Today, Sasha Abernathy has stopped by to tell us about her writing process and her new book, Chasing the Sun: An Earth Relic Prophecy.
Welcome, Sasha! Thanks for stopping by. Let’s start with one of my favorite questions. What inspired you to write your first book?
Chasing the Sun: An Earth Relic Prophecy is my first novel. I’ve written short stories as a kid, but never sat down long enough to write anything longer. I was inspired by my love for Egyptian mythology. First, I love to read everything paranormal: vampires, werewolves, ghosts, goblins, fae, zombies, everything. There’s something about believing in a world of magic that is so stress relieving. But, I had read so much that I was sick of your typical supernatural creatures. I went on a mad search for something new, something different. But, I didn’t want Greek mythology either since you see that a lot as well. So I thought about my longtime love: Egypt, and the love story of Osiris and Isis. Again, I went in search for an urban fantasy or paranormal romance with a fun Egyptian twist. I wanted something set in modern times that brought back these gods from the ancient world. I couldn’t find it. So, I wrote what I wanted to read. And I’m in love with it.
We have the same taste! I love reading mythology and paranormal. Combining them sounds awesome. Do you have a specific writing style?
Not really. My style is to write what feels right.
I respect that. Every writer should always write what feels right to them. Let’s talk specifics. How did you come up with the title?
I was on a road trip, heading to New Mexico. We left early in the morning so I sat there watching the sunrise. I had dabbled with the idea of a book, but didn’t have anything beside scribbles of ideas written in the notebook I carry with me. But while I looked out and watched the sun come up, I thought about what it would be like to really chase the sun. What would it be like to chase something you know you will never catch, but still never give up? And that phrase stuck with me. Luckily, because of the characters in my book and their relationship with the sun and earth, it works perfectly.
Your title is perfect. It has a mythology feel to it. It’s great the title came to you before you even started your novel. Title’s are funny that way. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I didn’t write it with a message intended, but I think one developed. Terran, the main character has gone through some pretty tough things. But, the one thing she holds on to is hope. I guess I’d have to say that is the message: Never give up on hope.
What a powerful message. Never give up! Never Surrender. Sorry, I take advantage of every chance I get to quote Galaxy Quest. How much of the book is realistic?
This question made me giggle. I’ll go with some parts more than others. I lived in Anchorage, Alaska where the book is set, so I used a lot of my time there to inspire me. Alaska is one place everyone should visit. It is amazing.
Alaska is on my bucket list! Since the book takes place where you’re from, are the experiences in your novel based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Many of the characters are rooted in the people that I know or grew up with, so it was so easy to expand on them. I also took some of my worst fears, (like going crazy or being buried alive) and some of my greatest dreams, (like attending a masquerade gala) and used them to inspire me.
I think everyone pulls bits and pieces of their life into their writing. I love how you incorporated your fears and dreams into your writing. What books have most influenced your life most?
I spent tons of summers with my Aunt, a high school English teacher, as a kid. And of course, I was smothered by the classics. Her favorites were anything by Jane Austen. Since they were also made into movies, I was all about it (The BBC versions, of course). So, I grew up with reading and watching some of the best love stories ever. I haven’t been able to put down a passionate and innocent romance novel since. (Although now, there’s usually something supernatural with at least one of the characters.)
Ahh, yes. Teachers have a way of doing that. What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading George R.R. Martin’s A Feast for Crows. I also have a soft spot for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and always have a copy downloaded on my iPad Mini. I’m currently waiting for Blood Games, the next book in the Chicagoland series to come out. Come on August 2014!
So many books. So little time. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Oh, man. So, I have this amazing CP (Critique Partner) group. I’m talking amazing! Some of their stories have me so hooked and invested that I’m literally yelling at the characters. They are great. Most of them are just starting the querying process, so I’m anxiously awaiting their novel releases. You can follow them on twitter though: @Patchi_writes, @AinsleyWynter, @ColleenSMyers, and @ChellesWrite.
I love my CPs as well. What are your current projects?
I’m currently working on the second book of The Earth Relic series, which is loads of fun. I’m having a blast with my established characters. You get to see so much more of them. I’ve also introduced a few characters fond of 80’s punk fashion. They are a blast to develop! It’s an amazing feeling to be so enamored by your story.
Sequels are so much fun to write. Name someone that supported you outside of family members.
My CP group and BETA readers, for sure. If there’s one thing every writer needs, it’s a CP group and some honest BETA readers. You need people to tell you how it is and to encourage you. That is so important.
There is a special place for CP and Beta readers. I thanks them for their time every day. Do you see writing as a career?
Oh, for sure! My dream is to move into the mountains and write. But, for now I spend my time writing on the train back and forth to the office. I actually wrote almost the entire book on the train on my iPad mini. Sometimes long commutes have their perks.
I’m curious what app you used on your iPad. I’m always on the lookout for writing apps! I’ve taken my laptop in the car and worked on my WIP before, so using any time to write to you advantage is a fantastic idea. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. Of course, I am a perfectionist, so that’s probably only halfway true. The whole truth: at some point, you have to stop picking at something and simply let it be. That’s where I’m at right now.
It’s hard to not start at page one and try to edit something, even though you know the novel is good to go. One of many issues writer’s face, I think. HA! Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always had a very vivid imagination. As a kid, I was always coming up with adventures to go on. As an adult, I think it’s easy to get sucked into the monotonous life of being a wife, an employee, and a mom. Writing gives me an escape. Reading is great, but writing lets me set up my own crazy adventures, just like when I was a kid.
