Q & A with Sadie
How long have you been writing?
I loved to write and illustrate stories in elementary school. My fourth grade teacher was the first adult to encourage me to pursue writing as a career. As an adult, I’ve written for magazines, dabbled in poetry, and recently completed my first novel, The Recollection of Trees.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
Other writers. As a child, I was always reading. I loved the book fairs at school. The local library was my sacred space. To this day, I love a story that makes me forget the world around me—or seduces me into pondering my surroundings through the lens of the story. I sincerely appreciate well-written television, plays, and movies too. It all starts with the story on the page.
Do you have a favorite author?
Just one? HA!
Some of my favorite fiction authors include Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, J.K. Rowling, Rick Riordan, Alice Hoffman, C.S. Lewis, Barbara Wood, John Grisham, Anne Rice, James Patterson, Willa Cather, Deborah Harkness, Jessica Spotswood, William Shakespeare, L. M. Montgomery, John LeCarre, Tom Clancy, J.R.R. Tolkien, Paulo Coelho.
Poets: Shel Silverstein, Seamus Heaney, Maya Angelou.
Non-fiction: Minus political commentary, that leaves pretty much the entire self-help/new age section of the bookstore. Anything written by Shirley MacLaine.
TV: Aaron Sorkin, Kenneth Biller, Michael Sussman, Chuck Lorre, Christopher Lloyd, and Steven Levitan. (I like my TV shows to be clever, quirky, funny, inspiring, and intelligent.)
Why did you say ‘minus political commentary’ under non-fiction writers?
I don’t usually share my political opinions because you’re here to escape into the magickal reality of witches and ghosts, or to read what it’s like in the publishing world. There are plenty of other places for you to find political commentary, and I wholeheartedly encourage you to think for yourself. Please don’t mistakenly think I am unaware of real world issues, or worse, that I don’t care. I earned my BA in International Relations from a rigorous, well-respected political science program and I worked in politics for several years. I made the conscious choice to exit that career when I was up to my eyeballs in meetings and I realized I had no enthusiasm for it anymore. I have no regrets though—I gained a heartfelt appreciation for most elected officials and if I hadn’t gone to college in my 30s, I wouldn’t have started creative writing again. After cranking out public policy papers incessantly for my classes, the idea of writing 200+ pages of fiction seemed possible and exciting.
What are your goals as a writer?
I aspire to be a woman who is valued for the love she shares and a voice for those who have not yet found their own words. Like any writer, parts of my own journey have found their way into my stories and I’d love to hear from readers who recognize themselves in the pages. I wanted to read this story and I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I knew it needed to be written.
Is THE RECOLLECTION OF TREES based on a true story? Is it your life story?
There are a few similarities, I guess. Like Iona, I grew up estranged from my real father and his real mother, my grandmother. I reconnected with them on my high school graduation day. As I got to know them, I discovered their beliefs were quite different from how I was raised. Understanding them helped me understand myself in new ways. I chose a few character names from deep within my family tree and many of the characters are combinations of people I’ve known. Dyllan and Jules have characteristics of half a dozen different boys, and Cookie is a combination of four different girls I knew in high school. THE RECOLLECTION OF TREES is set in beautiful Michigan, where I have lived my entire life. (I couldn’t write the story anywhere else!) So the locations in Michigan are real places, and some of the situations are similar to my own story, but 99% of it is fiction.
What is life like at your house?
Crazy! I am married to the kindest, hottest man I’ve ever met. Thanks to his patience and sense of humor, we’ve survived four scary health crises (2 each), job changes, parenting, and now my writing career. Our adventure includes two sons on the verge of teendom, a rambunctious coonhound, two cuddly cats, too many fish to count, plus all the neighborhood squirrels, bunnies, and birds. (All this and more in my blog.)
What are some of your favorite activities besides writing?
I love classic movies, crazy socks, and all things Halloween. (I do my best writing while wearing lucky Halloween socks and sipping a warm cup of fair trade coffee, chai, or apple cider.) I live in a quaint, walkable community—we’re within walking distance to the woods, two cemeteries, a small beach, our public library, a lovely independent bookstore, our local farmers market, and three delightful coffee shops. A short drive can take me to great dining, art galleries and museums, movies, apple-picking, and camping. I love to experience all four seasons, but my favorite is autumn. My kids and I are big fans of Face Off (SyFy) and I NEVER miss a Detroit Lions game.
You said you wear lucky Halloween socks. Are you superstitious?
Yep. It’s the gift and the curse of a wild imagination. Many of my own personal superstitions are included in The Recollection of Trees. Just for fun, I also made a list of 13 common superstitions, but with odd explanations and sometimes terrifying details that I learned mostly from my own family.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
I have to pick just one? I am a klutz. No joke. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few famous people and every time I do–I trip, spill something, break my glasses, drop my camera, or step in a mud puddle. Let’s just say that secret service for a certain ex-president probably has me on a “she-could-trip-and-accidentally-impale-him” list. The only exception was when I met Shirley MacLaine. Nothing happened. Likely because I was with my good luck charm of a husband.
Ok, once, during a well-attended public meeting, I accidentally flung a pen across the room, which hit someone in the shoulder and caused her to spill the water she was pouring. Did I mention it was well-attended and there were TV cameras? They still don’t know it was me. Hey, it gives me stuff to write about.
Do you have a bucket list?
Yes, and it is ever evolving. The famous person category keeps changing because I’ve been able to meet a few of them already. I anticipate that several items on my list will be checked off in the next year or so, and I will definitely blog about those adventures. You can see my current list of goals here.
How often do you blog?
I post to my blog irregularly (about once a month-ish), because I am writing fiction and raising a family, and well, a girl’s got to eat and sleep too. If you want to hear from me more often you can follow me on twitter, facebook, tsu, or google+. I also write short articles for HubPages occasionally.
Before becoming a professional writer, what other jobs have you held?
My first job was a part-time cashier at Woolworth’s, where I honed a poker face for people who pay with exact change from their sock or bra. The hardest job I’ve ever had was certified nurse aide. Those people break their backs (and hearts) taking care of patients for really crappy pay! I had better biceps than Michelle Obama back then. I also taught preschool at a daycare in my early 20s (also for crappy pay and a sore back). I’ve been puked on, bled on, peed on, coughed on, sneezed on, and talked back to…but that was just when I worked in politics, ha ha ha!
What job would you want to do if you couldn’t be a writer?
I love to do different voices and accents. I love guessing where people are from. I don’t mean just the easy ones like Boston, New York, or Texas. I can usually tell the subtler differences between say, Cincinnati and Fort Wayne, or Sydney and Melbourne. I’ve even guessed a person’s parents’ origin, based on certain vowel sounds. Maybe I could work at a carnival guessing accents next to the guy guessing weights. Actually, I’d love to be like Mel Blanc or Robin Williams. You know, do all those amazing cartoon voices. Or Meryl Streep. That woman can mimic any accent from anywhere in the world. That’s it. I’d want to be Meryl Streep.