It’s blowing a gale here in northern England today. The streets are dark, wet and miserable, and we’re a long way from my guest’s California Sun. I’ve turned the central heating up and put my Beach Boys CD on, but somehow I don’t think this is going to cut it.
So I’m hoping a nice cup of hot chocolate and a slice of pecan nut pie might just do the trick!
Welcome to Yorkshire, author Mikki Sadil!
Whereabouts in California do you live, Mikki? I live in a small Victorian town on the Central Coast, with my husband, and our zoo of one determined Welsh Corgi, one lazy Siamese cat, and two very bossy parrots. We love it up here, being retired from ranch life in Southern California. Our town is charming, and we’re close to the Pacific Ocean, which we both love.
As the rain hammers on my window, I’m dreaming of that warm ocean breeze right now!
Where is your favourite place in the world? I’ve been very fortunate to have travelled to many states in the US, lived in several different ones as a military brat, and to have lived in five foreign countries: the Philippines, Germany, France, Spain, and Mexico…although in California, Mexico is hardly considered a “foreign” country any more! I loved Alaska when I lived there, and also Germany, but I think my favourite place has always been our ranch in Southern California.
Being a writer is a great job. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? Honestly, I’ve never had a bad job, certainly not a worst one! When I finished grad school, I taught Sociology classes as well as Statistics and Research Methodology to junior and senior university students. Before that, as a teen from age 13 to 19, I sang professionally in Musical Theatre. I’m a professional artist, and taught painting for more than 20 years, at the same time I was training horses for the show ring. Now I’m an author. Maybe a better question would be, What was your favourite job? But I couldn’t answer that one, because I loved them all, and now I love to write.
What fabulous jobs! And a wealth of inspiration for a writer!
What book do you wish you’d written? I can’t say there are any books I wish I’d written. I have so much admiration for so many of the authors of books I’ve read, from childhood to present day. I’ve admired their honesty, their humor, their imaginations, their realism, their sensitivity and pathos, and in some, their vast knowledge. It’s more that I’ve said, “I wish I had that kind of imagination,” after reading Charlotte’s Web as a kid, or one of the more recent Harry Potter books. Or, “I wish I had the kind of sense of humor that Jeff Kinney has, with his ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ books.” Or even, “I wish I could be as creative as Roald Dahl is, when his books range from humor/funny to more like ‘funny’ in an odd or peculiar way.” But I’ve never thought to myself, I wish I had written that.
What’s your favourite song? There are too many to name. Being from the “old world” of Musical Theatre, one of my most favourite is Make Believe, from the Musical Theatre show, Show Boat. Music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The younger people who read this probably never heard of the show, the song, or the two song writers! Frankly, I don’t care for most of the music of today, with all the yelling and screaming and indecipherable lyrics that is supposed to pass as “music.” I guess I’m showing my age, but I’ll take the Golden Oldies any day!
Nothing wrong with the oldies!
If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you say to them? I would love to be able to see my maternal grandmother again. She and my grandfather were straight off the boat from France, and from the time I could talk, she spoke only French with me. She was musical, she was a painter, and I loved her dearly. She died on my 8th birthday, and I have always wished she could have lived to know me as an adult, and to know that I inherited her musical and artistic talents. I think she would have approved.
Your grandmother would be proud of you!
What’s your happiest childhood memory? I think probably my happiest memory was when I was twelve, and we landed in California. My father informed us that he was finally permanently stationed and we would not be moving again. Having lived on one military base to another, from state to state and country to country, all from the age of seven, I was sick of moving, sick of never having time to make friends, and if I did, having to leave them behind. It’s a horrible life for a kid, and when I knew that I could actually go to the same school for more than a few weeks or a couple of months at a time, and could really make friends who could stay my friends, I was ecstatic!
If you had to marry a fictional character, from film, television, or books, who would it be? Now that’s a hard question! One of my favourite actors in any role was Cary Grant, and I especially liked his portrayal of Roger Thornhill in North by Northwest. So, perhaps him.
Then, of course, there is Harrison Ford, whom I have loved in just about every role he’s ever played. From a more recent standpoint, I really enjoy Nathan Fillion’s role of Richard Castle on the TV show, Castle. I think I could go for him!
That’s three husbands there, Mikki! :)
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you? I have learned to never give up. And most of that lesson really had nothing to do with writing. The last sixteen months have been extremely traumatic for my husband and me and for our family. We have gone from one tragedy to another, and sometimes, the temptation to just quit the fight has been overwhelming. But I didn’t. I couldn’t, because everyone else was leaning on me, and sometimes it was an overpowering burden to carry on. I didn’t give up, my family didn’t, and we’re all stronger people for it. So I’ve learned to never give up, on yourself, on life, on the people you love, and eventually you’ll come out the other side of the darkness a better and a stronger person. And that lesson does apply to writing. Don’t let others’ words of negativity get you down, don’t let rejections from anyone make you falter on your journey. It’s a long journey, a lonely one, but if you hold steadfast, if you believe in yourself and never give up, you’ll find what you are looking for, no matter how long it takes.
That’s great advice. I wish you all the strength in the world on your journey.
And finally, please tell us about your latest book, where we can find it, and where we can find your blog/website
The Freedom Thief is my debut novel, an historical novel set in pre-Civil War Kentucky. Ben McKenna has lived with his family on his grandmother’s plantation since he was ten years old. He is now thirteen, turning fourteen in a couple of months. His best friend is a crippled slave boy, Josiah, and when Ben learns of his father’s intention to sell the slave, Ben knows the only way to stop that is to arrange for Josiah and his slave parents, Bess and Jesse, to escape. Without a plan of escape, without even a map of Kentucky terrain, Ben and the slaves embark upon a desperate journey into a world of danger and deception. They are chased by slave hunters and their dogs, held captive by “rescuers” who really only want the reward money Ben’s father is offering, and undergo chilling escapes in farm wagons, death coaches, and across roofs in broad daylight. Will they ever reach the Ohio River and the freedom it promises on its far shores? And if they do, will Ben cross the river with his friends, or will he return home to face the consequences of his actions?
In 1998, my husband and I took a barge trip down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. We were gone two weeks and visited many Civil War historical sites along the way. We saw the remnants of forts, and of ramshackled buildings that had once held slave families. We visited former Safe Houses, and saw lanterns that had lighted the way towards those houses for runaway slaves. We saw farm wagons with their false bottoms, pictures of slave hunters with ‘long guns’ and their dogs. I sat inside a ‘death coach’ similar to the one in my story, and gently fingered a beautiful quilt that had been made with all the symbols of the Underground Railroad. Of all the adventures my husband and I have had, that was the most exciting, and I told him when we returned to our ranch…This is a story I’m going to write.
As with us all, Life got in the way, and I didn’t even begin this novel until 2007 when I was a student at the Institute of Children’s Literature. Two years of research, two years of it being “on the shelf” as I wrote two more novels, then after three years of writing, editing, and rewriting, the novel came together. It was far different from what I had first started, but then, much of our original work ends up that way, right? I submitted it to Muse in March of this year, and received my contract in April.
My blog is: www.mikki-wordpainter.blogspot.com.
The Freedom Thief will be available as an e-book in November.
That sounds an absolutely wonderful journey, Mikki, and a fascinating story. I’ve been looking forward to release of The Freedom Thief ever since I first heard of it. Congratulations to you on publication.
If you’ve enjoyed hearing from Mikki, and have any questions or comments for her, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!