An Interview with Sanna Hines at Sci-Fi Roundtable


by Ducky Smith, July 11, 2016


Hi Sanna,

Before we start your interview, I want to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed Shining Ones: Legacy of the Sidhe. I know a little of the mythology and it was fun to follow how you incorporated it into your modern story.

In another interview, you said you write Young Adult novels. I did not get the sense that Shining Ones was for that age group specifically. What makes you, the author, classify it as Young Adult?

 Interview photosm                                                                                                                     

Sanna: I think YA involves discovery—particularly self-discovery—and the fact that life decisions are yet to be made. Tessa begins her journey steeped in the beliefs she learned as a child. After new experiences, she questions those Rules, begins to think for herself. It’s a mental Coming of Age.

All my books (two more out soon, I hope) take place during a short period of time: a pivotal moment. I think this fits with Young Adult, too. You won’t see me writing whole lifespans or multi-generational sagas; I’m too impatient! 

Now, I do defy convention by mixing adults, younger adults and teens. Most YA stories eliminate anyone who might be considered an authority figure, but I think there’s a place for adults, particularly when travel is involved. In the U.K., for instance, no one under age eighteen can drive. A character list made up entirely of teens would have a lot of train travel and hiking to do. There would be issues, too, about lodging, money, even being under-aged kids on their own. Adults have their uses. 

Ducky: Your location detail was very good. Have you traveled to all the places you mentioned in Shining Ones? If yes, what was your favorite place to visit?

Sanna: I visited Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland, but not all the areas in the story. To write the book, I researched every step of the journey from posted pictures and travelers’ accounts. Lots of map work involved, too. I have been to ancient places in other parts of Europe, so the sense of awe they inspire is part of my personal experience.

Ducky: I was shocked to learn you are from the Midwest, USA. Your knowledge of the ancient places of Ireland, Wales and Britain made me believe you were from there. What sparked your interest in the Tuatha Dé Danann and the legends of the Sidhe?

Sanna: As a graduate student, I studied the nineteenth-century art movement called the Celtic Revival. Artists in Ireland and the U.K. drew their inspiration from Irish legends. I loved reading those stories, thinking they were pure fiction. As I wrote the book, I began to see them as history, embellished perhaps over the 700+ generations they were told and retold before being set down in writing. Clearly, the stories were more than fireside entertainment. They formed the basis of the Irish culture and have impact even today.

Ducky: Shining Ones deals with traditions, legacies, family, and enmities. What do you hope your reader takes to heart about your book?

Sanna: Experience creates understanding. Before going to Ireland, Tessa sees the world in black and white: Dananns=good, Formorians=bad, mortals=danger. She realizes that mortals like Maggie are essential to her people’s future, that Formorians aren’t crazed psychos but people with a different ethical code, that Dananns may have their dark side, too. Most bigotry derives from lack of personal experience—too narrow a worldview.

Ducky: Share with us what you like to read. What authors have written books that just capture your imagination?

Sanna: I discovered a contemporary fantasy called Half Magic when I was a child. Loved, loved, loved the concept of magic in the ordinary world. When I exhausted my library’s supply of what I call magic realism (there are a lot of definitions), I went on to mythology, SFF, paranormals and mystery. Most recently, I’ve been reading other writers who touch on Irish myth: Shannon Barnsley, A.M.H. Johnson, Pat McDermott, and Christy Nicholas. In the mystery genre, I’ve enjoyed Elizabeth Horton-Newton, Brian O’Hare and Georgann Prochaska.

Ducky: Tell us about your processes. Do you have rituals? How about specific steps? How do you go about writing your books?

Sanna: My background in business communications taught me how to produce materials on demand. (“You want your paycheck? Write!”) Never met a Muse, but I’ve met many deadlines. When I start a new project, I outline the basics of what each chapter should achieve. Of course, the story takes on more dimension as it fills in, sometimes going in an unexpected direction, but always working toward the ending. To stay in the spirit of the story, I listen to music—one album played over and over. This works even after a lot of time has passed. Just play the music, and I’m back in those characters, that world again.

Ducky: Shining Ones is a mixture of practical and fanciful. The characters are going through some insanely wild adventures, yet they solve them and stay safe through the basic skills that any “non-magical” person might have, such as martial arts. How did you reconcile the mundane with the magical in your story?

Sanna: Dananns have Talents, not magic. Each person has one inborn ability. Tessa can change shape, but she can’t turn invisible or heal or see the future. In this way, Dananns are like everyone else. Sports stars, for instance, don’t wake up each morning dazed and thrilled by their own abilities. They’re used to being who they are; they take their skills in stride. I love writing about the ordinariness of extraordinary lives.

Ducky: Thank you for your time, Sanna, and I hope to see many more of your novels out there soon.

Sanna: Thank you, Ducky.


Sci-Fi Roundtable is a Facebook group and website for Sci Fi and Fantasy writers to discuss writing.  Hosts Eric Michael Craig and Ducky Smith encourage participation of writers in other closely related genres (such as splatterpunk, steampunk, spec-fiction, etc.). They also welcome readers “who want to hang with authors and perhaps put in their two coppers on discussion topics about writing (or reading … reviewing is a great way for readers to contribute too!” Follow on Twitter at




Shining Ones: Legacy of the Sidhe video

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“There’s plenty of action, mystery, and romance in this book to satisfy any reader. Integrating the modern world with the magical world of ancient Ireland is a task Hines handles with skill. A well written if somewhat complex fantasy, it is a solid tale that I am pleased to recommend.”



