Last night I reviewed “Whale Song” by author Cheryl Kaye Tardif. Today Cheryl is joining us for an interview.
Cheryl, thank you for stopping by on your virtual book tour. I have so many questions I’d like to ask. First off, how long have you been writing, and what are your previous books?
I have been writing for most of my life. I was a paid journalist at 14, writing a weekly column for a small BC newspaper. I really enjoyed it, but even then, my passion was writing fiction. I went on to publish articles and poetry in other newspapers, all the while trying to get a novel published.
In 2003, “Whale Song” first debuted as a self-published novel with minimal distribution. In 2004, my psychic suspense thriller “Divine Intervention” was released, and in 2005, “The River,” a fast-paced conspiracy thriller that recently received an awesome review from a Top 100 Amazon reviewer, hit the shelves.
Your book “Whale Song” was re-released this year. What is different about the second release as compared to the first?
There are a few differences, inside and out. “Whale Song” was released in April 2007 as a special revised edition with 25% added scenes plus about 35% revised existing scenes. The reason for this is that in 2006 I wrote the screenplay with a co-writer and then decided to use some of the new scenes from the screenplay to fill out the novel in a more visual way. The story remains the same but I think it flows even better than the original.
The cover is also different. Replacing marine artist David Miller’s enchanting painting ‘Sanctuary’ on the original cover with Kunati Books’ artwork created by the talented Kam Wai Yu was hard for me at first. I had worked hard to get David Miller’s artwork and was so honored that he licensed it to me for a debut novel. But the more I looked at the new cover, the more I realized that it was more marketable and it fits the soft mystery theme far better.
The biggest difference is distribution. “Whale Song” is published by Kunati Books, printed in Canada and the US and distributed by Manda (Canada) and IPG (US), making it easier for anyone on either side of the border to order copies. It is this distribution that has helped to make Whale Song an Amazon bestseller—in both countries.
The book talks quite a bit about marine biology, echolocation, and the habits of killer whales. Was this an already existing passion for you, or did you research this line of scientific study?
I have always been fascinated by marine life—especially dolphins and killer whales. Years ago, when I was home-schooling my daughter, she chose marine studies for science and I was thrilled. I had also spent a number of years as a child going to Vancouver’s Stanley Park and seeing Skana, one of Canada’s most famous killer whales, at the Vancouver Aquarium. But in the end, when it came time to write the novel, I had to do a fair bit of research, most of it online.
What inspired you with the storyline for this book?
“Whale Song” was inspired by native legends that I had grown up with while living on the Queen Charlotte Islands in BC, Canada. One legend says that if you see a killer whale close to shore that you are really seeing the reincarnated soul of a loved one who has died but is coming to say goodbye or coming to visit their human families. I’ve always thought this story was beautiful and it stayed with me all my life.
A few years ago, I thought, “What if it’s true?” And then I thought of my main character Sarah and wondered what terrible tragedy would test her and tie in to this legend. The assisted death angle just jumped out at me. What could be worse for a child than losing a parent? And what if that parent had died because someone had ‘pulled the plug’? I like to explore our darkest fears and secrets.
How long does it take you to write a novel? Can you tell us a bit about your writing schedule, and do you set concrete daily goals or just let the process take you where it will?
Every novels takes a bit longer than the last, it seems. Yet I can write a novel in less than 6 months. I work full time at this, long hours, but my day is broken into promotional or marketing writing, other promotional strategies and writing the current novel. For me, I work best when I can focus on a novel, so I usually set 2-3 days where I spend 8 hours+ writing. And I usually do this away from my home office and distractions of emails and marketing ideas. Once I am closer to finishing a novel, I spend even more time on it. The days that I write are the days that I am most fulfilled and happy.
During the week, I do set goals. I make lists of what I need to accomplish each day, in order of priority. But I am flexible enough to know that sometimes I won’t complete it all that day. I am fairly organized, and I think you have to be, especially if you are a self-employed writer working from home.
You describe the setting so richly, I’m tempted to hop a plane and go there myself. Have you always lived in Canada?
Canada is a beautiful country with very diverse settings and rugged, isolated areas that hold a lot of mystery. I’ve lived in various provinces across Canada, but tend to be drawn to the west—BC or Alberta, where I currently live. For three years however, when I was 14-16, I lived in Bermuda. And that was a slice of pure Heaven. I have been back twice and would go again in a heartbeat. I am very drawn to islands, oceans and beaches.
What projects are you working on now?
I recently finished my next novel “Children of the Fog,” a chilling suspense thriller, and if people are patient and follow this virtual book tour to the bitter end, they just might get a sneak peek.
Starting September I will be focusing on “Divine Justice,” book 2 in the Divine series, since I have received so many emails from fans of “Divine Intervention.” This long-awaited sequel was put on hold because book 1 is being considered for re-release by a bigger publisher. I am still uncertain of its fate but I decided that I can’t make fans wait any longer. However, “Divine Justice” is not expected to see publication until 2009. I will also be starting on two new suspense thrillers next year.
Thank you so much for inviting me here. This month I am giving away free books at some of my virtual book tour stops and I am very pleased to announce that this is one of them. To win a copy of “Divine Intervention,” please email me with the correct answer to this question: What one town or city does Divine Intervention take place? Email me the answer after August 26th at cherylktardif (at) shaw.ca. I will draw one winner from all entries at the end of the month.
Be sure to check my ‘Touring the World’ virtual book tour schedule and drop by my other hosts’ sites.
~ Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of “Whale Song,” “The River” and “Divine Intervention”