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Wordsmith
Tarri
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Thanks for all the answers, it is so interesting to get the author's insight. 

 

If you were ever to write about this family again, I would love to hear what you think will happen to Lesya and Myron.  Actually, I'd like to hear what you think happens to everyone.  Where do you think they would be in the 1950s?  Would they still be so poor and/or would they find happiness?  

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

I interpreted pages 261-265 as Anna hallucinating while conversing with her unborn child.  Considering all the turmoil in her life, living in the wilderness during a frigid winter, not wanting the baby and not eating properly, caused her thoughts to go wild.  The only place she felt comfortable and tranquil was when she was with the coyotes.

 

 

 


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

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?

 


 

She would not have gotten much help in the 1930's especially as she was poor.

Some women today still eat dirt while pregnant, also corn starch. Not sure why.

Author
Shandi-Mitchell
Posts: 83
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


marciliogq wrote:

 Hi Shandi,

 

I have another question if it is still possible. I realized you used some scenes including a subbtle eroticism. In these scenes the erotic and the nature were intrinsecally connected. For example, the scene of boys and girls in the river, their pubic hair (the scene remembered one of the parts of Leaves of Grass by Heminghway), Theodor and Maria making love in the house (you only quoted her skirt was up), Anna's breasts in the sun. There is a kind of denudement of the characters when faced to nature. How do you explain this relation?


Hi marcilogq,
I can't say it any better than what you have already said, "There is a kind of denudement of the characters when faced with nature."
Both the sacred and profane...."intrinsically connected."
sm 

 

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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


gringorn wrote:

Hello Shandi,

 

I have been in several FL sessions.  I must say truly, this is one of the best books I have ever read.  I am on my second voyage through this remarkable story.  It seems that in the past FL discussions of other books, eventually it comes up "if this was a movie".  I never participated in those discussions, but with your story and these amazing characters, I have to ask : Has there been any interest in your book to be a movie?  If so, I will be first in line to see it! 

 

Mary 


Thank you so much Mary.
No interest in a film, yet. But then again, the First Look Clubbers are the first to see it...so one never knows.
I'm looking forward to reading the Casting Call. Maybe I'll get some ideas. Anybody have a few million dollars kicking around? Have I got a project for you...
Nice to know that you will first in line, Mary.:smileyhappy:
sm 
 

 

Author
Shandi-Mitchell
Posts: 83
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

[ Edited ]

m3girl wrote:

Shandi,

 

I am curious on your choice to write in first person - something not that common.  How did you choose first person and did that create any challenges when you went to sell the book?

 

And another thing I noticed - you change the point of view/perspective throughout the chapters and scene - but you do it so very well that even I - the one in search of head hopping - felt at ease with the transitions.  That's a difficult thing to do and a big rule to break - well done!

 

 

Thanks,

Susan 


Thank so much Susan for your lovely words. 

For the first two chapters or scenes, I tried to write in the past tense, but the present tense kept slipping in. The characters were driving it to be in the moment. And so I followed this shift in tense. It made the story feel immediate and urgent, it put me inside the story. I liked that it was taking the past and making it live now.

 

The tense shift also took me inside the multiple first person points of view. Which, for me, was essential in exploring the idea of reality, memory and truths. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea that every moment, even when shared, will be experienced and remembered differently by each person.

  

 

 

Message Edited by Shandi-Mitchell on 08-19-2009 07:35 PM
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


JeniferKAllison wrote:

 

 

My question Shandi, or maybe it's more of comment, is this; I shared this part with my grandmother who lived through a fire and had a strong fear of it as a child.  I asked her if it described how she felt, if she could envision herself doing something like this.  Her answer was, "Yes, except the fear of my parents would have kept me from finding or using that last piece of paper."  I didn't understand why and she explained, "Paper, in those times, was not so easy to come by.  First you had to have the money, get to town, get the paper -- and there wasn't much of it.  It was reused over and over for so many things.  To just throw it in the fire like that would have been cause for very strong retribution." 

