Book Name: Illuminate – Alive, She Cried
Author: Jamie Haden
Publisher: Great Minds Think Aloud Publishing
Release date: August 10, 2012
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Other Novels: Spirit Seeker (Talisa Santiago #1)
Book Trailer: YouTube
Social Networks: Facebook, Twitter, Goodread
Author Site: Jamie Haden and Author’s Page on Great Minds Independent and Jamie Haden’s Blog
Buying Locations: Amazon
Some say the concept of rebirth is simply a metaphor for living a better life, a holier life. For seventeen-year old Talisa Santiago, such a resurrection is anything but a metaphor. It is her reality.
Talisa knows she can communicate with the spiritual world. She is the granddaughter of a shaman and going between two different worldly dimensions is something she realizes she is destined to do. However, what she doesn’t count on is what fate has in store for her.
After surviving the first hurricane of the season on the island where she lives, Talisa learns that her life is in grave danger. She must leave immediately and retreat to live with a secretive clan of Indians on a remote reservation deep within the Great Smokey Mountains.
Her blood brothers, three shifters who have the desires of both man and animal surround her, promising everlasting friendship and protection. Now, Talisa will put her life in their hands, depart from her mother, and begin the journey of a lifetime. However, the majestic mountains hold many secrets and danger lurks in the night. There are evil tricksters everywhere that want her dead. As Talisa falls prey to the confusion of her own sexuality, she unleashes an untamed passion that may get them all killed.
“Dakota, I was with my spirit animal, the falcon was present, but so was my guide. I know her name. She is a part of my psyche, isn’t she?”
“Yeah she is. What did you’ll do together?”
“Back to the desert. She took me to my birthplace. Dakota, I saw some things I don’t understand. Will you help me brainstorm?”
“Sure, what’s going on?”
“Can you promise never to tell anyone?”
“Talisa, of course I won’t tell anyone.”
“My spirit guide used to have an eye in the middle of her forehead, a third eye. This time, the image was a serpent eating its own tail. It was a full circle, a ring, no beginning, and no end. What does that mean?”
Dakota thought and scratched his head. “It’s Ouroboros, an ancient symbol representing immortality, infinity.”
I nodded and went on. “We walked in the desert together for a long while, but then she was gone. I felt alone, abandoned. I was lost and had no idea where I was going. Soon, I came upon a woman.
Everything was out of focus, blurry, but I could see she was holding a piece of luggage. It was round. She held it out to me.”
“Yes, exactly, a hatbox. A black sheet covered her face. It was blowing, but there wasn’t any wind. The desert was very hot; it seemed endless, eternal. The whole thing felt extremely ominous. When I moved closer to the woman, to take the hatbox, I noticed she was standing in the center of a circle. It had four arrows sticking out. The arrows pointed north, south, east, and west. I followed the one closest to me and it led me to—” I stopped talking midsentence and took a deep breath.
“Led you to where?” he asked.
My mouth was dry and I swallowed saliva. “Dakota, I wasn’t in this world anymore. I descended.”
“To the underworld?”
“Possibly, I don’t know.”
“What was there?”
“Why do you say rage?”
“It was complete chaos. There was no sunlight. It was just a vast darkened space lit by fire. People ran frantic with no direction. They brutally attacked each other with clubs and bats. Sores covered their grotesquely disfigured bodies. Long chains restrained them. They couldn’t break free. I felt tremendous sadness.”
Dakota was silent. The stillness was unnerving. “Dakota, say something.”
“Go to the beginning and start with the desert. What does it symbolize to you?”
“It was endless, eternal.”
“The desert is also a place of purity and divine revelation. Your vision wasn’t clear when you saw the woman holding the hatbox. A sheet covered her face; it may represent blindness. Perhaps you are blind to something or perhaps you must overcome something in order to see clearly. Talisa, think, what must you overcome?”
“Talisa, you witnessed rage. I’m thinking the four arrows were earth, air, fire and, water. You saw fire in the darkened space. Fire represents insights, intuition. Have you heard of The Divine Comedy before?”
“I’ve heard of it, but I never read it.”
“The Divine Comedy is an epic poem by Dante. It is an allegory of a soul’s journey toward God. It begins with the Inferno, Dante arriving in hell. There are nine circles, but I’m thinking now of the fifth one. When Dante arrives at the fifth circle, he unknowingly rides across the river Styx. It is a toxic marsh. The people are overcome with rage. The ones who expressed anger in this life are on the surface, fighting each other. The sullen, the ones who repressed anger in this life, are eternally drowned beneath the surface. The allegory represented an awareness of Dante’s own sin.”
