In today’s blog, I’m chatting with award-winning author Geoffrey Saign, whose newest book, Wyshea Shadows, is the first in his new series, Divided Draghons. Geoff is, as well as a writer, a biologist, teacher and sailor…I’m not sure how he finds time to write! His first novel, WhipEye, won the International Book Award; Readers’ Favorite Children’s Fantasy; Outstanding Children’s Fiction in IAN Book of the Year Award; Top Choice, LitPick.com; a Bronze in the eLit awards; and Notable Indie—Best Indie Book, Shelf Unbound. His second novel in the WhipEye Chronicles, Gorgon, was selected as a Finalist, Midwest Book Award; Outstanding Children’s Fiction in IAN Book of the Year Award—third place in Book of the Year, and Top Choice, LitPick.com.
Geoff, tell us a bit about yourself.
I love to bake/cook healthy food, hike, swim out to the center of lakes, snorkel, am a black belt in kung fu, and sail big boats, around 42’, to islands and beaches to swim. I don’t watch TV, but I love movies—stories. I spent 11/2 years traveling in the South Pacific, and it taught me that beauty is everywhere and you don’t have to go anywhere to find it—as long as nature is present. I teach in special education to very bright young adult students, which is both gratifying and worthwhile.
What is the premise of Wyshea Shadows?
Wyshea Shadows is an epic fantasy with three main women characters whose lives are intertwined with war, mystery, a common enemy, and love. As a thriller, it also has enough elements of romance, world building, and mystery that it probably is one of my best books. The wyshea are able to be around animals without scaring them—kind of like our world on the Galapagos Islands, and have a special relationship with nature. There are also elements of old mythology, like precursors to unicorns, wood sprites, and faeries that are only hinted at. The stories build dramatically, and the intertwining of characters is some of the best writing I have done. Each book (two others are written and will be released this year) has a very climactic ending, which always brings emotion out of me even after reading it 100 times. This is because the characters have so much at stake in the story, including protecting those they love. Nature and wildlife have major roles in all my writing.
Wow, that’s complex. How do you conceive your plot ideas?
Usually I think of one line, one situation. In WhipEye I imagined a boy walking into a pet store to talk to an animal. That became an 80,000 word award-winning fantasy novel. In Wyshea Shadows, I envisioned divided races, with good and evil in all the races, and the antagonist an evil that used individual weaknesses of greed and power to his advantage. Once I have a beginning, the rest seems to develop organically.
Are any of your characters based on real people?
I have a character in WhipEye that reminds me of special needs young adults. All characters probably have bits and pieces of people I know. In WhipEye, the main character is grieving, and is in love with nature. I drew upon myself for both of those attributes at the time (I experienced a loss of not being able to be outside due to a difficult health problem for years, and when I got better, I grieved that loss.)
Given how you describe Wyshea Shadows, you must have needed to do a fair bit of research! Tell us about that.
I usually have to research wildlife, nature elements, and also some of the weapons to understand limits and abilities. The world building is solid, and the magic in this world is concrete and explainable in a scientific kind of way. That doesn’t mean it’s based on science, but there is cohesion in understanding the underlying principles of energy in this world.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I write about 1/3-1/2 of the book, or at least the first few chapters, and then I might do a quick, one line outline for successive chapters to see where I’m going. It changes depending on the book and what type of story it is.
Given everything you do, how do you find time to write?
I write almost every day. Three hours or more in the evening after my education job, weekends 8 hour/day. There are breaks, friends, socializing, family, and play time. But I’m pushing 3 series now, plus 2 thrillers that I will come out with this winter, so 2017 will be a big year for me.
Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write, or a specific mood you try to create with music?
The mood is in my head. I don’t mind listening to birds outside, or children playing, but music is distracting when I’m writing. Every writer is different in this aspect. I write at home, at my desk, and it’s comfortable and cozy.
Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?
I just finished 4 new books less than 2 months ago; Bubblegum Mike, Book 1, the YA epic fantasy, Wyshea Shadows, Divided Draghons, Book 1, the 3rd WhipEye Chronicles book, Drasine, and a stress reduction book (I teach that in my school)—so I’m taking a little break with marketing and rewriting an adult thriller. In the next 3-4 months I plan on finishing the 2nd Bubblegum Mike Book and 2nd Divided Draghons book, two thrillers, another young children’s book, and a nonfiction book. It’s a lot to do in one year. I also have some school visits in Minnesota and Chicago. It’s all very exciting!
And exhausting, I would think! Links to Geoff’s social media and book sites are below.