 

Do you truly envision Katya's fear of the fire to be that much stronger than her knowledge of her families economics (to which I don't believe she is blind) and stronger than the fear of punishment and disappointment from her parents?  

 


Dear Jennifer,
How wonderful that you shared this part of the story with your grandmother. I'm saddened that she experienced the terror and trauma of a fire. I did think about the paper, or perhaps inside Katya's mind I hesitated for a moment, before throwing it in. But she and I rationalized that this was brown wrapping paper from the meat, it had been reused. It wasn't store bought. And she was willing to risk their wrath. She was trying to save them all. 
I hope you and your grandmother continue to share many wonderful stories. Dare to ask. Sometimes, I find people have been waiting a lifetime to be asked.
sm 

 

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babzilla41
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Ms. Mitchell:

 

Thank you again for the most powerful book I've read in a long time.  The imagery you use is amazing.  I felt the heat of the fire, the thirst of the children when working in the field, and the numbing coldness of the winter; I felt revulsion and fear when Stefan was around; I felt happiness when Lesya was with her chicken and when the Mykolayenko family was singing and dancing in their home; I felt absolute horror when the coyotes "found" Anna's baby.  The list could go on and on.  I don't ever recall waking up in the morning thinking about the characters of a book  - until I read your novel - amazing.  Of course we all wish the end would have been tied up neatly with everyone happy or getting their "just due" (depending on the character) but of course life doesn't always treat us with kindness or fairness.  I think the ending cemented the fact that an immigrant's life on the Canadian prairie during was tremendously difficult, required back-breaking labor and a physical/emotional/mental stamina that few of us could imagine.  But mostly, the ending offered hope and proof that the human spirit can be indomitable.  These characters will remain with me for a long time to come.  Congratulations - I'll be watching for you and UTUS on the best-seller list.

 

Barb

"I love books. If I could eat them, I would. I love their scent and often put my nose in to inhale their aroma." - Kathleen Grissom
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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: One Question

[ Edited ]

Ronrose wrote:
Does your style of writing reflect the techniques used in your television career or have you developed it for this novel?

Hi Ronrose

I think there is crossover in both mediums. Film has given my prose writing an attention to the visual. Show don’t tell. I borrow from the film palette: colour, light, and sound. I know I can end scenes and chapters before an action resolves (like in film). It makes for a tighter edit and sets up a more fluid pacing. I look for transitions and links. I use dialogue sparingly in film as well as prose. But structure is quite different in prose, as well as character development. And possibly I can get away with more in prose when exploring subject and theme.

sm 

 

 

Message Edited by Shandi-Mitchell on 08-20-2009 01:08 PM
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

[ Edited ]

pen21 wrote:

 

 

How did you intend to pace the book?

 


Hi Pen21
The pacing came from the character’s actions, but also from the rhythm of the seasons and weather. I think it also follows the character’s psychological rhythm and hopefully pulls the reader into the characters' emotional states. 
sm 

 

 

Message Edited by Shandi-Mitchell on 08-20-2009 01:09 PM
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biljounc63
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


deannafrances wrote:

Shandi, I have three  questions for you.

First, are you Catholic? I ask this in light of the controversry about the Host and Communion.

I personally think that children often fill in the blanks with thier own information about things they do not completely understand.  For years we would go to Novena and I would hear them sing in Latin and I thought the priest was saying  Jenny tore it, Jenny tore it and aksed my mother afterwards--I don't get it --what did she tear..  I don't know how to spell the Latin for the chant that the priest said but that is what it sounded like to me.

 

Second, I have difficulty with your tense and writing in the present tense and sort of shifting back and forth--since the story happened in the past--why not stay in the past

 

 Third, did you cry for the characters while writing the story--some of the images are so sad.  I felt especially drawn to Lesya and my heart broke while she helped deliver the baby.

