FILL THE SKY #BookReview and #AuthorInterview
A JOURNEY EVERYONE WILL WANT TO TAKE WITH KATHERINE SHERBROOKE
Have you ever taken ayahuasca? Danced a chakra meditation? Stepped into the unknown to uncover your true self? Been a faithful friend despite perceived betrayal? Worked with shamans and healers foreign to your understanding?
Fill the Sky is a totally engaging novel that dramatically pulls you into these situations, and has you right in there, experiencing these new realities with the characters, feeling what they’re feeling, testing your own reactions.
Author Katherine Sherbrooke encourages readers to think and feel in new and refreshing ways. Her tale is one of facts vs. intuition, mind vs. heart, action vs. being, a safe persona vs. self-discovery, Big Pharma vs. ancestral medicine and, above all, the healing power of love.
We journey to Ecuador with Ellie, who is left without hope of recovering from cancer by the medical establishment, and the two friends who accompany her for shamanic healing, which seems like her last option.
These two friends are polar opposites. The trip is planned by Joline, a life coach who looks to spiritual or ancient solutions for health and wellbeing and believes that the shamans will heal Ellie…
“I’m trying to help her find life again. Find a way back to life. Nature will support.” ~ Joline
Ellie’s other best friend, Tess, a biomedical businesswoman who is all about control and planning, has nothing but doubts about shamanic healing. She goes along just to support her friend, her only hope that the “placebo effect” may come into play.
“If Ellie believes going to Ecuador will help, maybe it will…” but “How could ‘nature’ possibly justify any of this? Ellie simply didn’t deserve to be sick.” ~ Tess
What promises to be a peaceful week in a beautiful mountain retreat turns into a dramatic, difficult transformation for the three women as the shamans work on them all in their mysterious ways. Each woman is in the midst of personal conflicts and is in need of a return to peace that may actually be found with the shamans in the “sacred mountains.”
Can a group of medicine people, with no visible medicine, help all three women heal? What is true healing in the end? Share in their unique, magical experiences and insights as they reconnect with Pachamama, or Mother Earth, and their authentic selves.
Author Katherine Sherbrooke, answers my questions about FILL THE SKY:
What message you would like readers to take away from Fill the Sky?
Each of my three main characters in the book grapples with a complex question in her life that has arisen because of the choices she has made in the past and some level of confusion about the path she has before her. As someone approaching fifty myself, I think we too often live under the misconception that we should have everything figured out by this time in our lives. But actually I think our middle years is a poignant time to stop and ask ourselves very basic questions about the labels we have been wearing (wife, mother, business person, lover) and who we want to be in the next act. I hope women who read the book will find a bit of themselves in one or more of these characters and perhaps be a little more gentle with themselves for not having charted the perfect course, and for not having all the answers going forward. In the end, self-discovery is a wonderfully hopeful exercise. We need not be stuck in old patterns that don’t serve us well. I truly believe we all have the internal wisdom, even though it is sometimes buried very deeply, to heal old wounds and find the joy in what comes next.
What spoke to on your travels to Ecuador there that you needed to share in this novel?
I was in transition in my life at the time. Having recently left the company I had co-founded, I was struggling with whether or not I should continue down an entrepreneurial path or devote more time to writing.I was simultaneously struggling with the process of losing my mother to Alzheimer’s. The opportunity to spend a week way outside of my daily routine, including working with shamans, which was something I knew nothing about in advance, weirdly just felt like something I needed to do. What I didn’t expect was the constant presence of and reverence for Pachamama, or mother earth, that informs the work of the shamans and the culture of the people we visited. I gained an almost immediate appreciation for her very powerful and feminine gifts. It was like the opening of a lens I had never looked through before, and changed my orientation to the world around me. I wanted to share that sensation by writing a story told through the eyes of three (very different) American women who are forced to get off the treadmill of their various lives for a week and listen to nature, and by association, to themselves, to better understand the most important issues of their lives. It was a powerful experience for me, and one that I hoped would translate well into a dramatic situation for my characters.
What inspired you to move from the memoir genre of your first book to a fiction genre?
My first and longest held dream, since I was a child, has always been to write fiction. But I started with a family memoir because my parents happened to have a wonderful, turbulent love story that had long intrigued me. I was gifted a cast of characters and a great plot in that story and wanted to capture all the detail and nuance of it while I still had my father, who has an impeccable memory, as a source. That experience reignited my long-held passion for writing, and so I knew the time was write to finally tackle a work of long-form fiction.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given as a writer?
To write every day, if even for thirty or sixty minutes to keep the subconscious thread of a story intact. In attempting to approach my writing like a job, I had mistakenly been taking weekends off. It made the work much harder than it needed to be. As soon as I started writing seven days a week, the writing was easier and the result was much better.
Can you tell us more about the work of GrubStreet, the literary arts organization you work with?
GrubStreet is a creative writing organization in Boston that welcomes writers at all levels, offering classes for beginners up through master classes for experienced and published authors. It joins the rigor of craft with a wonderful community of writers who are incredibly supportive of each other’s work. In making the transition from business to writing, GrubStreet quickly became my life line. Any kind of art can feel solitary and terrifying at times. GrubStreet gave me the tools I needed to improve my craft and the confidence to even consider sharing it with the world.
Many thanks to Katherine Sherbrooke for her beautiful storytelling and insights into her writing process. Fill the Sky is available now on Amazon and is a perfect read for the New Year and an inspiration for new ways of thinking. For more information, please see http://www.kasherbrooke.com.
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet