Author Interview With Sasha Soren

Sasha Soren has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her debut release Random Magic; a fun and unique story with great characters and adventure.
 About The Author:
Sasha Soren is a freelance writer/producer, screenwriter, copywriter, author and lyricist.

If you can’t find her at her keyboard, she’s either in the dojo or backpacking in some remote place with an unpronounceable name.

She’s been known to shoot the occasional odd film as well. Or paint the odd painting. Or write the odd song. Some of them are very odd, indeed. She believes in random magic.

Favorite phrase: Ars longa, vita brevis. Or the other way around, if it’s just been one of those days…

(Source: Book biography)

Find Sasha Soren on the Web: Random Magic | Youtube | Author Central | Blog | Official Page | Goodreads | Twitter
 Interview 
Please share with us what you enjoy most about writing?
One of the nicest things about writing is that you’re never bored. You notice all kinds of things, and never know when they might spark a story or some other creative project.

It’s also a great escape, because you can visit all kinds of places, characters and so on, whenever you like. You can go on vacation without all the fuss and bother, just by being in your own head.

It’s also nice to build things, and could say that writing is a building art, like architecture, except that you build with ideas rather than materials like wood or brick or cement — but otherwise it’s very similar.

Or you can change things that bother you, in a way; you can create all kinds of different worlds, right injustices, create happy endings for people.

But mostly it’s great for the entertainment value, could be alone on a desert island with nothing to entertain you but a piece of string and still be wildly entertained for years, just playing in your own imagination as if it were a limitless jungle gym.

So, one of the nicest things about writing is that you don’t actually need TV or movies or sports stadiums or concert halls or movie production studios or what have you — because they’re all there in your head, whenever you need them. All the stories you’ll ever need, with lighting and special effects and soundtracks and everything, it’s all there.

Of course, finding exactly the right combination of objects you need in a vast — almost kind of infinite — warehouse like that can be a bit tricky, but that’s also part of the adventure, in a way. You discover all kinds of cool treasures along the way, too.

Anyway, that’s the enjoyable part of writing.

The not-so-enjoyable part of writing is the actual grind to get everything just where it’s meant to be. Writing is not at all easy, just the way that ballet, for example, is not at all easy, but the final effect of all that effort can be something wonderful and even transcendent.

There’s something magical about writing, just the way there’s something magical about dance, or any creative art, any performing art. There’s also a huge amount of work involved.

But if you can create something marvelous, even if the moment of enjoyment is brief, then it might be worth it to you — if you have a particular kind of personality. Meaning that you’re willing to work hard and to push yourself, because you know what’s possible, just there, up ahead of you, and you want to get there.

And you will get there, no matter what. Strangely, even the hard work is enjoyable in itself, in a way, but you definitely have to have a specific kind of character.

There’s this interesting misconception that a lot of creative people are sort of fey and perishing, but anyone who’s completed a creative project, you’ll find, is usually quite strong and capable of commitment, dedication, and intense focus, almost to the point of being unreasonable.

Maybe even beyond the point of being unreasonable. Completing a creative project of any kind takes grit.

Indie artists, in particular, have to fight even harder, bless them. No matter how many obstacles are hurled in front of them, or on top of them, they shake it off and go right on ahead. It might be scary if it weren’t so impressive. Although it’s really only impressive to onlookers. The artist knows it’s not impressive, just necessary. And so they just get on with things.

Anyone who is an artist, or knows someone who is, knows this is true. They also know that you’re either committed to a project or not, there are no halfway measures involved in making some particular vision come to life. You’re in or you’re out.

So, there’s definitely an enjoyable aspect to writing, but there’s also a lot more involved, and so the experience might or might not be pleasant to you, depending on your particular personality.

What do you believe makes a good story?
Something that sparks curiosity about a particular tale or character, some small detail that intrigues you and leads to a larger story. Beautiful or poetic writing. Emotional resonance. Creativity or originality. Something that nourishes your mind, heart and soul. A story that makes you think, or reflect.