 

thank you for taking the time to answer

and also for writing this book-- 

 

 


Shandi,

First of all I enjoyed the book. This question was posted awhile back. I don't think you answered it yet. If so I missed it. I am curious what you think about the controversy over the Host/Christ that has appeared on the boards. Was it something you expected or was it a surprise to you? What do you expect to happen with the general public when the book is released? I think that fits in to the overall story and I for one was not offended by it.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison ~

"Reading lets you visit the world of another"
Author
Shandi-Mitchell
Posts: 83
Registered: ‎07-08-2009

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

[ Edited ]

daisy03 wrote:

Shandi,

 

 

My question for you is, do these characters continue to live on for you?  Do you know what happens to them after everything is said and done?  I just thought if the reader has such a vested interest in these people I can't image what the writer who created them must feel.....

 

and Literature wrote:

 

As I'mreading all the posts I was wondering if you felt deserted after the book wasfinished since all your "children" were not part of your dailyroutine anymore?  Does it sadden you to think that they will never growolder or ever experience anything new in life again.  

 

 


Dear Daisy and Literature, 

 

I grieved when I wrote the last page, knowing that the characters were about to leave me. I remember the first morning when I awoke and they were no longer speaking to me. There was such emptiness and loss. And fear. Silence is perhaps the most frightening sound in a writer’s head. It would take another three months to pick up the pages and examine what had been recorded. Now as a reader, no longer a creator

 

When I finally said goodbye to my characters, after the final proof, I called them each by name and said thank you. They werelined up like actors on a stage. I looked into their eyes and bowed. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And with each breath, they were gone.

 

Some time later, I had a dream in which Teodor came to me and asked for forgiveness. I told him I couldn’t, it wasn’t mine to give.  He seemed to understand. Though he didn't speak again. I woke sad and uncertain.  He hasn't returned.

 

The characters do live on for me, every time you as a reader bring them alive. I've never thought of my characters being left in stasis, never growing older or experiencing new things. How terrible! I fully see them as they leave the last page, embarking on the rest of their lives. Perhaps they will call me again, to tell me their stories. But now they appear to be speaking to Sunltcloud. And what adventures they are having! :smileywink:

  

  

 

 

 

 



 

Message Edited by Shandi-Mitchell on 08-20-2009 01:33 PM
Inspired Wordsmith
Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Dear sm,

 

I do hope I haven't offended you by speculating about your characters. I've had several discussions with each one of them, usually while walking in the morning, but last night was an impromptu update by one of the more unreliable characters, Anna's ghost. And you know how it is with ghosts, they come and go; sometimes they interfere where they shouldn't; often they make up things or comment on events that are best left alone.

 

I am usually walking around with my own characters speaking to me. One of them is a rapper, an old German professor who brings the poetry of Hoelderlin back into the classroom. Another one is a young South African man with dual personality; he is a game software developer by day and a carver of masks at night. A heavily burdened young man. There are of course women too, who speak to me. Kate, who lives on an island with a group of homeless children, Laura, participant in a photo workshop for seniors. And there are many more. 

 

My favorite character to talk to , and one who appears in many of my memoir class pieces (I belong to a group of memoir writers in an Adult Ed class) is Dr.Karl Steinfeld, my imaginary shrink who retired to Switzerland. As a matter of fact, he is the one who pointed out this morning (he is well informed about all my shortcomings) that I should leave your characters alone.

The most fun I have is with a character that took on the shape of a teddy bear. I named her Tyana J LittleString, and she is my travel companion. She poses for me wherever I go. In the last picture, taken by our Victorian server (he was quite old)  we are having high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria.

 

So, you see, sometimes my imagination runs away with me and mingles other people's characters with the ones that play in my own head. I hope you can forgive me.

 

Sincerely 

gf


daisy03 wrote:

Shandi,

 

 

My question for you is, do these characters continue to live on for you?  Do you know what happens to them after everything is said and done?  I just thought if the reader has such a vested interest in these people I can't image what the writer who created them must feel.....

 

and Literature wrote:

 

As I'mreading all the posts I was wondering if you felt deserted after the book wasfinished since all your "children" were not part of your dailyroutine anymore?  Does it sadden you to think that they will never growolder or ever experience anything new in life again.  

 

 


Shandi Mitchell wrote: 

 

Dear Daisy and Literature, 

 

I grieved when I wrote the last page, knowing that the characters were about to leave me. I remember the first morning when I awoke and they were no longer speaking to me. There was such emptiness and loss. And fear. Silence is perhaps the most frightening sound in a writer’s head. It would take another three months to pick up the pages and examine what had been recorded. Now as a reader, no longer a creator

 

When I finally said goodbye to my characters, after the final proof, I called them each by name and said thank you. They werelined up like actors on a stage. I looked into their eyes and bowed. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And with each breath, they were gone.

 

Some time later, I had a dream in which Teodor came to me and asked for forgiveness. I told him I couldn’t, it wasn’t mine to give.  He seemed to understand. Though he didn't speak again. I woke sad and uncertain.  He hasn't returned.

 

The characters do live on for me, every time you as a reader bring them alive. I've never thought of my characters being left in stasis, never growing older or experiencing new things. How terrible! I fully see them as they leave the last page, embarking on the rest of their lives. Perhaps they will call me again, to tell me their stories. But now they appear to be speaking to Sunltcloud. And what adventures they are having! :smileywink:

  

  

 

 

 

 



 

Message Edited by Shandi-Mitchell on 08-20-2009 01:33 PM

 

Distinguished Wordsmith
Zeal
Posts: 258
Registered: ‎03-18-2009

Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

[ Edited ]

Shandi,

 

I have found all that you have shared with us about your inspiration, writing process, and intense involvement with your characters fascinating!  It is obvious that all of these, combined with your sincerity and enthusiasm, make your writing flow and touch your readers more than any author I have experienced.  Your willingness to share so much of your personal feelings and process is greatly appreciated and makes the experience of reading your novel even more special and rewarding.    Your work and characters will live on in all of our hearts and minds for a long time into the future.  Theirs is a story that won't easily be forgotten.

 

Thank you again for this whole experience!

 

Aimee

 


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

daisy03 wrote:

 

 

and Literature wrote:

 


Dear Daisy and Literature, 

 

I grieved when I wrote the last page, knowing that the characters were about to leave me. I remember the first morning when I awoke and they were no longer speaking to me. There was such emptiness and loss. And fear. Silence is perhaps the most frightening sound in a writer’s head. It would take another three months to pick up the pages and examine what had been recorded. Now as a reader, no longer a creator

 

When I finally said goodbye to my characters, after the final proof, I called them each by name and said thank you. They werelined up like actors on a stage. I looked into their eyes and bowed. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And with each breath, they were gone.

 

Some time later, I had a dream in which Teodor came to me and asked for forgiveness. I told him I couldn’t, it wasn’t mine to give.  He seemed to understand. Though he didn't speak again. I woke sad and uncertain.  He hasn't returned.

 

The characters do live on for me, every time you as a reader bring them alive. I've never thought of my characters being left in stasis, never growing older or experiencing new things. How terrible! I fully see them as they leave the last page, embarking on the rest of their lives. Perhaps they will call me again, to tell me their stories. But now they appear to be speaking to Sunltcloud. And what adventures they are having! :smileywink:

  

  

 

 

 

 



 

Message Edited by Shandi-Mitchell on 08-20-2009 01:33 PM

 

Message Edited by Zeal on 08-20-2009 04:54 PM
"I learned to dream through reading, learned to create dreams through writing, and learned to develop dreamers through teaching. I shall always be a dreamer."
Sharon Draper
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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Hi all,

I'm going to be reading at the Boston Public Library on September 23!  If any of you First Lookers are in the area, I would love to meet you. 

shandi 

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KathyS
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

Hi all,

I'm going to be reading at the Boston Public Library on September 23!  If any of you First Lookers are in the area, I would love to meet you. 

shandi 


 

[groan]  This is when I wished I lived on the East coast!!  If you ever come to Southern Calif., I'd love to see you!  We do have the L.A. Times Festival of Books in the Spring.... I hope you can sneak back here, to the FL club, and report to us how your novel is being received!?  Or better yet,  come to our Center Stage Board, where they feature authors and their books for a week!  I'm sure our Admins will be madly pulling out the red carpet for you! :smileyhappy:

All the best at your reading!