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Book Review Shining Ones: Legend of the Sidhe


Elizabeth Horton-Newton for Book Review Room

I was immediately attracted to Shining Ones: Legend of the Sidhe because it is a fantasy that centers around Irish legends and myths. From the first pages where the author, Sanna Hines, provides maps of Ireland and a pronunciation guide for character names I knew I was in for a challenge.

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Beginning in Keshcorran, Ireland with the introduction of Bres the Beautiful and Cliodhna of the Fair Hair the flavor of the story is set. This is ancient Ireland, the Ireland of myths and faeries, of “wee folk” and little people. But the legendary folk are neither small nor are they fairy like in appearance. There are no silvery transparent wings on these magical characters. In fact, they aren’t fluttering around; the couple drives to a cave where Cliodhna begins to sing. Yes, they drive, in a car. Here is where Hines weaves magical and practical together in a tidy package. This is the catalyst that sets the tale in motion. There can be no question the story will draw the reader into a mythical world where past meets present and adventure ensues. Even the quick transition to New Hampshire and the introduction of one of the primary female protagonists, Tessa Holly, is not jarring but neatly handled. Hines lets the reader know this book is about an Irish clan of beings who have lived for hundreds of years and are able to travel distances in the human world as well as to an “Otherworld”.

Tessa immediately fascinated me because her human persona is a police woman in Salem, New Hampshire. Although in reality she is a small woman, she is also a shapeshifter and able to change her appearance as needed. Mind you, I’m not talking about a shapeshifter like a werewolf suddenly appearing lupine and scurrying about on all fours hunting for humans to chew on. Tessa can make herself look like anyone. She can change her appearance so she is taller, broader, and almost anything required to perform the needed activity. Drawn into the sudden disappearance of her nephew Cory’s girlfriend Lia, Tessa drives furiously across the state. Lia entered a cave in New Hampshire when she heard mysterious singing. It’s obvious Lia has been lured away by the singing of Cliodhna far across the ocean.

It’s here that the author introduces Sam McHugh a/k/a Aidan Orbsen, the father of the missing Lia. While at first Tessa is annoyed by this attractive man there is the suggestion this could change over time. Although Tessa considers him a “conceited ass” she refers to his face as “perfect”. More interesting is the fact that Tessa recognizes Sam as a rich man’s son who had been accused of murdering his wife. This causes Tessa to wonder about Lia’s sudden disappearance and whether the man might have had a hand in it. It isn’t long before Tessa realizes there is much more going on here than is apparent at first glance. Ordinary humans should not be able to travel through these hidden portals. Be that as it may, Tessa learns her nephew has also disappeared and she dashes into the cave where she also disappears, leaving a puzzled Sam behind.

Once again Hines joins modern technology with magical transportation. Cory has taken Sam McHugh’s satellite phone and it conveniently has GPS. When he contacts McHugh both are shocked to find Cory has followed Lia to Ireland. Soon the boy is joined by his Aunt Tessa and together they leave the cave and follow the glow of a flashlight until they encounter a scarred woman who identifies herself as Brigid. She doesn’t seem very surprised to find these strangers wandering the hills at night. Soon it will become evident that she is more than a middle aged woman wandering in the dark.

Thus begins the adventure that will draw a hefty group of characters into a fantasy adventure that spans worlds and generations. Hines has created a fascinating landscape but it is sometimes difficult to keep track of the characters. Some have more than one name or identity. Coupled with the unusual names and pronunciations this often slowed down my reading. In spite of this the author is able to connect the diverse groups of people using time and magic to show their relationships. Other than the sometimes confusing name changes the story flowed well, taking the characters through the challenges of locating a variety of magical items that would assist in recovering the kidnapped Lia.

While her father and boyfriend search for Lia, accompanied by Tessa and members of her family, the girl is held captive on a yacht off the coast of Ireland. Surprises await her as she learns she has a special power and is not just the girl next door. The cast of characters on the yacht are Formorians, enemies of the Clan of Danu (Tuatha dè Danaan), and they need Lia to complete a ritual that will change their lives.

The conclusion of the book did leave me feeling vaguely lost and I wonder if there is a sequel in the future. Although the conflict between the Danu and the Formorians seems to be resolved there is a hint of more to come. I would love to find out what happens to Lia and Cory, Tessa and Sam, and the other characters who have survived.

There’s plenty of action, mystery, and romance in this book to satisfy any reader. Integrating the modern world with the magical world of ancient Ireland is a task Hines handles with skill. A well written if somewhat complex fantasy, it is a solid tale that I am pleased to recommend.

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Book Blurb

Cop-shapeshifter Tessa Holly won’t ever grow old. Descended from Ireland’s fairy race, the Tuatha dé Danann (Clan of Danu), she’ll enjoy long life and spectacular abilities. This legacy comes with a price: Her life will never be her own. Tessa’s Clan will choose her friends, career and husband. But when her brother and a human girl fall prey to enemy Formorians bent on stealing Danann longevity, the Clan goes silent. To rescue the captives, Tessa must rely on a man no one trusts as her guide through cairns, castles and cathedrals in search of her people’s greatest treasures. Along the way, she discovers a power greater than any she’s known. If she uses it during the final, crucial battle with Formorians, will she save—or destroy—her people?


Author Bio

Sanna Hines is fascinated with the question, “What IF?” What if I were in danger? Would I face it with bravery and resourcefulness–or give in to fear? What if I could live forever, but my loved ones could not? What if I had wings? Or lived in a town where creatures outnumbered humans? What lies waiting to be discovered behind the veil of ordinary existence?

Journalism, art history and business studies led Sanna to a career in marketing communications. In 2004, she turned to fiction. Her first two books were published in 2015. But, as Amazon pages say, there’s “more on the way.”


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