Interview with Sandi Badash

What motivated you to write your first novel now?
Actually, I started writing this book in the early 90's when I, like my main character, left The Florida Keys to spend time at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. I realized without having ever been there before that I had some sort of affinity with the Southwest, then and today. That feeling has never diminished. I call it my “holy place.” When I returned home I was bubbling over with such happiness, that I decided to start a journal after the fact. As I filled up the pages I realized that a story was starting to come alive. I've been in the arts for so long that my imagination doesn't need much tweaking to get it going, and my story was created from what I felt could have happened there.

Ghost Ranch is magical and powerful. The mountains continually change color and mood, seeming to have mystical properties that are alive and palpable and speak for themselves. It was easy to fill in the blanks with Merrill’s journey towards her “Ancient Rights.” The backdrop for a story was all there. During my own self-imposed semi-isolation away from my routines, I experienced and lived the daily existence as Merrill does in my book. I met interesting people from all over the world who were there to take seminars in a myriad of subjects.

I lived alone on a mesa overlooking the rest of the ranch and only went below to eat meals. Being on my own gave me the freedom to paint as long and as often as I wanted to without interruption, it gave me so much peace, and fed my hunger for a place I never knew existed, but quickly became part of my soul. Creating a story with metaphysical appearances and words of wisdom was part of the very real possibilities that I imagined I could find there. The characters just seemed to walk into my daily writing which turned into all-nighters and I felt compelled to keep them there to get to know them better! My story became so real to me that the next time I visited Santa Fe, I actually felt a void when I couldn't find the characters in my story on the city streets!

Because I was primarily painting at that time, I put my journal away after a month or so of writing non-stop and it gathered dust for over twenty-one years. This past year I was asked to co-facilitate Julia Cameron's “The Artist Way” and her book on creativity motivated me to go dig up my story. I needed to bring it up to date and give it life again, finish the writing and actually have it published this time around. I've even started another novel which is entitled “Ancient Voices,” a step forward into the past.

While neither of these stories is purely autobiographical, I have experienced certain aspects contained in both. Perhaps now is the time for me to reflect through my protagonist how I myself have grown over the years, and am realizing now how through maturity I've found my own “Ancient Rights.”
What were you doing in your life before writing this book?
I’ve had a full life filled with creativity since I can remember. In Kindergarten we were all asked to design wallpaper for the life size play house in the classroom and my design won. Everyone had to copy it so we could paste it to the walls. That was "IT" for me, and I was forever deemed “the Classroom Artist.” The big difference I see in me now and as I was growing up an only child is the realization that I'm now aware of who the “real” person is. For most of childhood I became who the adults in my world expected me to be. I learned what behavior was acceptable to those important people who had "power" over my small self, but gradually I like most other children, moved forward into my own world to eventually become my authentic self. This was done automatically without much thought, and the natural maturing process helped me to arrive at this moment in time. I'm very happy to be where I am today!

My main character in “Ancient Rights” is purposely in her forties which I think is one of a woman's important times to discover herself and be at her most beautiful inside and out. It's a turning point, and setting the stage for the rest of her life. Merrill’s journey is taken at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, but it can happen in our own homes. I've had so many “Aha” moments during the many transitional periods I've gone through, and they've helped me to achieve goals I wasn't sure would come to fruition. One of them has been to dust off my manuscript of over twenty years ago, get the process underway again, and to arrive at my destination. What a thrill it's been. I've been able to relive the time I spent at Ghost Ranch many years ago to tell a story of a woman’s journey on the road to discovering her own Ancient Rights.

As far as my activities over the years, I received my Master Degree from Southern Connecticut State University, had many one woman exhibitions which began with a show of my paintings in Cambridge, England (where I lived with my husband and small children for two years), I was a body builder for eight years, and was Ms. West Palm Beach over forty in 1986. I love to dance and my partner and I belong to a Ballroom Club. I was a cruise ship lecturer for thirteen years, a live-aboard on a sail boat before moving to The Florida Keys, and was a sales person in a Native American Art gallery for a decade and a half. I am currently co-facilitating groups using Julia Cameron’s “The Artist's Way” and “The Vein of Gold.”

All of these experiences have taken me on the road to personal growth, feeling the serenity and balance we should all strive for without ever losing the joyfulness of each day. I'm also starting on my second book which will be entitled “Ancient Voices,” a Step Forward into the Past. I believe writing will be a major constant in my forward walk in life.
What do you hope readers will get out of Ancient rights?
Firstly, I want you, the reader, to enjoy a good book with a relevant story that you can relate to and not want to put down. I want you to find it fast paced and enjoyable so you look forward to my second book which I'm starting to work on. I'll be thrilled as a first-time author to see my book in print under a cover that I lovingly designed using one of the Southwestern paintings I did while I myself spent time in New Mexico. I hope my enthusiasm will come through so you get enjoyment out of reading about the Southwest, and most particularly Ghost Ranch. You might even be curious enough to want to visit this spectacular part of our country.

Another motive for my book is being a woman myself, and knowing what questions we invariably come to at some point in our lives. We want to know our individual purpose in life, where are we headed, and how can we maximize our creative spirits in whatever we choose to do. So many women have spent years of putting others before ourselves or have chosen careers before having families, and want to make switches in either direction. Life is about change and although Ancient Rights is fiction and intended as reading enjoyment, it does truly center around the realities of women in her forties looking for answers to some troubling questions through the awakening of their core beliefs and balance in their choices. These are needed for us all to move forward in healthier ways of making decisions.

I was compelled to write this book. I had no choice, because my experience away from my life in The Keys was so riveting that the words had to be expressed outside of myself. That part is the skeleton of the story, the rest of Merrill's adventures stems from my imagination. Being in New Mexico and discovering that the high desert became my “holy place” pushed me on, and fed me the story in a place of total spirit-based magic. My life has been changed forever. However here’s a dichotomy here, in that despite my love affair with Santa Fe and Abiquiu, I've become so used to the warmth of Florida that I can only visit during the summers and early fall, and even still it feels like coming home.

I'll be thrilled to know that you've perhaps felt some Aha moments. That is one of the reasons I've published “Ancient Rights - a Woman's Journey,” Please read to enjoy, and the rest will come to you in your own due time.
Published 2014-02-05.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Ancient Rights - a Woman's Journey
Price: $2.85 USD. Words: 72,440. Language: English. Published: January 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » General, Fiction » Visionary & metaphysical
Ancient Rights - a Woman's Journey, is a story of Merrill Darwin, whose art career is stalled, and relationship is waning She needs time by herself, to think clearly without interruption about what to do. This journey of soul searching includes romance, mysterious sources of advice, a ghost-like visitor, and an unexpected meeting throwing her off-balance as she looks for clarity.