A good story is one that leaves you better, happier, wiser, than you were before you read it, in a way. It gives to you, instead of taking away from you.

When you are not writing, what do you enjoy doing on your spare time?
Creating beautiful things for the world. There are destroyers and there are creators, and yes, definitely aligned with folks of the creator type.
Name the top three things you can’t live without.

Necessities: Air, food, money.
Luxuries: Beauty, magic, creating.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell which ones are the necessities and which ones are the luxuries, though. Would say they’re all necessary.

For example, the love of music is illustrated well in the book, through the character of Effie, who is, in fact, the Muse of music. Could argue that music isn’t a necessity, and you’d have a point. But can you imagine a world without music?

Have you ever envisioned yourself being where you are today as an author and the other wonderful career paths you have chosen?
Didn’t necessarily plan to be an author, was always a writer, from a young age. Thought about and tried doing something more ‘reasonable,’ but in the end, just realized this was the right path.

If you consider that every life has a purpose, it helps to know what your purpose might be, and then continue that way. Otherwise you get lost. Or you lose yourself.

It’s up to you, of course. But if you’re not true to who you are, or who you’re meant to be, then who are you, really?

If you define yourself based completely on something external, and that ceases to be, then you’re going to be in real trouble. Whereas if you determine your core identity, then it’s harder to stumble along the way. The path might be harder or easier, but it’s yours.

What inspired you to write a story with a different approach to that of “Alice in Wonderland”?

When you say ‘inspired,’ that’s really the right word, because wasn’t even planning to write a whole book, it sort of happened, ah, at random…

You know, when you read a book, and it makes you laugh, or it makes you angry, or it makes you cry, you get involved with those characters, that world, that story.

When you laugh, you’re really laughing. When you cry, those are real tears.

But it’s just ink and paper and some little symbols on a page – how odd and powerful, and how ordinary and extraordinary at the same time.

Every book is like its own world, and for a few hours or days, you escape into that world, you fall into a book.

So, was just idly wondering one day, what if it were possible to fall into some story and live the life of a character in that story? Who would it be? What story would it be? Where would it be interesting to spend some time?

You know, just as if you were picking up a round-trip ticket to some unusual place.

And thought, oh, it could be fun to visit Alice in Wonderland, what an odd and interesting story, and what a strange place.

Shown above: Illustration, Alice in Wonderland
Then thought, well, what if you didn’t fall in, but someone else fell out? What would Alice do in our world? Would it seem as strange to her, our 21st century world — considering the passage of time, as the novel, under the title Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, was originally published in 1865 — as Wonderland was?

What would she make of cell phones or airplanes or computers?

But then thought, well, it wouldn’t be as interesting or challenging to write about something that’s really familiar.

Well, what if she didn’t fall into our world, but into a different book?

And what if someone had to jump into that book to bring her back?

Who was that person, and where would he or she land, and what would they do when they got there?

And after wondering about that for a bit, started jotting things down, just out of curiosity. But then the curiosity just got stronger and stronger, and really just wanted to know — well, what happened? Did he or she ever find her? And what would it mean if they didn’t?

And that’s how that happened.

It’d be fair to say that nearly all books — at the start, when there’s nothing to read yet but a blank screen — begin with one phrase: What if…?

You can read more about that HERE if you like, and certainly welcome to browse the Take Five series and go through it in order, if it’s helpful.
 

Shown above: Take Five series
So, that’s how all the drama begins — you just happen to be thinking about some small detail or minor question, and begin to wonder to yourself, well, what if…

You just start with a tiny little thread and keep following it and answering questions and looking ahead, and the next thing you know, it’s a whole, mad story and then the story is eventually a novel.

There are probably easier ways to go about it, of course. Not like you have to write a whole novel just to answer one question. Although, of course, one question leads to another one, and then another one, and then another one, so it’s easy to see how the thinking process could easily start to fill up quite a few pages.

But hopefully it’s a question, or a journey, that has enough power in it to hold your attention for a long time. Once you head out, you’re going to be on that road for months, or even years, until you reach your destination.

