Interview with Sue Harrison, author of Mother Earth Father Sky and Song of the River

Publisher: Open Road Media

Publication Date: May 28, 2013

Order Links:  Mother Earth Father Sky / Song of the River

Mother Earth Father Sky Synopsis: A young woman fights for survival amid the brutality of the last Ice Age

It’s 7056 BC, a time before history. On the first day that Chagak’s womanhood is acknowledged within her Aleut tribe, she unexpectedly finds herself betrothed to Seal Stalker, the most promising young hunter in the village. A bright future lies ahead of Chagak—but in one violent moment, she loses her entire way of life. Left with her infant brother, Pup, and only a birdskin parka for warmth, Chagak sets out across the icy waters on a quest for survival and revenge.

Mother Earth Father Sky is the first book of the Ivory Carver Trilogy, which also includes My Sister the Moon and Brother Wind.

Song of the River Synopsis: Two ancient tribes on the verge of making peace become foes once more when a double murder jeopardizes a storyteller’s mission

Eighty centuries ago, in the frozen land that is now Alaska, a clubfooted male child had been left to die, when a woman named K’os rescued him. Twenty years later and no longer a child, Chakliux occupies the revered role as his tribe’s storyteller. In the neighboring village of the Near River people, where Chakliux will attempt to make peace by wedding the shaman’s daughter, a double murder occurs that sends him on a harsh, enthralling journey in search of the truth about the tragic losses his people have suffered, and into the arms of a woman he was never meant to love.

Song of the River is the first book of the Storyteller Trilogy, which also includes Cry of the Wind and Call Down the Stars.

Author Bio: Sue Harrison grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and graduated summa cum laude from Lake Superior State University with a bachelor of arts degree in English language and literature. At age twenty-seven, inspired by the cold Upper Michigan forest that surrounded her home, and the outdoor survival skills she had learned from her father and her husband, Harrison began researching the people who understood best how to live in a harsh environment: the North American native peoples. She studied six Native American languages and completed extensive research on culture, geography, archaeology, and anthropology during the nine years she spent writing her first novel, Mother Earth Father Sky, the extraordinary story of a woman’s struggle for survival in the last Ice Age. A national and international bestseller, and selected by the American Library Association as one of the Best Books for Young Adults in 1991, Mother Earth Father Sky is the first novel in Harrison’s critically acclaimed Ivory Carver Trilogy, which includes My Sister the Moon and Brother Wind. She is also the author of Song of the River, Cry of the Wind, and Call Down the Stars, which comprise the Storyteller Trilogy, also set in prehistoric North America. Her novels have been translated into thirteen languages and published in more than twenty countries. Harrison lives with her family in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula.

Interview: Q. Please tell us about MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY & SONG OF THE RIVER.

Both Mother Earth Father Sky and My Sister the Moon are novels set in ancient Alaska and based on the legends and stories of Native Alaskan peoples. Mother Earth Father Sky is the first book of The Ivory Carver Trilogy, which also includes My Sister the Moon and Brother Wind. Song of the River is the first book of The Storyteller Trilogy and also includes Cry of the Wind and Call Down the Stars. Both trilogies are a mash of genres: suspense, a bit of mystery, and romance. I wrote them for the adult market, but Mother Earth Father Sky was also selected as a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association.

Q. How did writing these books affect you?

Writing these books was a fulfillment of my childhood dream to become a novelist. To publish these books goes even beyond my dreams. I love to write, and I love telling stories. Writing novels adds a dimension of happiness of my life that I know I wouldn't have otherwise.

Q. Can you tell us about the journey that led you to writing?

I am one of those fortunate people whose parents read to them. From my earliest memory, I have loved books. When I was ten years old, I read Laura Ingalls Wilder's novel Little House in the Big Woods. As I read that book, I fell in love with words and knew that I wanted to become a novelist. My teacher that year was very encouraging to me, as were my high school teachers later on. None of them told me that I couldn't write novels, that I'd never get a book published. Every one of them supported me in my dreams, as did my parents and my husband. In college (Lake Superior State University), my professors were also very encouraging, and even years later, when I was receiving the normal rejections that every writer must endure, I would get out my old college papers and reread the kind comments, which gave me courage to go on.

Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you?

First draft is the most difficult, but I love to write so much that the hardest part of being a writer is when my life is so busy that I have to set my writing aside for weeks or months. I go through a mourning period when that happens. (Of course, I’m not counting vacation time! We all need that.)

Q. Do you have a musical playlist you listen to while writing? If so, what kind of music?

I love classical music and I love to play music, especially on my piano and my mandolin; however, I write best in complete silence.

Q. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

When I’m writing first draft, I speak every word I write out loud. Maybe that’s why I have to work in silence – to hear my own voice!

Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?

Like many novelists, I have written books that have yet to find a publisher. So I’m rewriting some of those, and I’m currently working on the first draft of suspense novel for the inspirational market. After that, I’m playing around with ideas for a suspense/paranormal.

Q. What are you currently reading?

I usually read several books at the same time. Right now my “kitchen” book (reading while I cook) is THE SPICE NECKLACE by Ann Vanderhoof. I’m also reading a daily devotional book and a novel suggested to me years ago by one of my friends who works at a bookstore, THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern. I’m reading another novel – U.P. by Ron Riekki – for the second time.

Q. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I have too many favorites to list, but one of my top favorites is Dorothy Dunnett. Her Lymond Chronicles are incredible and should be must reads for anyone who is writing historicals with multiple points of view.  Her research is impeccable, and I love how she develops her characters in quirky, unpredictable ways.

Q. Please tell us your latest news (book-related or not!).

All my Alaska books have been re-released in ebook format by Open Road Integrated Media and I’m currently on a virtual book tour, which is why we’re doing this interview! Hooray!

Q. Please tell us a fun-fact about yourself!

I’m a certified scuba diver. I’m not sure that’s a fun-fact, so here’s something that anyone who spends time with me soon figures out. I’m a klutz. Really, entirely, and totally!

Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

What I always want to say to my readers is “Thank you,” from the bottom, top, and both sides of my heart. I appreciate you so much!


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