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Discuss the October 2017 Book of the Month, Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon.

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Re: Ask the Author

Post by BoyLazy » 07 Oct 2017, 05:03

gali wrote:Thank you for your answers.

What was your hardest scene to write?

What is your work schedule when you're writing?
good question.. I always wanted to learn this.
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Post by Charlie Sheldon » 07 Oct 2017, 10:45

Anjum - thanks. I dont think I "made" Sarah anything, as she honestly just appeared at the door when I started writing this thing.

Gali - I met a fascinating archeologist who has studied ancient humans living along the Pacific Coast and I met other archeologists who have studied sites in the Olympics. Usually though in my research I was reading and studying. I have met and continue to meet fascinating characters in real life along the waterfront, aboard ships, and deep in the woods. What is it they say? Truth is stranger than fiction? Believe it.

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Post by gali » 07 Oct 2017, 12:46

Charlie Sheldon wrote:Anjum - thanks. I dont think I "made" Sarah anything, as she honestly just appeared at the door when I started writing this thing.

Gali - I met a fascinating archeologist who has studied ancient humans living along the Pacific Coast and I met other archeologists who have studied sites in the Olympics. Usually though in my research I was reading and studying. I have met and continue to meet fascinating characters in real life along the waterfront, aboard ships, and deep in the woods. What is it they say? Truth is stranger than fiction? Believe it.
Thank you.

Indeed, truth is stranger than fiction! :)
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by Kat Kennedy » 10 Oct 2017, 16:45

Hello,
I really enjoyed the aspect of collective or genetic memory. I liked the questions arising from this in the novel. Is memory data? Are dreams data? Is this something you've always been interested in, or is it a part of the Native American culture of the Northwest? Are there any writers that inspired you with these ideas? I did some research on it when I wrote the review for Strong Heart, and it is fascinating, so just wondered what you would suggest as far as reading. Thanks for taking the time to answer questions, by the way.

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Post by Charlie Sheldon » 10 Oct 2017, 19:02

Katv-this issue of data and reality and dreams and collective memory is something I have been interested in and read about in some depth. Mainly however the writing of Carl Jung and his thesis of the collective unconscious was behind some of the threads in this tale, as well as a whole lot of genetics and DNA papers I read in various journals (I think I understood about 3 percent to be truthful). Basically I took two simple or stated theories - Jung's idea of a collective unconscious and my observation that if 98 percent of DNA is non coding and hence "junk" maybe that so called useless DNA is coding for memories or alternative forms or behaviors when conditions change. Maybe the "junk"DNA in the Alaskan Brown Bear holds the codes to recreate a short face bear under the right conditions. Maybe the "junk" DNA in humans codes the collective unconscious Jung refers to, or ancestral memories, or maybe perhaps even detailed memories, such that maybe people today actually hold the memories of ancestors passed down, maybe lots of them, all detailed, but maybe not easily accessed. So it was through some ideas such as these I started thinning about legends and their basis in truth and whether or not such truths could be passed down, and later retrieved by people today under certain circumstances.

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Post by Kat Kennedy » 10 Oct 2017, 21:01

Thanks. It's been a while since I read Jung, but I did read some of the articles on line about this. I get what you mean by understanding 3% of it. It is fascinating though. I think you did a good job introducing it into the novel. I enjoyed going down that rabbit hole.

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Post by jonaya » 11 Oct 2017, 03:27

what first came into your mind before writing this book and how many days/months/years did you take to come up with this book?.

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Post by Charlie Sheldon » 11 Oct 2017, 09:36

Jonaya - I am not sure I can answer your question, because this story may have been building forever in me, but I would say that when I moved to Washington in 1990 and first saw and went into Olympic National park, and first heard just after I arrived about the old legends of the First Peoples that they had always been here (and were indeed the first people) was when the seed of this story sprouted. Later in the 1990s I did some research and found out that dna evidence can be fossilized, such that perhaps you could "read" fossilized dna. Meanwhile I was writing other books - four of them actually in the 1990s - and then in 2003 rewrote all the books I had done and self published them (really to get them in book form because self promotion is awful, awful, awful, but at least the I could have the book as a book, not a sheaf of manuscript papers). Then I got this big shot (sort of) job that consumed all my time and mental energy, and I thought I was done with stories, but all this time this ancient legend Olympics area tale whispered at me, especially a every year I would spend 10-25 days in that park hiking and backpacking, every chance I had. In 2010 when I started an even more demanding job but away from my wife and home in Seattle, so I was in a rental 85 miles away all week, and I knew that due to some issues with one of my bosses I was not going to last very long, I figured, I might as well do some research on this idea to use my time well up there, what little I had. From 2010 until 2013 I did research, filled notebooks, pondered....As I had suspected, the job did not last, and after 18 months I came back to Seattle and shipped out with the Sailors Union of the Pacific as an able-bodied seaman after documenting all my sea time as a commercial fisherman from 40 years earlier. Long story. Then in 2013 after coming back from two trips on a container ship, 272 total days, I took a literary fiction course at University of Washington and I started this tale the first evening of class. That is when I started writing Strong Heart, the same first scene, and once started writing it just poured out, as if all that research and years had been building up and wanted to get out. I got the first draft done in 81 days, 155,000 words, but then it took from December 2014 until July 2017 to get the book the way I wanted it. So, in answer to your question, a long damn time.....

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Post by jonaya » 12 Oct 2017, 09:32

Charlie Sheldon wrote:Jonaya - I am not sure I can answer your question, because this story may have been building forever in me, but I would say that when I moved to Washington in 1990 and first saw and went into Olympic National park, and first heard just after I arrived about the old legends of the First Peoples that they had always been here (and were indeed the first people) was when the seed of this story sprouted. Later in the 1990s I did some research and found out that dna evidence can be fossilized, such that perhaps you could "read" fossilized dna. Meanwhile I was writing other books - four of them actually in the 1990s - and then in 2003 rewrote all the books I had done and self published them (really to get them in book form because self promotion is awful, awful, awful, but at least the I could have the book as a book, not a sheaf of manuscript papers). Then I got this big shot (sort of) job that consumed all my time and mental energy, and I thought I was done with stories, but all this time this ancient legend Olympics area tale whispered at me, especially a every year I would spend 10-25 days in that park hiking and backpacking, every chance I had. In 2010 when I started an even more demanding job but away from my wife and home in Seattle, so I was in a rental 85 miles away all week, and I knew that due to some issues with one of my bosses I was not going to last very long, I figured, I might as well do some research on this idea to use my time well up there, what little I had. From 2010 until 2013 I did research, filled notebooks, pondered....As I had suspected, the job did not last, and after 18 months I came back to Seattle and shipped out with the Sailors Union of the Pacific as an able-bodied seaman after documenting all my sea time as a commercial fisherman from 40 years earlier. Long story. Then in 2013 after coming back from two trips on a container ship, 272 total days, I took a literary fiction course at University of Washington and I started this tale the first evening of class. That is when I started writing Strong Heart, the same first scene, and once started writing it just poured out, as if all that research and years had been building up and wanted to get out. I got the first draft done in 81 days, 155,000 words, but then it took from December 2014 until July 2017 to get the book the way I wanted it. So, in answer to your question, a long damn time.....
no wonder your book is amazing Mr Sheldon I have really enjoyed it and congratulation for the work well done .

-- 12 Oct 2017, 09:39 --

Charlie Sheldon,from the look of things it shows that you are a busy man now my question is ,how do you mix up with the family? Do you manage to balance them all ?

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Post by gali » 20 Oct 2017, 07:53

Do you have time to read? What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by Charlie Sheldon » 20 Oct 2017, 09:42

Jonaya: "Charlie Sheldon,from the look of things it shows that you are a busy man now my question is ,how do you mix up with the family? Do you manage to balance them all ?" Jonaya I am old enough my kids are long grown and on their own, and my wife works. When I worked a "regular" job and wrote I did the writing going to and from work on the train or later a ferry in Seattle. It is impossible to write in a house with kids for all sorts f reasons, for me at least, so I found ways to steal the cracks of time when away from them. Later, after going back to sea, I had time between gigs on ships or on the ships themselves at times. These days I work, when I am writing, when Randa is at work, or with a notebook when backpacking, or when I have time, for example if I am servicing my ancient car I will wait at a coffee shop nearby a few hours and write there.

Gali: I am always reading, all the time, but when working on a specific tale the reading becomes much less, and what I do read is totally forgettable. I am always looking for new authors to read, and spend way way too much on books, and confess that much of the time, maybe most of the time, what I do pick up I find hard to finish.Not always, though. Annie Proulx I like, for example, these days. Generally I keep coming back to some old classics - Conrad, Melville, dos Passos, Tolkein.

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Post by gali » 20 Oct 2017, 10:34

Charlie Sheldon wrote: Gali: I am always reading, all the time, but when working on a specific tale the reading becomes much less, and what I do read is totally forgettable. I am always looking for new authors to read, and spend way way too much on books, and confess that much of the time, maybe most of the time, what I do pick up I find hard to finish.Not always, though. Annie Proulx I like, for example, these days. Generally I keep coming back to some old classics - Conrad, Melville, dos Passos, Tolkein.
lol I also spend a way too much on books. Thank you for sharing. :)
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by Miriam Molina » 20 Oct 2017, 15:39

I was thinking about the significance of the eight days that Sarah went missing. Her story spanned months. Do the eight days mean eight months? The Bible uses seven and forty to signify completeness but uses eight for the beatitudes. Did you have a special reason for using eight days?

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Post by Charlie Sheldon » 20 Oct 2017, 16:09

Miriam - This is great, discovering what all you readers see in this tale. Why eight days? On the level of the story itself, that seems about the time someone could be gone and without food, alone, yet still have energy to emerge and struggle somewhere for help, a 13 year old anyway. I did not intend to have the number of days signify anything else, but I am learning that often times things appear in tales, put there by the author, that have meaning to readers, and are thus real. So, for those of you who know the Bible and the symbols and lessons therein, perhaps there is a correlation with the eight days, not necessarily put there by me (consciously), but still meaningful in relation to a reader's understanding of the Bible. On the story level as I wrote it, I know some readers struggled with this (questioning how Sarah could have an experience lasting perhaps months in the span of eight days). This is fascinating, because in dreams don't we sometimes experience days of time in a few hours? And if you believe Sarah had a vision, then her sense of time could be totally flexible, both linear time as well as time in the past And if you believe Sarah actually went somewhere and really lived that journey, well, then, isn't it a bit odd to question how her eight days could become several months yet accept (apparently) that she traveled in time thousands of years? This the magic realism element, to build a story entirely factual and real in nearly all elements such that the fantastic and impossible is accepted and seen as real, too, and hopefully for most of you readers that is what takes place. I sort of hoped that if a reader can pivot with Sarah to her journey the same reader will be fine with linear time changing as well, during that journey.....
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Post by Miriam Molina » 20 Oct 2017, 16:45

Thank you for the quick answer.

It seems I am overthinking the story haha. My understanding of the story is that the spirits in the mountain brought Sarah back to the age of the first people. Her detailed story, injuries, acquired skills and maturity all point to the passing of time with real people.

As you have gone up that mountain as well, I won't be surprised if the spirits inspired you too.

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