Monday, November 17, 2014

Author Interview: Sara M. Drake (Family Heir)

Family Heir is a fantastic book that tackles Big Foot mythology. I am thrilled author Sara Drake joins me to talk about the novel, Big Foot, and how Government bureaucracy is inescapable, even in fictional worlds. (Make sure you read to the end to enter the Amazon gift card giveaway.) Welcome, Sara!

Tell me about Family Heir.

Family Heir follows Kelley’s search for a killer paranormal creature. With her ex-husband and a federal agent in tow, Kelley takes off to the Rocky Mountains. However, what they find is nothing they could have imagined.

What inspired you to tell Kelley’s story?

It started because I wanted to write something my best friend would enjoy! I’d just “forced” her to read a science fiction novel I wrote. She muscled through it even though she’s not a fan of the genre. However, once I started getting the characters worked out, Kelley pretty much told her own story.

Big Foot is a very usual topic for paranormal romance/urban fantasy. What drew you to the Big Foot myth?

I live in Utah, which is rich in local Big Foot lore. I love urban fantasy and paranormal but after a while the normal cast of creatures gets old. I wanted to write about something new and fresh. Plus, I think the genre neglects the rich traditions that already exist in North America. Big Foot fits the bill perfectly. Big Foot tales come from the native tribes, the early settlers, and modern society. I can’t believe there isn’t more literature drawing on those traditions. Some of the tales have a remarkable beauty to them.

I love that the first chapter or so focused on the bureaucracy of the government agency tasked to find this weird monstrous animal—even in the paranormal universe, there is endless paper work! What inspired that idea? 

When I first envisioned the world of Family Heir I had X-Files in mind. However, I’ve worked for the federal government for nearly twenty years and can’t imagine a government agency that doesn’t have piles of paperwork for the simplest thing. Well, they tell you to write what you know but no one warned me that what you know will write itself in regardless of what you want! Brett’s background drew on the stories I hear everyday. I’ve been active duty Air Force, a reservist, and a civilian working for the military for so long that it feels natural to include parts of that world in my writing.

Kelley’s ex-husband is a man of few words — I giggled so much at his one and two word responses to her. Can you tell us more about their relationship? 

I loved writing Troy’s dialogue! He’s a great character for comic scenes. I think we’ve all known someone who’s frustrated us because they can’t communication. I know I’ve worked with a couple I just wanted to shake until words flew out. As for Troy and Kelley, they have that complex dynamic of two people who grew up together. There’s deep affection there but also the built up frustration of two opposite personalities. The real key to their relationship stems from the amount they depend on each other. Neither of them functions at their best alone and that’s something they both need to learn to do. 

You are an accomplished academic—how does that part of your life influence/enhance your writing life? 

Hmmm… the biggest influence may be the weird references that sneak into my writing. My beta readers have to remind me that not everyone knows Plato and maybe I need to explain :-D I’m a geek all the way through and it dribbles out my ears (or mouth or keyboard). My degrees in psychology and history help me with the character and world building and often shape the directions the story goes in. I find the academics and the writing to naturally work together.

Now that Family Heir is released, what’s next for you?

I have a draft for the first book in a quartet based on our modern world after magic suddenly returns. It takes place at a Magic University and plays with the idea of how disrupting magic would be in our society. I also have a science fiction novel featuring an autistic main character that I hope to have out this spring. Next up after that, a Beauty and the Beast tale that focuses on what comes after the happy ending. I can’t believe I’m the only person that thought the Beast was hotter before he became human :-D And how does “species” change effect a relationship?

Do you have any writing rituals?

Not really. I prefer to write in the morning when my mind’s free of all the day’s clutter but I take what time I can find. My only ritual involves writer’s block. For some reason, cleaning inspires me. Or maybe I hate chores so much that my mind hurries up with the next great idea to give me an excuse to stop!

Where is your favorite place to write?

Curled on the couch, under a fuzzy blanket!!! However, that’s not the healthiest posture in the world! I try to write at my desk but somehow I end up back on the couch with my laptop! The best writing ambience: snowy day, fire going, and nowhere to go.

What inspires you to write? 

Everything and anything! I’ve had story ideas running through my head since I can remember. I’ll hear a bit of conversation, song lyric, or see a squirrel and suddenly get an idea for a scene or story. It sounds totally cheesy, but I write because some of the characters seem so “real” that I feel their stories deserve to be told.

What 5 books are on your bookshelf right now?

My to read shelf has

Spells at the Crossroads by Barbara Ashford
Bastion by Mercedes Lackey
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
With Our Back to the Walls by David Stevenson
The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman

What do you recommend people see/read/hear?

Well (obviously) I think everyone should read Family Heir! :-D Oh, you mean outside of trying to sell my own book! Hmmm…I’ve been on a Lois McMaster Bujold kick recently. If you haven’t read her works, I encourage you to give them a try. I think she may be one of the best writers in fantasy and science fiction. My second recommendation would be anything by Carrie Vaughn.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog! It’s been a pleasure!

Family Heir is sponsoring a giveaway. Enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card. That'll buy you lots of Family Heir copies!  
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  1. Wonderful questions! And I'm excited to read more of her stuff, especially the one about magic! Thanks so much for hosting a tour stop!

  2. Thanks so much for having me on your blog!

    Sara M. Drake

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