“How do you know all this?”
“We’ll talk about that later, but for now, let’s worry about you. Go back to the hot, dry desert where you felt alone, abandoned, blurry. Take the sheet off and open your eyes. What do you need to face in order to see clearly?”
Talisa Santiago’s life is in grave danger. The tricksters from her past have found her and want her dead. Only one place can keep her safe—a remote Indian reservation deep within the Great Smokey Mountains. Talisa doesn’t know what to expect. The only thing she clearly understands is that she must leave her island home, depart from her mother, and stay hidden from society for one year. Yet, she isn’t afraid; her closest friends stand by her side and promise protection.
I’d like to welcome Talisa Santiago and her three friends—Jag, Dakota, and Miguel—to the blog this afternoon. It is clear you’ll have a very special relationship. How long have you been friends?
The gang is on the couch together. Talisa sits between Jag and Dakota. Miguel relaxes on the arm of the sofa and taps his hand against his knee as if trying to catch a beat.
Talisa looks at Dakota and smiles. “Seems like forever,” she says. Dakota blushes. Jag takes her right hand and entwines her fingers with his.
Miguel clears his throat. “I grew up with Dakota and Jag, they’re like my brothers. As for Talisa, we’d do anything for her. It’s as if we’ve known her our whole lives.”
Perhaps, but you haven’t, when did you meet?
“I came to Silence Island last year,” Talisa says. “And my life hasn’t been the same since.”
FIRST QUESTION: TALISA, WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
“My grandfather is a shaman, and I was born in the desert. My mother took me away when I was seven, I really don’t remember my childhood.”
Jag leans over and kisses her cheek. “That was then,” he replies, “and this is now. The past is the past, baby.”
Miguel interrupts. “As for me, I was born in Jamaica.” Miguel is wearing a red and black crochet cap. He winks, rips it off, and releases a heap of knotty dreads.
BOYS, I’VE HEARD THE THREE OF YOU ARE GOING TO ACCOMPANY TALISA TO THE RESERVATION. LEAVING YOUR FAMILY AND ISLAND HOME FOR ONE YEAR TO GO INTO HIDING WITH HER IS QUITE A SACRIFICE.
“Nah, not really,” Miguel says. I was at the reservation as a kid. I made some good friends there. In fact, I never said good-bye because I knew one day, I’d be back.”
WHAT WAS THE RESERVATION LIKE? CAN YOU GIVE US A SNEAK PREVIEW?
Miguel shrugs, shakes his head.
Why ruin the surprise. All I’m gonna say it will blow their freaking minds.
FAIR ENOUGH. NOW, QUICK, EVERYONE HAS TO ANSWER THE NEXT SERIES OF QUESTIONS. READY?
“Shoot,” Miguel says.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF PERFECT HAPPINESS?
Dakota answers first. “Doesn’t exist.”
“Talisa,” Jag says. “She is perfect happiness.”
“Girls,” Miguel blurts out.
Talisa swallows hard. “Peace of mind,” she responds.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE JOURNEY?
“The one within,” Dakota says.
Jag laughs. “Hell yeah.”
“Same,” Miguel agrees.
“Same,” Talisa says.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO DIE?”
“Been there and done that,” Dakota replies.
Miguel nods. “Happened to me in Africa,” he states.
“I drown when I was ten,” Jag offers.
“Drowning would be a terrible way to die,” Talisa says. “Silent.”
“WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN YOUR LIFE? WHAT DO YOU VALUE THE MOST?”
Talisa looks at the boys. “My friends,” she says. “They are all I have.”
Dakota and Jag flash her a smile.
“Come on girl, we gotta get going,” Miguel says. “We have a long road ahead.” He jumps off the sofa and flashes the peace sign.
What or who Inspired you to write “Illuminate-Alive, She Cried?”
My daughters inspired me to write Illuminate-Alive, She Cried, the second book in The Talisa Santiago Series. A couple years ago, I was doing research on Native Americans in the public library when I asked my oldest daughter to check out a book. She said there was nothing she wanted. I laughed and told her I would write a novel for her to read. Twelve weeks later, I gave her Spirit Seeker.
How did you come up with such interesting characters for this novel?
