A little while ago, I read and reviewed author Nicole Sager's The Retrievers: Valley of The Roden. It was a fantasy novel featuring characters that barely stood above 8"! If you haven't seen the post, you can go and read my review for her book before venturing through this sequel article.
Below you'll find a fun interview I did with Sager herself, and during our conversation we chatted about the inspiration for her book, how she incorporates faith into her works, and her heart for representing different characteristics and traits within fiction. (And if you hang out with us for a bit, there might be a cool giveaway for you to join in on!)
What are you waiting for? Get reading!
But...before we begin...
ABOUT THE AUTHOR!
Nicole Sager is an avid reader and coffee drinker who enjoys writing Inspirational Fantasy set in a medieval-like era.
" I hope my books will encourage families to read together. If read by children, I hope the books broaden your vocabulary just a bit and introduce you to a life of endless possibilities in Christ. If read by adults, I hope you're inspired and encouraged to deepen your relationship with our Savior.
In writing each book, I pray that it will bring honor and glory to God, and that He will use it as a tool to bring at least one person to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ."
What was your initial inspiration for the book?
Initially I really just needed a writing project that was fresh and new. I'd been writing the Arcrea books since well before The Heart of Arcrea was published in 2012, so after a decade spent in one world I felt like I needed to "get out" for a bit and refresh my brain. I was going through a writing slump and not able to get anything done until one day I decided to sit down, pick an interesting font, and just type for 15 minutes to get those wheels turning. One of those sessions turned into my first short story, The Rebel, and another became the introduction to The Retrievers, which is included in the book just before the prologue. Ideas starting coming together from there!
I thought it was so neat to have a cast of characters who barely stood above eight inches. Their height reminds me that no matter how small I might feel, God has big plans for me. As an author, have you ever struggled with feeling too small to write such big things? And if so, how have you pushed past that feeling?
All the time! With every book I come to a point where I have no clue what I'm doing, or how I'm going to get the characters out of this mess, and the project just feels too big for me. God uses those moments to remind me that when I started the project I gave it to Him, and He has a plan for it. I just need to be patient and ready to write when He brings the inspiration, the ideas, and the excitement. He has used so many readers to send me encouragement - reminders that He is using the ability and love for writing that He gave me to bring Him glory, and those simple reminders help me push past discouragement or feelings of inadequacy because I realize that He is able to use the product of my willingness, no matter the outcome or level of skill, if only I keep it in His hands.
Delia was a heartfelt protagonist. In my experience, it’s hard to come across female main characters who possess a quiet strength, let alone deafness. Why did you decide to portray Delia in that manner?
Again, initially my thought was simply to write something different - something outside my norm. I had read a book about a deaf heroine once and was fascinated by the methods the author used to show how she adapted to the world, and the way she perceived things differently that someone with hearing. I thought I would enjoy the challenge of bringing that into a fantasy setting. As the story progressed, however, I came to see that God had plans for the book (and possibly the series as I look forward now) to portray this theme of His ability in the face of our disability. His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
I also loved Gavin’s character (or should I say Fetch?). His journey in learning the difference between being crafty and being wise was relatable to follow along with. Was that a personal lesson you’ve had to learn in your life, or was it simply a message you felt the need to talk about through Gavin’s arc?
Looking back at my writing journey I think God has used each book I've written to help me process and grow through something I needed to learn in my Christian walk. If any character's "aha" moment seems raw or super direct, it's probably something I was learning, the narration coming straight from my talks with the Lord. So yes! There were aspects of Fetch's journey that mirrored mine, as I learned through his story to look at the bigger picture, refocus the purpose of my skills, and be willing to consider that maybe God has something planned for me that doesn't match the image or fit the frame I had in mind for myself.
I adored how your characters were at differing stages in their faith walks, and that they all blossomed in their relationships with God as the story progressed. How has your own personal relationship with God grown or been stretched within the process of writing this book?
I have to say I enjoyed getting to "meet with" these characters at different stages, and consider how their level of faith might affect the story differently! I think for me, God used the writing process to remind me that His timing is best. This was the first book I've written that I was able to outline the entire story right from the start. With other stories I usually had the general idea, or knew how the beginning and end would go, but no clue about everything in the middle. This time I had it all! Except for the details in some places, I had all the major elements on paper... and then I couldn't seem to find time to write! Or I would find time and sit down at my desk only to stare at the screen in spite of my ready notes! I worked through about 2/5 of the book like this, and then 2020 came along with its interesting array of events and I found myself at home with lots of time on my hands. I ended up getting the rest of the book written in about a month, and the publishing process went smoothly from there. God has a plan, and it is perfect.
What is the core takeaway from this novel? What do you want to leave readers with after they close the cover?
Disabilities show up in many forms, and they are not always the ones we would call obvious. Whether a reader is disabled by a lack of hearing, walking, or a crippling fear or doubt, my hope is that they will look in this book and see their own story reflected - not just the obstacles, but the ability to overcome them. And more than that, I hope they see a reflection of God's involvement in their story, and understand that He is so much bigger than whatever holds them back. Your results will look different than the ones on these pages - you won't fly on the back of a hawk, or race through the underworld of a giant's city - but the God represented in the lives of these characters is truly alive and real in your life. He is able and willing to "give you wings" in ways you could never imagine, and awaken you to a purpose in His plan if you let Him. Along with that, I simply hope readers can close the cover satisfied with a story that gave them a few hours of safe, clean entertainment and encouragement.
Okay, who's ready for some more fun?!
Nicole is graciously giving away TWO paperback copies of her book, The Retrievers: Valley of The Roden.
Check out our Rafflecopter link for several ways to enter!
This giveaway ends Thursday, July 23rd. Have fun!