Friday, September 23, 2011




Have you always lived in North Carolina?

My husband and I moved to Wilmington, NC in 1994. We were living in Tell City, Indiana and literally took a dart and threw it at the map. It landed on the coast so we packed up and moved down South.

Spirit Seeker is different from a lot of YA books today, what steered you in the direction of Native American folklore for this novel?

After a personal experience, I began to do research on Native American spirituality. I have always been interested in Native American philosophy namely because I am a Cherokee Indian. I was given up for adoption as a baby, and I never got a chance to meet my biological parents. Nevertheless, I have felt their spirit my entire life. A few years ago, I started research on Natives purely for a personal quest, not ever initially intending to do anything with it other than to learn all I could about Native Americans. During this time, I was in the library with my three daughters when I asked my oldest to check out a book to read. She said there was nothing that interested her, so I told her I would write a book. When she asked me what it was going to be about, I stared at all the texts in front of me and replied, “The Indians.” The folklore naturally came as a result from the telling of a Native American story.

Where did the name Talisa Santiago come from?

The Native American name Talisa means Beautiful Water. Talisa, the heroine in Spirit Seeker was named Talisa by her grandfather, a shaman. When Talisa was born in the desert in Mexico, her grandpa called her a water singer. Throughout the course of the book, Talisa learns exactly what that means. As for her last name, Santiago is Spanish for Saint James. In my life, the father that adopted me was named James. He was my greatest inspiration growing up. He died when I was in college and never got a chance to meet my children. However, when I started writing this novel I definitely wanted him to be a part of it with me. So, I named the protagonist Santiago for my dad.

How old were you when you first started writing?

When I was a young girl, I wrote little short stories and poetry. I was on the newspaper in junior high and high school and actually wanted to study journalism. However, once I went to college I enrolled in some amazing philosophy classes and switched my major from journalism to philosophy. My writings in college were mostly non-fiction. However, it was always my dream to write a novel.

Is there any other genre that you have thought about writing for?

Definitely literary fiction for young adults as well as for adults.

What's next on your list besides the sequel to "Spirit Seeker"?

I just started a new young adult murder mystery entitled Pandemonium. I’ve already told my agent about it so I’m very excited.

Who are your cheerleaders in life, the ones that stand behind you and cheer you on?

My three daughters. They are my greatest supporters and always remind me to see the spirit in everything.

What are some of your favorite authors today?

As for young adults, I would have to say V.C. Andrews, J.R.R. Tolkien, Louisa May Alcott, and even Paulo Coelho. I also love Stephen King, Mario Puzo, Wally Lamb, and Sydney Sheldon.

Who are some of the authors in the past that have inspired you?

Definitely, my greatest inspirations have been those in philosophy such as Plato, Saint Augustine, Aristotle, Descartes, and even the existentialists Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. (I’m Roman Catholic so I get a lot of slack for the latter.) I also love Poe, Longfellow, Rumi, Omar Khayyam, and even my all time favorite Dante. I’ve read The Divine Comedy at least ten times. As for fiction, I’d have to say I grew up with Sydney Sheldon, Ian Fleming, and Eric Segal. Every summer I read Segal’s Acts of Faith.

Do you have any advice you'd like to share with other aspiring authors?

It would be the same advice I give my daughters and that is to read. Always read and don’t ever give up on your dreams.

To learn more about Jamie Haden and her works visit her site at:

Read more: