Thursday, September 20, 2012
Author Interview/Giveaway: The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy by Sandy Norton
Describe your book in five words or less.
Finding meaning at Earth’s end.
How did the ideas for your books come to you?
Sad to say, through personal disasters. The idea for my first series, the Bloodsong Series, came to me in a mystical experience as I was recovering from a personal tragedy. An entire book was injected into my brain very dramatically after a meditation retreat. It was a very large and unexpected experience. My first novel, Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money, came from that experience. The book is about a great Native American shaman meeting the richest man in the world. I’ve got drafts of a half-dozen sequels on my hard drive.
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy came to me in a similar fashion. I was happily, but not very productively working on Mogollon, the first sequel to Numenon, when my brother died tragically. He was my adored little brother and only sibling. Outwardly, I looked calm and collected, but inside I was screaming with grief.
About three months after my brother died, I had a dream in which a shimmering golden light floated above me as I slept. That light was totally conscious, totally alive and good in every way. It radiated peace and good will. As I slept, I felt it lower itself upon me. And then it became me, merging with me fully. I got to feel the inner state on an angel. (Did I tell you I like meditation and spiritual practice and have big spiritual experiences? I do. Always have.)
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
All of my writing carries a message, and The Angel is more loaded than anything else I’ve written. I write about aliens and space travel and a lot of pretty far-out and silly stuff, but I am a writer talking about serious stuff. What’s more serious than the end of the world?
I hold Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in economics and was a doctoral student in Economics, Public Policy and Business at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford. A few years back, I earned my living as an economist. As Economic Analyst of Santa Clara County (the southern end of Silicon Valley in CA), I predicted employment by industry and location in Santa Clara County. I did analysis for the County Executive’s office. I was also the economist in a joint project with the RAND Corporation. And I was the economist for a few other projects. You get the picture.
With that background, not caring about our current economic situation is impossible. The condition of the world economy is REALLY BAD, if you haven’t heard. While I was grieving for my brother, the economist in me was tearing her hair and trying not to scream about what was going on in her area of expertise. A torrent of thoughts and feelings inside me was all balled up and needed to be expressed.
The world of The Angel, the book’s setting, came directly from history, current events and my experience as an economist. The Angel takes place in very nasty police state that isn’t so implausible.
Not everyone’s a history buff, but here’s a short history of the Western world post-WWI.
Germany lost WWI. The Treaty of Versailles, signed in Louis the XIV to XVI’s getaway cottage, The Palace of Versailles, was a nasty bugger that demanded reparations from Germany. The world wanted Germany to pay for the cost of the war. Sounds fair, maybe, except that Germany was already flattened economically. They couldn’t pay the reparations. Trying to do so would make people starve. The Allied blockaded Germany for a year; resulting an estimated 250,000 people dying of starvation. European society was in turmoil; four empires had dissolved during the war years. Zippo political stability existed. Read this article to see how bad it was.
The negotiated treaty ending the war, with reparations against Germany and all the rest, but set up the Great Depression. Many factors were involved, but the worldwide economic collapse of the 1930s and the desperation it created in Germany allowed Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party to ascend to power. They were very close to world domination when their movement fell apart and WWII ended. A few battles going the other way and we could all be goose-stepping
What does this have to do with my book? It could happen again. The dreadful police state in which the book is set is a possibility if we do not work together, like grown-ups, and solve the economic problems before us.
As an economist, I think that we could slide into another Great Depression in the next four years if we don’t get our economic and cultural houses in order. People need to learn economics so they’ll know when a politician is feeding them a line of bull. They need to learn it fast, because we are in a critical time.
In the 1930’s, we had the Great Depression, which allowed the rise of Hitler. In The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, the Recession we’re in now doesn’t go away. It gets worse and becomes a Depression, which so demoralizes everyone that a strong man like the fictitious Yuri Sokolov is able to name himself Tsar of all the Russias. In The Angel, Tsar Yuri pulls together the Russian Empire and take over the world, establishing a police state.
The Angel is set a long time after Tsar Yuri’s take-over, when things have gone from bad to worse. The United States is a third-rate power under Russian control.
What about what goes on in The Angel’s police state? The torture and disappearances and electronic surveillance? Stuff like that is happening now all over the world. People disappear off the streets in all sorts of places around the globe. Read the news. Torture is rampant in dictatorships now. The USA is not free of such activities. Our CIA in its covert ops does stuff that could come from The Angel. Ever want a peek in Guantanamo? I don’t. Electronic sleuthing is so prevalent that it’s hardly a source of news for more than ten minutes. Witness what Rupert Murdoch’s news empire has done with phone hacking. Feel safe?
The scale of the abuse in The Angel is much larger than what is going on in our world in 2012.
Do I think what happens in The Angel could literally come to be? No. It’s exaggerated. But something similar could happen if we don’t get back to peace and prosperity worldwide.
* * *
Another element exists in the message of The Angel. It’s set on the last day and night of the world. Everything is going to blow up tomorrow morning. What would you do if you faced that?
A lot of people would get loaded and party all night. Live it up. Some would search frantically for a way out. Others might feel the unresolved conflicts in their lives so powerfully that they force them to confront what they’ve been running from.
Jeremy Edgarton, sixteen-year-old hero of The Angel, is the latter type of person. Or rather, his feelings reach such a high pitch that he must confront what his parents have done to him and resolve his inner torment. He had the worst parents in the world. He’s the rich kid that everyone envied, but when you find out what has happened to him, I don’t think any of us would want such a life.
When better to make your peace with your life and the people in it than the night before Armageddon?
I wrote The Angel and all my other books from my passionate desire to see people happy and free of pain and what stems from it. I wrote my books in the hope that they should stimulate readers to take the good road, the moral road. The road of love.
I have an MA in Marriage, Child, and Family counseling in addition to my credentials in economics. Both sides of my brain have been to school!
My interest in counseling stems from my own pain and the pain I’ve seen in others. I’m committed to doing my best to “clean up the mess.” Lots of people have the same commitment, and they express it in many ways.
The Angel is my way of saying, “Stop. Look around. Does it have to be this way? How can we/I make things better.”
What is the hardest part of writing for you? What's the easiest?
Sitting in front of a computer. I have a bad back and sitting for a long time is pretty much the worst thing I can do to it. Another hard thing is finding time to write. Marketing and other activities related to being an author take a long time. They steal my writing time. Sometimes this is painful. Ideas may be there, images, scenes, and I’ve got to ignore them and do something else.
Once I get my creative juices going and carve out some time to write, writing is the easiest thing. It flows; I flow. It’s bliss. When the basic piece is written, then comes editing. Which I like, actually, though it’s a lot of work.
What's next for you? Are you currently working on or have plans for future projects?
I’m booked up for the rest of my life. I have another series, the Bloodsong Series that I began writing a few years ago. The first book of that series, Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism and Money, came out in 2008. Numenon is the story of a great Native American shaman meeting the richest man in the world. “Bill Gates meets Don Juan.” It was wildly popular when it came out, hitting #1 in three categories of Mysticism and floating around the 1,000th level in Kindle sales. I did nothing to support its success, assuming it would go on forever. Alas, it didn’t. And I didn’t take screen shots of those wonderful ratings . . .
I have readers emailing me all the time saying, “Where’s the sequel?” I say in Numenon that the sequel was already written in draft form. Which means written on the back of an electronic napkin on my hard drive. While attempting to shape up the sequel, I was beset by every demon a writer can face. Writer’s block, you name it. (Numenon’s sequel is Mogollon: A Tale of Mysticism and Mayhem. The Mogollon were an extinct Native people in New Mexico and Arizona.)
One of the things that derailed the sequel to Numenon is Tales from Earth’s End. The three books of the Tales burst out of me. I couldn’t work on anything else while I was writing them.
But they’re written and now I can work on Mogollon. I’m happy to report I’ve overcome writer’s block and writer’s insanity and am just writing. The book is going great. I’m totally into it again.
And I’m so glad that I didn’t jam what I had together earlier and put it out to satisfy my dear readers, who were begging for it. I’m a way better writer now. The book is quicker, meaner, leaner, and lovelier. Finishing it and getting it through editing and production will be a while. I anticipate a 2013 publication date.
So I’ve got Mogollon cookin’. I’m also writing its sequel. What happens to the gang after they come back from the retreat in New Mexico. Ideas are popping for it. (Tentative title: Forsaken: A Tale of Mysticism, Loss & Love.) I say in the Author’s Note of Numenon that I have five or six sequels to Numo on my hard drive. I do, written on electronic napkins and tissue paper and so on. It’s the same thing as with Mogollon, what’s coming out of me now is WAY BETTER! I can hardly wait to show it to you.
And––maybe, just maybe, the two series will come together. Hmmm.
If you like Tales from Earth’s End and want to read more of my stuff, it’s available. Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is a kids’ book about a premature baby horse. It’s very sweet. Short. It’s for kids. The print version is better for kids to read. Stepping Off the Edge is my first book. It’s sort of a very intense ramble through my life and spirituality a few years back. It contains everything that anyone, academically or otherwise, has told me that worked. Meaning: made my life better. Solved problems. This is me telling you what kept me going. It’s not a how-to meditate, pray, or do any other spiritual practice. You won’t find step-by-step instruction in it. It’s a memoir with teeth.
There’s the whole Tales Series of three books to read.
And, there’s my first novel, Numenon. I love Numenon. It’s about spirituality, shamanism, why we’re here on earth, how we grow, and can Will Duane, the anti-hero, be anything but a jerk? It’s also dark, bloody, violent, gross, and sexy, by turns. Not your grandmother’s spiritual guide. Be aware of that. I’m not one who thinks spirituality is about floating around on a cloud where the only problem is how to get higher.
Why did you choose to write for specific genre?
My mysticism did it for me. For instance, I’ve written all my life, in school and at work. Really good stuff that people liked. Only problem was that I couldn’t finish anything––like a book.
