Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Forgotten Warrior

Forgiveness has never been an attribute of sixteen-year-old Sydney Morgan's. Loyal and loving to her mother and sister, a crisis forces her to find her absent father, which in turn begins a chain of events leading her to the last place and time she would have ever expected.

The Forgotton Warrior follows Syd as she is transported back to Book of Mormon times by touching a mysterious clear stone. She meets Chief Captain Helaman; nursemaid, Mariah; and the stripling warriors. They believe Syd to be a boy, and worse yet, Helaman's second-in-command, Tarik, thinks Syd is a Lamanite spy and threatens to kill her. Come follow Sydney as she desperately tries to find her way back home, fights to gain Helaman's respect, and despite herself, falls in love with Tarik.


Kathi Oram Peterson was born in the small, sleepy town of Rigby, Idaho. In her childhood, her parents owned a store on Main Street. Whenever they couldn't find her, they'd look in the nearby drug store behind the book display. There she would be curled up with a book. Though she grew up, married, and had a family of her own, her passion for a good, heart-thumping, action-packed story has never left her. After raising her family of two girls and a boy, she went back to school and earned her English degree at the University of Utah. Upon graduation, she worked for a curriculum publisher writing and editing concept and biography books for children. Leaving the workforce, she decided to devote her time to writing inspirational novels. Over her writing career she has won the “Heart of the West” and “Golden Pen” writing contests and placed as a finalist in St. Martin’s Press’ “Malice Domestic Contest.” She has also served as President of the Wasatch Mountain Fiction Writers.

She is currently working on another series set in Rome and Bethlehem during Christ’s birth.

Question #1: Have you always wanted to be a writer? I have always enjoyed reading novels, but the writing bug didn’t bite until after I’d had my first child. My first book was dreadful. I’ve written many unpublished books and with each one I’ve learned more.

Question #2: Tell us a little bit about your book/s. Which ones are your favorites if you have more than one, and briefly let us know what they are about. Pay particular attention to your most recent book and/or your first book: The first few books I wrote were romantic suspense. I love the challenge of plotting a good suspense and I’ve always been partial to romance. When the time comes, I hope I can revisit those books and make them marketable. The Forgotten Warrior, which is my debut young-adult novel, was a pleasure to write. My son suggested I write about the stripling warriors. I wanted to have a young woman as my protagonist, and I wanted her to be from our time. So, of course, she had to travel through history. The story really took off from there. I loved imagining what Captain Helaman was like. I used Friberg’s famous painting of Captain Helaman with the stripling warriors for inspiration, but a picture really doesn’t tell a lot, so I did as much research as I could and from there I developed my version of Captain Helaman and his warrior sons. I also wanted to use actual events from the Book of Mormon and write the story around the battles and trials the warriors lived through.

Question #3: Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon? I turned in a sequel of The Forgotten Warrior to my publisher. They really liked it but wanted to see how well the first book is accepted before committing to another book. However, they did accept a little Christmas story I sent them, An Angel on Main Street which will be out in the fall of 2009. This story, which takes place in 1953, is very near and dear to my heart. I created a small fictional town in Idaho. Eleven-year-old Micah Connors and his little family have recently moved to town. Micah’s father was killed in the Korean War. His mother works as a waitress and his little sister, Annie, is very sick. A few days before Christmas, a nativity begins to appear in the center of town. No one knows who is building it. Annie tells Micah that she believes when the baby Jesus arrives he’ll make her well. Her condition worsens and Micah doesn’t think she can wait until Christmas. He ‘s desperate to find the nativity builder and borrow the Jesus doll for Annie. I won’t spoil it and tell you how things turns out. My most recent project is again a two book project titled Chasing the Star. It is another YA time-travel adventure. The story is told from three different points of view: Marcus, a Roman Centurian; Rachel, a 19 year-old girl, and Joshua, her 12 year-old brother. It’s Christmastime and Rachel has come home from college. She doesn’t know how she is going to tell her parents that she’s dropping out of school to pursue a singing career. Worse yet, she has kept an even more disturbing secret from her family. For years Rachel and her father tried to prove that there was a real star of Bethlehem. But Rachel’s astronomy professor has convinced her there was no such star. In fact, Rachel has lost her faith in God. Upon her arrival home, she finds that her parents were killed in a car accident and Josh was badly hurt. She goes to her brother, but when she is called to the nurses’ station to fill out paper work, Joshua disappears. As Rachel searches for her brother, she is given a stone which sends her back in time to the belly of pirate ship sailing on the Mediterranean. There will be more to come.

Question #4: Have you ever won any writing awards? If so, what? I have won the Heart of the West, The Golden Pen, and also placed as a finalist in St. Martin’s Malice Domestic Contest.

