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Friday, April 20, 2012

Interview with Author Zoe Saadia on her newest book release, The Young Jaguar, which is the second in a series.

Zoe Saadia is an author of The Cahokian and At Road’s End, novels of pre-Columbian Americas.

Having researched various pre-contact cultures of this continent for more than a decade, she is convinced that it’s a shame that such a large part of history was completely overlooked, by historical fiction most of all.

Both Americas had an extremely rich, diverse, fascinating history long before this continent was discovered by other civilizations. So her professional motto is set. America has never been discovered. It has in her novels.


Having read the first book of this series, I was really interested in reading further. I've been waiting for the release of the second in the series, which I have now read.  I have to tell you Zoe, to me it was even more spellbinding than the first.  I love your writing style, and the manner in which you weave clearly defined characters into history.  I get lost in your books, and I love that feeling.  I can never put them down without reading straight through.  That's how hard the plot and your writing style grips me.  I don’t want to give away any spoilers to your readers, but can YOU offer them some juicy details without divulging too much to them?

Oh, certainly
While ‘At Road’s End’, the first book in my Pre-Aztec Series, deals with the Southwest and the fall of Anasazi, in ‘The Young Jaguar’ the action shifts to Mesoamerica, to the great pyramids, sprawling city-states and the warlike Aztecs and Tepanecs.
The old Emperor is dead and his heirs are struggling for succession. The capital is in turmoil, with both main characters from the first book, Tecpatl and Sakuna, caught in the middle of this storm, each battling against the odds in their different ways. There is much action and quite a lot of tension, this time among the luxury the capital of the Great Empire offers.

I absolutely loved the way you threw them into the mix, in both At Roads end as well as The Young Jaguar.  The way you incorporated them into the plot in the second book was brilliant, Zoe.


How long did it take you to write it?

Well, actually this story gripped me so much, I had it done in an embarrassingly short time. It just wouldn’t let me go, forcing me to work all sorts of hours, day and night.
‘The Young Jaguar’ was written in about a month (but then, of course, it took twice as long to go through all the edits and proofreading).
And just as I was about to sigh with relief, intending to take this well-deserved rest, the third book in the series had grabbed my throat and I was back in the frenzy, having a difficult time to tell the real world from the ancient one.
So actually now I do have all four books of these Pre-Aztec Series finished, with the third one, ‘The Jaguar Warrior’, almost ready to get published too.  

Can you tell the readers about the names of some of the new characters that you're introducing into the series with the second book?

Oh, the Aztecs’ language is a tricky one. My method of using words from the language of people I’m writing about did not work with Mesoamerica as well as with North America. I needed to pick words that would sound appealing to American ear and most of the meaningful words in Nahuatl (the Aztec language) were completely tongue-breaking.
So I had to settle for less-meaningful, but nicely sounding words.
Therefore, this time, in addition to Tecpatl (‘Flint Knife’ in Nahuatl (Aztec) language) and Sakuna (‘Squirrel’ in Hopi language), there is Atolli - a pretty main character and Tecuani (‘Jaguar’ in Nahuatl).
But, because the story develops in the great Empire, with the slave trade forming a formidable part of it, there are quite a few Mayan names, and even a girl from the ‘wild’ parts of the Mexican Valley named Mino (‘Fox’ in Otomi language).

Who’s your favorite character in it?

I very much like the young hothead named Atolli, who is developing nicely through the entire series.
Tecpatl is also my favorite, of course.
Sakuna is nice, but the slave girl Mino is more fascinating by far.

When reading, do you prefer eBook or paperback?

Well, I loved to curl on the sofa with the good heavy paperback since I was a kid. My mom tried to take me out of this curling-in-cozy-corners-habit, worrying that I would ruin my eyes. She never succeeded.
But where she had failed, Kindle had an upper hand. Since I got it, I never touch the books adorning our living room, but sitting straight and reading. Somehow ebooks reading don’t go with curling on the sofa. Or maybe it’s just me, but sure enough I prefer ebooks now. 

What projects are you currently working on?

Having just finished with those pre-Aztec series, I’m taking a break for a few weeks. I want to move back to North America. The trilogy on the Iroquois is beckoning. But I have to get rid of anything Aztec-related so it won’t influence my writing anymore.
Therefore, it’s a few-weeks-break (not that there is not enough to do with all the editing of the fourth book of the current series and the promoting of the existing ones)

What one word describes how you feel when you write?


Who designed this cover?

My husband. He is very talented and he paints beautifully. The problem is, he doesn’t like painting and graphics as much as he did, so it takes an effort to force him into designing my covers.
What are your pet peeves?

School system.

What’s your favorite beverage?


So do you like to cook?

No!!! I’m horrible in the kitchen.

What’s your favorite ice cream?


Do you normally eat breakfast, of do you skip it and get straight to work?

Skip it, big time. And the rest of the meals too. Since becoming a full-time writer, I never get time to eat properly. Or to sleep for that matter.

What is something you never leave home without (apart from keys, money and phone)?

My Kindle?

Do you sleep in or get up early?

I get up early, even if I don’t have too. It’s terribly inconvenient, but I can’t help it. I was always like that, up with the birds, when the rest of the world is still having a great time under warm blankets. I hate it :D
Which do you use most for writing on, laptop or desktop?

Laptop. It allows me to work anywhere I land. Having kids in the house, you can really give up on the luxury of a desktop, can’t you?

What are your thoughts on receiving book reviews - the good and the bad?

I think reviews are important, but this is a tricky matter. I suppose the average reader would not bother going back to Amazon in order to write a review, which leaves us with critics and writers only.
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if the review is honest or not, either way, for the good and for the bad. It’s difficult to say if the person, who wrote it, has no agenda other than sharing his/hers thoughts. Like with any other information on the internet, one has to read through reviews carefully. 

List 3 books you’ve just recently read and would recommend?

I just finished the second book in ‘Allie’s Wars’ Series, of J.C. Andrijeski. A wonderful read that kept me on edge for two weeks without letting go.

Before that I had a great time reading ‘The Schliemann Legacy’ by D.A. Graystone. A great thriller that managed to toss me all over the world with the best of the international agents and killers.

Then it was your ‘Blind Veil’, Michael Lorde. The best conspiracy I ever happened to run into, this novel managed to keep me on edge for a long time and I still complain about the necessity to wait for the sequel. 
I am so glad you enjoyed it, Zoe.  I will be releasing that second Blind Veil book later this year, so you won’t have to wait much longer for that one.  

As far as your book, if it was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters? 

I have a problem answering this one, as all my stories are happening in pre-Columbian Americas, so it might be difficult to find so many native-looking actors.
I suppose I would have to borrow a few guys from ‘Apocalypto’ of Mel Gibson (a great movie, btw).

Thank you so much for this interview, Zoe.  Can you tell me where readers can purchase your books?

1 comment:

  1. Great interview, Zoe! Your series is fascinating and your husband did a beautiful job on the covers. Agreed about Amazon. Reviews tend to be one extreme or the other. Frankly, it had never occurred to me to write a review before publishing. Cooking, I'm horrible, too, which I'm finding isn't uncommon among female writers. As Diane Repp tweeted the other day: "There are no bad cooks just people with more on their plate than fixing food. Writers rule!" :) Best wishes with your continued success!