Q&A with author Geoffrey Saign

Geoffrey Saign (Photo submitted)
Geoffrey Saign (Photo submitted)

Writer’s block doesn’t appear to be a problem for Geoffrey Saign.

The prolific author has seen publication of four fantasy novels, a children’s book, and nonfiction works on wildlife, environmental issues, and stress-free living, with a number of other writing projects now in the works.

A special education teacher, Saign said he manages to log 20-30 hours writing each week during the school year, and more during the summer. His advice to young writers: “Write daily, write books that you would love to read, learn the craft, and have fun.”

Saign, of St. Paul, is set to speak at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, at Rosemount’s Robert Trail Library as part of the Meet the Author series presented by the Rosemount Area Arts Council. Admission is free.

He plans to discuss “WhipEye,” the first book in his “WhipEye Chronicles” young-adult fantasy series, at the event.

Saign spoke with this newspaper recently about his writing habits, the appeal of fantasy fiction, and how his lifelong interest in the natural world plays a part in his books.

At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a writer?
In my 20s I worked with young kids and often read picture books to them. I loved the format and began writing picture books. Before that I had written the beginnings of a thriller, but I never finished it and didn’t commit to the writing process.

What is your writing strategy? Do you have any writing rituals?
I have written and rewritten enough books so that I can sit down almost anytime and write. I write daily. I often begin without an outline, but then outline the rest of the book after I get the first chapters completed. I really don’t have any rituals to speak of, but I prefer quiet to music, which I find distracting when I’m writing.

Adobe Photoshop PDFWhat are you working on now? Any book projects in the works?
I’m currently marketing four new books I published in November and December 2016, and thus am “taking a break” by editing and rewriting an adult thriller with current themes that I’m very excited about. After that, another thriller, and for two of my new series — “Bubblegum Mike” and “Divided Draghons” — I have the second and third books in each completed, which just need final edits.

You have a degree in biology and an abiding interest in the natural world. How does your interest in nature and wildlife get incorporated into your fiction?
My books all have nature and wildlife settings with environmental themes. This includes the fantasies and thrillers, and books for children and adults. In “WhipEye,” the main character, Samantha, is an animal nerd, so the reader sees everything through her eyes. It allows me to have information on wildlife without sounding preachy — education without effort for the reader. I want young people to care about our precious planet.

You’ve authored a number of young-adult fantasy novels. What drew you to the fantasy genre?
When I was young I read Stephen Donaldson’s “Thomas Covenant” series, and I loved the combination of nature, magic and characters. I also grew up reading thrillers by Ludlum and MacLean, so my books usually also have high-octane action-adventure and suspense.

Which authors have inspired you?
J.R.R. Tolkien, Alistair MacLean, Philip Pullman, Stephen Donaldson, and Garth Nix.

What was the last truly great book you read?
“Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life” by Edward O. Wilson — a great book for those concerned about our planet, and a great gift for those who should be.