Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author, and Tecolote
Are you ready for a literary journey bringing writers of my favorite genres––fantasy, visionary fiction, and sci-fi––into contact with readers of those genres? The participating authors on this hop have been given a series of questions to answer. As you read our answers, you will get a deeper look at our writing/personal processes and personalities. You’ll come to know us better.
If you comment on our posts, we can get to know you better.
To start things off, a big SHOUT OUT to ELENI PAPANOU, who invited me to participate in this Blog Hop. (Click previous sentence to got her her blog hop page.) Eleni is a wonderful writer of Visionary and Science Fiction. You can read an excerpt of Eleni’s Unison here. You can purchase her book Unison (The Spheral) by clicking here.
Another shout out to my friends and fellow members of the Visionary Fiction Alliance. If you go to the blog you can find all sorts of information about Visionary Fiction, including definitions of the genre by different people, articles, excerpts from books. Lots. Go Visionaries!
LINKS TO BLOGS OF PARTICIPATING AUTHORS FOLLOW: Clicking on the links below will introduce you to them, giving you new literary and personal adventures. You may fall in love. I’ll be adding to links as the authors report in.
TUI ALLEN, author of Ripple.Tui’s website. Tui’s blog
ALEX SUMNER, author of How To Cast A Love Spell, a novella in the series The Demon Detective, and other stories. Alex’s Blog Post
I’LL PLUNGE IN WITH MY STORY. I’M SANDY NATHAN. I’ve got six books in print. Between them, they’ve won twenty-four national awards, and have garnered 55 or so five star reviews on Amazon. Here are my answers to the questions:
1. WHAT IS THE WORKING TITLE OF YOUR BOOK OR PROJECT?
Here we run into our first problem with standardized questions. Or maybe my first problem with standardization. I don’t fit in a box and neither does my work. It is quirky and I am quirky. OK. The working title of WHICH book or project?
At the moment, I’m working on five or so projects. Top priority is the editing of the sequel to my multi-award winning novel, Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money. Numenonis the story of the richest man in the world meeting a great Native American shaman. Numenon is the first book of the Bloodsong Series, Bloodsong 1.
Its sequel, Mogollon: A Tale of Mysticism & Mayhem, has been written in draft form since 1995. Eighteen years of pounding the keyboard. Mogollon has been the hardest project of my life, and it’s coming to a very satisfactory conclusion. Which will allow me to finish the next book in the series, which will probably be titled Phenomenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Miracles. (The series is about mysticism and its juxtaposition with life in the material world. Numenon was the top ranked book in mysticism on Amazon for about a year.)
My other works in progress include Assassin for the Dark Lord and Forsaken for the Witch’s Love. I just finished the draft manuscripts for these sci-fi adventure/love stories. The are ready to go to my editor. These rolled out of my brain as easily as Mogollon tore up my guts. They mark a new level of freedom of expression and incorporate characters that would make my literature-professor mentor croak. In other words, they are really fun. These books are unfortunately Bloodsong 5 & 6, so it will be a while before I spring them on you. (I’ve got to get Bloodsong 2 through 4 in print.)
My other work in progress has been working with a designer to retitle and put new covers on the three books of my sci-fi series, Earth’s End. I’ll post the new covers. They’re linked to the current books. (Interiors are the same between editions.) Pretty cool transformation, huh? I’m working on a splashy release for the retitled books.
- The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy
- Lady Grace & the War for a New World
- The Headman & the Assassin
2. WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR THE BOOK OR PROJECT(S) COME FROM?
From really rotten things happening to me. I’ve gotten almost 100% of my inspiration from dealing with pain and loss. My brother dying tragically brought me The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy and the other two books of Earth’s End. My life melting down and dealing with trauma brought me the Bloodsong series.
I did write a cute kids’ book about a premature horse born on our ranch that wasn’t the fruit of disaster. Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is adorable and won a bunch of prizes. Even this cute entrant had a heart-breaking element. The real horse, Tecolote, died of heart failure days after his book began winning awards. It was incredibly painful for all involved. Tecolote was my personal horse.I don’t know that I’ll ever love a horse as much.
Writing is my way of holding and dealing with tragedy. It’s not all tragic and heavy, but I don’t write like a girl. My stuff is gritty. I’d give everything but Tecolote and Stepping Off the Edge, my self-help/spirituality title, an R rating if they were movies.