Question #5: What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write? I don’t listen to music unless I’m editing. I find it too distracting when I’m creating scenes.

Question #6: What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most? I don’t believe it is one thing. I have to have the beginning and ending of a story firmly in mind before I start a book. The middle seems to take care of itself as I write and do research. So I guess to answer the question for me a good idea with a beginning and ending inspires me most.

Question #7: What one thing are you the most proud of in your life? My family. As life has given us highs and lows we’ve clung together. My husband is the rock in my life. My children, who are all adults now, are kind and caring people. Last year my husband was away on my birthday, but my children brought me dinner, cake and ice-cream and celebrated with their mum. My son-in-law takes such good care of my daughter and grandson. I truly feel blessed to be a part of their lives.

Question #8: What about your family? Do you have children, married, siblings, parents? Has your family been supportive of your writing? I have two girls and one boy. They are grown now and are very supportive of my writing. My brothers and my sister have always encouraged me to write. My parents did as well. They have both passed on, but I’d like to think they’re proud of me. I miss them every day.

Question #9: The main characters of your stories - do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you? Sydney Morgan isn’t anything like me…except I’d like to think I have her faith. She is short tempered, holds a black belt in karate, and is very courageous. I could never do what she does. I think that is why I liked her so. She can do things I can’t or wouldn’t even attempt. Tarik, a stripling warrior and second-in-command to Captain Helaman has nothing in common with me, except I’d like to think that someday I will have his loyalty and ability to always do what is right.

Question #10: Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor? For years I adored Mary Higgins Clark. The first book I read of hers, Where Are The Children, grabbed me from page one. I even met her once in Omaha, Nebraska at a writers’ conference. Very inspiring woman, who has paid her dues for the success she now enjoys. I’ve also admired Francine Rivers’ novels especially her Voice in the Wind saga. I have many mentors. I belong to a wonderful writing group with many authors. We’ve been meeting for over 20 years. They are all my mentors.

Question #11: When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book? I remember two books that made impressions on me: The Wizard of Oz and Lassie Come Home. In the book The Wizard of Oz, one of the characters becomes stuck in the middle of a river. That scene scared me so, but I couldn’t put the book down. And who could read how Lassie finally made it home without crying?

Question #12: Currently who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read? I enjoy YA books. Mainly fantasy YA. I don’t have to worry so much about coming across offensive words or pornographic scenes and they always have wonderful adventures to share. Some of the YA authors I’ve enjoyed are Sharon Creech, Karen Hesse, Lloyd Alexander, Madeleine L’Engle, and Lois Lowry to name a few.

Question #13: Hey, let's get morbid. When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your book/s and writing? I hope they will say that my books were uplifting adventures that left the readers wanting more.

Question #14: Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be? I grew up in Rigby, Idaho. I was very fortunate to experience a small town. My father owned a Firestone Store on Main Street. For a few years we lived in an apartment over the store. I could peer out our living room window and watch people milling about the sidewalks. The main highway ran right through the middle of town, so there was a lot of traffic: diesels, farm trucks and cars. The town had a great influence on my book An Angel on Main Street. While living there my mother suffered a heart attack. I was sent to stay with my parents’ friends who owned a farm. I loved playing in the barns, watching the kids milk the cows and jumping around on the haystacks.I now live in the Salt Lake area. A big theater complex is a block away as well as restaurants and grocery stores. In many ways my neighborhood reminds of my childhood and growing up in a small town, though children aren’t as free to play as they were in my day. I like where I live, but I’d also like to someday have a cabin in the mountains.

Question #15: Do you have any pets? Tell us about them. I have a Yorkshire Terrier named Miss Elizabeth Bennett. We call her Lizzie. I have always been a fan of Jane Austin’s. Lizzie is my buddy who follows me around the house all day. She curls up on her pillow under my desk as I write, and she’s always happy to see me.

Question #16: Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting? I love my office. I do most of my writing on my desktop. The closet in my office was converted to a huge bookcase. It’s so packed with books that they’re spilling onto the floor. One wall has a corkboard where I pin up my story line, pictures, and maps of the novel I’m currently working on. There are two desks in my office. One holds my desktop and the other is a small desk my grandfather made out of wood. It’s a cherished piece of furniture.

Question #17: Does television influence or inspire your writing? I don’t watch as much as I use to. I enjoy The Closer and 24. I admire the courage of the characters in those shows.

Question #18: What about movies? I love a good movie. I’m so fortunate to have theaters a block away from my home. My favorite is It’s a Wonderful Life. It has everything, fantasy, inspiration, and a good message. I also loved The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Again a movie with everything in it: battles, love, and a good message.

