Sunday, November 22, 2009

Interview with Sasha Soren

A few months ago, Sasha Soren contacted me about a blog tour for her first book RANDOM MAGIC. I am so pleased to be one of the people on the tour. It's my firsts blog tour ever and I'm glad its for this book!
It has been such a BLAST chatting with Sasha Soren these past couple of months. She is truly unlike any other author I've met -in a totally good way! Sasha truly has an amazing interior. She is so genuine and kind hearted. I love that she loves the arts and music and she's wicked amazing! Here is the interview I had with her, which by the way is my first author interview for this site!

***In Random Magic, what character was your favorite to write and why?

They were all so interesting to write, for different reasons. Some outlandish, preposterous, very funny characters, so

me loopy ones, some scary ones, all kinds of really fascinating people.

Winnie was fun to write, and also spent the most time with her – well, for the entire journey.

Winnie is a favorite character for a lot of people, and I agree with them for all the same reasons that they name – that she’s feisty, brave, passionate, clever, fearless, stoic, calm, bright and resourceful, she has guts, she never gives up even when she’s up against overwhelming odds, she’s loyal and she’s a true, very good friend to Henry.

I like her for all of these reasons, and she was fun to write because she’s so abrupt, tough, a bit of a handful, but she also has a tender heart and will fight to the death to protect herself or anyone she cares about.

She’s a bit…much, but she’s true blue. Anyone would be very lucky to have a friend like Winnie on their side -- which probably makes up a lot for her impatience, abruptness, and tendency to be a bit of a wise ass.

***Did you listen to any specific song or band while writing this book?

Actually, no, I tend to think better in absolute silence, can hear the inner thoughts with far greater clarity and preci

sion. Otherwise, it’s sort of like trying to have a conversation at a very loud party, you miss important details. That’s an inefficient way to write a book, because you’re making more work for yourself.

Some writers do actually have a kind of ‘soundtrack’ they listen to for their book, or music they like to listen to while writing, but to me it’s just distracting, because I love music, and would probably start listening to the music instead of what’s going on inside my head.

Not really able to use ‘background’ music for anything, because I actually do pay attention to the lyrics and various changes in rhythm, the instruments used, the timbre of the voice, etc.

I just really appreciate a lot of different kinds of music, and try to give the artist the respect they deserve by paying attention to their work, not just relegating it to background static.

Which, of course, would mean that, if I’m listening to music, then I’m not focusing on hearing the characters, or looking around at the sights or listening for the sounds of some particular fictional world.

It’s interesting that you mentioned music, though, because in the book, there are several mentions of music or musicians.

One of the people Winnie and Henry meet along the way is, in fact, the Muse of Music – Efterpe, whose nickname in the book is Effie.

Composer Ludwig van Beethoven even personally appears in a chapter where Winnie and Henry are visiting the Nine Muses – in the book, he’s Effie’s houseguest, working on a new little ditty he’s been thinking about, in honor of a jolly lass he’s met, called Joy.

Which little ditty? Well, a symphony – including his completed Ode to Joy: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral"

And here’s how it came out:

***Describe your most ideal place to write.

A lighthouse, probably. Or maybe an island in the middle of nowhere. All that isolation and quiet, and nothing to hear but maybe the wind and the waves.

Or maybe some decrepit castle with no running water, but a roaring fireplace and big comfy chairs and a dusty library filled with delightful old books.

In daily life, have to compromise, but normally it’s somewhere quiet with very few distractions. You have to be able to hear your thoughts, or you lose the threads of the story.

***Where would you take your dream vacation and what would you do?

Well, I see vacations as -- not so much as party time, you know, like a weekend getaway, staying in a hotel, with the primary intention of having a rollicking good time -- but more as an opportunity to learn about the world and the people in it.

I try to stay for as long as possible, and to live as much like a local person as possible, because you just learn more that way. This world has some very interesting places.

I enjoy learning new things, and meeting interesting people, so it would also be very nice to travel somewhere with the intention of learning something totally new – maybe learning Swahili, or going on an archaeological expedition, or studying architecture and painting in Rome, and so forth.

I like to travel, but also like to learn and acquire new skills and experience new things, and challenge myself to try something I’ve never tried before. I might master the skill or not, but in any case, it’s just nice to learn something new every day of your life.

Having said that, it would also be fun to make a tour of the entire globe, by boat or biplane or submarine or hot air balloon or something equally as impractical. Not practical, but wouldn’t it be fun?

***What is your favorite painting?

I love art, so this is a difficult question to answer, because there are so many paintings that are just incredible, it’s impossible to choose just one favorite.

Quite like the work of Caravaggio; he was a brilliant painter, and also a bit of a character.

Also enjoy the work of the Pre-Raphaelites, because their visions of mythological, legendary figures are so vivid and evocative.

Actually, perhaps we might choose a Waterhouse work, “I Am Half-Sick of Shadows,” Said the Lady of Shalott, and Hunt’s portrait of the same subject, The Lady of Shalott.

The reason both these works might have special meaning to an artist or writer, dancer or other creative person, is because they’re both visual representations of a theme that every creative person will understand: the isolation and difficulty of creating any work of art, the sacrifices required of you, whether that work is music, or a book, or a poem, or a dance work, or a painting.

