magic in that image. I enjoyed reading this new YA Fantasy, Elanraigh – The Vow and getting to know the author, S. A. Hunter. Please note, Sandy is also presenting to one lucky commenter an ebook of Elanraigh.
|Cover Art: Amanda Kelsey|
Welcome Sandy to the Salon,
How long have you been writing? What was the spark that started you to take up writing seriously?
I’ve always had an imagination working in overdrive. That being said, I was in my late 30’s before I finally submitted anything to a publisher. I was taking a creative writing class at
and at the instructor’s
suggestion submitted a science fiction short story to On Spec, where it was
accepted. Since then I’ve had other fantasy short fiction and poetry published,
Elanraigh, however, is my first novel Douglas College
Elanraigh was six years plus to write in its original form (I later adapted my first manuscript to YA). I was working full time with lots of night meetings, so Sunday was only available time to write. I’d usually try to get a least four straight hours in. I’m very grateful that in those days I belonged to a fantasy writers group, we met once a month and I was determined to submit chapters each meeting. Published authors all, their critiques were always of value--the meetings kept me highly motivated.
What was the inspiration for this book?
In 1995 I read an intriguing article in the
titled “Lumber firm wails the blues over “singing forest”. Apparently a local
tree planter had a spiritual experience in a forest near Tenise Creek; she
says, ‘something akin to the voice of angels rose from the landscape.” I tucked
the thought provoking article away and some years later, was sorting through my
tattered old file full of various newspaper and magazine articles, the “Story
Idea File” and read the “singing forest” article again. I began to type and
wrote, “The Elanraigh quivered with deep
unease. Forest-mind sifted the westerly wind and breathed its warning.” And
so a sentient forest came to be both a major character and the setting for my
YA fantasy. Vancouver
What was the most difficult part of writing this book? How did you get through it?
Do you know, the majority of the writing was a joy—I was a ‘seat of the pants” writer and the story and my characters carried me along with them. I’d get in a mind-space where things flowed…sometimes how it all came together amazed me. What was difficult was adapting the original 120, 000 wd. story to an 80,000 wd., so as to be more suited to a Y.A. market. Cutting whole scenes hurt and certain characters just had to go. However, I had to get through it and get it copy edited in time for Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Contest, so I got ‘er done. I didn’t win the category for the contest but I had a polished manuscript ready to submit queries on.
Was getting the language for this time period difficult? How did you go about getting it down for the book? Can you describe what it felt like during that period of writing?
I’ve read a lot of fantasy that has had “historical” settings, particularly a medieval feel…perhaps you absorb a feel for the cadence of appropriate speech…I found it easy to write. With the “common folk” I allowed more of a ‘dialect” to be present, however, on the advice of an astute beta reader, I did delete the “thee’s” and “thou’s” in my original manuscript. As my beta reader pointed out, very few people truly know how to properly use those today—best to leave them alone. I’m very grateful for her advice. I do have a great affection for Mary Stewart’s Arthurian novels, especially “The Crystal Cave” and “The Sword in the Stone.” I’ve read those books many times, and much admire the writing.
What was the most important stage of writing this book? Can you describe what it felt like during that period of writing?
I believe I’d say it was the final third of the book…from the critical battle off shore, and on. Now is when the threads must be gathered to weave the final pattern…the battle scene was vivid in my mind as I wrote and the elements came together well, however, two new characters, Duke Ambraud and the Besteri Mage came into being and I found myself fascinated with them… I knew I must either play them down, or a sequel would be in order. I enjoyed writing them so much (villains are such fun to write, aren’t they?); I decided I would indeed carry the story on in a second book.
What do you like about your characters? Are they like anyone you know? Anything like you?
Thera, my protagonist embodies many of the qualities I would love to meet in a person, well seasoned, however, with human flaws that have the potential to become strengths. It was critical to the story that Thera have both the ability, and grace, to learn from those around her. I like her; I hope my readers will too J
I must admit I was an only child blessed with wonderful parents--my father exemplified to me all that was best in a good man; Thera shares some “only child” traits (some good, some not) and in my characterization of Duke ArNaronne, the Duke shares some characteristics of my father.
That being said, there are many of my secondary characters I became extremely attached to, and had great fun with, and I’ve been thinking of delving more into their back stories.
How did you come up with the names of your characters?
I wanted to keep something of a Celtic flavour to names, and in many cases to perhaps give my reader a hint of that person’s character…Duke Leon (lion); Lady Fideiya (fidelity); Nan (just has a homey feel to it). Of the elementals mentioned, particularly the Elanraigh forest (pronounced Ellen-ray) I wanted something sounding both Celtic and haunting. The little wind elemental, so helpful to Thera, is named Sussara (as susurrus, is the sound of a gentle wind). For the villains of the piece we have Memteth which is more Sanskrit of origin, referring to reptilian-like. I think naming is a fun component in writing fantasy.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Read everything you can; both the genre you love, and other works, especially the classics—read for enjoyment and what you can learn—how did the author go about engaging you and creating a great story. Write always--if you’re not engaged in creating a work at present, then journal. Personally, I found belonging to writers groups helpful-- a “Fellowship of the Pen”-- and a source of mentors and friends. Critique groups are another matter, and not for everybody. If you have a work completed, or even an outline…and if you can possibly afford it… get to a Writers Conference! The workshops are an invaluable source of information and inspiration. Practice pitching your idea to actual editors/publishers/agents; a sweaty-palmed experience…something akin to walking barefoot over coals; however, after, you’re forever changed.
Write what you love to read—don’t just pitch to the current commercial trend.
What can we expect new from you?
A sequel to Elanraigh; The Vow is currently underway.
Here’s the Book Blurb:
Only Thera of Allenholme hears the voice of forest-mind…and heeds its warning . Thera doesn’t know why the Elanraigh forest-mind chose her, of all the Allenholme folk, to hear its voice and to awaken her gifts of mind and spirit. The Elanraigh sends a warning dream; black sails swooping toward Allenholme from across the western sea—the Memteth, an ancient enemy, armed with blue fire that hungers to consume life. As Thera awakens to her gifts of bonding with raptor birds and reading hearts, the knowing; she also awakens to love. Will she choose Chamakin the young Ttamarini warrior who is a kindred in spirit to her, or the polished young nobleman who covets her beauty even more than her estate? Forest-mind is aware she is yet too young for such power and responsibility. It has no choice—the lives of all Thera’s people and the existence of the Elanraigh Forest itself, depend on Thera fulfilling her destiny. Can she learn what she must of gift, and heart, to survive what comes their way?
Click on Amazon to buy.
Sandra attended school in Victoria, B.C. and later graduated from the University of British Columbia with a B.A. in English Literature. After her daughter came along, she chose to work close to home and indulge her love of animals by working for an amiable, if thrifty, veterinarian. She believes in promoting the right of all creatures to live the existence that Nature intended. This value is strongly evoked in her novel.
Sandra’s always lived at the edges of ocean and forest, so it came naturally to have a sentient forest as a major character in Elanraigh: The Vow. She loves kayaking the scenic Island coastline, swimming and walking. She has a ready sense of humor and an optimistic outlook (a good thing when you’re a writer).
Her publications include Dark Fantasy short stories in pro magazines and she is currently working on a sequel to Elanraigh: The Vow.
Follow Sandy here:
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Thank you Sandy for the interview and for writing this enchanting book.
Don’t forget the giveaway, one lucky commenter wins a copy of Elanraigh – The Vow, so drop us a line.
Till next time,