Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
Hello, my name is Michael C. Sahd. I’m married to a wonderful editor (Laura), and we have four children, three of whom are still in elementary/primary school (Erebus, Celeste, and Phoenix) and one who started college this year (Darovin).
I’ve written short stories and poetry since around the time I was in middle school. Never until recently have I even considered tackling a novel, but I’m glad I did. None of my writing except a piece of poetry here or there had made it into the eyes of the public until, finally, my wife prodded me into publishing a short story, Assassin Marked.
Assassin Marked is actually a piece I started as a college assignment to practice writing dialog. However, the main character, Damian, has appeared in some of my other short stories. That said, I would say that he has evolved quite a bit from the time that I first wrote about him.
This year, I published my first full-length novel, The Unfettered Child, a story about a young girl who turns out to have some unexpected hidden talents. These talents, which she has little control over, end up changing her life in a drastic and horrible way.
What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
There’s not much real about Damian. He’s an evolving character, but really a product of my teenage years, back when I thought assassins and fighting were cool. When I wrote Assassin Marked, he started to develop into a real person, a trend that will continue in Lavender Rose as I finish writing it. Victoria, on the other hand, is loosely modeled after a good friend of mine. The entire book is inspired by Joss Whedon’s Firefly series. Conversations and scenes are taken from real life, snippets that I have observed when I’m out and about.
The Unfettered Child, however, has a lot of ties to real life. First, I feel that I effectively captured an eight-year-old girl, because my own daughter inspired me. Also, the mental block that Samara experiences in the story mirrors something I experienced myself when I was around the same age. I’ve never recovered my full memory from that time, and I’m not sure that I ever will.
Next, the antagonist is modeled after someone I knew when I was a child. He was manipulative, selfish, and generally not a good person. Orin, Samara’s father, is modeled after me in a lot of ways. Of course, not the Conan, super strength stuff, but the anger and frustration that I think I would be going through in a similar circumstance.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
Assassin Marked and more recently, Lavender Rose, was almost directly inspired by Joss Wheden’s Firefly series. However, I also get a lot of inspiration from my wife, who is always feeding me interesting ideas. I have a document saved with nothing but notes for story ideas.
How do you deal with creative block?
I don’t deal with it well, but music can sometimes break a block and allow me to continue writing. Occasionally, I just need to take a break from what I’m working on and move on to something else for a while.
Other times, I incorporate a recent experience into the story. For example: I’m at the grocery store and I hear a couple arguing over which fruit they like better. If the dialog is funny, I may later write the scene out and change it enough to fit.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
I think the biggest mistake most authors make is not getting their work professionally edited. Even the best of us use editors. I’m fortunate to be married to one of the best, and I’m not just saying that (check out her profile on Upwork).
Another big mistake some authors make is trying to do their covers themselves. That may seem hypocritical of me, since I made my own covers, but I already knew my way around Photoshop, and I did pay an artist to coach me when I was working on the cover for The Unfettered Child. So, although I did all the work myself, an artist guided my hand to an extent.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
Titles just come to me. The Unfettered Child was originally called Balance Tipped. When I first started writing the story, Samara was supposed to tip some balance, but as I wrote, the title made less and less sense. I settled on The Unfettered Child for many reasons as the story progressed, and it just sort of fit.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you, and how do you deal with them?
This depends. I take most negative feedback with a good attitude. I realize that some people are either going to like the story or not. However, if it’s incredibly obvious that somebody didn’t really read the story and is way off the mark in their feedback, I tend to get annoyed. But I just gripe and complain about the person at home until my wife gets tired of hearing about it; then I stop.
Sometimes negative reviews can provide important feedback, and I can learn from them as long as the review is well written and the complaint makes sense.
How has your creation process improved over time?
I’m not sure how to answer this. Years ago, I felt intimidated at the idea of writing a novel. I had no idea how to even go about the process. Now I feel I’m improving every day though.
What were the best, worst, and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
The very best thing for me was watching the story take shape, especially in the editing process as I watched it improve. The worst thing, and only during The Unfettered Child, was writing Illtud. The character is based off of a real-life person who manipulated me as a child, and it was difficult to bring up these terrible memories. The most surprising thing was the ending of The Unfettered Child. I had no idea how it would end when I wrote it.
Do you tend toward personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two, and how?
I think I balance between the two.I start off writing for personal satisfaction, and then work with my editor to make it serve the reader. Ultimately, I want to write what I want to write, but I guess I do cater to the reader, as I don’t think I would continue writing the Assassin Marked series if there wasn’t some demand for it.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
I think emotions play a strong role in creativity. I try to get into the mood of my scene as I write it. Yes, I cried while writing The Unfettered Child.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
I like to stand up while I type, and I listen to music.
What are your plans for future books?
I have a list here. I’m currently working on a sequel to Assassin Marked called Lavender Rose. I also have a sequel to The Unfettered Child planned, called The Immortal Child. I then have a series of fantasy commodities planned, but no titles for those as of yet.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I have an allergy to eating mammal products, which developed about a year ago. I can no longer enjoy the wonderful taste of hamburgers, bacon, or cheese, among other delicious products. It’s rather terrible. My wife says that playing Magic the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons is quirky, but I’m not sure I agree with her. Also, I listen to techno and rap music while I write.