Interview with ‘The Review From Here’
Could you please tell us a little about your book?
Chosen Soldiers follows the life of young soldier Sloan, who is stationed at the military-training Academy, on an unknown island, in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world. She soon discovers that, as the war she has been preparing for looms closer, the foundations of her training, personal relationships and life thus far, have been corrupted by lies and violence. The book follows the development of the young protagonist as a soldier, a woman and an individual, learning how to navigate an ever changing and dangerous world. Constantly faced with violence, deceit and terror, she has to discover whom she can actually trust, when alliances are needed most.
What cause are you most passionate about and why?
I am passionate about causes involving bringing an end to animal abuse, animal abandonment, wildlife poaching, and the impact of environmental degradation on animal populations. My mother is a gifted animal behaviourist, who was raised by two animal behaviourists. As a family, they changed the working-animal industry and because of them I believe humans, on the whole, need to repair their relationship with non-human species and to stop viewing non-human animals as inanimate/soulless/lesser, etc. and begin to approach them with respect and support, before our planet loses any more of its incredible creatures. Along with my strong support for animal-welfare, I am very passionate towards the idea of true human equality, particularly for marriage, race and gender. I’m ‘intolerant to intolerance’, so to say. Hating or mistreating someone for his or her immutable traits (gender, sexual preference, race) is inexcusable.
Do you have any rituals you follow when finishing a piece of work?
Harassing my loved ones. My older sister is the fastest reader I have ever known, my mother has a keen eye for detail, my younger sister has an amazing ability to see teeny tiny plot holes or overarching storyline possibilities, and my fiancé has endless patience. As I write, I harass them all in to reading/listening/editing/opining—they are my source of strength and I couldn’t write without the roles they play in the process.
What is the most important thing in your life right now?
My family. My family has always been, and will continue to always be, as it grows in size (loving on my fiancé), the most important part of my life.
You know the scenario – you’re stuck on an island. What book would you bring with you and why?
“How to Build a Teleportation Device with Nothing but Sand, Coconuts and Determination.” OR my massive 3-in-1 bound The Lord of the Rings trilogy, because J.R.R Tolkien was a genius. OR, if it can be any kind of book, it would be a photo album of my loved ones. I’m clearly not great with these questions. Apologies.
What is your favorite past-time?
Spending time with my loved ones. My mother has always stressed the importance of travel and would insist we see new places and experience new cultures/foods/trains of thought, as a family. Whether we are on a beach, in the woods, amongst wildlife or walking the busiest streets in the world, I value our time together as family. As I further my academic career, I have had to be away from my immediate family and my fiancé. The distance has only reinforced my certainty that time with them is my greatest joy.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
The cross over between readers, writers, and book enthusiasts is astounding, and you learn this more and more as you begin to play a role in each area. Support your fellow artist, read a friend’s work, encourage your favorite author on social media, criticism should be constructive and appreciation for a beloved-book should extend well past the author alone and onto the behind-the-scenes professionals who also worked on the piece tirelessly (agents, publishers, editors—they’re amazing, their contribution is immeasurable, and they deserve praise too).
Interview with Literal Exposure
What is your favorite quality about yourself?
By and large, with the extreme exceptions, I’m nonjudgmental. I’m not interested in who you were yesterday; I want to know who you want to be tomorrow.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself?
I’m a workaholic. I will sit down to write and if I am on a roll, there’s really no interrupting me.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but approached it more seriously around the age of twenty-two.
When did you first know you could be a writer?
I think I always knew I could be a writer, but coming from a line of successful authors, some part of me was apprehensive to show my work to anyone who could possibly help me translate my passion of writing into a career. A while back, I was sitting in a friend’s apartment, talking to a fantastic young man who asked me (far more eloquently and in many more words!) that if I knew what I wanted to be doing with my life why was I wasting my time doing anything else? His words changed my entire life. As soon as I was home, I started my first draft of Chosen Soldiers.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began?
Nearly everyone in my life has been a wonderful influence on and supporter of my writing. My mother and sisters read every draft of Chosen Soldiers and became so invested in the story that they possibly know parts of it, or certain characters, better than I do! They encouraged me daily, and they influenced every aspect of the piece. I frequently tell my fiancé that he is my muse, as his presence in my life and our beautiful relationship has had a massive influence on not just my writing style but also on my literary interests and intended pieces.
Who or what influenced your writing over the years?
I come from a family of artists—writers, photographers, and designers… Having been raised in an incredibly creative environment around individuals who have an unwavering devotion to the arts, I was hard pressed to find someone who didn’t influence my writing.
What made you want to be a writer?
I nearly always answer this question with the same answer. I feel true writers don’t have a choice—they are born needing to write, as all artists are born with the need to develop, create and express. I first felt this artistic need as a child, when a story came to me, out of the blue, and I knew, more than anything, that I had to write it down. That has continued to happen ever since. As my family is made up of many accomplished artists and writers, I felt we were always encouraged to find whatever medium best suited us for expression. My older sister is an amazing photographer, her husband a photographer and writer, my younger sister is a fashion designer, my mother a writer and my grandparents had careers as authors and fine artists. I didn’t choose to be a writer—writing chose me.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
That was a feat within itself! My entire family, myself and my wonderful agent, Richard Curtis, spent the longest time coming up with titles, mixing around word combinations, contemplating symbolism and characters, and finally the combination of Chosen Soldiers came about and stuck.
Are there any current books that have grasped your interest?
Too many to count! There are a lot of incredible new writers producing quality work at the moment and it’s a very exciting time for authors and readers alike.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Writing in certain plot changes that I knew would break readers’ hearts but ultimately added value to the overall piece. It’s a necessary, but oddly difficult, process.
Did you learn anything while writing your book? If so, what was it?
Never underestimate the value of a family member who can read 300+ pages in two and a bit hours. Also, that the whole world needs to know more about the greater ‘behind-the-scenes’ literary individuals. The agents, editors, publishers, assistants, readers… A book is the product of a team of gifted individuals, not solely the author. These people are amazing and deserve acknowledgment.
Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you. Be creative, you can talk about your first job, something that inspires you, anything fun that might grab the readers attention.
1. I lived on three continents by the age of twenty-one. 2. I don’t love the word ‘causes’ but if it has to be used, two causes I feel strongly towards are bringing an end to animal abuse (spanning from domestic animal abandonment to wildlife poaching) and abolishing homophobic attitudes and policies. Equality is key. 3. I prefer the forest to the beach but my fiancé loves to surf so I am begrudgingly growing accustomed to sand.