Monday, September 7, 2020

Richard Siddoway Interview - Tsalix Silverthorn and the Scepter of Destiny

Photo Content from Richard M. Siddoway

Richard M. Siddoway was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and reared in Bountiful, Utah. He was a professional educator for over forty-five years. In 1994, he was asked by Governor Michael O. Leavitt to create the nation's first state-wide virtual high school --The Electronic High School--which served students nationwide. He served three terms in the Utah House of Representatives; the last two years he served as Speaker Pro Tempore. He is the author of a dozen books, including the New York Times bestseller, The Christmas Wish, which was made into a movie starring Debbie Reynolds, Neil Patrick Harris, and Naomi Watts. He and his wife, Janice, have eight children, twenty six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
I have always written. I won a scholarship to the University of Utah for a short story I’d submitted. As a senior at the U of U, although I was a biology major, I was lucky enough to have a creative writing class from Professor Brewter Gieslend, who was one of D.H. Lawrence’s friends. After submitting a number of stories to him, he encouraged me to continue writing. When my first book came out he sent me a note saying, “I’ve been waiting for this.”

Tell us your latest news.
On a non-publishing note, I’ve just been declared cancer free after 33 months of treatment for multiple myeloma. On the publishing arena, I’ve finished the next two books in the Tsalix series and am half way finished with the fourth.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of young writer groups (typically 4th, 5th, and 6th graders) and help them with their stories. Of course meeting with Debbie Reynolds, Neal Patrick Harris, and Naomi Watts was fun, when they were filming “The Christmas Wish.”

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
How would you solve the problems that Tsalix and his friends encounter?

Can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about your new book?
The king is getting old and the kingdom will pass on to one of his twin sons, who are very different. There is an item, The Scepter of Power, also called The Scepter of Destiny that can tip the scale in the direction of he who holds it. Unfortunately it is locked in a crystal sphere in the bowels of Mount Destiny. In order to free it there are three talismans that must be retrieved. None of these will be easy. The king summons three young friends to complete the task. To succeed they must put their lives in danger. Will they succeed?

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Having been diagnosed with cancer and going through treatment, including a stem cell transplant, drained my energy. However, I’ve survived.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would introduce Angelica to Ozma of Oz. Both of them are deeply dedicated to the well being of their subjects and both tend to take supporting roles that are extremely important.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating King Elosha?
He could have named his successor, but chose to support, but not dictate the end of the conflict. He is loved by his people because the honor him and his rule.

  • 1. “And the Answer is….”
  • 2. “The White Indian Boy”
  • 3. “Georgia O’Keeffe. Art and Letters”
  • 4. “Savage Run”
  • 5. “Two Truths and a Lie.”
  • 6. “Into the Jaws of Hell”
  • 7. “Allen Dulles, Master of Spies”
  • 8. “Summer House”
  • 9. “The Imperial Cruise”
  • 10. “Fair Warning”
What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
My patriarchal grandfather, was the campaign manager for Simon Bamberger, who became the fourth governor of Utah. Bamberger ran for governor against Nephi L. Morris, my matriarchal grandfather.

Best date you’ve ever had?
Dinner at Mulboon’s restaurant. Why? Because it was my wife’s and mine anniversary and it happened to be a prom night for one of the local high schools. As we were just finishing dinner, an older couple stood up at the back of the room and stopped at every table to compliment the boys on how handsome the looked and the girls at how beautiful they were. They then left and when I went to pay the cashier asked me, “Do you know who that man was?”

“That was John and Karen Huntsman,” I said, “Why?” (John Huntsman was the CEO of Huntsman Chemicals). The cashier said, “He just asked me how much the total bill would be for all of those kids and when I said it was probably about 700 dollars, he took ten 100 dollar bills out of his wallet and said, “If this isn’t enough to cover their dinners and a tip, please call this number and I’ll take care of it.”

Years later he and I became acquaintances and I told him about that night. He told me he didn’t care if he had two dimes to rub together when he died. All he wanted to do was share.

That made such an impression on me, that I believe that is the best date I ever had.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
I’d go back to live with my Navajo brothers.

What are 4 things you never leave home without? 
1 – keys, 2-wallet, 3-cap (I don’t want a sunburned head), 4-glasses. (and in today’s world, a mask)

What event in your life would make a good movie?
An event? One day I was sitting at my desk and the phone rang. The caller identified himself as ‘Mike.’ After a moment he added, ‘Leavitt.’ Mike Leavitt was governor of Utah at that time. He said, “You have a really weird skill set. I have an idea and I want you to make it happen.” The result was building the first state-wide (eventually world wide) virtual high school. Incidentally this was before browsers. The struggles we went through I think would make a good movie.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
When my first wife died after a horrendous battle with cancer, I realized there were things that were a lot worse than death. But in concert with that, I believe it made me appreciate life and has made me try to make the best of every day.

At a movie theater which arm rest is yours?
Whichever one my wife shares with me, so we can hold hands.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?
When after submitting a manuscript (Twelve Tales of Christmas) to a publisher, who after 18 months rejected it; I submitted it to another publisher, who after 18 months called and said they were going to publish it.

Where can readers find you?
On Facebook. We’re creating a new landing page at the present time.

Journey to writing TSALIX

Many years ago I lived and taught school on the Navajo reservation. In time I became friends with one of the local medicine men (haatalii) who shared with me the Navajo Creation Legend. After returning to Utah I kept thinking about the characters in that story—the twins, Spider Woman, the water god, and so forth. So, every once in a while I’d write down the outline of a story involving those characters. Finally, I realized that I needed to divorce myself from the actual legend and create one of my own which incorporated the names if not the characters themselves. I started writing Tsalix and then was diagnosed with cancer. Throughout the nearly three years of treatment I had time to write and develop the story. Thus, the twins emerged as the protagonists, Spider Woman emerges in a very different way, and other characters from the Navajo legend appear. And, as always in my books, there are hidden “easter eggs.” I leave it up to the reader to find them.

King Elosha is dying and his twin sons, Princes Abadon and Johona, are deeply embroiled in a battle over the throne of Sodizen. One is noble and the other is a psychopath. Hoping to end the bloody chaos and restore peace, the King summons three men from the small village of Aravah, tasking them with the impossible of retrieving talismans that are prophesied to unlock the Scepter of Power on Mount Destiny.

To aid them on their fantastical quest, King Elosha bestows upon each of them, vials of elements to be opened when needed most. Amidst their honor and duty, they find their hometown torched to the ground, with surviving family and friends imprisoned by Prince Abadon. They are faced with choosing between rescuing them or completing the mission. The brave men choose to obey the King, overcoming tumultuous weather, terrain, dangerous and helpful mythical creatures alike. With scarce food and water, led by Tsalix, the three men embark on an arduous odyssey across the kingdom to retrieve the Scepter on Mount Destiny and restore peace in the realm.

You can purchase Tsalix Silverthorn and the Scepter of Destiny at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you RICHARD SIDDOWAY for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Tsalix Silverthorn and the Scepter of Destiny by Richard Siddoway.


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