Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Interview With Author, Mikki Sadil

Today it's my pleasure to interview the talented author, Mikki Sadil about her debut novel titled The Freedom Thief. This book sounds so interesting and I for one can't wait to read it!

So here is a little teaser about the book and how she came up with the idea:

The story is about a 13 year old boy who lives on his grandmother's plantation in Kentucky with his parents and two older brothers. His best friend is a 10 year old crippled slave boy, Josiah,whose mother works in the house and father works in the fields. Ben (MC) learns his father is going to sell Josiah because he is crippled and can't work to earn his keep. Ben knows the only way to keep that from happening is to lead Josiah and his
parents, Bess and Jesse, to freedom. With a little subtle help from his beloved grandmother, a secret Abolitionist, Ben learns of an old barn in the forest, a secret tunnel under the barn, and decides that is where the journey will start. When the buyer arrives at the plantation a week earlier than expected, Ben must get the slaves to leave immediately, without any plan of escape or even a map of the Kentucky terrain. All Ben knows is that he must get them to the Ohio River and safety on the far side. The rest of the story concerns their escape and all
the dangers and intrigues they must endure during their journey to find freedom.

The story came about when Richard and I took a barge trip in 1999 down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. We visited a lot of Civil War sites: a fort;  a
beautiful mansion on a cliff high above the Ohio which had been a Union Army
headquarters; the remains of some slave houses on a couple of plantations; the many ways in which slaves were aided in their escaping, such as the methods of transport, the codes used to "talk" between the rescuers, and even the quilts that were sewn by the Quakers, whose patterns were nothing but another kind of code to tell the slaves where and how they could get away. Fascinating!


Mikki, why are you a writer?

 
I know that a lot of writers say things like “I live to write” or “I write because I have to”, or something similar, indicating that they couldn’t live without writing. I write because I love to tell stories, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of my life. I hope that doesn’t shock anyone!

What was your very favorite story to write and why?

To be honest, my most favorite story is one that is not finished yet. It is a paranormal/historical/mystery, set in the early 1930s in a traveling carnival. The paranormal bit is about psychic abilities, not about vampires and werewolves who have waaaay outlived their time! It has witches, gargoyles, and a stray monster or two, a 16 year old main character who is French, and it has many twists and turns. I’m very anxious to get back to it, get it finished and polished, and send it off to publication.


