Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sinbad's Last Voyage by Toni Sweeney

Tell us about your heroine --- the female lead in your book. What's her name?

Her name is Andrea Talltrees.

Why did you pick that name?

Andi is the adopted daughter of Vicente Talltrees, a Navajo Natural. I wanted something that sounded Native American.

Give us a brief description of how she looks.

Since Andi is adopted, she doesn't look native American, and this is one of the first things Sinbad questions her about. She's small, feisty--someone says she can lick all her one hundred and ten pounds in wildcats--blue-eyes and a wheat-blonde. She married Tran when she was sixteen and is now thirty-one and the fact that she's nearly two years older than Sinbad irritates her.

Is there anything unusual about her appearance?

Not to her people. She wears long skirts and shirts she makes herself, long buckskin boots (also handmade). When she has to change clothes into a disguise, she begs Sinbad to let her keep her boots because it took her three months to make them. She usually wears her hair in two long pigtails or a single braid down her back.

Who does she love? Why?

She thinks she loves her husband until she discovers his real agenda in coming to Earth but the moment she meets Sinbad sh'en Singh, she falls in love with him though she doesn't realize it. He's the total opposite of any man she's ever met--crass, outspoken, a criminal. Even Sinbad admits he's morally opposed to everything she's been brought up to believe it, yet there are little flashes of his secret self he reveals to her that make her realize most of his bombasting is a disguise, that a man who has been traumatized by what happened to his parents lurks inside the dependent front he puts on.

Does this person love her?

Sinbad loves her from the moment he sees her, but since she's married and in spite of being a criminal, he refuses to steal another man's woman, he hides his attraction behind insults, wise-cracks, and sarcasm. Eventually, the facade breaks, however, when Andi gets hurt and he thinks he's lost her and from then on--it's damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead!

Tell us about her family.

The head of Andi's family is Vicente Talltrees. She has four foster brothers. Vicente was her father's best friend and when he enlisted in the Federation Armed Services, he asked Vicente to look after his wife and child. When Jon Pardee is MIA, Vicente goes to get Andi and her mother, finds Sheila dead of pneumonia and takes the little girl back to the Naturals' Reservation, raising her as his own. He spoils Andi, sheltering her, and generally letting her have her way.

Where is she from?

Andi and her people live in a valley that has escaped the pollution most of Earth is now under. She has a farm where they grow fruits and vegetables to be sold to the nearby Federation Military Base. The valley is located near Angel City, the remains of Los Angeles after the Great Quake of '89 dropped most of the lower part of California into the Pacific Ocean.

Does her hometown affect her behavior, thoughts and attitude?

The Naturals follow the ways of their ancestors of the mid-twentieth century. Not only Navajos but many Caucasians are members of the cult which spreads across what is called the Buffalo Commons of the Midwest. They are very religious and have strict beliefs about God, marriage, and fidelity. When Andi admits she loves Sinbad--while they're searching for her husband--she feels she's being unfaithful and when they actually consummate that love, she berates herself, insisting she should be stoned for adultery while at the same time knowing she can never let him go.

What does she want out of life?

At first, she thinks she just wants Tran back and her life on the farm to return to its peaceful self. One she meets Sin, she knows that her old life is gone forever. From then on, life has to be with him, whatever that means.

What's her biggest secret? (Only share if it isn't a spoiler in the story.)

Andi doesn't have any real secrets. She's a fairly open person. Being taught to be truthful, she'd have to be. Associating with Sin, she finds hidden strengths within herself that she didn't know she possessed.

Did you write more than one story about her?

Andi features quite prominently in all the Sinbad stories, especially the second one, Sinbad's Wife, which is scheduled for publication this year. That follows the discovery of Sinbad's "secret," their marriage, and a violent separation when Andi's abducted by slavers and becomes their leader's concubine.

How would she describe you?

She's probably say, "I know people say we look alike, but--I swear--we certainly don't think alike! Slavers...criminals...moving to another planet! I'd never think to do that on my own!"

Is there anything else about your heroine that we need to know? Feel free to share.

Andi meets some people she'd never otherwise get to know while she's tagging along behind Sinbad. Someone of them pop up in the other books, too. She has to think fast in some situations and put her own bravery to the test and I think she handles everything rather well--for a very sheltered, slightly spoiled little Natural.

Please provide your website link.

What is the link to buy your book?;

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