You know, because writing is hard work, already — then, just to complicate everything, have to maintain that energy over time because it’s not a sprint, more like a marathon.

On the upside, well, you do finally answer all the questions, can also say you satisfy your curiosity and can be content with that, because you do find out what happened!

What inspired you to create such a genuine character such as Henry and Winnie as well as the many other characters involved in “Random Magic”?
Henry started almost as a cipher, because didn’t know much about him, was just thinking, well, he’s the one who gets accidentally thrown into this adventure.

To have a story, you have to have someone to follow. Otherwise, you don’t go anywhere. Hence, no story.

So, he started out by falling — well, jumping — into this book. And, through him, we’d know what happened there.

His personality, in the beginning, was mild, even indistinct. Winnie, the heroine of the book, has a vivid personality. There’s no mistaking Winnie, she’s very bold and resolute, very present. Even when silent, there’s a kind of crackling energy surrounding her in every scene, as if her thoughts are so fast and so intense, they can almost be overheard as actual sound.

Henry, in contrast, especially next to Winnie, is initially a bit colorless. He started that way in the writing, as well. He wasn’t dull, in that he definitely had a personality and a few unusual little quirks.

So, he wasn’t a blank slate, just not as immediately compelling as Winnie. If she was a bit of a fireball in temperament, he was more like a quiet lake.

But as he traveled, started to learn things about him, and that he had an unusual side, that he was much more stubborn and stronger and braver than he appeared to be, at first.

Yes, especially stubborn. For people who’ve read the book, they already know that he spent years focused on a single goal, and what the goal was, and whether or not he accomplished it.

For people who haven’t read the book, there’s more to Henry than you think, at first, but that was almost a surprise for me, too. That is, did know the thread of the story and what would happen, but in reading it later, had to give Henry credit — he really had more grit and intensity than is immediately apparent.

He does, in fact, have his own particular kind of strength, and it was there from the very beginning, although latent. Meeting Winnie was just kind of a catalyst to bring it out in him. But it was there all the time.

Winnie, well, she just barged in, which is typical of her character, anyway. She just wanted to be in the story, wasn’t necessarily planning on her, but suddenly she was just there and wouldn’t abandon Henry for any reason, come hell or high water.

So, couldn’t kick her out of the book, and so decided to go along on the journey, just to see what she’d do next. Which was a lot.

Which character in “Random Magic” do you believe you relate to most and why?

Oh, well, most likely there’re little dashes of personality here and there; bound to be, really.

Whenever anyone creates anything, their own energy and temperament is reflected in what they create.

So, like Winnie, can be tough, stoic or silent in suffering, resourceful, a fighter ‘til the bitter end, a wise-ass, maybe a bit abrupt — but also frank, courageous, good-hearted, protective, loyal.

Like Callie, the Muse of writing, can be genial and hedonistic and entertaining, intelligent but perpetually distracted by rapidly-shifting thoughts, capricious, high-spirited, easily
delighted, more than a bit lazy, very hospitable, slightly overwhelming.

Like Professor Random, the one who misplaces Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) in the first place, or like the mother of the Nine Muses, can be vague, absent-minded, preoccupied and dreamy.

Like Lady Jolie Witherspoon, can be insouciant and whimsical, elegant and an unrepentant sensualist, with a love for beauty, refinement and lovely things.

Like the Count De Morgue, can be sardonic, secretive, and dark, or like the Countess De Morgue, can be poetic, languid or melancholy. There are days you’d like nothing better than to just drape yourself somewhere on a divan and look charmingly gloomy. Of course, then you snap out of it because there’s work to be done and no one’s going to do it if you don’t — which is the Winnie type of personality, springing back to life.

Like Baba Yaga, can be sharp, sarcastic, cheeky and mischievous, carefree and a bit tricky, or like Effie, the Muse of music, can be mellow, accommodating, helpful, friendly and pleasant.

So, they’re all in there, somewhere. But they’re also just echoes or reflections, as well, as it’s fiction, not biography. Yes, of course there are qualities that are the same, but just as many that are different.