When you saw your book for the very first time, how did it make you feel?
I think, more astonished than anything. Wow, I did it…I really did it! Publication is a major achievement for anyone, and for a grandmother who has gone through all the trauma and tragedy that this past year and a half have brought to our family, it still amazes me that I could actually get this done. But I am pleased, happy, and maybe just a little bit proud!
How much research did you have to do to write a book about slavery, even though it’s fiction?
This took two years to do properly, and it included the barge trip down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, visiting Civil War sites, forts, ramshackle barns and old farm wagons that once held escaping slaves, going through former “safe” houses through the Underground Railroad, and visiting many museums that held so many items from that era. The research was painstaking and fascinating. I learned much more than what this story holds, but everything in the story is factual, except for the storyline. That includes the way people dressed, the food they ate, their modes of transportation, everything about home life on a plantation. For slavery, I researched the way they lived, the kinds of punishment they endured, their ways of escape…this included a lot of research about the Underground Railroad, which was the system Quakers and Abolitionists used to help escaping slaves. They used lights in windows of their homes, quilts with woven symbols only the slaves could decipher were hung over wooden fences, and certain songs and words that spoke only to the slaves. I studied the ways of hiding slaves in their homes and barns, and the methods of transporting them from one safe place to another. As I said, it was a fascinating and, at the same time, a very moving experience to realize what we white people put African Americans through in those days.
If you hadn’t pursued your dream to become an author, what do you think your 2nd dream would have been?
Allyn, I’ve been very fortunate in my life to realize ALL of my dreams, as strange as that may seem. I grew up wanting to sing, and began singing professionally in Musical Theatre when I was 13 years old. I did this until I was 19, when a throat operation ended that career. When I remarried, my husband and I built a ranch and began breeding, raising, and training Appaloosa horses for the show ring. As a horsewoman all my life, I had always dreamed that some day I would have my own ranch, ( I was born on a ranch in Texas) and would train horses. So that dream also came true. When we retired after 23 years and moved to this small Victorian town on the Central Coast of California, I began writing in earnest.
What is the one thing that helps you the most that you couldn’t live without in regards to your writing?
The support of my husband and my family. As you know, writing can be, and usually is, a very lonely profession, and without the kind of loving support I’ve always gotten from them, I doubt seriously if I would write.
You say you started writing this book in 2006, why do you think it took so long to get it published?
LOL! Sorry, not laughing at the question, just at the answer! Well, life got in the way, for one thing. I started this book as the last assignment of my first course at ICL (Institute of Children’s Literature), and with so much encouragement from my instructor, I went immediately into the Advanced Novel course. BUT! That instructor didn’t want to see any more books about the Underground Railroad ( which is what the first rendition of the novel was about), so he asked me to write something more contemporary. I did, and that is the second book that will be out in the spring of 2014. However, I was determined to get back to my Civil War story, so I took a second Advanced Novel course, and this time the instructor was good to go with it. But again, she and I disagreed on some very main issues with the book, and even though I finished “a novel” with her, it was not this one. The Freedom Thief took some major revisions and more research before I was willing to submit it. Another year and more went by, then I submitted it, it was rejected but with a lot of helpful comments, I revised it some more, re-submitted it in March of this year and received my contract in April.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking or trying to become an author?
First of all, don’t give up. If you really and truly want to write, then don’t give up. But DO take classes, read all you can, perfect your craft as much as you can, and then pursue it. The second thing I would say is what my first ICL instructor told me: Write what you want to write, what you feel in your heart, and not what others tell you to write. Don’t write to ‘fads’ or trends because they will be gone before you ever get published. Don’t listen to that old adage ,”write what you know,” because that can get to be boring. Listen and learn what you DON’T know but want to, and then write about it. The third thing would be, Don’t forget to do your research. Writers seem to think the only story that needs research is an historical one, but that’s not true. MOST stories need some kind of research, so just understand that you can’t know everything about everything, and do the research you should do.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
I want to get back to Beneath the Possum Belly. That’s my paranormal novel, which has also taken…so far…more than a year of research. I’ve had to research psychic abilities, traveling carnivals in the late 1920s and early 1930s, when they were just about all the entertainment most people could afford, especially after the Great Depression. I researched that era, also, and in doing so, found the most interesting place to set my novel in! It was once a squatters’ camp, near the shores of the Mississippi River in Ohio, but a mass murder turned it into a ghost town. It’s now being revived in my novel. So I’m excited to get started again on it, get it finished, edited, revised, polished, and submitted by summer of next year. And I am going to do just that, no matter what!
Allyn, thanks so much for doing this interview. It’s been fun!

                                                                                     Mikki’s Bio

In a past life, Mikki sang professionally in Musical Theatre from the age of 13 until 19. When she finished more years of college than she cares to remember, she taught Sociology, Statistics and Research Methodology, and the Sociology of Criminal Behavior to junior and senior University students. But she has had a passion for writing since she published her first poem at age ten, and first short story at age twelve. During her college years, she published several short stories as well as a book of Haiku poetry, but serious writing was postponed for marriage and a family. After her husband and Mikki retired from raising and training Appaloosa horses, she returned to writing and publishing. Her short stories and articles have been published in national children’s magazines, online, and in an anthology of horror stories for teens. The Freedom Thief is Mikki's debut novel.
 
My husband and I share our home on the Central Coast of California with our beloved Corgi, lazy Siamese cat, and a bossy African Grey parrot.
 
You can purchase Mikki’s book at https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/69-our-authors/authors-s/379-mikki-sadil

Thanks to Mikki for sharing her story with all of us. Best of luck and I hope you sell tons of books!




 
 

 

 

 
 
 

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for a wonderful interview. This book sounds very thrilling and emotional. This is now on my TBR pile. I had promised that I would not buy anything new until my current pile had dwindled down a bit, but I can not resist this book.

    I was very happy to see you also like to do real live research into your books. It may be fiction but it has to be "real".

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  2. Ooh, a book about a traveling carnival? I'd read that.

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  3. So excited to see this spotlight on Mikki and The Freedom Thief! I'm very much looking forward to taking a bite out of my TBR pile and reading this one!

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  4. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect! Make sure to follow my blog at http://lorenmathisbooks.blogspot.com/. Also, starting in January, I will be opening my blog for author guest posts--let me know if you're interested!

    Thanks!
    L

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