Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sasha Dawn Author Interview

Photo Content from Sasha Dawn

Sasha Dawn teaches college composition to America’s youth at McHenry County College and the College of Lake County. She’s drawn to suspense, the survival instinct in people, and has a crush on Thomas Jefferson. She lives in a suburb of Chicago.

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab ® (April 28, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781606845707
ISBN-13: 978-1606845707
ASIN: 1606845705

Praise for OBLIVION

This is a gripping, psychologically intense mystery, but there are times when the story lags. There are sexual relationships and the missing Reverend believes that honoring God is shown to him through sex and torture. This title would be an interesting purchase since the unique subject of graphomania is described so vividly, and this type of resilient fiction may help someone struggling with the compulsion." ―VOYA

"I killed him, I killed him, I killed him, I killed him.' A year ago Calliope Knowles was found writing these words over and over on the wall of a bathroom in an abandoned apartment-she'd been there for a day and a half. Her abusive preacher father had disappeared along with a little girl from the community. Calliope has no memory of what happened that day, but she believes that she killed her dad. The only clues to the truth are in her sudden onset of graphomania: compulsive-seemingly nonsensical-writing. The more she writes, the more she seems to remember about the night her father and Hannah vanished. But how accurate are her memories? And what does she risk by seeking out the truth? Though the writing is a little self-conscious and flowery, it works. The story is told in first person, and the protagonist is a poet afflicted with an obsessive need to write. Nearly every time Calliope has a graphomania fit, 'a teardrop splats' on the page, or 'tears build' in her eyes, or she's 'sobbing,' or some other reference to crying. Despite this flaw, the mystery in the story is compelling, and the final revelatory scene is horrifying. John, Calliope's main love interest, is a little too perfect, and her foster sister, Lindsey, is too much of a hateful queen bee, but otherwise the characterization rings true. An exciting page-turner." ―School Library Journal

Callie's chaotic writing comes across as poetic, but her therapist and the local police believe she's trying to remember a traumatic event that occurred one year ago: Her father, fire-breathing pastor of a fundamentalist church, may have kidnapped a young girl. No one knows if either is dead or alive, but whatever Callie experienced was too disturbing to remember. Now living with a wealthy foster family, Callie copes with a newly strained relationship with her foster sister, who loves John―who finds himself far more attracted to Callie. Meanwhile, Callie meets Elijah for sex in a room above the old cafe where her mentally ill mother used to read tarot cards. As events trigger emerging memories for Callie, she begins to believe she can eventually solve the case. When she succeeds, however, far more trauma comes to light. Dawn weaves Callie's memories and her uncontrolled writing into a tapestry that slowly begins to form answers and uncovers a crime more monstrous than Callie could have foreseen or remembered. The story works on two levels: as a psychological mystery and as a story of Callie's rocky relationships with her sister and boyfriends, always grounding her difficulties in reality. Thoroughly compelling." ―Kirkus Reviews

"Callie can't remember what happened the night when her reverend father and Hannah, a girl from the church, disappeared. Officers found her in a deserted apartment, covered in mud and the words I KILLED HIM. Now, she's tormented with the urge to write constantly. As the anniversary of the disappearance draws closer, Callie's writing gets worse, and new secrets come to light. This gripping mystery excels in the portrayal of teenagers'onflicted inner lives. The handling of drugs, alcohol, sex and relationships is realistic and likely to please parents and educators. All in all, this is an excellent choice for a reader seeking a plot-driven mystery with complex characters. Recommended." ―Library Media Connection

"Readers will feel unmoored until the last few pages of Oblivion, and that's all right; so does the story's narrator, Callie. Almost a year earlier, Callie was found in a deserted room scribbling 'I killed him,' more than a thousand times on a wall. At the same time, she developed graphomania and became someone who is impelled―to the point of terror, to the point of exhaustion―to write down the words screaming in her head. The police don't believe that Callie killed either her father, Pastor Palmer, or the 12-year-old who disappeared that day. But her journals of repetitive poetic ramblings obscure rather than illuminate the case. Literally raised in a church, Callie doesn't do normal. Her mother is in a mental institution after stabbing Palmer, whose persona alternates between man of God and sexual predator. Her new foster family has given her an upgraded life for which she's unprepared. When she finds herself clinging to her 'sister's' boyfriend, John, who's somehow related to the mystery, her world is jolted again. The book's intensity can be overwhelming. Callie's uncontrollable need to write―and the anxiety she feels when she can't―is communicated as if by osmosis. Though readers may wonder why foster parents so uninvolved would take Callie in or how she maintains good grades, these questions fade in the face of the incessant demands that the graphomania makes on both the characters and those turning the pages." ―Booklist

Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer? 
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. It was probably in second grade, in Ms. Czop’s class, that I realized I could do with words what other people couldn’t. She validated my talents, and I loved creative writing.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us? 
Storytelling is as old as time, and it’s the way we chronicle important events. More importantly, it’s an appeal to emotion. A good storyteller can reach any audience via the evocation of emotion.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre? 
My all-time favorite is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird because it’s a historical study of family, race, and gender roles in the south, and it edges on incredibly adult subject matter, although the book is told from the point of view of a child. Lee’s ability to pull this off is nothing less than admirable. My favorite book outside my genre is either Janet Fitch’s White Oleander or Lee Smith’s The Last Girls. Both are very character driven, and the characters are wonderfully flawed.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author? 
 If it doesn’t progress the plot or give a character depth, cut it. Don’t keep something solely because it is beautiful.

In your book; Oblivion, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it? 
Callie has been writing on the walls of an abandoned apartment. She may have witnessed a crime; she may have committed one. She doesn’t remember. The only clues as to what transpired that night come to her in bouts of graphomania—a debilitating urge to write. What’s more, the words she writes may help her to remember what happened, and remembering is essential. That night, a young girl from her parish disappeared, and so did Callie’s father. The sooner she remembers, the more likely she can help Hannah come home.

For those who are unfamiliar with Callie, how would you introduce her? 
Meet Callie. She’s a sixteen-year-old foster child, living with the Hutch family. She’s in the process of making a priority out of herself.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us? 
After Oblivion, I wrote a novel currently entitled Caliber, which is about a girl finding the means to protect herself when strange coincidences point to the possibility someone is trying to kill her. Then Blink, a novel detailing the mysteries of a missing sister. The third is Gone, a tale about a girl whose father is suspected of killing her mother, who disappeared ten years ago.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why? 
If I could introduce any character in Oblivion to a character in another book, I’d acquaint Elijah Breshock with Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Together, I think they might rule the world…or organize a crime ring.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Hannah? 
Hannah was supposed to be two-dimensional, a conductor, if you will, to propel Callie’s story along. I didn’t expect to care about her to the extent I did. I began to lament the things she had gone through, especially because I’d invented her plight.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie? 
When people ask whose idea it was to bring Kody home, I blame it on Joshua. Kody is puppy #4, and we really didn’t need puppy #3. But I fell in love with him instantly. While it was Joshua who handed over the credit card, I know he did so because he saw that I was smitten.

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style? 
Write, write, write. You can’t hone your craft without constant practice.

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had? 
I worked with the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service, running 4H programs for less fortunate children. The job took me to some questionable locations, and at age nineteen, I was exposed to an entire world of children whose lives didn’t allow them the luxury of innocence. I worked with wards of the court, pregnant runaways, children whose parents were incarcerated. It scared the daylights out of me, but I’ll bet I learned more from those children than they learned from me.

Who was your first boyfriend? 
My first boyfriend—the one who made a difference, anyway—is now a genetic scientist, father of two, and the dedicated husband to a woman I’ve never met (but I’m confident she’s amazing). Coincidentally, he shares the name of Callie’s love interest—John. We met when I was eleven years old, but didn’t date until I was eighteen. He was Joshua’s man-crush in high school because he was, in all sincerity, the coolest guy ever. He played baseball, which I love, had excellent taste in music, and was crazy-smart. I spent three years in high school shoving my chewed gum into his locker door (locker #1306…is it weird that I remember that?), and I think he had to clean it out before they allowed him to graduate. While I haven’t seen him in a very long time, I have apologized profusely via email for the rough waters he navigated while I was his girlfriend.

Tell me about your first kiss 
My first kiss was a meeting of the lips, not of the mind.

Where is the best place in the world you’ve been? 
I can (and will) tour Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello over and over again. It feels like home. I love Virginia.

When was the last time you cried? 
I cried two days ago, when I once again saw the proof that Joshua loves my girls as if they were his own.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager? 
1960s. I probably would have been in and out of jail, but I would’ve embraced the opportunity to coax change through the power of expression.

What is your greatest adventure? 
Aside from motherhood, which is challenging, joyous, and the most important job on the planet, I explored Virginia for the first time at age 12. There were about 40 of us, along with faculty chaperones (who’d gotten their CDL licenses to drive us), on a yellow school bus. The trip encompassed intense learning experiences over the course of 15 days. It was not a vacation. Each student on the trip had studied for an entire year to become an expert in a colonial craft and a historical topic. We were up with the sunrise, late to rest, and were required to write journal entries about our experiences along the way. It was an exercise in critical thought, in independence, and in finding oneself. That trip helped shape the person I am today. My senior year in high school, my BFF Mary and I took the trip again, as a mentor to the seventh grade students. Last June, Mary and I traveled to Virginia to replicate some of the experiences. We spent a week away from our lives, reacquainting ourselves with Virginia, and in (not always quiet) contemplation. I highly recommend traversing paths along maps, learning along the way. Particularly with your best girlfriends.

Lisa McMann’s Dead to You meets Kate Ellison’s The Butterfly Clues in a psychological thriller full of romance, intrigue, and mystery.

Two years ago, Callie was found in an abandoned apartment, scrawling words on the wall: “I KILLED HIM. His blood is on my hands. His heart is in my soul. I KILLED HIM.” But she remembers nothing of that night or of the three previous days. All she knows is that her father, the reverend at the Church of the Holy Promise, is missing, as is Hannah, a young girl from the parish. Their disappearances have to be connected and Callie knows that her father was not a righteous man.

But the more she remembers, the closer she comes to the horrifying truth. And when a good looking guy in school helps her to remember what she's buried for so long, she might wish she never dug up the past.

You can purchase Oblivion at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you SASHA DAWN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will Receive a Copy of OBLIVION by Sasha Dawn.


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