The ballad both portraits are based on is The Lady of Shalott, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Here is an excerpt:

On either side the river lie Long fields of barley and of rye, That clothe the wold and meet the sky; And thro' the field the road runs by To many-tower'd Camelot; And up and down the people go, Gazing where the lilies blow Round an island there below, The island of Shalott…

Four grey walls, and four grey towers, Overlook a space of flowers, And the silent isle imbowers The Lady of Shalott… But who hath seen her wave her hand? Or at the casement seen her stand? Or is she known in all the land, The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early, In among the bearded barley Hear a song that echoes cheerly From the river winding clearly; Down to tower'd Camelot; And by the moon the reaper weary, Piling sheaves in uplands airy, Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy Lady of Shalott."

There she weaves by night and day A magic web with colours gay. She has heard a whisper say, A curse is on her if she stay To look down to Camelot. She knows not what the curse may be, And so she weaveth steadily, And little other care hath she, The Lady of Shalott.

And here is an interesting side-by-side post, which shows the choices Sir Alfred made, in revising the work in 1832-1833, then in 1842:

He tells the story of a mysterious woman on an island, who’s forbidden by an unknown curse to look at the real world. Instead, she sees the world reflected in her mirror, and weaves all day long, creating various scenes of the bright bits of life she sees reflected in her mirror.

The poem is literally about a weaver, but it’s also representative of the dilemma that artists, writers or musicians face -- the question is whether or not you make the sacrifice of being slightly removed from the world, while creating beautiful works, or abandon your arduous work and simply go out and live in the world.

It’s a poignant story, and it would also be a very familiar theme to anyone creating a work of art. You have to be slightly removed, because creation requires reflection, thought, inventiveness, and stillness -- you can’t complete work on a wonderful book by going out to a party every night. It just won’t happen.

Or, you can’t create a mesmerizing, timeless portrait if you’re out having lunch or at a sports show or watching TV, no -- that time is needed to select the right pigments, or to refine the shadowing on the jawline of your subject, or just to select just the right subject, in the first place.

You can’t really do both, so you do have to choose. Yes, of course, you can be out and about in between, when you’re not actively working on creating something new and interesting, but while you’re hard at work on something, it’s a very small world you consign yourself to -- you and the page, you and the canvas, you and the strings of your violin.

So, that’s the dilemma. A creative person is of the world…but not quite. They’re slightly removed.

It’s like conjuration, alchemy, but you’re using your own spirit to weave the magic, or to spin gold. That’s what the process of creation demands of you, and you have to be willing to make that sacrifice, and temporarily remove yourself from the flow of life, in order to put something beautiful back into that same life, for others to enjoy. An interesting problem.

Anyone who’s lost themselves for weeks, or months, or years, in any complex, extremely difficult but totally fascinating creative project knows exactly what I’m talking about.

So, these portraits are a recognition of that, and they’re a tribute to all creative people, past, present and future, who experience the bliss -- but also the burden -- of the power and passion to create.

Now, in the poem, the Lady of Shalott weaves wonderful tapestries of life because she’s under a curse and imprisoned with her loom. Writing or painting or making music is not as dire as that, you know, you do get tea breaks…but at the same time, yes, a certain degree of isolation is necessary to create art.

Of course, Lord Tennyson experienced the same thing when he created the ballad, and so did Waterhouse and Hunt, when they stole time from their lives to create their own imaginative portraits of the Lady of Shalott.

They’re all long dead, but we can still enjoy the beauty they created; the hand that created the work is dust, but the work it lovingly created lives on for hundreds of years. Interesting, no?

***Are you working on any books right now? And if not, do you plan on writing another story in the future?

At the moment, very busy just letting folks know about Random Magic, which leaves no time to write, which is a pity.

But, yes, have floods of intriguing ideas, all the time, can’t shut them off. So, it’s likely there’ll be something unusual and involving coming up in the future.

Just a matter of having enough time and money to be able to write, which is never easy. You have to fight for it. But if you love something, you do.

Come to think of it, was badly short on time and money while writing Random Magic, and it’s not like that stopped me, either – and very glad, because folks love the story so much, it makes all the struggle and hard work worth it. Ça vaut la peine,” as Lady Witherspoon (Henry’s chic, whimsical, self-possessed and slightly unnerving mother) might say.

Thank you to everyone for all the wonderful things you’ve been saying about how much you enjoyed the story, so pleased you had fun escaping for a few hours into the odd, colorful, surreal and slightly madcap world of Random Magic. Actually, “slightly” madcap might be reckless understatement – yes, the world of Random Magic is a very strange world. But fun, though. Fun and a few other things…

For the next act, well, who knows? Might be a fun, frothy story, might be a profound, dark work, could be a comedy or a mystery or a bit of trippy philosophy, but either way will be unusual and cool, hopefully fun, and definitely interesting.

I try to write stories that I’d personally enjoy reading, and definitely do tend to appreciate things which are pleasantly unique, out of the ordinary. So, even if you have no idea just what to expect, would be reasonable to say you can definitely expect that, at least...

There might not even be something as sensible as a press release for fair warning about a new book, maybe just a virtual balloon onscreen at the official site (, going: “Ta-da!”

Well, or not. Anyway, though, in the meantime: Thanks for stopping by to read a bit about the writing of Random Magic, and, well, writing in general -- and happy reading!

Stay tuned for my review of Random Magic and more! C: Hope you enjoyed the interview!
To find about more about Sasha Soren go HERE.
To find about more about the tour go HERE.


Elie said...

Great interview with the lovely Sasha Soren. I am going to link up your interview to my Wed newz post.

Elie (Ellz Readz)

Hi Sasha (hugs)

Unknown said...

Awesome intreview - I am looking forward to reading this book! :)