Author Interview: Michael Stott – Author of #TarehChronicle
Hey Bloggers! Today I’m happy to share with you interview with Michael Stott – Author of Tareh Chronicle. Read about this novel and experience of author in this interview.
You can also read my review on this book here ⇒⇒⇒ Tareh Chronicles: King’s Promise by Michael Stott.
The planets Tareh and Earth, connected by a wormhole, share many similar plants, animals, and civilizations. However, just because something is extinct on one, does not mean it has disappeared on the other.
Sam, the King’s second son, after escaping into the wilds across the mighty White River, falls ill and is unable to fend for himself. Lal, a poor girl from the village, runs away from home to avoid an arranged marriage to an old man. Drawn by the smoke from Sam’s smoldering fire, she finds him weak and near death.
The two new friends set about surviving in the unforgiving wilderness. Unfortunately, young and inexperienced Human children are not equipped for life outside. Aid comes in the form of a family of Neanderthals, still in existence on Tareh, and well adapted to living in the forest.
Together they discover a shared history of a time long ago, when Neanderthals helped Humans, and a King made a promise to his Neanderthal friends. Can the two learn from each other now? And can Sam fulfill the ancient promise of his family line?
Michael Stott, age 52, born Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
I currently reside in Barrie, Ontario, Canada. I graduated from the University of Toronto with majors in Economics and Political Science, after which I joined a major Canadian Bank on the investment side of the business, and with a minor amount of time off, have basically done that ever since. I met my wife, Lesley, through work, and we have been happily married for over twenty years. Fourteen years ago, we adopted our son, Benjamin. Working in the investment industry does not leave me a lot of room for creativity so I started writing (along with wood working and cabin building) as an outlet for my creative side.
Q. This is your debut novel. How does it feel?
It felt great to finish. I had been working on trying to complete something (anything) for over 8 years. I have a full-time job, so it took me over 3 years from start to finish to finally say this book was done. Then you feel scared to put it out there. “What if people hate it?” But since I didn’t write it to lock it in a drawer, I decided to be bold and advertise. So far, I am happy with the response.
Q. When and why did you begin writing?
Like many people, I always thought I could write a book. At first, I found it difficult to get started and stick with one idea, so I decided to focus on something my son Benjamin might like. My first effort was basically an anti-war type book with a 12-year-old protagonist who was modelled after Ben. He travels to a distant planet where there is an unnecessary war about to happen. Unfortunately, I ended up losing interest in my own story and gave it up. It wasn’t until I saw the Lascaux cave paintings in France, that I got inspired enough to write a story that I could see the whole way through.
Q. Some readers might not know much about your book. Would you like to tell them about it?
It was written as a young adult book, for the 11 to 15-year-old crowd, and was meant to teach something about science, survival, acceptance, and friendship. My favourite book growing up was a story by Canadian author Farley Mowat, called Lost in the Barrens. I love the idea of survival in the wilderness, and put a lot of that in my story. Also, I thought a lot about what Neanderthals might have been like. Although I am no scientist, I felt sure that they were not so brutish and primitive as many popular conceptions would have us believe. I would hope people think for themselves about how our primitive ancestors may have lived and behaved.
Q. How did you come up with the idea for your book, about a new planet, wormhole, and Neanderthal civilizations?
The idea for the planet came from my first story (the one I never finished). I needed a place where people of different eras, with different technologies, could meet. My brother and I are very interested in Theoretical Physics (but only on the popular level) and have often discussed wormholes and time travel. Then one day it hit me. If Earth could be connected to a different planet via a wormhole, all sorts of plants and animals, from all different points in time, could travel to the new world.
I started to think about Neanderthals when I was in France. The cave paintings I saw were not done by Neanderthals – they were done by humans. But these humans were primitive cavemen. I was amazed at how complicated this artistic undertaking was. Over a kilometer into the cave, there were would be no light, no food, no supplies. All this would have to be brought to the artists by helpers. It occurred to me that someone had to communicate this complicated idea of drawing all sorts of animals on the cave walls in the pitch black, and other people thought, yes – what a great idea, and agreed to help. That just wasn’t how I pictured cave men.
From there I got to thinking that if primitive humans were way more advanced than I thought, maybe other early hominoid species were also more complicated. France and other parts of Europe were home to Neanderthals for over 250 thousand years, and there are many sites and caves to see.
Q. What sort of research did you do to write this book?
I would have to say my research is mainly a life time of camping and reading about the wild. I read books and watched documentaries on Neanderthals, but ultimately just used as much of my imagination as I could. My conception of them is based on my own belief that all living things are way more complicated than we give them credit for. Once, in my neighbourhood, the car in front of me ran over a squirrel. Another squirrel ran up to it and frantically tried to get it to move. That animal was truly upset, panicked, and determined to help. While many would just accuse me of anthropomorphizing, I know what I saw. It made me feel that early humans had to be very advanced creatures.
Q. What draws you to this particular genre? Do you think your writing will stay in the same genre?
I have always liked fantasy because truly interesting things can happen when you don’t have to worry about whether or not it is actually possible. I would like one day to write a comedy. Another of my favourite books is Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I would love to try something like that.