3. WHAT GENRE DOES IT FALL UNDER, IF ANY?
I write everything from juvenile non-fiction, to new age, to memoir, to a kind of visionary/psychological/fantasy/sci-fi. I have a very broad range of subjects. For instance, even though I am a straight old lady, my two latest manuscripts are gay-themed.
4. WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO PLAY YOUR CHARACTERS IN A MOVIE?
I was invited to take part in this blog hop and given a bunch of canned questions to answer, which I did, in an offhand way, taking about two seconds for it. This morning I woke up and thought, That’s stupid. You don’t have to follow orders from a semi-anonymous list.
Something inside me said: Wake it up; make it breathe. Show them Numenon.
Do you know what the word numenon (noumenon) means? It’s the thing-in-itself, reality beyond the material world. We can never know the numenon. All we can know is what comes in through the senses. Our reality is limited to our brains’ interpretation of incoming nerve impulses. We cannot get to the world as it is. Ever. It’s been that way since Immanuel Kant laid out the problem in 1783 with The Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic.
The cover of Numenon is based on a Shiva Nataraj, the Dancing Shiva. Shiva is one of the Hindu trinity, the part representing destruction, but which also has a powerful creative backflow. Shiva is also the all-pervasive aspect of God, existing always and everywhere.
Numenon’s hero, Will Duane, chose the Shiva Nataraj as his corporation’s logo. Numenon is the largest and most powerful corporation in history, named after a philosophical concept most will never understand. Its icon is the face of God.
I’m sure you’re getting that we’re not talking about reality TV or game shows here. I write for grown-ups, about big issues.
Numenon is about the richest man in the world going to a spiritual retreat held by a great Native American shaman. The story could easily degenerate into a good, spiritual Natives vs. greedy, bad corporate people. It doesn’t. Both the shaman and the rich guy have closely held reasons for meeting the other, but book is essentially the Native world juxtaposed against Silicon Valley.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE TWO CULTURES REPRESENTED IN Numenon. WE’LL START WITH SILICON VALLEY. I know most about that. I was born in San Francisco and lived in the heart of what became the Valley most of my life: Palo Alto, Cupertino, Atherton, and Woodside.
Numenon’s hero is the richest man in the world. What’s it like being around someone like that? I haven’t met Bill Gates or any of the planet’s economic luminaries. I have met my dad. He rose from a penniless immigrant to the owner to the 9th largest residential construction company in the US. People do not have that kind of success because they’re lazy or stupid,
My dad moved at as high a speed as a human being could go, dancing on a razor’s edge. He was brilliant, disciplined, and way beyond hard working. Explosive. Demanding. As inspiring as any minister.
What was it like living with him? Like having Secretariat in the kitchen. Thrilling and terrifying. My dad had the whole package: brains, guts (major WWII war hero), physical power (weight lifter, wrestler and water skier). And spiritual experiences. The heartless, soulless businessman is a myth. My dad had visions and prophetic dreams, not ones that he’d recognize as such, but he had them. I recognized them when he told me about them.
Will Duane is based somewhat on my dad, and many other men I knew and lived near in Silicon Valley.
How would cast my book if it were made into a movie? I’d put Ed Harris in for Will Duane, CEO and founder of Numenon. Ed Harris has the intensity and intelligence, as well as acting ability, to play someone as complicated and tormented as Will Duane. I will never forget the visceral pain of Harris’s searing performance as a gay man dying of AIDs in The Hours.
Will goes to the Native retreat in a caravan of matched RVs, including his own million-dollar motor home. It’s the Numenon way. “The Best of the Best: That’s Numenon.” He brings a professional and support staff to the retreat, including a world-class chef.
Will only hires first-in-their-class MBAs (Master’s of Business Administration) from top schools for his personal staff. Those are just words. Do you know what it means to be first in your class at the Harvard Business School or the Stanford Graduate School of Business? Think Secretariat on speed.
I was in the doctoral program at Stanford’s graduate school of business once (“the year I almost got an ulcer”). One of my fellow doctoral students had been first in his Stanford MBA class before deciding to get a PhD. Really nice guy. He’ll probably take over the world one day.
That’s the kind of person I’m describing when I say Hillary Swank could play Melissa Weir, the Harvard MBA who is Will Duane’s protégé. Melissa’s achievement in school and at Numenon is astonishing. Hillary is smart, intense, and a super actress. Plus after playing in Million Dollar Baby, she could knock the bad buys into the next county, just like Melissa.