 

K.S.

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thewanderingjew
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

I am on Cape Cod and if I find I can get to Boston, as I often do, I will surely say hello. Yours is my favorite First Look book. I loved your writing style and the various themes of your novel. I have recommended it to all my friends and will recommend it to my book group. It will lend itself to wonderful discussions from the character development and behavior to the political times that existed and changed people's lives. From almost page one, I felt as if I was drawn into the book, into the place and time of the characters, almost as a voyeur, watching and waiting for the tale to unfold.
twj
Shandi-Mitchell wrote:
Hi all,
I'm going to be reading at the Boston Public Library on September 23!  If any of you First Lookers are in the area, I would love to meet you.
shandi 

 

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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?


biljounc63 wrote: 

 


Shandi,

First of all I enjoyed the book. This question was posted awhile back. I don't think you answered it yet. If so I missed it. I am curious what you think about the controversy over the Host/Christ that has appeared on the boards. Was it something you expected or was it a surprise to you? What do you expect to happen with the general public when the book is released? I think that fits in to the overall story and I for one was not offended by it.


Hi biljounc
I think I answered deannefrances question, but it was back a few pages. So I will try to answer your new question. What do you expect will happen when the book is released?
I expect the responses will be similar to the posts on our board. Some will love it; some will hate it. I hope the story continues to inspire the same insightful discussions, consideration and passion as it did here. It means my characters and their stories came alive.  Which means, I did my job.
So I wish it a long life and safe travels.
I hope it meets many, many readers.
And every now and then, checks in to let me know how it's doing. :smileyhappy:
 

 

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Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: One Question


KathyS wrote:

Shandi,

  

 

My one questions is:  Are you planning to write another novel any time soon?  


Dear Kathy,
Several have asked this question.

Yes. I plan to write another novel.  Soon? I’m notsure.

 

I have afilmscript I’m working on now, but I hope to start another novel next year.

I am sittingwith ideas, scribbling notes, collecting characters, and deciding which storywants to be told. 

 

For now, I’mgoing to enjoy the next few months and see where Under This Unbroken Sky takesme. Once it's in the world, I will be able to give myself fully to what comes next.

 

 

Author
Shandi-Mitchell
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Dear First Look Club,

 

I hope I haven't missed any of your questions. Please let me know tomorrow, as I may not be able to join the board after Saturday for a few days as we are expecting a hurricane in Nova Scotia on Sunday.  Last time we lost power for 14 days. Perhaps it will veer off. Fingers crossed.  

But we are prepared. We even bought a chainsaw yesterday. We have many trees on our property that are seventy to a hundred feet tall. Can you imagine me using a chainsaw? Writer/lumberjack,

shandi 

 

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Zeal
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Re: Questions for Shandi Mitchell?

Shandi,

 

I will be thinking about you...hopefully, no hurricanes and no damage!!  However, after writing a materpiece such as Under This Unbroken Sky, I'm sure you can handle almost anything, including a chainsaw!!

 

Take care,

 

Aimee

 


Shandi-Mitchell wrote:

Dear First Look Club,

 

I hope I haven't missed any of your questions. Please let me know tomorrow, as I may not be able to join the board after Saturday for a few days as we are expecting a hurricane in Nova Scotia on Sunday.  Last time we lost power for 14 days. Perhaps it will veer off. Fingers crossed.  

But we are prepared. We even bought a chainsaw yesterday. We have many trees on our property that are seventy to a hundred feet tall. Can you imagine me using a chainsaw? Writer/lumberjack,

shandi 

 


 

"I learned to dream through reading, learned to create dreams through writing, and learned to develop dreamers through teaching. I shall always be a dreamer."
Sharon Draper