Q. What types of books do you enjoy in your downtime? And what inspires you to write?
I must confess that these days I don’t read much. I seem to be more interested in what I think than what other people think. In my youth I read all the time. My favourite book as a teen was Lord of the Rings. Then I went through a period of reading all the classics. I must say, there is a reason they are classics, they are great books. I loved Russian literature like War & Peace and The Idiot. My next favourite book became “Of Human Bondage” by Somerset Maugham (British). That book has a scene that still fills me with a certain amount of shock and horror (it is not a horror story, just the main character’s love life doesn’t always work out well and I felt terrible for him). Then I started on more contemporary writers like Jeffery Archer and Ken Follet. I would say a book that I recently truly enjoyed was Pillars of the Earth.
Q. What was your favorite chapter (or part) of writing this book and why?
In a way my favourite part of the book to write was the first few chapters. They seemed to flow relatively easily, I loved my characters, and I am very interested in survival. However, my true favourite part comes later, when all the characters are afraid of the battle to come. Sitting by the campfire, they discuss those fears – finding ways to overcome them. Fear is something that I don’t feel we give enough credence to. We all get afraid. It is natural to want to protect ourselves and our families. But nothing great ever comes from fear. We must all learn to overcome it somehow.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing the book? Was there anything that you deleted or altered?
There was a lot that got deleted from the original manuscript. At least 6 chapters were completely lost. They had a lot of background description of the characters, who they were, and how their ancestors arrived on Tareh. But people who know more than myself said it was too much describing, not enough doing. There was more science in the first go around too, which disappeared when some beta readers said it took them out of their reverie. I left in what I could because that is what interests me, but it is likely true that I still left in too much of that stuff. I just always hoped some young kid would learn something.
The hardest part for me was keeping it all straight in my head. How old were they now? How tall? How did they get here? How long did that take? Those kinds of questions drove me nuts.
Q. What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book?
This is a story about inclusiveness, friendship, and bravery. Each character is different – different talents, backgrounds, skin colour, and even species. But they all work together to achieve something, learn to respect each other’s talents, and love each other despite their differences.
Q. How many revisions did you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions?
I couldn’t count all the revisions I did before finishing, but there were at least 4 main ones after the story was done. Once it was complete, I asked 10 beta readers to read it, but only 6 did. Mostly they were encouraging so I took what they said, and did a revamp. Then I had an editor friend look at it, and she had a friend of hers have a look. They did some good editing and said I should cut out a lot of the early chapters. I did that and finished a third revision. Then I had another editor friend (a friend of a friend really) do some editing. She helped me realize that parts of the story did not make much sense, so I did some major revisions while she edited. I published the result on Amazon, mainly because I could, but found that I had left a lot of mistakes in the copy and had to do a complete re-edit (thanks to my wife who removed most of the typos).
Q. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?
First off, Amazon is an amazing company to deal with. Their technology, the ease and speed with which they work are mind boggling. I first uploaded a copy of my manuscript at 6:00 pm on a Saturday evening, and by 11:00am the next Wednesday I had five physical copies in my hand. But the most surprising part for me was the fun I had in creating the cover and the map. It is not easy describing what you have in your head to a stranger, but the people I ended up working with were surprisingly good at it. I would anxiously look at my emails waiting for whatever was the latest version.
Q. Do you read book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
I read all the reviews. Good ones make be happy, and bad ones make me mad, but only for a short while. There are plenty of great books and movies that I didn’t like, and plenty of stories that I loved that never went anywhere. Everyone’s tastes are their own.
Q. What are your future project(s)? What’s it about? (*if relevant)
I continue to work on Book 2 of the Tareh Chronicles.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Just start. Don’t worry about whether or not you have a good idea or a complete story. Just start. You can change anything as you go. Remember, there isn’t much difference between writing and daydreaming. I would often think of my characters and how a certain scene should play out as I waited to pick up my son from school or swimming lessons. It is a great escape.
Q. What is your favorite motivational phrase?
In high school, I had a physics teacher, Dr. Bacon. One day, as we were struggling over how to start an experiment, he said to the class,
“If you don’t know what to do, do something. It is amazing what you will learn even if it goes wrong.”
I use that all the time.
Q. Currently reading
As I said, I don’t read as much as I should, but I am currently reading Ken Follett’s “Fall of Giants”
Q. Favorite book / foods / Colors/ Music/ TV show/ Film
Book – Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
Foods – I think curry is likely my favourite food.
Colours – Orange
Music – My all-time favourite album is “Graceland” by Paul Simon (partly because it is one of the few I can sing along with)
TV Show – I don’t watch too much current TV, but watched a lot in the past. I will always love the original Star Trek, and some of the subsequent shows, never missed the X-files when it was new, love The Simpsons, and my wife and I never missed Law & Order. Currently I like Gold Rush.
Film – I loved the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but must admit, my favourite movies are ones most people think are silly, but I can never get enough of John Candy’s “Planes, Train, and Automobiles” and another by him “Summer Rental”. Followed very closely by a crazy early Kevin Costner film “Fandango”.
Q. Describe yourself in 5 words.
An introspective, effective, progressive, reliable, introvert.
Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope they enjoy the book, and take the time to think about how we as humans are all related to one another.
Q. Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Eventually we all must take a stand, even if it is to our own detriment.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Book Links: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B06XVVH2T2
Many Thanks to author for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
Thank you for reading everyone!
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Happy Reading! 🙂