Question #19: Focusing on your most recent (or first) book, tell our readers what genre your book is and what popular author you think your writing style in this book is most like. I’d like to think my writing style is my own. Though if my book was like another’s I’d have to say Chris Heimerdinger’s Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites series because my protagonist travels back to Book of Mormon times.

Question #20: How long did it take you to write your most recent (or first) book? When you started writing, did you think it would take that long (or short)? I worked on The Forgotten Warrior a little over a year. Midway into writing I realized I had two books when it felt like the story climaxed just after the Battle for Cumeni, so I thought that would be a good place to stop book one. Book two could then climax with Syd fighting in the Battle for Zarahelma alongside Captain Moroni. I think it worked out for the best that way. And there’s the possibility for a third book that would follow Tarik coming to our time for a while then going back to help Moroni capture the City of Nephihah.

Question #21: Is there anyone you'd like to specifically acknowledge who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing? My husband, Bruce. He’s made great sacrifices and worked hard so I could stay home the last few years and write. My books would never have been written without his support.

Question #22: Is there any one particular book that when you read it, you thought to yourself, "Man, I wish I'd written that one!"? Francine Rivers’ A Voice in the Wind. She is a master storyteller.

Question #23: Thinking about your writing career, is there anything you'd go back and do differently now that you have been published? Although it’s taken me many years to find success I’m glad my first published novel is The Forgotten Warrior. There were days when I felt as though I was being guided as I wrote.

Question #24: What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by your writing? My deepest wish is to inspire young adults to believe in themselves, have faith in God, and to read, read, read!

Question #25: How has having a book published changed your life? The publishing world brings new worries and new demands on a writer, but what wonderful demands. I love having an editor excited to read my work. My editor has been such a pleasure to work with. Plus I’ve met some wonderful people I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Question #26: Many authors have said that naming their characters is a difficult process, almost like choosing a name for their own child. How did you select the names of some of your lead characters in your book/s? For Sydney Morgan I knew I wanted a name for a girl that could also be thought of as a boy’s name, since she was going back in time and many believed her to be a boy. Tarik was a bit more difficult. I wanted a warrior sounding name, something different. Tarik is Egyptian and I liked the hard sound.

Question #27: Have you ever had a character take over a story and move it in a different direction than you had originally intended? How did you handle it? This recently happened as I was writing Chasing the Star. I had to do a ton of research and found the story of Julia, the daughter of Augustus Caesar. She started taking over my story, pushing Rachel aside. As soon as I realized what was happening, I retraced my steps, deleted quite a few pages and started again. The result is a much stronger story.

Question #28: Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it? The working theme of The Forgotten Warrior was that faith builds courage and courage builds faith. That faith you can help you learn to forgive. A bonus for me would be if my readers could come away learning more about the stripling warriors, about their strong loyalty to family, faith, and country and apply some of those character traits in their lives.

Question #29: Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where? Starting on January 15th I start a book tour that will take me from Rexburg, Idaho to Mesa, Arizona. For details of where and when I’ll be signing please check out my website at under Events. I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

Question #30: It's said that the editing process of publishing a novel with a publisher can be grueling and often more difficult than actually writing the story. Do you think this is true for you? How did you feel about editing your masterpiece? Of course, you would like to think that your baby is perfect, but it rarely is. I’ve been a member of a critique group for many, many years so I value critiques that make the story stronger. I had no problems making the changes my editor requested because I knew it would make a better story.

Question #31: Now that you are a published author, does it feel differently than you had imagined? Having my novel published has been my biggest joy since having my children. The entire experience is incredible. It makes me reflect on the years of rejections. I remember when I first started writing I’d called an author to ask him questions about the road to publishing a book. He was very rude and asked me, who did I think I was trying to write a novel? Instead of crushing my spirit, he made me angry. You know what they say about a woman scorn…but maybe that was his plan, to make me dig in and work my fingers off to finally see a book with my name on it.

Question #32: Now, use this space to tell us more about who you are. Anything you want your readers to know. Wow, what a set up…to say anything I want my readers to know. I’d really like to write something profound…something that would inspire them. However, the only thing I can think of is a very old, cliché saying that rings so true: believe in your dreams.

Anyone who wants to find out more about her and what she is up to can go to her website:

For those who want to read more of her writing, you can go to her blogsite:

The Forgotten Warrior can be ordered online at: and


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Tristi Pinkston said...

Thanks, Sandra!

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Thank you for the interview.

Framed said...

Great interview. Can I link to it when I do my review of this book? And use a couple of Kathi's statements?

Sandra said...

Tristi and Kathi- you are welcome.

Framed- I think that would be fine.