Questions for Charlie Sheldon

Discuss the October 2017 Book of the Month, Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon.

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kandscreeley
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Questions for Charlie Sheldon

Post by kandscreeley » 09 Jan 2019, 10:05

What questions would you ask Mr. Sheldon about Strong Heart or its sequels?
Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable.
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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 16 Jan 2019, 05:05

I would like to ask how he created his characters, especially Strong Heart's companions (Fat Hair and Co.).

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Post by RenzoH1 » 18 Jan 2019, 14:52

What is the climax of the story?

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Post by Mariette15 » 19 Jan 2019, 08:56

I was wondering what happened to atlal, as that plot was not really cleared up.

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Post by Quirky Cat » 21 Jan 2019, 20:27

I'm always curious about what music if any, an author listens to while writing. So, I'd love to know if Charlie Sheldon had a particular playlist while writing Strong Heart.

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Post by JuliaKay » 27 Jan 2019, 13:03

I would like to know which authors he enjoys reading. I am always interested in that!
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Post by Charlie Sheldon » 27 Jan 2019, 13:48

I will try to answer this string of questions - just saw this string by total chance so will answer before I forget -
1. How character created, especially those in the canoe: I did research for three years, have spent a lot of time at sea, have worked with various tribes out in the PNW for 20 years, and I believe the mix of all these experiences (and others) does something in the mind such that characters appear, somehow, almost by magic, when I am writing the tale.
2. What is the climax - of Strong Heart? I thought the final scene wrapped things up, at least as far as the characters and the bear went. I left a few things because life leaves things, always, and no story ever ends....
3. What happened to the atlatl? I would say read the tale again, the atlatl outcome is very clear toward the end...
4. What music while writing? None. I do not listen to music while I am writing (mostly), generally desire either a quiet spot at home, silent, or when in motion on a ferry or train or bus....
5. Who do I read? When I am in the throes of writing, I tend not to read other fiction. I am usually, it seems, since I started this series, in such throes, either trying to do research or initial framing and structuring or writing itself. I also like to read non fiction, history, scientific discussions. In between such throes, now a while ago, I ill find an author I like and burn through him or her.

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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 27 Jan 2019, 14:09

Charlie Sheldon wrote:
27 Jan 2019, 13:48
I will try to answer this string of questions - just saw this string by total chance so will answer before I forget -
1. How character created, especially those in the canoe: I did research for three years, have spent a lot of time at sea, have worked with various tribes out in the PNW for 20 years, and I believe the mix of all these experiences (and others) does something in the mind such that characters appear, somehow, almost by magic, when I am writing the tale.
2. What is the climax - of Strong Heart? I thought the final scene wrapped things up, at least as far as the characters and the bear went. I left a few things because life leaves things, always, and no story ever ends....
3. What happened to the atlatl? I would say read the tale again, the atlatl outcome is very clear toward the end...
4. What music while writing? None. I do not listen to music while I am writing (mostly), generally desire either a quiet spot at home, silent, or when in motion on a ferry or train or bus....
5. Who do I read? When I am in the throes of writing, I tend not to read other fiction. I am usually, it seems, since I started this series, in such throes, either trying to do research or initial framing and structuring or writing itself. I also like to read non fiction, history, scientific discussions. In between such throes, now a while ago, I ill find an author I like and burn through him or her.
Thank you! It is fascinating how writers channel characters.

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Post by Charlie Sheldon » 27 Jan 2019, 14:56

Ok, now you are going to help me thinking things through about a character I am facing right now. Maybe the process of discussing this here will settle some things in my mind. I just started the fourth tale in this series, which did not start out as a series but has become so. As you may know from Strong Heart, and this is in Adrift and also the third tale Found, one of the frames underlying these tales is a struggle between Buckhorn's mining of erbium, which may offer a solution for cleaning up coal, and the locals and groups who despise the mining of fossil fuels and especially doing anything in the park. In other words, there is tension between a possible solution for climate change impacts from burning coal (ie erbium detoxifies the ash and sequesters the carbon) and the impacts on the landscape from continued coal mining around the world, not to mention the continued burning of fossil fuels and a high consumption lifestyle enabled by burning such fuels. In this fourth tale, without giving anything away, the mining is starting the summer after Strong Heart is told and Adrift and Found are told, the ore being removed by big Russian helicopters, and of course the issue of helicopter noise is big.

So in this fourth tale one of the sub plots (not the main one by any means) becomes a conflict between Buckhorn's activities and a group I call Never Coal which is doing all it can to stop this. One of the characters I am creating, or using, is someone who works for the Never Coal group, as this gives me a point of view to tell "their" side of the story and internal stuff in that group, just as I have some characters within Buckhorn - either Victoria Oldsea, their project manager, or Roger, the head of security - to present the "other" side. What I always try to do, as an author, is offer points of view, beliefs, values, that are truly held by characters, but often different, even opposite, without (hopefully) imposing my own values or beliefs on the tale.

The great risk here, in fact I am hesitating even running with this plot line, is that writing fiction about a real and current "hot" issue (climate change, coal burning, environmental justice against corporate values) is perhaps impossible because you readers (very likely) have such strong views you may not be able to identify and suspend disbelief enough in a character representing the "enemy" whether that enemy be someone who opposes coal burning or someone who supports coal burning if it can be done safely, or even not safely. Furthermore, the character needs to be real, sympathetic in some way, and not simply a cardboard cut-out to offer a point of view, a position. Then the story will sound like a Sierra Club pamphlet or a Koch Brothers pamphlet. I had this reaction to the earliest drafts of Strong Heart, from readers, because I had too much in there about how nice I thought the park wsa. It is a real danger, and I would generally say that all the fiction I have read about current resource and environmental issues is disappointing because it sounds like a screed, usually. Making a Point. The story needs to be human, real.

So I want to have this Never Coal character and I need his or her point of view, when you the reader are in that point of view, to be able to see the world as that character does, the reality that character sees. This is because I believe that any real and true conflict comes from people who truly believe different things and either may be right, or wrong. And, if they are wrong, how they come to see that and then what they do. I do know, for any character to be "right" the arc of that character's story in the bigger story needs to be real and true - they need to face a conflict in themselves, something to overcome, and then they need to deal with it. So, for example, Tom had to come to accept and love the grandchild he never knew he had; William to overcome his fatness to persist up there in the woods; etc.

So, I think the answer to my question here, may be, the issue in this plot line is not really about the coal versus non coal issue, instead it needs to be about how each character deals with whatever issue they are facing, and as a by product we readers come to see the shades and aspects of this battle through each character's eyes, and maybe then as readers come to our own understanding....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFrP3-oH3MY

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