Russell Crowe would do well as Doug Saunders, Will’s hatchet man and the corporate bad boy. Doug was top of his MBA class at Stanford and has adapted to the Numenon code, which is something like, “If you can screw it, do it.”
WHAT ABOUT THE NATIVE AMERICAN SIDE?
Grandfather, the shaman who is the heart of Numenon and the whole Bloodsong Series, is impossible to cast. I’ve had the good fortune to study with two meditation masters and a tai chi master. I did this over a long time––about thirty years, all told.
What’s is being with one of these giants of humanity like? When I approached my first meditation master, my brain would bliss out when I got within ten feet from him; I couldn’t think at all. People in the meditation hall (including me) routinely had experiences similar to those in the Bible. Visions, raptures, prophetic knowledge. Love overflowing in every direction. The experiences I had in long––all night, sometimes––chants were so intensely pleasurable that I can imagine nothing better, including everything.
When I was writing Numenon, I modeled Joseph Bishop––the name given to Grandfather by white people in the Indian Schools––after the spiritual masters I have known.
I apparently nailed him. One person who had studied with a Native shaman told me, “You really got the shaman. The man I studied with was exactly like that.” I’ve also had Native Americans tell me, “I want to study with Joseph Bishop.” Sorry, he doesn’t exist.
While a number of actors could portray people from Silicon Valley, no actor could portray Grandfather and his Power. A real shaman or spiritual master could do it, but I don’t know any that would want the job. It’s a matter of wattage.
Other Native American characters: Four thousand people attend the retreat. Many casting opportunities exist. I’ll pick a few.
Wesley Silverhorse has a small part in Numenon. His part is larger in Mogollon, Numenon’s sequel and keeps going through the rest of the Bloodsong Series. But he could have a one-line part and take over the book; he’s that spectacular.
Wesley Silverhorse is an archetype. The word “archetype” derives from the Greek and Latin, meaning “beginning, origin” and “pattern, model, type.” An archetype is the pattern for a certain type of human being. Earth mother, seductress, child, hero, martyr, wise old man/woman, warrior, mentor, trickster, and, never to be forgotten, the devil or Satan, are archetypes.
The easiest way to explain archetypes is to tell a story. Numenon has been around in draft form since 1995, maybe ’98. The character Wesley Silverhorse popped into my mind early on. He is an archetype known as: The Babe. He’s gorgeous. As the hero, he’s also kind, and smart, empathetic, brave, and as spiritually adept as most saints. He’s an unbeatable warrior. Because of his spiritual development, the People believe he will be Grandfather’s successor, over the shaman’s birth-grandson. He is so good looking that even old ladies like me swoon contemplating his imagined image.
Wesley Silverhorse became a fixture in my family’s life. If I was driving with my daughters and saw a fantastic looking, maybe Native, guy, I’d shout out, “Whoa! Is he Wesley?” They’d respond, “Nah, that guy back on University Ave. was better.”
A man could be “half a Wesley” or a “quarter of a Wesley.” We never got a full Wesley, but the search was fun. It was a great way to bond with my daughters. Try it with your kids.
The point being that Wesley can’t exist in the real world. Nothing is as glowing as the contents of consciousness, and Wesley is that––the construction of my subconscious. (A note about this. Archetypes can be dangerous. They are mesmerizing, and very powerful psychologically. If you find someone who looks like Wesley and toss your hubbie of thirty years in a lust-flavored rush, this is probably a mistake. By the time you figure it out, it will be too late.)
So, who would I cast as Wesley Silverhorse? I started by doing basic research, Googling Beautiful Native American Men. This search provided many tantalizing possibilities. Check it out. Everyone needs inspiration.
I quickly settled on (drumroll . . .) Rick Mora. You’ll see him all over (and pretty much all or him) on his website and the Beautiful Native American Men search. He comes about as close to the fictitious Wesley Silverhorse as I can imagine. (In the interest of scholarly investigation, I will keep looking, of course.)
The only person in the world better looking than Wesley Silverhorse is his younger brother, Benny. Rick Mora could play him, too.
