Saturday, February 19, 2011

Author Interview: Sheenah Freitas + A Giveaway

Sheenah was born on the island of Oahu, but raised in the much less tropical atmosphere of Ohio. She can’t really pinpoint the time when she decided to pursue the starving artist path of being a writer, but she suspects it may have originated sometime in elementary school when she wrote her very first (but incomplete) fanfiction.

She loves to read. Although she likes the regular mainstream book, her preference is young adult. She’s quite convinced that if she could only draw better, she might have run off to California to get into the legendary CalArts and work for Disney. Room A113 awaits her in her dreams!

Her first novel, The Chosen, was based heavily on her love of magical fantasy, anime, and adorable heroines. If she was capable, she would have made the characters sing and have the story unfold in classic animated musical Disney style — but still in book form!
*Bio taken from Sheenah's website
Where did the idea for THE CHOSEN come from?
The idea originated from a series of dreams I had back in my freshman year of high school -- October 2004 if I remember correctly. I've never had a dream like it, where I would wake up and then go to sleep the next night and the dream would pick right back up where it left off. The strange thing was, Kaia started off as a random doodle I drew before going to bed the first night. It was a very vivid dream where it started off with me as a watcher while her life in the village unfolded before my eyes and ended at the fire scene. Reeze appeared the second night and that sequence ended right before they were going to meet the priests and priestesses. The third night, I dreamed up until they started looking for Catrina and I told myself, "I have to write this down!" Unfortunately once I did, the dreams stopped and it was up to me to finish Kaia and Reeze's story.
Were there any books you drew upon for inspiration while writing?
I referenced the Harry Potter series a lot while writing. I was familiar with a lot of the mythology that I used, but I've never really read a lot of fantasy until I started writing it. J.K. Rowling has such beautiful, engaging prose that I found myself asking, "What would J.K. Rowling write here?" I was also reading a lot of Dean Koontz at the time and his similes and metaphors are just gorgeous. When I would write a simile or metaphor, I kept Dean Koontz in mind. Some of the classic literature that I had to read in school carried over into my writing, too, like THE AWAKENING by Kate Chopin and LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding, the latter which I read on my own.
Much of THE CHOSEN takes place on the planet Zinc. Are there any particular places that you based the lush Zincian landscapes upon?
I love to go hiking. I think there's something soothing and magical about being in a forest, even if you stay on the hiking trails. There isn't a particular place that any of the landscape is built on. The landscape is more or less a collage of all the forests I've been to. The lake of Aquabella is probably heavily based on the lake near my house. I needed a reference for it, but unfortunately my lake isn't surrounded by a nice beach and forest. I did end up taking a ton of pictures while going on my hiking trips to make sure I got lighting right, and ideas for how dense the forest should be. Winlim, I must confess, is my interpretation of Diagon Alley. Orlioz is based on the villages and towns back in the Renaissance/Colonial era. I had a chance to go to a Colonial fair, so it was easy for me to build how the people would interact and get a good grasp on the sights and smells one would find in the marketplace. My trip to the local Farmer's Market helped with that too.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Is THE CHOSEN the first novel you've written?
I haven't always wanted to be a writer, but writing was my first dream. After I wanted to be writer, I think I went on to say that I wanted to be things like an astrologist, a marine biologist, a chemist, a doctor, etc. After I failed chemistry and found that I really didn't enjoy it after all, my dad suggested that I pursue writing since I've always enjoyed it. While I was in high school, I had been training myself to be a pharmacist or a doctor by taking the appropriate courses that would help me later. With only one year of high school left, I took my dad's advice and signed up for creative writing and really became serious about writing THE CHOSEN. It actually is my first novel that I've finished and I've learned so much. Best of all, I enjoyed writing it!
What would you say are your favorite books or books that you constantly recommend to others?
I haven't found a children's/YA book that's been able to replace Harry Potter yet. I really like BEASTLY by Alex Flinn. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite movie, and I think Alex Flinn did a wonderful modern take on the tale (I can't wait for the movie). There's a children's book that my school librarian recommend I read when I was in elementary (she knew I loved to read) and I fell in love with it from the start; the book really left a big impression on me. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find it in bookstores yet, it's called WHEN MY NAME WAS KEOKO by Linda Sue Park and it's about the Japanese occupation in Korea during WWII. As for non-YA books, I highly recommend THE GARGOYLE by Andrew Davidson and MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA by Arthur Golden.
Will there be a sequel to THE CHOSEN? Do you have anything in the works for the future?
I'm actually working on the sequel to THE CHOSEN and the title is currently called THE NUMBER. I'm super excited about it. As for other works, I would really love to start on a historical fiction that takes place in WWII. I'm also planning to write a urban fantasy, which is already partially written.
And for those who don't know, would you care to explain what a Neek is?
A Neek is someone who is neither geek or nerd. They're something in between. That term is coined by my dad when he asked my brother and I what we consider ourselves. We knew we were something in between a geek and nerd and we tried to combine the term into one word and came up with something like gerd. So my dad said, "What about neek?" And it kind of stuck.
*All photos link back to sources
And for a giveaway:
I'm giving my gently read copy of THE CHOSEN away and Sheenah has kindly offered up some THE CHOSEN-themed bookmarks and notebook.

Open to US Only
Must be 13 or older to enter
Normal contest policy applies
Fill out THE FORM to enter
Ends March 6th


Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

Any writer that draws on HP for inspiration is genius, in my humble opinion! Fabulous interview, and thank you for the giveaway!

Laura Howard said...

Great interview and I agree with the last comment, HP is a great place for inspiration!

Jenn (Books At Midnight) said...

<33 for anime, strong heroines, and magic. Seems like a great book! :)

Bere said...

Fantastic interview, Nikki! I seriously need to read Harry Potter. I feel like maybe I'm the only one that has not read this series! Also, I so love the word Neek! I can't wait to watch Beastly either hehe. Thanks so much for the giveaway, Nikki =).

~The Book Pixie said...

The way she came about the idea for the story is amazing! haven't read Harry Potter. Whoopsies. :P


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