To begin; a bit of background on our author:
Claudette Marco, scrivener of poetry and short stories since she was a child, earned a B.A. degree from Whittier College, soul budding in world wild. After many years of toil, soul searching for relief, she finally reclaimed path towards labor complete: writing. Home locates in Covina, CA, USA
Thank you for joining us at Scribbler’s today, Claudette!
What would you like your readers to know about you that they might not read in your official bio?
When I was a little girl, poetry and short stories seemingly streamed out of me. It gave me so much joy, the release of emotions, both good and challenging to write. But I gave it up to pursue a “safe” career, safe meaning secure financially. I learned the hard way that you have to do what you love. I would like people to know that you can find a way to make your dream happen, no matter how “unsafe” it may seem.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first considered myself a writer when I quit the teaching program I was in to devote all of my available time to writing. At that point I had already written two of the three books in the Satchel & Sword Series. I knew this was going to be a long ride, but well worth it because I had finally found the career that fit my interests and personality.
Will you share a bit about what your story Satchel & Sword is about?
Most Graciously! Satchel & Sword I: The Search for The Saluka Stone is part one of a Young Adult Epic Fantasy trilogy which chronicles the struggles and perseverance of Nevaline Scarcliff, a 15-year-old foot soldier living in the militarist, matriarchal society of Amazonia. The greedy Amazonian Queen forces her army to march north to fight against Amazonia’s rival territory Hychester. They must march through the bewitched Blackbern Forest in order to conceal their attack. There, Nevaline and her best friend Cairine wield their Claymores in perilous battles against mercenaries, thieving Harpies, giant, human-eating Pophagi, enemy soldiers, and a group of malevolent sorcerers called the Sables. Nevaline also discovers her true destiny: she must destroy Micdian, the God of Verahain (Purgatory), who descended to earth to enslave all in the continent of Kordalis and the northern islands of the Caátlach Ocean. She must retrieve the Saluka Stone and use it to awaken him and destroy him. Will she recover the Saluka Stone? Will she claim justice and destroy Micdian?
What inspired this story?
Ever since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with the idea that a society could be ruled by women. Years later, when I was fed up with not finding a career, an idea came into my head: write a book. That’s when all the memories from my childhood about writing poems and wanting to create my own fictional matriarchal society came back to me. I took that idea and used it in a genre that I love: fantasy. Women around the world, and various other peoples who have undergone conquest, are still looked down upon in overt and subtle ways, so I wanted to focus on this underdog theme in my books. In the struggle of the underdog, life is just beginning. I, myself, felt that I just began my life when I decided to focus on my writing full time. So, in the Satchel & Sword trilogy, I focused on a teenaged woman because at this point in life we have had some schooling (although not really true in the 14th century but, true in Satchel & Sword) and begin to make decisions for ourselves.
I love that you have a society populated by strong, complex warrior girls/women; can you tell us was this a conscious choice to create a world where the female character’s held the dominant place in your story and why?
As I mentioned, I was always interested in the concept of a female-dominated world. I always wondered how women would treat each other in a matriarchal society. In the Satchel & Sword Trilogy, I got to explore that concept, though, under the circumstances of this fantasy story. I got to indulge myself in my love for fantasy stories and created a world with a medieval-type setting with not just a strong matriarchal territory, Amazonia, in the story but an equally strong patriarchal, feudal, brother territory in the distant north: Hychester. But, alas, even these concepts lose ground in the fore as Nevaline’s charge takes center stage.
The names of your characters, such as your heroine; Nevaline Scarcliff are so unique. What is your process for coming up with character names?
For the main character I wanted to name her something strong and feminine. Scar is something seen superficially on the skin, but also it can be something unseen with emotional scars on the inside. Just as cliffs were once whole mountains, Nevaline and her family have seen their lives cleaved with tragedies. So, I put the two words together. For Nevaline, I was never satisfied with the names I gave her until I came across Neva in my research. Short for the name Geneva, Neva actually means “Race of Women.” Can you believe it? Usually, though, a character’s name will just come into my head, like Master Sjhong. When that happens, I like to think that the character named her/himself.
What is the first thing you know for sure about a new story concept? Plot? Character? Setting? Something else?
The first thing I know for sure is that a story will come into my head! The rest is uniquely and enjoyably its own adventure. For example, in Satchel & Sword, I wanted to create a matriarchal, militarist territory amidst other territories that are not matriarchal. This calls upon something else I enjoyed in my life, studying Political Science. But I wanted to explore more than that. I wanted to explore the life of a teenaged woman of the lowest rank of the military, who had no money, yet was strong in character, living in this world.
When creating characters what are the strongest influences for you?
The theme of these books, and the theme for the rest of my books, is my strongest influence: the underdog. I think of who will challenge the underdog, who will try to bring down the underdog, and who will enrich the underdog in the story. We have all experienced being put down, doors of opportunity closed, sometimes slammed in our faces. These struggles only make the underdog willing to fight even more to make life better for themselves and the ones they cherish.
Where the world of Satchel and Sword is set in the fantasy world of Amazonia; did you create the inner workings and landscape of this world as you wrote or did you all the details of Amazonia set and planned out before you ever sat down to write?
As I began writing, the scene opened up in my mind. I knew that the territories of Kordalis and the Caátlach Islands needed to have two predominant aspects: lush, rich lands for the most part, making them valuable, and barren, lifeless lands in other parts, making them challenging in the story. In keeping with the underdog theme, I wanted to spotlight real societies which have undergone conquest and struggled or struggle to regain their independence: Scotland, the Mexica Empire, and Mongolia. So, I researched some landscape aspects of each and incorporated those into the fantasy story.
