Interview with Michael C. Sahd, Author of The Unfettered Child
03 Sep 2019
What can you tell us about your new release, The Unfettered Child?
I could tell you a lot of things, like the whole story, but I won’t spoil it here. What I can tell you is that I have received comments from beta readers about how believable Samara is as an 8 year old. One reason for this is that I modeled her behaviors off my own 8-year-old daughter. Another reason is that some of her experiences in the book mirror my own childhood experiences. My mother passed away when I was seven years old, and I very vividly remember waking up one morning and not remembering anything except who I was, where I was, and who other people were.
My wife thinks this is a form of mental block due to experiencing a traumatic event. Unlike Samara, I still don’t remember anything before this time, except a few large events (my grandfather’s viewing, getting lost in Disneyland, and the time my mother held me under the ocean waves because I was afraid to get in the water). Yes, sadly none of these memories were happy memories, but I’ve come to accept this, and my life afterward has mostly been good.
The next parallel in the story was Samara’s relationship with Illtud. I had a very similar experience with a friend of my father’s. Again, I won’t go into detail, but those experiences helped me shape my protagonist into such a believable character.
The next character, Orin, was very difficult for me to write about. At first, I had a lot of difficulty connecting with the character, but then I started putting myself in his shoes. I would ask myself how I would act if I lost my family, what I would do to save them if I had the opportunity, and finally, how I would feel. Overall, these questions (and their answers) made the entire book difficult to write at times.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
I’ve mentioned this many times in other places, and the answer is somewhat repetitive, but I spent countless hours as a child watching my father sit at the kitchen table scribbling away on napkins or in notebooks. It didn’t take long for me to notice and pickup these interests.
However, I will go on to say that my father never published his works. In fact, his book never even left his journals. He always talked about it, but he never did it. I, too, was in danger of doing the same thing. It wasn’t until my wife, who works as a freelance editor on UpWork.com, forced me to publish my short story, Assassin Marked, that I became a published author. That story may not have been my first choice for publication, but I’m eternally grateful to her for making me publish it. She is definitely my biggest inspiration, and my muse at times.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
This is such a difficult question, since there are so many, but the ones that stand out to me are Firestarter, The Lord of the Rings trilogy (I know this is technically three books, but “One book to rule them all, one book to find them, one book to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them”), Disclosure, Lord of the Flies, and The Mists of Avalon.
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
Stephen King. I would ask him how he develops his characters so well, even his secondary characters. That said, I would never be a host to a talk show. I’m terrible in front of a camera.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
I really enjoy putting the stories that circulate in my head onto paper. Sometimes, I get an idea in my head, and it starts to blossom, and then I’ll begin writing it. However, I think my absolute favorite part is after I’ve finished writing the story, and I go back on a second draft. It’s during the second draft that the story really starts to take shape, and then during the edit, it’s as though I’m putting the fine details onto a sculpture I’ve been working on.
What is a typical day like for you?
I spend my time with my family when I’m not working at my 8-5. Spending time with them is the best part of my life.
What scene in The Unfettered Child was your favorite to write?
I think I really enjoyed writing the ending. It’s a bit of a surprise ending, and honestly, it surprised me as well when I wrote it. I had written The Unfettered Child maybe a year or two ago, and I never put an ending on it.
My wife had been editing a dystopian novel for a client, a how-to-get-scholarships guide, and a memoir for a Hatian hurricane survivor who came to America and became a senator’s aide. I kept pestering her to find out when she could take a look at mine, knowing it was going to be a long time. When she finally said she was ready, I handed it in, but I still had no ending. I spent at least a couple weeks trying to think of an appropriate ending.
Finally, I had a start to my scene and started writing that, but it just kept going, flowing onto the paper and shaping itself. It was my favorite to write and the hardest to write, both mentally and emotionally.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
I try to live every day doing the best that I can for my family. I try very hard to make sure that they are provided for. We are a rather frugal lot. “A penny saved is a penny earned.”
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