Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Interview and book giveaway with C.D. Sutherland

What sparked you to journey down the adventurous path of writing?

I’ve always enjoyed great stories and admired successful writers.  This particular series I am writing now came to me over a period of years in the 1990s. Alas, active duty officers in the Air Force have precious little time to write fiction.  I believe the big spark was during my attempt to write an end-of-times novel during a 1999 tour of duty in Saudi Arabia. The back story continued to swell until I found myself buried in the antediluvian age. My master plan now, is to write a series of three interrelated series but set in vastly different times.  The last book of the last series in my plan will be the first book I tried to write. 

Why did you choose this genre?
It felt more like the genre chose me.  Having a graduate degree in history, I naively fancied calling my novel historical fiction--it even placed as one of 836 semi-finalist in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.  The next year, an improved version did better, entered as Young Adult.  During the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers conference, I showed a sample of my work to literary agent Steve Laube, who unequivocally declared it to be “pure fantasy” and looked at me as if I must be from Mars if I would consider calling it anything else.  Okay, I got it.  If the story has fire-and-ice-breathing, flying dragons, even if they’re not primary characters--it’s a fantasy.  But yet, not all fantasies are the same.  The Dragoneers is a blend of Epic and Religious Fantasy, but at the heart of the adventure is a coming of age story about a young woman who wants to do something with her life, along the way she has to make choices.     

What is the most important thing  you hope your readers will get from your books?
I want to take them on a journey to a place where they’ve never been before.  Done right, my readers will be thinking about the story long after they closed the book.  My prayer, especially for young people, is to have a positive influence on the choices they’ll make in their real lives.

What are you writing now?
I’m on the sequel to The Dragoneers, where Susah, the protagonist, matures from being a gifted, young girl with ambitions into a confident and respected dragoneer.  Book two, The Lost Dragoneer, continues the chronicle of Susah, picking up just a couple of hours after where the first book ended.  Susah will see and learn things she never imagined, her strengths will be neutralized, her weaknesses will be revealed and exploited, her challenges will far exceed anything she faced in book one. You’re going to want to read that book.

Tell us your favorite part of The Dragoneers
I translated so much of the lessons of my own life into Susah’s adventure it’s hard to narrow it down to a small part which I could call my favorite.  The novel opens with a pop, an overwhelming threat of doom, which is resolved just at the last moment--those emotions and that tension is repeated on different levels throughout the book.  That’s a literary technique, which I’ve used to illustrate the evolving character of Susah.  Using first person point of view, the reader is exposed to the inner doubt and flaws of the protagonists, but the other characters react to the Susah on parade.  The other characters see her as something less than or in cases more than what she really is, now isn’t that a lot like life?  With that said, the chariot crew training school part of the book has a deeply rooted tie to my life and to other real world combat aviators I have known.  It’s a nearly indescribable satisfaction to see a untrained person transform into a combat aviator, or in this book’s case a dragoneer, in large part, due to your instruction.  That‘ a really good part.   

What are your hobbies other than writing?
I appreciate the best things in life, which at least include growing older with my bride and praying for my grandchildren.  I do enjoy when the occasional former colleague stops by to sit in the shade of an oak tree and me and discuss history, political science, the various gifts of God to mankind, and updates on my writing of course.  Sometimes I find time to go to the range and punch holes in paper.  When I used to live in California, back in the 1980s, I operated a martial arts school, where I mostly taught young people what I had learned in Korea.  I have a few obstacles, which prevent me from practicing that now, but I still like to read and talk about it. 

In chapter 19 of The Dragoneers, Susah reflects on her mastering of martial arts training.  She had been told that each generation of mankind was progressively losing the ability to grasp complex-fighting techniques.   She pondered that in a few thousand years, people would have to study for most of their life to learn what she had learned in just a day. She thought if the theory were true, future generations, once they found out about life in Susah’s day, would look upon them as truly amazing people.  That’s probably enough foreshadowing for now.  

What movie has inspired you the most?
We are a culture influenced by movies, aren’t we?  I’ve always loved It’ s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart, and not just because he started off in the service as an enlisted man and progressed on to become an officer and a bomber pilot.  The movie demonstrated how valuable a life can be to all the lives it touches and how the absence of one life can do so much harm to others, even without them knowing it.  So we have to make good choices.  As Dachux, the mentor to Susah in The Dragoneers, says to her, “You are free to make your own choices, but ultimately your choices make you.”

Do you have a blog or website where readers can  get to know you?
I used to write an on-line column, the archives and my nonfiction work are there, but now I stay so busy with a few other things, only occasionally I post a story here: 

THE DRAGONEERS facebook fan page, I encourage everyone to like it, is found here:  

My publisher, Narrow Way Press, has a page:   

The book's website is here, complete with several trailers and other data:  


  1. Mary, this isn't a genre that I normally read, but this was a wonderful interview, and I might just step out of the box here and give this a try.

    1. The first winner never e-mailed me their address so you are the Winner!

    2. Too funny, Mary! I have a feeling that my hubs will be reading this one. He'll read "almost" anything.

  2. A great intervier Mary,interesting,Id like to win this one.

  3. I enjoyed the interview with writer C.D Sutherland.....and I would love to win a copy of C.D.'s new book 'The Dragoneers'.....I have shared on facebook and

  4. I recently started reading this genre and have always loved dragons. I know I would enjoy reading The Dragoneers and the series. Enjoyed the interview. I love finding out why, when, how, etc about authors and their journey to publishing.
    Thanks for the opportunity to enter giveaway.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

    1. Forgot to put my tweet link

      misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com