Interview with Cheryl Skory Suma

Why did the author decide to become a writer of children’s books?
Cheryl has always loved the world of the imaginary. Since she was a little girl, she has enjoyed story-telling, listening to others spin their tales, and anything creative, including drawing, painting, music and writing. While she began her career in the health care sector, she immediately focused on children, and has always incorporated creativity and stories into her work and business.

When she made the decision to sell her home-health care business in 2013, Cheryl enthusiastically set to work in completing her first novel. Cheryl has been telling her two children short bed-time stories that she made up ‘on the spot’ every night since they were very little, and a few years ago Melissa had asked her mom to make up a ‘longer story’ for her; this is where Habitan began.

When her daughter first asked Cheryl to write a story just for her, Cheryl really wanted to deliver! It has now become her hope that other young readers of the book will enjoy the fantasy, and all of the twists and turns along the way. Hopefully they will also pick up on the positive messages and values within the story, as well as feel inspired to follow their own creativity, their own dreams.

Cheryl also enjoys a good sci-fi or adult mystery novel, and is concurrently working on her first adult novel while completing the second book in the Habitan Series.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Three young adventurers discover they may be the last hope for the land of Habitan against the evil sorceress Oskana. The children face challenges and surprising twists along the way, while developing their own innate gifts and magic.

“It’s twisted, suspenseful and exciting!"-Sarah,age 12
"The plot flows really well and yet is entirely unpredictable. A true adventure read!"-Celina, age 21

Habitan Book I: The Parallel Place
Melissa, Michael and Annabelle were each separated from their parents as infants. Our story begins where they now live, together in an orphanage in northern Canada in the 1600's. Discovering a strange kinship, they have become true friends, and support one another. But why do they feel they are meant to be somewhere else? Is this where they truly belong? Then a mysterious event occurs, transporting them to another land called Habitan, a magical place where anything and everything is possible if you believe and strive hard enough. In Habitan, sorcery, magic, and powers 'of the mind' abound. Animals talk, and the spirit of the woods is alive. While in Habitan, the children join forces with three animal guides, encounter a wicked sorceress named 'Oskana', and embark on an adventure to discover their true heritage and destiny. Can they develop their innate powers and magical gifts soon enough to protect themselves and to help the Good of Habitan? Will they be reunited with their parents again? Who can they really trust? How can they save Habitan from the tyranny of Oskana's rule? Finally, how do the events on Habitan affect the Parallel Place, the 'earth' they grew up on? The children discover that they may be Habitan's last hope for salvation from the evil sorceress Oskana. They face challenges and surprising twists along the way, all while also developing their own innate gifts and magic. As they begin the path to finding their own inner strength, they learn how to face unbearable odds with determination and courage, standing up for what is right despite the possible personal costs.

Inspiration for the Habitan Series by Cheryl Skory Suma
The author's children grew up enthralled with their mother's bedtime stories. Then came the question, "Mommy, could you write me a longer story?". The Habitan Series grew out of these imaginative bedtime stories and the author promises continued plot twists, surprises and new mysteries along the way in this four book series. A proud Canadian, Cheryl has a multicultural background that includes not only Canadian settlers of various European descent, but also one-quarter Cree Indian/Inuit mix from her maternal grandmother. Her grandmother's spirit and grace were inspirational to the creation of this story and the use of Cree as the basis for the magical language of Habitan. The scenery and animals behind the story were drawn from the naturally varied and beautiful landscape of Canada. Resources for Teachers, Librarians and Book Clubs Chapter questions and discussion notes can be found on the Habitan Series website, .
Where does the author get her ideas?
Cheryl feels very blessed, for while she does not follow a set ‘schedule’ for writing, whenever she does decide to sit down and write, the story flows easily. “It is as if the book is just pouring out of me; sometimes I can barely keep up with the pace,” Cheryl says. Cheryl also keeps a notebook handy, and will quickly jot down new story or character ideas whenever inspiration strikes. She also loves to share her ideas with her family and friends, and enjoys the excitement of a group discussion.

Cheryl also admits to dreaming about her characters. “They often come to argue with me in my dreams,” she admits. “I often picture various characters sitting on the edge of the bed, one leg swinging impatiently, while they rant and argue their own motivations and story development to me.”
Are any of the characters in your book(s) based on people you know?
The answer is both yes and no. “Certainly, I doubt any of my characters could exist without me drawing on past experience and the personalities and behaviors of people around me,” Cheryl acknowledges. As to specific characters, Cheryl will only say that “Some characters are more a mixture of inspiration with someone I know, while others are completely fictional. My strongest characters, I think, are based on my perception of people around me, and perhaps more importantly, on my reaction to their behavior and personality.”

“For example, the character of the deformed ‘Mayatis’ men in Habitan was loosely based on a negative encounter I had with a man who appeared to be experiencing road rage a few years ago; I was so distressed by this encounter that his image stuck with me, and I fully admit I saw him as a monster of sorts,” Cheryl says.
What books did you read as a child, and as an adult?
Cheryl’s first true memory of a passion for a particular book was the thrill of reading the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis as a young child, after which she began to consume many other fantasy and adventure series as quickly as possible. As she moved into her later teens and young adulthood, she became obsessed with sci-fi and adult fantasy genres, including Ray Bradbury, H.G Wells, Isaac Asimov, and others. She also went through a long passion for Steven Kings books in her 20s and 30s, for she connected with these stories in terms of their themes of morality, bravery, ‘taking a stand’, as well as the ongoing theme throughout all of these different genres and books of facing difficult life choices. She is a big fan of authors who focus not just plot, but also character development.
Do you ever get writers block?
The answer is honestly no. “I think I am both blessed, as well as perhaps not too strict on myself,” Cheryl says. Her writing style is to write on those days that she feels inspired, and not to worry when she does not. “I think I am very fortunate that when I do decide to sit down and write, the story just flows. That being said, I have some days that I can write for eight hours, and other days I only write for two hours or less. I don’t obsess about it; I just write when I need to write, until that surge of inspiration is done,” she says.
What are you working on next?
The author is well on her way into writing the 2nd book in the Habitan Series, Book II: Parallel Futures, and she promises it includes several twists and surprises! The book is expected to be done and ready for release in winter 2015/16.
How many books will there be in the Habitan Series?
Cheryl already has the outline and plot for four books, but also adds, “There could be a few more; the characters will tell me when it is done.”
What is the main message of the Habitan books?
Believe in yourself, be brave, hold true to your own values and beliefs, stand up for what is right. Don’t be a bystander; be an activist! The book also profiles the Canadian landscape, a vast beautiful country, multicultural values, and a positive spirit.
Do you write adult novels?
Yes. Cheryl not only loves fantasy novels for children and teens, but she also enjoys a good sci-fi or adult mystery novel. She is concurrently working on her first adult novel, and hopes to find a niche in the adult sci-fi/mystery genre as well as youth fantasy (she is completing this new adult book the same time as she is completing the second book in the Habitan Series). She promises an exciting adult sci-fi adventure, with many plot twists and unexpected events. While she cannot reveal the title and theme just yet, she is very excited to complete the story and reveal more about it, so please watch or follow her site for an upcoming announcement on this new book.
Published 2014-11-12.
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