Exceptionally beautiful people face a problem: objectification. Admirers turn them into collections of body parts and take away their essence. Also the “entire package” I mention above. Beautiful people have many qualities in addition to their looks: moral principles, feelings, values, will, drive, intelligence, loyalty, love, fidelity and many other attributes. Those who focus on looks alone miss all that.
Traditionally, women have been objectified most: Marilyn Monroe and all the Playboy centerfolds. Now men are being objectified by women. Jon Hamm (MadMen) has complained of this. Here’s an article about it (don’t be shocked.)
I’m sorry, Mr. Mora, if I have objectified you. I’d like to invite readers to check out his web site. He’s involved with a number of causes and is way more than a pretty face.
Other Native American cast members: Wes Studi could play a few parts. Do you know who he is? He’s got all the intensity of Ed Harris. Wes could play Dr. Tyler Brand, the very cool Native American professor and spirit warrior. Or Paul Running Bird, Mr. Sleaze. Tantoo Cardinal could play Leona Brand, Tyler Brand’s politician wife.
The characters go on and on––this book would be a Native American actors’ Stimulus Package if made into a film. (I’d settle for a mini-series like Game of Thrones . . .)
OH! WHAT OTHER ARCHETYPES SHOW UP? When you’re talking about ultimate good, what comes up in response? Ultimate evil. Who’s that? That good ol’ Dark Lord, Satan. Who has a bit part in Numenon and a major part in Mogollon.
That’s it. If you want to buy the book, you can get it on Amazon as a hardback or a Kindle version. The hardback is beautiful. You can also get the hardback from me for less than half of what Amazon’s charging.
Here’s the book on my web site, which talks about its six national awards and what reviewers and experts have said about it.
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money
5. GIVE A ONE-SENTENCE SYNOPSIS OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT OR PROJECT? Tomorrow morning, a nuclear holocaust will destroy the planet; only a 16-year-old tech genius and an exquisite visitor from another world can save it. That’s for The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy.
6. WILL YOUR BOOK OR STORY BE SELF-PUBLISHED OR REPRESENTED BY AN AGENCY? Internationally, my work is represented by an agent. Domestically, we own our own small press.
7. HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT? Varies. I’ve been working on Mogollon since 1995. I wrote the first draft of The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy in five weeks.
8. WHAT OTHER BOOK OR STORIES WOULD YOU COMPARE TO THIS STORY? My work has been compared to that of many authors. A reviewer said that Numenon was “Bill Gates meets Don Juan.” The Earth’s End series has been compared to Stephen King’s The Stand by several reviewers. It’s also been compared to 1984. Reviewers have compared me to Orson Scott Card and Aldous Huxley. The number 26 Amazon reviewer said Lady Grace reminded him of Ray Bradbury, combined with the whimsicality of Douglas Adams. Those are great writers. If people want to compare my work to theirs, great!
9. WHO OR WHAT INSPRIED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK OR STORY? As noted above: terrible things inspire my writing. My work is not all tragedy. Some of it is very funny.
10. WHAT ELSE ABOUT THE BOOK OR STORY MIGHT PIQUE THE READER’S INTEREST? I love magic. I love enchantment. I like to write characters that you’ll never forget and create worlds that you don’t want to leave. I am a sorceress with words. And I love my readers, and my characters.
Sandy’s Amazon Author Page. Click here of on image.
HERE ARE LINKS TO AND DESCRIPTIONS OF SANDY’S SIX BOOKS!
They range from wild sci-fi to adorable children’s nonfiction. You’ll find something you’ll like in the list below:
- NUMENON, a novel about the richest man in the world meeting a great Native American shaman
- STEPPING OFF THE EDGE, a modern day spiritual companion
- TECOLOTE, the adorable kids’ book about a baby horse.
- EARTH’S END––the new, three book sci-fi/fantasy/visionary series that takes you to the end of the earth, and beyond.
The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy––An angelic girl shows up on the sidewalks of New York City in 2197. Or is she a girl? Jeremy Edgarton, teenage genius and revolutionary decodes the transmissions. They say the world will blow up tomorrow morning.
Lady Grace––The radiation has cleared. A few survivors make it back to Piermont Manor to start a new life. What they face is a battle more deadly than any they’ve fought. Evolution can work for evil as well as good.
Sam & Emily––Can love live in an echoing cement bomb shelter three hundred feet below the earth’s surface? Find out in Sam and Emily as headman Sam Baahuhd falls in love with a beautiful assassin.