Author Interview: Shelley Sackier

Meet Shelley Sackier.

Shelley Sackier, photo credit Jinx
Photo credit: Jinx

I’m a writer, musician, distiller, and winner of many useless solid gold plastic trophies for effort and participation.

I am also the author of The Freemason’s Daughter (HarperTEEN 2017—a story about a sixteen-year old Scottish girl living in 1715, who is raised entirely by six burly Scotsman. And they’re all smugglers.), Dear Opl (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky 2015—a tale about a cheeky, overweight thirteen-year old girl who struggles from loss everywhere in her life except on her body.), and the upcoming novel, The Antidote (HarperTEEN 2019—a novel about medicine and magic and the witches who wield them both).

I was born in Wisconsin, trained as a classical musician, and spent my youth touring with big band swing orchestras.

Having spent years first working in the entertainment industry as a singer/songwriter, I soon realized I needed more space for my stories than just two verses, a bridge, and a chorus. Novels provided great relief.

Most days, I am writing both middle grade and young adult novels, but I also visit schools to illuminate the merits of embracing failure just like NASA and to further my campaign to erect monuments to all librarians.

I currently live on top of a mountain that just barely registers on maps as a mountain within the Blue Ridge of Central Virginia. And as a curator of tales, I regularly blog about life at home which is like being in the middle of a National Geographic special but without the film crew.

Social media links:
Website ~ http://www.shelleysackier.com,
Facebook ~ @ShelleySackierBooks
Twitter ~ @ShelleySackier
Instagram ~ @ShelleySackier
Pinterest ~ ShelleySackier

 

The Interview.

“In the world of healers, there is no room for magic.” What if you lived in a world without healers but where magic ran rampant? Why did you decided to have the act of healing counteract your magical world’s rules?

When the remaining witches in the realm of Aethusa finally regrouped after being driven underground following the great slaughtering of anyone who held magic, they concluded that the only way they could survive was to conceal their skills. As the practice of medicine and the results of a healer’s hands are elusive to most medically untrained individuals, and remedies are often passed off gratefully as miraculous curatives, the work of a physic seemed the safest employment and an environment where the witches could both utilize their skills and help the inhabitants of each of their kingdoms without being discovered to possess banned abilities.

And although I truly believe we all live in a world where magic runs rampant (maybe not Harry Potter styled wand casting magic, but one where the yet-to-be-explained manifestations of transcendent experiences occur everywhere and often), I would be greatly pained to discover that healers–those who seek to bandage and mend the world’s maladies–weren’t a part of it. I think magic alone cannot fill the void of humanity’s ability to show empathy and provide mercy.
I adore your bio – “I’m in charge of full bellies and clean underwear—tasks I take with an element of humor and pride.” How do you balance your writing with being a parent? Do your children’s (human and fur babies!) antics find ways into your writing?

Well, firstly, my children are no longer officially considered “children.” According to our government’s laws, they are both eligible to vote and take an element of pride in utilizing that privilege–even if they are both dashing to educate themselves on the issues at the last minute. I’ll take it. They’re exercising their civic duty. But the days of school runs are a thing of the past, and sit down family meals only materialize when one or both of them arrive on my doorstep for free food and pleading for airfare reimbursement.

Nowadays, it is strictly the girth of all fur-faced creatures I attend. My own routine has simplified to roll out of bed, locate jar of almond butter and jug of kombucha, write, wrestle with all four-legged creatures to maintain my keen animal instinct for survival, write, and crawl back into bed.

And absolutely everything finds its way into my writing. My daughter’s immediate decision at birth to eventually work for NASA (and she does) has been one of the most rich sources of inspiration for me. I’ve met countless people with planet-sized brains embracing the act of failure as a part of their job description. I want to be those people when I grow up. But probably more important, I have found ways to write and speak to school kids about these less than embraced concepts, offering them a path toward accomplishment without the unachievable demands for perfection.

My son’s self-possessed knowledge of who he was from the moment he discovered words to enlighten me on the topic was an eye-opener. A child who refused to be squished into anyone else’s “system,” he proved time and time again to me that some people have a compass that is so finely tuned, they find no need for re-calibrating. He showed me how non-conformist children suffer by being labeled as “difficult and contrary” verses “visionary and courageous.” I’m drawn to adolescents like this and feel the world needs more literature to encourage our youth to embrace what resonates with them instead of becoming doppelgangers of others with louder voices and heftier power.

As far as the fur faces? My experiences with all of them teach me about instinct, survival, pecking order, strength, vulnerability, and unabated joy. Every inch of this knowledge colors my novels from Once upon a time until The End.
Out of your novels so far, what one would you sneak a visit for a day? Who would you want to meet?

Oh, easy one. The Freemason’s Daughter. I am wholly smitten with this time period, the growing visibility of women who refused to be suppressed and censored within it, and with this area of England and Scotland in general. And to meet? Again, super easy to answer. Daniel Delafuente, the dark-haired Spaniard who plays self-elected guardian to young Jenna, the plucky and risk-taking protagonist. It’s not just that his quiet air of confidence leaves one weak-kneed, or that his hypnotic and syrupy voice leaves you all swoon-y, it’s because I would one day like to meet someone who can calmly listen to me as I vociferously argue and debate a topic and then, unruffled and focused on fact, will pull back the lens on that topic and illuminate to me that which I could not see. I crave people who are remarkable communicators and teachers.
Are there any cliches or stereotypes you try to battle or emphasize in your stories?

This is a timely question, as I’ve recently been having a series of discussions with other authors about these very topics, debating both sides of using or eliminating them within our writing.

Pigeonholing people–modeling them after tired templates is a tricky tightrope to walk. I’ve always felt there is room for the statement There’s truth in stereotype, but there is a much broader space available for singularity. I don’t believe one can exist without the other. Some people are comfortable living and operating within a pre-outlined code of behavior, demonstrated daily to them by those who hold most influence over them. Others crave anything but a predictable path, and refuse to be typecast as a foregone conclusion.

Both can hold value, and I believe I try to infuse many of my characters with a palette of traits that suggest they can be both dependably predictable and remarkably distinct. Those, I feel, are the most interesting people I’ve met in my lifetime and wish to bring them to the page for readers to appreciate.
If you could write a short ode to your upcoming release, The Antidote, what would it say?

A secret is a marvelous thing.
A dangerous, wicked, wonderful thing.
When first discovered, you’ll see its tiny border threads.
Pull one, and watch the untethering.
The fraying and unraveling of truth.
The revealing of tightly hidden filaments
Bound together to shut out light and hide knowledge.
Be excited. But be careful of that first tug.
The world unravels.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

I repeatedly say thank you to any and all deities out there who may have had an unseen hand in nudging my unfolding fate in the direction of writing. I feel it is an unbelievable privilege to work every day with what I deem to be a crucial and consequential responsibility to readers: helping them discover who they are, what they desire, and what they believe in, but more important, helping them envision what they can become.
Thank you to everyone who has read any of my writing. I cherish this relationship and plan to serve you as best I possibly can.

 

Thank you Shelley for stopping by today!

Happy Book Birthday to THE ANTIDOTE – out now!

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