If you could cast anyone to play the roles of Nevaline and Cairine, whom would you pick?
If I were ever lucky enough to see these books made into movies, it would be an honor. Whoever is cast would definitely do a great job in portraying Nevaline, Cairine, and all the other characters in the books. But, depending on where the character is from in the books, they would need to speak with an accent. In the case of Nevaline and Cairine, both having been born and raised in Amazonia, they would have to speak in a Scottish accent.
Can we have an excerpt?
–Nevaline turned her head slowly towards the trees. A pair of eyes between two trees locked with hers. She gasped, dropped the piece of smoked venison meat she was eating, and stood up. “What is it?” Cairine asked.
“I just saw what my senses discerned previously. Someone has been watching me.”
“What?” she exclaimed in a loud whisper.
“I shall not be long.” Nevaline slung her satchel and water bladder overhead.
“Contemplate this decision! You cannot depart absent accompaniment. The officers shall never give you permission,” Cairine whispered.
“I seek none.” She stared at Cairine, whose concern over her welfare struck her with pity.
“You are correct. This search begs for accompaniment. The officers ready the camp for the night. Authority holds anger none upon matters free from their awareness. We shall return before they awaken,” Nevaline said, doubting Cairine would accept the invitation.
Cairine nervously glanced around, apparently seeking permission. No one bothered any return glance. She looked at Nevaline. “Very well. However, if anything should happen, we must not hesitate to return, or continue without me if circumstance so necessitates.”
“That spy has followed me ever since this morning. I need to know that person’s intent.”
Cairine continued to stare at her, yet questioning the wisdom of this search. “I shall retrieve an unlit torch.” —
Is there a secondary character in Satchel & Sword you feel deserves their own story?
Master Sjhong. Nevaline’s teacher, a character of such wisdom, mystery, and power, deserves his own book.
Is there any genre you won’t read? Write? Can you tell me why?
Erotica. I want to take people into another world, show them that life is a struggle, so if you are strong, the journey will be well worth it. Erotica only highlights one small aspect of life.
Is there a genre you would like to attempt?
Prepare yourself, readers, for I am going to write in many other genres! My next book will be a Sci-Fi adventure.
How do you balance the necessity for marketing vs writing time?
Staying up past my bedtime! As a self-published writer, I can indulge in the joy of writing as a career. But, as books have helped me through tough times in life, I feel that I have the responsibility to get my books, my message, out there to the readers, to entertain and to alleviate life’s struggles for them. I am preparing for a number of Fantasy/Sci-fi conventions which I will be attending for 2014. This takes some time from my writing, but it is a joy in itself because I am going to meet new people and introduce them to Satchel & Sword.
Do you have a particular daily writing schedule or process you stick to?
I like to have a large supply of iced tea, a floor heater during cold weather season, and the tv on either a cooking show or tennis with the volume low when writing.
Do you belong to a critique group?
When people have read my book or parts of it, each has given me different, often conflicting, advice. Hence, I do not belong to a critique group. They do work for others, so that is, of course, fine. My editor gives me invaluable advice regarding my books and I stick with what he says.
Do you have a mentor? If you do, how does this benefit your writing process and what advice would you give aspiring writers who might be looking to establish a similar relationship?
When it comes to writing the story, I draw upon my life experiences and the advice given to me by the many teachers I have had in life. When it comes to the editing process, aspiring writers must find an editor that she/he connects with and who also connects with her/his story. Finding an editor should not be a suggestion, it is a must.
What is the best and worst pieces of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice I have gotten is to never let go of who you are. Regarding bad advice, there are going to be many critics in life, so it is up to the individual to keep her/his head held high and stick with what feels right.
When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do to relax?
I like to keep active, so during the day I am out and about, either walking my dogs, going to malls, botanical gardens, or exploring Disneyland. At night, I like to bead jewelry while catching up on my favorite tv shows like Dark Shadows.
What’s one new thing you’d like to try?
In my high school biology class, we watched a documentary about the habitat of wild dolphins. Robin Williams was in it swimming with these dolphins out in the ocean. One day, I want to do that too!
What are you reading now?
Nightfall by Isaac Asimov. Just finished a great YA Steampunk novel by Philip Reeve called Fever Crumb, a really entertaining book!
What writer has most influenced you as a writer?
Agatha Christie. Her straight to the point writing with stylish dialogue and her unsurpassed intelligence in creating a mystery is a joy to read. A writer can only dream of achieving what she effortlessly created.
What’s your favorite sound?
The sound the wind makes out in the desert.
What’s your least favorite sound?
The screeching sound a car makes if it is about to hit something.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Door upon hinge opens at hand’s behest.” –Master Sjhong.
What’s coming up next for you?
I am really excited because I will be at a few Sci-Fi/Fantasy Conventions this year signing/selling my books and appearing as a guest panelist:
Feb. 7-9, 2014: Wizard World Comic Convention in New Orleans, LA
May 30-June 1, 2014: ConCarolinas in Charlotte, NC –Guest Panelist
August 21-24, 2014: Wizard World Comic Convention in Chicago, IL
I am also releasing Satchel & Sword II: The Caátlach Islands on March 4th, 2014 (my birthday!).
To keep up with Claudette, go to:
To purchase your own copy of Satchel & Sword, go to: