Author Chat with Shelley Sackier (The Antidote), Plus Giveaway!
Today we're excited to chat with Shelley Sackier author of The Antidote.
Read on for more about Shelley, an interview, plus an giveaway!
Meet Shelley Sackier!
Shelley Sackier is the author of The Freemason’s Daughter (HarperCollins 2017), Dear Opl (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky 2015), and the upcoming novel, The Antidote (HarperCollins 2019). She writes both middle grade and YA fiction. She visits schools to illuminate the merits of embracing failure just like NASA and to further her campaign to erect monuments to all librarians.
Meet The Antiodote!
In the world of healers, there is no room for magic.
There is only knowledge—precious wisdom, painstaking accounts of herbal remedies and long-practiced techniques handed down from healer to apprentice since the beginning of time. Fee knows this, just as certainly as she knows that her magic must be kept secret.
But the crown prince Xavi, Fee’s best friend and only source of comfort, is sick. So sick, and so frustratingly incurable, that Fee can barely contain the magic lying dormant inside her. She could use it, just a little, to heal him. But magic comes at a deadly cost--and attracts those who would seek to snuff it out forever.
Soon Fee is caught in a whirl of secret motivations and dark pasts, where no one is who—or what—they appear to be. And saving her best friend means delving deeper into the lush and treacherous world whose call she’s long resisted—and uncovering a secret that will change everything.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
A witch and an ancient botanical text. When last traveling in Scotland, researching another book, I “unknowingly” chose the Air B&B of a hedge witch to rent a room from. She patiently explained just how dense I was to believe it was by accident and scared the bejeebies out of me by declaring I was a tribe member too. It wasn’t alarming to hear someone tell me I possessed those same extra sensory skills, it was alarming to hear someone who wasn’t family say that. I come from a long line of self-declared witches, seers, and goddesses. I also come from a long string of self-denying phrases that begged all those people to put a lid on it. The botanical text was found deeply buried in a used bookshop. Flora Homeopathica. It screamed, “Buy me! Use me! And maybe get yourself a cauldron.”
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
I’m a massive fan of Savva. She’s such a complex character—a person who allowed me to flesh out a wide swath of human traits. She is strong but incredibly vulnerable. She possesses power, but exercises self-imposed restraint because she is honorable. She holds the most valuable asset in her world—omniscient knowledge—and protects it with her life, for the safety of others. Savva is an unreliable narrator and this makes her far more interesting to me as to why.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
For nearly all my books, it has been a pathway of: six billion ideas all a flurry in my head, write first chapter, bingo! Title.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I am so drawn to when Fee meets her “clan.” I think for many people who grow up feeling like an outlier, when you finally connect with others who are just like you and you didn’t realize they existed, you are filled with a great sense of wonder, gratitude, and relief. Plus, I just love the wonky characters who show up at that shindig.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
“The higher the price you pay for something, the dearer it becomes to you.” That was a little pearl from my own Savva-like grandmother, who was a pioneer in the world of smart, ambitious, working women. Her mindset was that the world is full of obstacles—your self-confidence shouldn’t be one of them.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I am wholly smitten with the illustrations and find that with every glance, I am yearning to crack the spine and longing to lose myself within the realm of this tale. Lisa Perrin has clearly been gifted a hand guided by the most enchanting and skilled divinities. Lucky her. Luckier me.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2019?
UGH! So many, sooo many! I will narrow it down to two: The Source of Self-Regard (Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations) by Toni Morrison (2/12/19), because … it’s Toni Morrison, and Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault by Cathy Guisewite (4/2/19). I grew up on her cartoons. They stir within me vast amounts of empathy and empowerment—in the most humorous fashion.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2018?
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. It is a breathtaking coming of age novel that will leave you having experienced heartbreak and hope in both extremes. It is ultimate inspiration in perfect word form.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
A couple of books outside the YA realm—both fiction and non-fiction and both dealing with my twenty-five years working within the world of whisky, and, of course, more YA. I adore this genre—whether historical fiction, fantasy, or humor, and I plan to churn out as much as my befuddled and wooly-headed brain can muster. Currently, I am up to my eyeballs in research for my next YA. My pen is itching for paper.
YABC: Is there anything that you would like to add?
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.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
I think goodbye scenes are torturous for me. As in—the final goodbye—the ‘so long life, I’ll catch you in the next one’ kind. They are purely agonizing. I’m often writing while crying—just an embarrassing, slobbering mess. My hound is usually at my side, head on my lap, and all the cats are walking across my keyboard taking turns head-bumping me. I’m sure their message is, “Seriously, this work is making you miserable. Leave it and come spread out in this patch of sun on the floor with us.” I’m so much better at hello than goodbye. But … it had to be done.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
I think it’s the same for every one of my books—it’s always the antagonist. I discovered long ago that my villains were too mustache-twirly. What I had to learn to write was an adversary who could be looked at and empathized with by any reader. To take a character whose vision and aim is directly in opposition to one’s hero, and to make them generate compassion, pathos, and understanding to a reader, convincing them that they understand the circumstances and motivation behind the character’s action and cannot blame them for those actions, requires a high level of skill. You don’t have to like the character, you simply need to be convinced that they see themselves as the hero, not the villain.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Drafting—and purely from the perspective that it offers up a big bonus bit of added value. When I’m first writing a story, I do a ton of walking up and down the mountain I live on top of. The hikes trigger every aha! moment of narrative arc. And when the lightning strikes, I race back up the mountain to get to my desk. Bonus? Cardio.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
I am an empath. Just a giant human tube that feels everything every other person is going through when I’m with them. Super helpful for writing as if I were that person, super kryptonite-like for when I’m simply trying to experience an emotionally moving concert, speech, movie, or retelling of a harrowing journey. It comes with no cape, but if it did, it would be a quilt of exhaustion.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
All of them. I want to give to them all. But three I feel that cast a wide net of accomplishment are 1.) Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America. Most everyone is aware of just how important mentors are. 2.) Unbound – an organization that aids families living in poverty and assisting them to become self-sufficient and empowered. And finally, most meaningful to me, 3.) Little Free Library. Take a book, leave a book. A tiny street-side box that holds one’s neighbor’s gifted literary treasures and encourages you to find another. It builds community, sparks creativity, and inspires readers. I love it!
By: Shelley Sackier
Release Date: February 2018
One winner will receive a copy of The Antidote (Shelley Sackier) ~ US Only
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This is one of the most gorgeous covers I've seen in awhile. Plus, I love stories about herbal magic, so this is on the top of my TBR!