The characters in Illuminate-Alive, She Cried are a mix of many different people I have met throughout my life. Talisa Santiago, the protagonist, was definitely the most difficult character for me to write. I had to separate myself from her, let go of my own moral philosophies and beliefs, and allow Talisa to experience life and love in the way that seemed natural for her, not necessarily natural for me.
Who is your favorite author(s) and why?
I would have to say Harold Robbins and Milan Kundera, two opposites for sure. Robbins because The Betsy was the first book of fiction I read as a kid. I snuck it from my dad and kept it in a brown paper bag. As for Kundera, I picked up The Unbearable Lightness of Being in a used bookstore in college. I had never heard of him, or the book, but as soon as I read the prose, I was hooked.
What is Jamie most Thankful for?
I am most thankful that my daughters are healthy and safe.
Tell us about you and your family. What are your hobbies?
I love to play around with black and white photography, and try different wines. We have a few cellars and are always on the lookout for a new Burgundy (my favorite) Bordeaux or Barolo. I think it would fun to open a little wine shop/bookstore.
How would you describe the words (as related to your novel):
love, friend, great grandmother(gg), grandfather, tricksters & shaman
In one word:
Love- Difficult, Friend-Safety, Great-Grandmother-Awakened, Grandfather-Holy,
What genre(s) do you like to read?
Literary, Fantasy, and Hardboiled Fiction. I’m obsessed with Noir. I can’t get enough.
Who is Talisa Santiago?
This is never an easy question to answer because who we are changes, sometimes on a daily basis. It is often customary to hear a person say, “I’m not the same as I was back then,” or “I’m different now.” Although this may be the case, what I have come to learn is, our thoughts about ourselves, and our thoughts towards others, can certainly change, yet, in the end, our essence remains true. That is what I tap into, to fully understand and appreciate Talisa. I had to get her essence.
Just as the spirit of the soul lies hidden, so were the secrets of Talisa’s childhood. She was born in the Mexican desert, the granddaughter of a shaman, yet she fled with her mother at the age of seven and escaped to America in hopes of finding a new, safer life. In an attempt to shield her daughter from her past, Talisa’s mother refused to speak of their history in the desert, her ancestry, and all things Native American. Only bits and pieces remained in the young girl’s memory. Horrific as well as enchanting recollections consumed her, but dissolved through time with no explanation. Life proved to be difficult, and Talisa found herself isolated and alone.
She was different from other kids.
Indeed, the very core of her being separated her most because she was born, not just the granddaughter of a shaman, but with a direct connection to the spirit worlds. Even though some would argue her gifts were hereditary, it would still prove to be a long and arduous crossing simply because her childhood, where she came from, was a mystery.
Nevertheless, the obscurity of it all was enticing. It kept Talisa lost, yet hoping, wondering, if maybe one day, she would be found.
From the very beginning, when I first began to think about Talisa, I knew I wanted a strong female protagonist. Not necessarily physically powerful, although I do appreciate the girl who can kick some serious butt, I am talking internally so, awakened. Such a state of being in a seventeen year old is rare, a treasure to be adored.
This was also an end. A place Talisa had to get to, after she walked a very long and winding road, for the desire to become aware of our inner selves is a journey most of us inevitably take at some stage of life.
To fulfill this goal, this end, I wanted to develop the character of a girl who wasn’t consumed with materialism. I envisioned a world of seclusion—first a barrier island of the coast of North Carolina, and then, a remote Indian reservation deep within the Great Smokey Mountains. Yet, throughout it all, Talisa, as well as all the other characters, had to be relatable. They had to go through being teenagers, the hell of it all; they had to be real.
Ultimately, Talisa would have great burdens to bear, feel tremendous heartache, go against all odds, fall, be betrayed, betray, and face the dark night of her soul. There was no other way around it. She had to lose it all in order to know what losing it all felt like; then and only then would she be able to rise.
In the end, I admire the person who can honestly say they live with no regrets, because the choices they made, even the ones they regret, made them stronger in the end. They are the ones who transform through change. By living in the present, they aren’t captive to the past. They reclaim their spirit and inspire others. People such as this are worth writing for, and that is Talisa.
Jamie Leigh Haden is the author of Spirit Seeker, a young adult fantasy. Jamie lives and writes near the seashore in North Carolina. She has a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy. Jamie is currently working on An Unimagined Life, the sequel to Illuminate-Alive, She Cried. Get Illuminate-Alive, She Cried on Kindle: HERE or in paperback: Here
Thank you so much, Ms. Haden, for taking the time to stop by and talk to us about your fantastic new release! Best of luck to you in the future!