The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Sadie S Forsythe

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Sadie S Forsythe

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Summary: Jill enjoyed The Weeping Empress finding it enjoyably direct with a satisfying plot. It was a real pleasure when Sadie popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Date: 23 February 2012
Interviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy

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Jill enjoyed The Weeping Empress finding it enjoyably direct with a satisfying plot. It was a real pleasure when Sadie popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Sadie S Forsythe: The fear is, of course, that you won’t see anyone, but we banish such thoughts. I suppose I see someone not too different from myself, someone who loves to get sucked into good story, becomes overly attached to characters, and actually mourns the end of beloved books. To my surprise The Weeping Empress seems to be doing well with the YA crowd. I didn’t expect this and take it as a lesson not to think too deeply about who will be reading my story, but rather to appreciate everyone who does.

  • BB: What inspired you to write The Weeping Empress?

SFS: It’s odd. I don’t know that I was inspired to write it. It just kind of grew on its own. I always have a storyline rattling about in my head. Few quiet moments pass without some scene playing itself out in my mind. This one just stubbornly stuck around longer than most.

It was Senka. I just love his character so much that I kept creating new scenes for him. Strong, silent and slightly damaged; to me, that’s the perfect antihero. Eventually I started jotting the ideas down, then whimsically decided to try and connect them in a logical order. After about 100 pages of this I had to admit, namely to myself, that I was writing a book. This came as quite a shock, and it was a number of months before I was able to admit it to anyone else. Releasing it into the world has been one of the hardest things I have done in my life. But I also love it!

  • BB: Chiyo's destiny is inescapable but she fights against it nonetheless. Do you believe in free will?

SFS: Oh absolutely! I always imagined this as the first of two books. The second will follow Michael as he confronts what’s left of the Sacerdotisa, tries to investigate the disappearance of his wife, and protect his daughter. It will address some of the hows and whys left open in The Weeping Empress. Yes, I believe in free will, and Chiyo had a lot more of it than even she realizes.

  • BB: You describe Muhjah and Senka as two halves of one whole. Their relationship is a fascinating one. How did you set out to create it?

SFS: Again, it almost created itself. Senka is a shadow. In fact the name means Shadow in Serbian. In order for him to exist he has to be tied to someone. He would float aimlessly otherwise, and I just couldn’t imagine him that way. He needs a solid anchor, and Muhjah is just the man for the job — ruthless, driven and confident. Without him no one in this story would get anywhere.

A reader asked me recently if I had envisioned them as lovers. I didn’t. I never saw them as anything more than what they are on the pages, but I will leave it up to future readers to decide if there is actually more to their relationship than meets the eye.

  • BB: Is religion a force for good?

SFS: What a dangerous question. It’s the sort that could get you thrown out of dinner parties. If we are discussing religion as separate from God, my answer would have to be a conditional yes. It brings comfort and meaning into the lives of millions of people, but humans are fallible. They are temptable and greedy. Any consolidation of power, be it a church, corporate board, or even the local PTA presents the opportunity for corruption and misuse of authority. This is not the fault of the religion, but an earthly, human endeavor. I think this is what Kali is trying to counter in the book, and shouldn’t be used as an excuse to overlook all of the good religion can, and does, do in the world.

  • BB: What three pieces of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

SFS: Let your imagination run wild. You never know which idea will be the one to take root and grow. Listen to all well intended criticisms, no matter how hard it is. Take what you can from it and discard the rest. We are all still learning. Don’t give up the dream just because the industry has become harder than ever to break into. Write for the love of it and you will eventually find someone to love it.

  • BB: What three books should everyone read?

SFS: Only three, really? 1984 by George Orwell, I think it is more pertinent today than ever before. The Hobbit (and by extension Lord of the Ring, etc) for the heart rending way you bond with the characters, and The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. He subtly pieced together a story that spans galaxies and thousands of years, without leaving loose ends or losing readers. Amazing!.

  • BB: If you could take just one book to a desert island to sustain you for the rest of your life, which would it be?

SFS: I really want to say something thought provoking and academic like The Brothers Karamazov or Moby Dick, but the truth is it would likely be The Complete Works of Douglas Adams. Taking a compilation is probably cheating the one book rule, but… I adore the humor. I don’t write comedy and respect anyone who can. The way in which Adams could effortlessly present even the most absurd scenarios has never once failed to amuse me, and alone on a desert island that could salvage my sanity.

  • BB: What's next for Sadie S Forsythe?

SFS: Well, I’ve a sequel to write. I learned so much while writing The Weeping Empress. I want to incorporate it all into the next one, making it bigger and better. Of course, this will always be my goal, no matter how many books I write. In the short term I suppose I’ll finish graduate school, cuddle my husband, raise my girls and pet the dog. Life is good. I just hope it stays this way.

  • BB: It's been a real pleasure to chat to you, Sadie and good luck with the sequel.

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