Thursday, August 02, 2007

Day 2: Cheryl's 'Touring the World' Virtual Book Tour

A minor glitch at has postponed this interview's appearance there, so it is being posted here temporarily.

Karina Fabian of Virtual Book Tour de'Net interviews Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song

1. What inspired you to write Whale Song?

Many years ago, while living on the Queen Charlotte Islands in BC, Canada, I heard a native legend that really appealed to me. The story goes that if you see a killer whale close to shore that it is really the reincarnated soul of a loved one who has passed on but is coming to say goodbye…or as some say, just coming to visit their human families. I thought the concept was beautiful and certainly a lovely way to look at death. That legend stayed with me all my life and I found myself drawn to the orca, to their majestic beauty and wild free spirit. I often dream of them.

A few years ago, I thought “what if it’s true?” That’s usually how my novels are birthed. What if this happened? What if that happened? As Whale Song evolved I realized that the characters had become almost lifelike to me. They were telling the story. I knew before typing the first word where the story would start and end. And I knew that the legend I had grown up with was a key element to the story.

2. What was the hardest part about writing it?

This will sound strange but writing the novel was easy for me. It flew from my head, onto the keyboard and into a file, mainly because the story had grown for 2 years before I even started writing it. But there was a moment that I found particularly difficult, and that was writing the last two chapters of Whale Song. I knew what would happen in the story and I knew it would be emotional from two perspectives: the story itself and the fact that once I’d written them it meant I was finished.

So I did something that has now become a trend for me. I wrote everything up to the last two chapters. Then I edited and re-edited I don’t know how many times. Once I felt it was extremely tight, I wrote the last 2 chapters…with a box of Kleenex nearby. And I’ll tell you, I used it. My husband came home and found me all teary-eyed and was quite concerned. I blubbered, “I’m finished Whale Song.” In some ways, I mourned. It was as if I had lost a friend. But that went away the second it was published. J

3. What was the easiest or most exciting part of writing it?

The most exciting part of writing Whale Song was in watching my characters grow. As an author you get to create them, manipulate them, give them happiness, cause them pain…and even kill them off. Characters are the soul of a story; the plot is just the action that takes them along their journey.

For me, watching Sarah’s growth as the main character was a bit like reliving my own childhood. There are many similarities. I’ve even had people ask if Whale Song is my life story. It isn’t; it’s Sarah’s. Molding a character does often mean using parts of yourself, so Sarah experienced some of the things I experienced—not all good things either. But in the end, it is her journey.

I also enjoyed creating Nana, the wise old native grandmother. Not only is she unusual in appearance, she is unusual in her perceptions and intuitiveness. She’s a likeable character who helps to guide Sarah on her journey of truth and forgiveness by telling her the most fascinating legends.

Sarah’s father, Jack, is another character that really interested me. Here is a father who knows the true meaning of sacrifice and love.

4. What’s next for you?

I have just finished a chilling new thriller called Children of the Fog, and my publisher is considering it now. I’ve already had many emails from my fans asking when it will be published and I’m hoping to be able to answer them soon.

I am also working on three other suspense thrillers, including book 2 in the Divine series. I have had to hold back on that series, which has been very difficult because I get daily emails from fans wanting to read it. I’m looking for another publisher to take book one first; it’s just something I feel compelled to do. The other titles I am working on are: Submerged and The 6th Plague. I am so excited about all of my future projects.

5. What one thing do you wish folks would ask you about your book and how would you answer?

I wish more people would ask: “How is Whale Song making a difference in the world?”

My answer: There are two main ways Whale Song is making a difference—it has changed the way people view life and death, and a portion of my royalties is going to three nonprofit organizations. I’ll elaborate.

Whale Song has a series of beautiful messages for anyone who ‘gets’ them. Not only does forgiveness set you free, life is something meant to be lived and enjoyed, and those who pass on live in each of us. I have had many emails from people who have lost family or friends and they have said my novel has helped them deal with their loss. I have also had amazing emails from mothers and daughters whose relationships have been healed after reading Whale Song. I never expected that—especially from a work of fiction—but I am truly grateful.

After the murder of my brother Jason in 2006, I not only dedicated Whale Song to him, but I wanted to do more. So I contacted the three organizations that tried their best to help my brother and I’ve made arrangements for 5% of my royalties to go to EACH of these: Hope Mission, the Mustard Seed Church and the Bissell Centre. They help combat social issues like poverty, homelessness and addictions, and I believe they are worth giving up 15% of my royalties.

You can read more about my brother and these organizations at:

Thank you so much for inviting me here, Karina. This month I am giving away free books at some of my virtual book tour stops, so be sure to check my schedule and drop by.

To order Whale Song, please order from this month. If you order on my birthday, August 12th, you may qualify to win one of 44 prize packages. For more info on this special contest, please see 44 Prizes. Also, if you order Whale Song plus two other Kunati titles, you can qualify to enter Kunati’s Great Summer Reads Contest.

Thank you! :)

~ Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention

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