Writing and a vivid imagination go hand-in-hand. Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure! The Phoenix Rises takes place a few weeks after the end of Chasing the Sun. Terran’s eyes have now been opened to a new world, but she’s still trying to grasp the responsibility that has been bestowed upon her. And when a not so nice someone from her past shows up, she’s torn. Should she help him? Here’s the first couple paragraph’s (with a sentence or two of spoilers omitted.
Fists ready, I danced on the balls of my bare feet, anticipating his next move. We had been at this for what felt like hours, and my body grew weary. The training room now felt muggy and twenty degrees warmer. Drops of sweat rolled down my face, pasting the black curls that had escaped from my ponytail to my cheeks. The tickle of the curling tips was distracting, but my determination was unwavering and the stakes high: cleaning duty for the next week.
With a quick snap, his fist came at me with the swiftness of a cobras strike. I dropped and rolled as taught, but the edge of his knuckles nicked the tip of my ear and stung like a thousand pissed off bees.
“Come on!” I yelled in irritation, shaking my head and willing myself to focus. I was better than this.
His half smile curled up the right side of his face and only fueled my anger. Marlo, in all his gangly glory, stood before me, amusement oozing out of every pore. His gloating wasn’t unwarranted since I had yet to best him, but it was annoying.
That sounds fantastic. Thank you for sharing. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
There are a couple of scenes in the book that are very emotionally awkward. As I was writing those scenes, I found myself feeling that same emotional discomfort. It was really difficult to write past those parts because I didn’t want to face what they were facing either.
As a writer, it’s our job to elicit emotion. For you to experience it as you write, only shows how powerful the scene is. Way to go! Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I can’t seriously answer this, haha. It’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. But, for the urban fantasy/paranormal romance genre, I’d have to say I love the worlds and mystery that Karen Moning created with her Fever series. I also love Chloe Neill’s spin on the supernatural in her Chicagoland Vampires series. Each have main characters that you can see as your best friend. And although the situations they get themselves into are far from anything I’m likely to encounter, (unless vampires ARE real), you feel like the way they react is legit.
Picking favorites is so hard! Who designed the cover of Chasing the Sun?
The lovely Suzannah Safi is currently designing my cover. I am beyond excited to see what she creates. The cover should be ready sometime in July/August.
Waiting sucks, but I bet it will look fantastic. You’ll have to share it with us when you get your hands on it. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part was taking the time to write and taking the time for my family. People sometimes call it a need for ‘balance.’ I say it’s a need to sacrifice. Either way, you are giving up something you love to do for something you love. This is why the majority of my book was written on the commuter train, in the bathtub, or with a toddler on my lap.
If only writing didn’t take time. Too bad we can’t wake up and have the pages already typed out. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that I have a comma-phobia. I’m still working on that. Although now, I think I sometimes swing the other way.
Thank God for CPs and Beta readers because they find all the comma errors! Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write for yourself. Forget about what everyone else wants. It’s nice to make it a goal to be a professional writer, but ultimately, if you don’t write what you love, it’s going to come across as mediocre. I wrote Chasing the Sun for me. I just happened to be lucky enough that others loved my story as much as I do.
It’s easy to see when an author’s heart isn’t into what they write. What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
The research was challenging because there are so many variations of the Osiris and Isis love story. Not to mention all the various elements in Egyptian mythology. There’s almost an overload of information to choose from. But the search was exciting and gave me a great stepping-stone to launch from.
Egyptian mythology had to be a blast to research. Who is your publisher?
Crimson Frost Books purchased the rights to my novel in January. They’ve estimated the release of Chasing the Sun in the winter of 2014.
Congrats! How did you meet your publisher?
Twitter! I entered #PitMad, and really didn’t have a clue about what I was doing. I actually think you and your blog helped me with my pitch, so thanks for that. Here’s the pitch that got their attention: * Hunted by her uncle, the god of Chaos, Terran must protect the key to the veil btwn worlds b4 all Hell breaks loose-literally. A/UF #PitMad*
Brenda Drake is amazing for coming up with #PitMad. Your pitch sounds awesome. No wonder it caught publisher’s attention. Do you have a favorite line one of your characters says in your book?
My favorite line would give away one of the surprises. Terran is put in a position that I think many of us can relate to: when lines are crossed in a relationship, it can either mean the end or the beginning of something wonderful. But a favorite that I can share is from Marc, a frequent guest in Terran’s dreams. “Until next time, my love.” I’m a sucker for sweet goodbyes.
Le sigh. I love it. What is your ‘the call’ story?
It’s actually not that interesting, haha. I waited, anxiously of course, to hear back from Crimson Frost Books. I had been debating on whether to go the traditional route of having an agent, going with a small publisher, or self-publishing. Since the urban fantasy and paranormal romance markets are tough right now, I got many ‘It’s good, but publishers aren’t buying these genres’ from agents. When I got the call that they wanted to offer a contract, I was ecstatic. I had my novel out to a couple agents, and this offer. Ultimately, I decided I wanted my book out there. With an agent, it depends on if they can sell it or not, and since I write in a genre that is basically ‘dead,’ I didn’t want to take the chance. After requesting the contract, asking a thousand questions, and speaking to an author who contracted with Crimson Frost as well, I decided to go for it. And I’m glad I did.
Born in Germany to a Puerto Rican mother and All-American Military father, who saw fit to give her a Russian name, Sasha Abernathy has always loved storytelling, traveling, and doing all things silly. Raised in Oklahoma, but eventually moving everywhere from Alaska to Spain, Sasha has finally settled in the beautiful state of Colorado. With her loving husband, two wild sons, and neurotic labradoodle, Sasha is surrounded by way too much testosterone and escapes through her mysteriously whimsical and romantic novels.