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Shandi-Mitchell
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Registered: ‎07-08-2009
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


BarneyNoble wrote:

 

As I read this contemporary work I was able to feel the relationship between humans and the natural world; reminding us that even today we are not on the outside but are very much a part of it.   

 

How did you acquire your wonderful understanding of all this, do I see a bit of a Frost influence?   


Hi janine,
Thank you so much for your kind words. 
I certainly appreciate Frost’s writings and re-read his poem Mending Wall during the writing of the novel.

I don’t know that I have a great understanding of the natural world, but I do feel connected to it. I see myself as an observer. I watch many things and never tire of watching. Often, when I am inside the moment of an experience, I also feel as though I am a step away, bearing witness.

 

 

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bud12
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Registered: ‎01-26-2009
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

I do savor this book. I am a little confused as I see that Harper is the publisher, but you also mentioned that Penguin bought the manuscript. Can you clarify?  
Jo
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nicole21WA
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

kpatton wrote:
My question is similar to JoyZ's.  When Teodor tries to pay the $10 for the land that Anna purchased for him, the land is listed under her name.  I was surprised that women could own land in the late 1930s.  I had assumed that Stephan's name had been used.  Question- could women own their own land?
Kathy

JoyZ wrote:

Another question I have for you Ms Mitchell is how did Anna come to own the land.  Did Teodor write it over to her since he could no longer own the property while in jail?  Was it family property for the 2 of them?  Thank you again for a beautiful story.


Hi JoyZ and Kathy 

 

Yes, according to my research, women could take out a patent on land in Canada in the thirties. Not a single woman, but a woman who was the sole support of her family.

 

However, I know my great-aunt had patent on a homestead, but she also had a husband. When I look at land maps in mid to northern Alberta in the thirties, there are many patents held by women on undeveloped quarter sections of land. Some families appear to have claims on multiple lots (often in the wife’s maiden name). I think it might have been a loop-hole and because of the remoteness and rural nature of these areas the government wasn’t able to or didn’t bother to monitor the patents. It’s also possible that the land offices looked the other way, because if the land wasn’t developed in a certain amount of time, patent was revoked and it could be put up again. A bit of a money maker. The odds of one family being able to develop two quarter sections and make the necessary improvements within the required time would have been very slim. When I look at subsequent land maps, the names attached to these quarter sections keep changing.

 

Perhaps Anna, during one of those stretches when Stefan was away, filed a patent on Teodor’s behalf and claimed herself as the sole support for her family. Maybe in some small way, it was her exerting some power or independence over Stefan. Would she do that to help her brother?

 

 


 

Thanks for answering this, but I have another related question.  So if women who were the family's sole support could own land, why couldn't Maria get the land in her name?  Was Teodor still considered the family supporter even though he was in prison?  Or was Maria ineligible because she was married to a convict?  It just seems like they could've saved themselves a lot of trouble had it been under Maria's name, so they need a good reason for not doing it.
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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


nicole21WA wrote: 


 

Thanks for answering this, but I have another related question.  So if women who were the family's sole support could own land, why couldn't Maria get the land in her name?  Was Teodor still considered the family supporter even though he was in prison?  Or was Maria ineligible because she was married to a convict?  It just seems like they could've saved themselves a lot of trouble had it been under Maria's name, so they need a good reason for not doing it.
Hi Nicole,
I think you are right on both counts. There must have been a legal restriction. In my research, I found documents supporting this type of scenario. If there had been an option they would have taken it. Oh, wouldn't their story have been different?

 

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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


bud12 wrote:
I do savor this book. I am a little confused as I see that Harper is the publisher, but you also mentioned that Penguin bought the manuscript. Can you clarify?  
Hi bud12
Agents try to sell manuscripts to different territories. Sometimes these sales don't happen until long after the book has been published in its originating country. I was fortunate that mine sold at manuscript stage to six countries, represented by three different publishers.  They all worked together with me, as I went through the final drafts. Each publisher now owns the work for their territory. It belongs to Harper Collins in US and to Penguin in Canada. Translation rights have recently been sold to Israel. I am a lucky, lucky gal.

 

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DSaff
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Thank you  =)


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

DSaff wrote:

 What inspires you? 

 


Hi DStaff,
You are the first to ask.
 People, life, injustice, small acts of compassion, small acts of heroism, flawed people who overcome, everyday people and the stories they carry, and people who surprise me with their artist heart. For example: a young landscaper who wears a faded Dukes of Hazards t-shirt and is a philosopher and collector of first edition books;  a convenience store owner from Lebanon who cries when he listens to opera and fills notebooks with poetry; a cab driver who was a cardiac surgeon in his homeland; a fifty year old woman who was institutionalized as a child (when that was considered the best treatment for children with disabilities), who is now learning to read and write and believes that the written word is more powerful than the spoken, because “the written word comes from the chest”. These are some of the things that inspire me.

 


 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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Deltadawn
Posts: 311
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Dear Shandi:

Congratulations on writing an amazing and enlightening novel! I do not have a question at this time but wanted to add my voice to the others in thanking you for sharing your wonderful book with us here at the First Look club. Thanks also for your very generous comments about your family history, writing process & inspirations. 

 

There is no doubt that this novel is headed for the best seller list! Congratulations!

 

All the best,

Dawn

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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Hmmm, somehow I seem to have dropped a paragraph when I responded to literature and joyz. The other note I had is:

 

Teodor goes to Anna to show her that he has the $10 and that he is going to town to pay for the land.  He says this on p.195. He is keeping his promise from p.51 that he would pay the full amount on the first harvest. On p. 197 Ivan interprets what he is witnessing but he is not quite accurate. Teodor doesn’t leave the money with Anna, because he knows Stefan will get it. At the land office, when he pays for the land, it remains in his sister’s name because she registered the entry. He’s just making the payment. Anna says as much later on p.197.

   

 

 

 

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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Hope the two posts answer your questions Literature and joyz. And hopefully I haven't answered them too much. It's interesting to go through the logic of the story in such detail. If there is a confusion in the details, I blame the author. The characters were doing their best to make her understand.

sm 

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AnnJE
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Shandi, I was one who couldn't stop reading and finished the book a few minutes ago.  A lovely very sad story, lyrically written.  No questions, just compliments.

Thank you...

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AnnJE
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

A truly beautiful title - one I would have been drawn to in a book store knowing nothing about the book.

 

Under This Unbroken Sky

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JaneM
Posts: 152
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

michaelsjlrc wrote:

Hi Shandi,

 

For the most part I am enjoying your book. I'm sticking to the reading schedule, so I've only finished Spring and Summer, but there was one thing that bothered me and I was wondering if you could explain it.  On page 121, when you are describing the fire scene, you have Myron use the f-word.  This seemed totally out of context for me (was that really a word used in 1930's prairies of Canada?).  It jolted me out of the scene and really ruined the imagery for me. Up until that spate of cursing I was very much engrossed in what was happening, but that ruined it for me.  Why was this use of language necessary?

 

Thanks

 

Jenny


Hi Jenny

Yes, my mom didn’t like the use of that word either. But they are Myron’s words. It is the moment when he betrays his father and wishes he were dead.  It is a shocking condemnation. Myron is angry and hurt. It comes from the frustration of a boy wanting to be a man and being treated like a boy. It comes from not being able to prove to his father that he is an equal. It comes from the disappointment in the man you have set up as a hero. It comes from being kicked. Myron will have to live with those words.

 

I noticed a quote at the bottom of someone's post (I'm sorry I can't remember who and I will paraphrase it poorly) but when I am inside a character, I just "try to get out of their way." Their words are theirs. If it was up to me, Shandi, there are so many places in the story that I would have made the characters make different choices. There are times when I did walk away from the story, because I didn't want to go where I was being taken. The characters kept breaking my heart. But it is their story, I see it as my job to let them tell it.

 


 

Hi Shandi,

First let me thank you for a marvelous book that I truly enjoyed.  I am interested in your comments that you are the voice of the characters.  I think of the writer as creating the characters and understanding their back stories and motives.  Yet you sound as if you are channeling them and are sometimes as mystified as we are by their behaviors.  Or that you don't always know that facts or the explicit timeline of their story.  Do you think this is unique for you as a writer or universal for all novelists?

 

Jane M.

Jane M.
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chadadanielleKR
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

What about France?  If  your book was published in France, I would recommand it to all my friends and to my local library immediately!

Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

bud12 wrote:
I do savor this book. I am a little confused as I see that Harper is the publisher, but you also mentioned that Penguin bought the manuscript. Can you clarify?  
Hi bud12
Agents try to sell manuscripts to different territories. Sometimes these sales don't happen until long after the book has been published in its originating country. I was fortunate that mine sold at manuscript stage to six countries, represented by three different publishers.  They all worked together with me, as I went through the final drafts. Each publisher now owns the work for their territory. It belongs to Harper Collins in US and to Penguin in Canada. Translation rights have recently been sold to Israel. I am a lucky, lucky gal.

 


 

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blkeyesuzi
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

blkeyesuzi wrote:

Shandi,

 

Did the story start out to be a novel or did you think it would be a screenplay at any time?


Many, many years ago, I drafted the story as a film script. I’m sure it wasn’t very good, I hadn’t developed the characters deeply and I was young. I didn’t have enough life experience to write about their lives. And funders wanted me to change the story. Film can be restrictive in the type of stories that can be produced. Often they want comedies, happy endings, action and horror genre films--films that have an easily recognizable market. It is a struggle to make independent, character driven work. Understandably, it is an expensive medium. And the risk is high.

 

This story did not fit and I refused to make the changes, so I put it away. I learned years ago, not to produce something for the sake of producing it. If it's not my voice, then it's not my art.

 

When I began the manuscript, I didn’t look at the script. I just started again. This was the medium where it came alive. 

 

 

 


And I'm soooo glad you listened to your heart.  This novel is beautiful and it would have been a shame to have missed this.  Reading it has been a rare pleasure for me.  So many novels are forgettable once the final page is turned....not this one... The characters came alive and remain so for me. I love this novel.

Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
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blkeyesuzi
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

bud12 wrote:
I do savor this book. I am a little confused as I see that Harper is the publisher, but you also mentioned that Penguin bought the manuscript. Can you clarify?  
Hi bud12
Agents try to sell manuscripts to different territories. Sometimes these sales don't happen until long after the book has been published in its originating country. I was fortunate that mine sold at manuscript stage to six countries, represented by three different publishers.  They all worked together with me, as I went through the final drafts. Each publisher now owns the work for their territory. It belongs to Harper Collins in US and to Penguin in Canada. Translation rights have recently been sold to Israel. I am a lucky, lucky gal.

 


I'm not sure luck has much to do with it...

 

You wrote one HECK of a novel, Shandi!!!!  BUT...I'd go buy a lottery ticket if I were you.  You're on a roll!!!

 

...and get busy on your next novel.  I'm ready to read!

Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
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dhaupt
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Congratulations Shandi on holding your Hardcover copy. I see a bestseller in your future!!
Author
Shandi-Mitchell
Posts: 83
Registered: ‎07-08-2009

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


JaneM wrote: 

Hi Shandi,

First let me thank you for a marvelous book that I truly enjoyed.  I am interested in your comments that you are the voice of the characters.  I think of the writer as creating the characters and understanding their back stories and motives.  Yet you sound as if you are channeling them and are sometimes as mystified as we are by their behaviors.  Or that you don't always know that facts or the explicit timeline of their story.  Do you think this is unique for you as a writer or universal for all novelists?

 

Jane M.


Hi Jane,

Thank you for your interesting question.

 

As a writer, I see my job as creating the characters, their back stories, and motives. I am consciously shaping and linking the pieces together. I know their facts and timelines, but sometimes make the decision to leave out details and leave it open for the reader to infer.

 

For me, there is a fine balance between conscious writing and free writing. As much as I am in control, I also need to let go of control. I try to immerse myself deeply into a character and when I reach that place, I am inside them and see the world through their eyes. Yet, the choices the characters make are because ofthe qualities I gave them. At times, it does feel like channeling. The characters seem to know where they are taking the story and I'm just trying to keep up. Yet, I am also aware that the story is unfolding because of the world I have created. It is a strange co-existence of the conscious and the unconscious. I wonder if the actor's process is similar?

  

I don’t know if my experience is common. I read some great books and can’t imagine the writer not having lived every moment. Otherwise, how do they know so much?:smileyhappy:

 

 

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m3girl
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Congratulations!  That has to be an unbelievable feeling!!  I know that if and when I ever reach that point it will be time to PARTY!!!

Susan 


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

I received my hardcover copy of Under This Unbroken Sky from Claire. The book is now finished. This will be its form and it is beautiful. What is it that makes a hardcover book feel like a work of art?

 

Opening the front pages, it is marked first edition. After all the years of buying books, I finally own a first edition! Who knew, all I had to do was write it. 

 

sm 

 

 


 

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jabrkeKB
Posts: 164
Registered: ‎11-15-2008
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

I received my hardcover copy of Under This Unbroken Sky from Claire. The book is now finished. This will be its form and it is beautiful. What is it that makes a hardcover book feel like a work of art?

 

Opening the front pages, it is marked first edition. After all the years of buying books, I finally own a first edition! Who knew, all I had to do was write it. 

 

sm 

 

 


Congratulations! Wow, what an accomplishment! :smileyvery-happy:

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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell? (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT)


heppster wrote:

 

1- pgs. 261-265 it seems Anna is somewhat hallucinating.  Your writing style really changed there and it threw me off.  All the fragments and her odd thoughts made it hard for to get a lot of meaning from it except that she is a bit crazy.  What was the point of these pages?

Message Edited by rkubie on 08-05-2009 02:09 PM

Dear heppster
Sorry it took me so long to reply, but you were a quick reader! I thought I should wait until we made it to Winter. 
Throughout the story I was moving through multiple points of view, the children’s and the adult’s. I was very interested in characters witnessing the same event, but the interpretation of the truth of that event shifting from character to character. Going inside Anna’s mind as she conversed with her unborn child was to convey her psychological state of mind. An internal dialogue.  But the scene also explores the connection between a mother and her unborn child. I have heard of pregnant women experiencing extremely vivid dreams and possessing knowledge of their unborn. In Anna’s case does she hear her child?  Does she feel her unborn child’s thoughts?  Is she delusional?  Is the unborn child fighting for her life? Whose voice(s) does she hear? As much as I was exploring the wilderness of the landscape, I was also exploring the wilderness of the heart and mind.

 

As a side note, in my research I discovered a number accounts of pregnant women having an insatiable desire to eat dirt. Doctors speculate it might have been attributable to an iron deficiency. I wonder how much the biochemistry of pregnancy, trauma, and perhaps clinical depression affected Anna's behaviors? What would have happened to her in the 1930s if she had sought psychological help?