It’s nice when people have a particular favorite character, also, by the way, and always interested in and intrigued by their reasons for favoring or identifying with one character or another.

If you’d like to know more about the characters in Random Magic, there’s a thoughtful feature article HERE, and an online quiz below, to see which character might be most like you:

Shown above: Which Random Magic character is most like you?
Find out! Take the quiz!

The only one who’s slightly hard to relate to might be Winsley, who’s just so strait-laced and rigid that it’d be uncomfortable to be in his skin for very long, would get all twitchy.

Yes, of course, was able to create and comprehend the character; you have to be able to write characters with qualities vastly different from your own, otherwise you’d be limiting yourself and your imagination to only the familiar, and that seems like it’d be a wasted opportunity.

Also, of course, wasn’t creating the character just as some kind of experiment; he also stood in for the kind of world Henry lived in — bland, grey, rigid, formal, stifling. He was what Henry might’ve become, except for the fact that Henry had a quiet but deep rebellious streak about a mile wide.

So, yes, was able to write Winsley. It’d be hard to find any particular correlation in personality, though. He was right for that story, and that world, and that’s why he’s there. Don’t find his character to be particularly simpatico, though. He’s kind of a wet blanket, always finding fault and criticizing this or that and such and so, and there are more agreeable and diverting ways to spend your time.

To be fair, even he must have his redeeming qualities, in some way — well, for one, he’s organized, always a plus and could maybe use a bit of that quality, in particular.

But really more secretly fond of the more outré or eccentric characters, mainly because they just make me laugh. And, hopefully, they make you laugh, too.

Overall, even given some of the darker or more suspenseful scenes, or the deeper and more philosophical scenes, would say Random Magic is a happy, fun-loving and optimistic story, for good-natured, well-read, imaginative and adventurous souls.
Is there a message or multiple messages in your novel that you would like your readers to grasp?
There are roughly a million and three. Probably. Maybe. Quite a few people have commented that there’s much more going on below the surface than they realized, or that they discovered things about themselves while reading it, or that they expected a light, frothy read and instead got something more complex but somehow more satisfying for that very reason.

There’s definitely darkness underscoring the jolly, light-hearted adventure, and bits of philosophical meandering in between the straightforward parts of the story. And, yes, there are possibly hundreds of different messages tucked away subtly into the entire experience.

Even the book itself has a message — that is, the physical copy of the book actually contains a hidden message for the reader, and if they know where to look for it, they’ll easily find it.

That’s actually part of one of the major themes of the book, which is that magic is everywhere, you only have to know where to look.

So, that’s one message that’s explored in the story, but also in the reader’s own experience. If you know how and where to look for the message, you’ll find it. That’s so in life, if you’re trying to find something — a belief, a god, an ideal, even something more mundane, like a fact or a particular piece of trivia. You go out and look for it.

If you can see something that no one else sees, yet, that’s relevant, also. That’s where inventors and creators and dreamers are all looking — into the beyond, or the future, and that’s where our world actually springs from, and how we evolve, collectively speaking.

This screen you’re reading on, the technology that put it there within reach for you to read, even the letters themselves that impart meaning — someone invented all of these things, they didn’t always exist. But they were just there somewhere, to be created, or to be found. And so they were.

That’s one reason the tagline on the cover says, ‘Do you believe…?’, not, do you believe in something specific. Because it doesn’t matter what the thing happens to be, it only matters that you have the passion or the courage to go out and find it. Or create it. Or be it. And so on.

It’s a tricky book because the answers aren’t just doled out to you and they might not even be simple or clear-cut answers, because there are all kinds of answers, just like there are all kinds of truths.

The questions raised are there, and subtle, and just things for people to think about — not what I happen to think about creativity, or magic, or love — but what you think.

What do you believe? And why? And is that important to you? That’s something left to every reader to discover for himself or herself. Because then it’s the truest answer.

Yes, there are a few themes woven through the story, and specifically wanted to say something about a few of them in the story, and so they might be more noticeable, because they’re very distinct.

Of course, would rather every person reads the story in their own way, but if you’re just curious what some of the themes might be, there are a few of them which might be particularly noticeable.

Some of the brief, simple meditations woven into the story, nestled up alongside all the nutty adventures and colorful imagery, would be:

• Magic is everywhere, even in daily life, just have to know where to look
• Always believe in yourself, even if no one else does
• Inside every woman, there is a queen
• Brains can be more useful than brawn, in a lot of cases
• Knowledge is power
• Bravery isn’t a lack of fear, but a willingness to try even when you’re afraid
• True beauty is much greater than skin deep
• Loyalty, friendship and love are more valuable than gold
• Magic is: Magic. But it’s also: The power to create art, music, and beauty.
• There is spiritual beauty in physical objects, sometimes
• Humans are mortal, but the things they create are immortal
• It’s foolhardy to underestimate the seemingly small and weak
• Don’t believe everything you see
• One person with courage is a majority
• Never give up and;
• Love is the most elusive but most powerful magic of all

  

Can you give us any hints on what’s in store for your readers in your next novel?

Well, busy on tour at the moment, and please feel free to drop by and partake in the festivities, if you’re reading this and think it’d be a fun to get caught up in the drama:

 Random Magic Tour: Pirates!
Being a mad party of all things piratical.
Tour schedule is here: All events


After that, who knows, always have ideas percolating, so it’s reasonable to assume one of those is going to eventually show up as something quite interesting.

At the moment, though, just feel free to enjoy the tour — and of course, if the book sounds like fun to you, then by all means feel free to pick up your own copy for a nice weekend read at home, or to pass a more comfortable time on a long train ride and so on.

People seem to enjoy and have fun with the story, and Random Magic has been picked for book of the month and included on book of the year lists in various places, so it does seem like there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had in the experience. That’s so nice, and genuinely appreciate the accolades.

But mostly it’d be nice just to know it made you laugh, really, can be frivolous that way. On the other hand, life can be hard and difficult, so maybe laughter is a trivial thing which is actually incredibly important.

The book trailer and places to find Random Magic are all here, feel free to browse:


Shown above: Book trailer, Random Magic
Find Random Magic: Amazon | Kindle


It’s a fun, strange, whimsical and unusual book and a great escape into a world far stranger, more colorful, and more magical our own, and odds are you’ll have a great time.

One unusual but very cool thing is that the book, for some reason, seems to spark creativity. It might be because of the presence of the Nine Muses, and the feeling that creativity is beautiful and necessary in our lives and should be encouraged — happen to agree with this, so maybe that just comes through in the story — but when someone finishes reading Random Magic, they very often start their own creative projects. In fact, nearly always.

They might write something, or paint something, or plan something, or try something new, but it’s a consistent effect. And was slightly bemused by that at first, but overall just think it’s wonderful.

Shown above: Which one of the Nine Muses is your alter ego?
Find out! Take the quiz!
Artists, writers and other creative people tend to be very stubborn and focused, and will just follow their vision through anything and everything — blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, the planet could fall into the sun, anything could happen but when the smoke clears, there they are, still working away.

But even if you don’t want to go that far, but just feel like it’d be fun to do something creative that personally fulfills you or makes you happy, then by all means, go for it. The world needs some more beauty in it, more every day.

A wonderful work of art of any kind — a book, a film, a painting, a performance — makes me feel happy, and appreciative, and even sometimes just grateful that someone took the time to create something so remarkable.

So, maybe the next beautiful thing in the world will be something you create. And that would be great!

In any case, though, even if you don’t feel that ambitious, would say that Random Magic is a cheerful and diverting story, and a fanciful escape into a vast and magical world, so it’d probably be entertaining to spend some time there.

And if you feel inspired to pick up a brush or a pen or a camera along the way, then so much the better. Either way, if you decide to go, have a fun time and a wonderful journey there and back again. Bon voyage!

 
My Review: Random Magic by Sasha Soren
Buy Random Magic online: