Hello, book lovers.
I've always been addicted to writing. It was (and is) my cheap therapy. For years I wrote mysteries—and more—that provided wonderful virtual adventures in my challenging life. Many of you know about these various traumas, from my posts over the past years. Guess what? We survived and/or learned to deal with all of it. In the meantime, I published twenty-nine books in the background.
When the pandemic started, I lost my "day" job and needed to find another way to keep the family going. I decided to capitalize on my absolute passion for helping other authors with their books. So I added "writing coach" to my resume and now am pleased to announce that I have a number of superb clients I help with polishing, formatting, and getting them ready to publish on Amazon KDP.
This month, Heidi Skarie has published a book in her Star Rider series, Call of the Wind. I'm so proud of her. You can read a bit about the story as well as learn about her in the following interview. Let us know what you think in the comments, below.
Stay safe and warm this February.
All my best,
Aaron Paul Lazar
What inspired you to become a writer and eventually write Call of the Wind?
I had a series of six dreams that was like watching an exciting space opera, sci-fi movie such as Star Wars. Each dream continued where the last one had left off. The story had such a great plot and interesting characters that I was inspired to turn it into a novel. After writing the first book, it was as if I’d turned on a faucet to a creative waterfall. The next novels flowed out as I continued to write about the same characters. Writing became my passion. The first three books center around a strong female protagonist who is an undercover operative during an interplanetary war. This book is about her son who continues in his mother’s footsteps and becomes an intergalactic fighter pilot. Call of the Wind can be read and enjoyed as a standalone novel since it focuses on new characters.
What do you think your readers will love about Call of the Wind?
It’s a powerful coming-of-age story of a young man told in the story-within-a-story structure. Baymond is a young fighter pilot sentenced to be executed in five days. While awaiting his death, he shares his life story with a fellow prisoner. The novel has brave heroes and heroines, exciting adventures, a tender love story, and space battles. But as one reviewer said, “It’s also a compelling vision of the enlightened who can transcend the confines of time and space, even death.”
What is your writing process?
I write the first draft without getting any feedback that would interfere with my vision of the novel. Depending on the complexity of the plot I may use storyboards, character sketches and detailed outlines. Then I work with a critique group and go through each chapter until it shines. Next, several beta readers read the entire novel and give feedback. Last, I hire an editor and go through it again.
What other books have you written?
I’ve published four books in the Star Rider series, a science fiction, space opera set in a futuristic world during an interplanetary war. Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge is the first in the series. Call of the Wind is about the next generation.
I’ve also written two historical novels. Red Willow’s Quest about a Native American woman studying to become a medicine woman. Annoure and the Dragon Ships about a young woman kidnapped off the coast of England by the Vikings.
What are you currently working on?
I’m in the final edits of Call of the Eagle, which continues the story of Baymond and Fawn as the interplanetary war escalates.
Your book is so unique in that it is full of spiritual references to "Soul" and "Inner Light" and so many more wonderful themes involving a greater being and His teachings. Are these references fictional? Or were you inspired by another part of your life to include these in the stories?
The original idea for the Star Rider series came from a dream about a female undercover operative, Toemeka, who works for the Coalition of Free Nations. She’s sent on a mission to help an occupied country regain their freedom during an interplanetary war against world conqueror, Samrat Condor. What makes the story unique is that Toemeka is a spiritually awakened person. She is able to communicate with her friends telepathically, leave her physical body and travel into higher levels of existence, and remember some of her past lives.
The novels were influenced by my own spiritual beliefs. I’m a member of ECKANKAR, the Path of Spiritual Freedom and believe that we are Soul, a part of God. I believe that when we die we, as Soul, leave this body and go into the higher worlds, what some religions refer to as the heavenly worlds. We don’t stay there according to the teachings of ECKANKAR, but return to earth many times for Soul’s education. Eventually we awaken spiritually and live in the higher worlds of God permanently.
In the series, Toemeka follows the Secret Teachings of Light and Sound. The Light and Sound are essential aspects of the ECKANKAR teachings. It’s the voice of God. In the novels Toemeka sings HU, an ancient love song to God, to attune herself to the presence of God. She follows a living master who is the leader of the Secret Teachings. This is also drawn from ECKANKAR that has a living spiritual leader, Sri Harold Klemp, who keeps the teachings pure.
Toemeka’s spiritual training is an important element in the story because Samrat Condor, is a powerful black magician who portrays himself as a god. Toemeka uses her spiritual training to see a higher truth and fight his spread of evil psychic powers. The series is the struggle between good and evil, the light and the dark forces.
The Call of the Wind is about Toemeka’s son, Baymond, who follows in his mother’s footsteps and joins the Coalition as a fighter pilot. He is also a student of the Secret Teachings. Toemeka is a minor character, but still plays an important role in this novel.
Your books are full of luscious natural settings and descriptions. They are most artistic. Do you enjoy creating on any other level? Are you fond of the outdoors?
Before I became a writer I was a visual artist. My mother encouraged my art abilities because learning to read was hard for me and she wanted me to excel in something. I started college as an art major, but switched to getting a teaching degree, specializing in helping children learn to read. I studied pottery, painting, drawing, etching and engraving, and photography. I continued painting and doing photography after college.
The visual arts teach us to look at the world differently. When I gaze at the fresh snow outside my window, I don’t see white snow with gray shadows. I see the sun reflecting golden light on the snow and the light blue shadows infused with violet. When I’m writing, I drew on my background as a painter and photographer to create vivid descriptions that can transport the reader so they can see the scene and feel like they are there.
I also love nature and have enjoyed backpacking in the Rocky Mountains and the Bitterroot Mountains. I’ve also gone canoeing in the wilderness Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. My own experiences of enjoying the beauty of the woods and mountains, cooking over a fire, dealing with bugs and encounters with wild animals—like bears—has also helped me to write more vivid descriptions and write more authentically.
For example, once I was walking along on a narrow wilderness trail in the Rocky Mountains when I came face to face with a large moose coming straight toward me. There was a moment where we both looked at each other in surprise. Then he slipped into the woods before I could move. I was fortunate as moose can be ornery—my father was once chased by one. I drew on that experience as I wrote Call of the Wind. My characters sing and wear bells on their backpacks so they don’t startled wild animals.
Did you enjoy reading science fiction as a youth? What was your favorite genre?
When I was a child my parents read me fantasy books by George MacDonald such as Back of the North Wind and Princess and the Goblin. They also read me classics like Heidi by Johanna Spyri, which takes place in the mountains of Switzerland. In sixth grade I discovered the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and Gone with the Wind. I also liked Mary Stewart’s mysteries Nine Coaches Waiting and later her Arthurian Saga. Another favorite was The Once and Future Kingby T. H. White. These novels opened the doors to the enjoyment of a good story with wonderful characters that take place in the interesting worlds.
My interest in science fiction came later. In the fifties and sixties science fiction was just gaining popularity with nuclear energy and space exploration. Ideas of space, dystopia, robots, computers, and alternate futures became of interest after World War II. The genre was just getting going. I didn’t really get into science fiction until Star Wars came out and sci-fi space operas novels became popular.
Thank you so much for your time, Heidi!