Sun. Oct 24th, 2021

Author: Richard Satterlie, Ph.D

ISBN: 1593745702

The following interview with Richard Satterlie was conducted by: NORM GOLDMAN: Bookpleasures.com Editor.

Today, Norm Goldman, editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have Richard Satterlie, Ph.D, author of Phoenix, as a guest. Richard was a professor of biology at Arizona State University and is now the Frank Hawkins Kenan Distinguished Professor of Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Good morning Richard and thank you for agreeing to participate in our interview.

Rule:

Where did you grow up and reading and writing were always part of your life?

Richard:

Thanks, Norm.
I was born and raised in Vallejo, California, about 35 miles north of San Francisco, in San Pablo Bay. Back then, I wanted to play NBA basketball, so reading wasn’t high on my list. The same goes for writing. As my career plans changed (out of necessity), writing became increasingly important. Due to the need for so much reading and writing of specific science, I did not have much time to read fiction, nor time to write it. I finally found time, then I made time, but I still don’t read as much fiction as I would like. I do most of my writing at night, after the kids go to bed.

Rule:

Why do you write and what inspired you to write Phoenix?

Richard:

I guess the short answer to the first part of the question is that I like intellectual challenges, and after so much technical writing, fiction was a significant challenge. Also, I like the idea of ​​being able to create situations and turn these situations into stories, all from my imagination. The Phoenix spring came from a book on the history of the Black Canyon area of ​​Arizona and the gold and silver mines that operated there for a time. What allowed the spring to turn into a stream was a simple observation from that book. The development of the railroads was pinching the artists of stage and wagon robberies. But in the heyday of Black Canyon gold and silver mining, stagecoaches and wagons were still used to haul payroll and minerals. Any reasonable thief would migrate to the easy brands, which is why this part of Arizona gathered more than its fair share of the bad guys. What this interesting stream is plays a very secondary role in the story, which speaks of how fiction finds its own channel.

Rule:

How long did it take you to write Phoenix and what did you learn from writing this book, since I think this is your first work of fiction?

Richard:

It took me about six months to write it. I wrote a story before Phoenix, about 90,000 words, but about 89,999 of those words were horrible. I didn’t know how to write fiction, so I only told one story. Fortunately, I received an extremely harsh evaluation of this job, which increased the challenge for me. With good advice and several books on how to write fiction, Phoenix was my answer. Most of what I know about fiction writing came from working in Phoenix. I learned the basics of the trade. I learned that the plot evolves as the characters develop and that this evolution should not be resisted. I learned that I am still playing hide and seek with the subtleties of the trade. And I learned that this last part will probably never change for any serious writer.

Rule:

How did you approach the recreation of the character of John William (Jack) Swilling, who was in fact a real person? Did you plan or evolve it while writing the book? Did you leave out things you had discovered about him?

Richard:

I was fortunate to have three references that gave a basic account of Jack Swilling’s life, but also featured slightly different versions of some of the more conspicuous aspects of his personality. This allowed me to use the former as guides for the story, while at the same time letting my own extrapolations lead the way between the guides. Since Swilling was not my lead, but rather this new mentor, I felt like I had more leeway in the way I played him. In real life, he had a rich personality. It was fun to play with.

Rule:

Do you agree, as Philip Gerard states in Writing a Book That Makes a Difference, that if you want to write a good story or novel you need to create struggles of powerful descriptive individuals and not just problems? Through your achievements and work, do we understand the issues a lot? If you agree, how does this apply in Phoenix?

Richard:

Absolutely. The best plot in the world is not worth much unless there are interesting and imperfect characters to represent it, in my opinion. A fictional book is a horrible soap box. But every good fiction book should foam a bit. It is the characters who lash out. Putting the problems above the characters exposes the author too much, who should be invisible. In Phoenix, I feel like the issues (for me the issues) are secondary to the story, and if I got it right, they should sneak up on the reader. I hope readers step into the shoes of the protagonist and experience the themes instead of being assaulted by them.

Rule:

What challenges or obstacles did you encounter while writing your book? How did you overcome these challenges?

Richard:

The main obstacle was time. I have a wonderful and rewarding occupation, and I give it all the attention it deserves. The way I overcame this challenge, I don’t sleep much. The second hurdle is one that all new authors face. Writing is a lot of fun for me, but I also want it to be just as fun for readers. There is a constant uncertainty about that. The third challenge is convincing friends and family that writing is not just “another one of those late-night hobbies.” Finally, in historical fiction, it is very easy to introduce contemporary phrases into dialogue and use terms inappropriate for the period. Fortunately, my wife is good at grasping these things.

Rule:

Can you explain some of your research techniques and how you found sources for your book?

Richard:

The research for Phoenix was pretty easy. The story begins in Minnesota. My mother and father grew up in Minnesota, and some of my relatives are still starving there. I learned about Norwegian customs (good and bad) from my father. His father was a first-generation Norwegian-American like the protagonist of Phoenix. Most of the story takes place in the Arizona territory. I lived in the Phoenix Valley for twenty-four years and became familiar with the area and its history. The references about Jack Swilling and his time period were very helpful.

Rule:

How did you create Sievert Olafson in your book?

Richard:

This is answered in the first part of my previous answer. One of my heroes was my father’s brother, my Uncle Sid. Although he lived his life as a successful farmer in Minnesota, unlike Sievert, his outlook on life and personal values ​​impressed me. My father had those same values, but you may know as well as I that it is difficult to look at our own father and really see him as a normal person.

Rule:

What do you hope to achieve with your first novel, and what do you hope readers take away after reading the book? Is there an underlying message in Phoenix?

Richard:

I would like Phoenix to entertain your readers. There are a couple of underlying messages that I hope get across. Things like the importance of family, and my favorite, developed in the book, about how our path from birth to death is not straight, but snakes, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. But in the end, the important thing is the smoothed slope of the trajectory. Are you going for the good or the bad? I suspect that different readers will get different things out of the book. Reading fiction is very personal. If spelled correctly, the reader will become so involved that their own experience will spice up what they take away.

Rule:

So far you have written non-fiction, how easy or difficult was it for you to write a work of fiction?

Richard:

It was easy enough for me. Looking back, I’ve always dreamed of whole scenes. I remember playing with my little cars and construction sets, and I always had a story, complete with interacting characters and dialogue. Everything is in the imagination. I have always been able to do the imagination. Too much, sometimes.

Rule:

How much of Richard Satterlie is there in Sievert Olafson’s character?

Richard:

There is very little of me in Sievert, although my family may disagree. However, the only common ground that I can point to for sure was a stepping stone to this story. When I decided to go to graduate school, several family members tried to dissuade me. “What are you going to do with an advanced degree in Biology?” was the question I remember to this day.

Rule:

Is there anything else you would like to share with us and what’s next for Richard Satterlie?

Richard:

I have three other finished novels (mystery, psychological suspense, and supernatural suspense) and a fourth in progress (return to mystery). I’m also contemplating a sequel to Phoenix. Perhaps readers will help me decide if Sievert Olafson should come back to us.

Thanks once again and good luck with all your future endeavors.

Thanks for the great questions!

By admin

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