I told you up above that I write “literature through disaster,” which means it’s taken a heavy-duty personal melt-down to kick books out of me.
I was really surprised when Numenon came out and began winning awards as science fiction. I thought it was a write up of experiences I’ve had in meditation, considering it nonfiction, really.
Numenon has won six national awards in visionary fiction, sci-fi, fantasy.
I had no idea what genre I was writing. Tales from Earth’s End was the same way. We’ve discussed how it evolved above. Visionary fiction. Fantasy. Science Fiction. What?
I write what my inner voice tells me to write. That’s how Tecolote came into being. It’s juvenile nonfiction. When Tecolote was born on our ranch and his life unfolded, it screamed “make me a kids’ book.” I did.
Stepping Off the Edge was the same thing. It demanded to be written, knocking aside Numenon and everything else.
My writing is spiritually based, the fruit of my life and meditation. It just looks like sci-fi.
What's it like hearing that readers are eagerly awaiting your book's release date?
It’s lovely. I love fan mail. I love hearing from people. I love it that people have been so patient waiting for Mogollon. Sometimes they’re a little crabby though.
One guy wrote, “I’ve been waiting a whole year for this book.”
I felt badly that I didn’t have it, but I wrote the entire Tales from Earth’s End Saga.
I’ve had one character get fan mail. Which one? You’ll never guess, even if you’ve read my stuff. I’ll tell you:
Sandy Sydney of Numenon. Some guys really like her.
What is one question that you've always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
Do you think you’ll become enlightened in this lifetime?
No, I don’t. There was a time back in the 80s and 90s where I wanted to be enlightened more than breathe almost. Didn’t happen.
Still hasn’t happened. I’ve read some accounts of the enlightenment experiences of great beings. They sound scary. The pyrotechnics I’ve experienced are nothing compared to what the big boys and girls go through.
So, I’ll take what I get. I’ll be very happy if I can complete my two series before I keel over.
What was your road to publications like?
Long and hard, like everyone’s. I’ve had two literary agents so far and a third that really wanted to be my agent. The feeling was not mutual.
We formed Vilasa Press, which is a story in itself. I’m very pleased with the quality of books we bring out. They’ve won 22 awards in national contests, some of them very prestigious. The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy won the Gold Medal in Visionary Fiction in the IPPY (Independent Press) Awards, a major contest. The Angel also won the Visionary Fiction category in the Indie Excellence contest. That’s gratifying.
Sandy Nathan writes to amaze and delight, uplift and inspire, as well as thrill and occasionally terrify. She is known for creating unforgettable characters and putting them in do or die situations. She writes in genres ranging from science fiction, fantasy, and visionary fiction to juvenile nonfiction to spirituality and memoir.
“I write for people who like challenging, original work. My reader isn’t satisfied by a worn-out story or predictable plot. I do my best to give my readers what they want.”
Mrs. Nathan’s books have won twenty-two national awards, including multiple awards from oldest, largest, and most prestigious contests for independent publishers. Her books have earned rave critical reviews and customer reviews of close to five-star averages on Amazon. Most are Amazon bestsellers.
Sandy was born in San Francisco, California. She grew up in the hard-driving, achievement orientated corporate culture of Silicon Valley. Sandy holds Master’s Degrees in Economics and Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling. She was a doctoral student at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and has been an economic analyst, businesswoman, and negotiation coach, as well as author.
Mrs. Nathan lives with her husband on their California ranch. They bred Peruvian Paso horses for almost twenty years. She has three grown children and two grandchildren.
Her latest books are The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy, Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love and Sam & Emily: A Love Story from the Underground, which are all part of the Tales from Earth’s End series.
You can visit her website
Visit her blogs: (blog for writers) (series blog)
Follow her on Twitter
Friend her on Facebook
To purchase a paperback copy of Sandy Nathan’s The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy at Amazon
Purchase at Barnes & Noble
About The Angel and the Brown-eyed Boy:
Tomorrow morning, a nuclear holocaust will destroy the planet. Two people carry the keys to survival: A teenage boy and an intergalactic traveler.
By the late 22nd century, the Great Recession of the early 2000s has lead to a worldwide police state. A ruined United States barely functions. Government control masks chaos, dissenters are sent to camps, and technology is outlawed. War rages while the authorities proclaim the Great Peace.
Finally it all breaks down. We’re in New York City on the eve of nuclear Armageddon. In the morning, ultimate destructive forces will wipe out all life on earth. Only Jeremy Edgarton, a 16-year-old, tech genius and revolutionary; and Eliana, the angelic, off-world traveler sent to Earth on a mission to prevent her planet’s death, can save the world. Join Eliana and Jeremy as they begin a quest to save two doomed planets … and find each other.
Winner of Four National Awards:
● 2011 IPPY (Independent Press) Award Gold Medal in Visionary Fiction.
● 2011 Indie Excellence Award in Visionary Fiction (Winner of Catergory)
● Best Books of 2011, USA Book News:
1. Winner, New Age Fiction
2. Finalist Fantasy/Sci-Fi
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