Sparked by Words


I had the pleasure of interviewing Jacqui Murray to talk about her newest book, Survival of the Fittest. It’s Book 1 in her Crossroads series, part of the Man versus Nature saga.

It’s fascinating to learn how a writer approaches the development of characters and plot. I’m also interested in what inspires a person to write as it reveals what perspective motivates their narrative of the world. She was gracious about answering my questions. You’re going to find Jacqui’s responses intriguing.


Me: I’ve always been captivated by wondering about early man and how this small, physically inferior creature became so highly adaptable and successful. Why did you write a book in such a tiny genre niche?


Jacqui: Survival of the Fittest is written in the sub-genre of historic fiction called prehistoric fiction, a time before recorded history. There aren’t a lot of readers in this genre but they are devoted! Because the only records are rocks, world building has proven difficult but Xhosa (the heroine) really didn’t give me a choice. She nagged me to tell her story from my first page twenty years ago to my final draft.


Me: I love that – a character who tells you to write down her story. So of course, you obeyed.

Me: I’ve believed in God since I was a very small child and had no sense of the history of my faith. The more I studied and learned, the more my ideas about God matured, but my devotion has never wavered. So I’m totally excited about Survival of the Fittest as I believe it hints at a spiritual side to man. Is that accurate? I’d love to know how you discovered this nascent aspect of spiritual belief.


Jacqui: Scientists have no idea when man’s spirituality started. Because 850,000 years ago (when Xhosa lived) is considered prehistory—before any sort of recorded history was possible —there’s no way to tell. Survival of the Fittest offers one speculative theory of how that could have happened.


Me: I guess we will never know for certain, but you’re a deep thinker and your ideas are as likely to be close to the truth as any. I’m intrigued by your historical possibilities.

Most scientists believe Homo erectus couldn’t talk. How did Xhosa and her People communicate?


Jacqui: These early humans were highly intelligent for their day and possessed rich communication skills but rarely verbal. Most paleoanthropologists believe that the ‘speaking’ part of their brain wasn’t evolved enough for speech but there’s another reason: Talking is noisy as well as unnatural in nature which attracts attention. For these early humans, who were far from the alpha in the food chain, being noticed wasn’t good.


Instead, they communicated with gestures, facial expressions, movements, and all the body language we-all still use but rarely recognize. They talked to each other about everything necessary, just nonverbally.

Me: You present so many facets about why the development of speech was delayed while other human skills became sophisticated. What you suggest makes total sense, especially the need for silence and stealth in a predatory world.


In her own words, here’s a teaser about Jacqui’s book: Five tribes. One leader. A treacherous journey across three continents in search of a new home.


Me: Wow! A powerful bunch of numerical markers highlighting an exciting story.


Plot details to enchant you about Survival of the Fittest: Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind a certain life in her African homeland to search for an unknown future. She leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands but on an escape path laid out years before by her father as a final desperate means to survival. She is joined by other homeless tribes–from Indonesia, China, South Africa, East Africa, and the Levant—all similarly forced by timeless events to find new lives. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that this enemy doesn’t want her People’s land. He wants to destroy her.

Me: I’m wildly cheering on Xhosa. I want her to overcome these perilous obstacles. I can’t wait to find out if she’s successful, and if so, how she achieves finding a safe homeland. This is the kind of story that keeps me up at night because I can’t bear to put it down. Xhosa begged Jacqui to writer her story. Jacqui wrote a book that demands to be read.


Book information, In a nutshell: 

Title and author: Survival of the Fittest

Series: Book 1 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Cover by: Damonza 

Available at: Kindle US Kindle UK Kindle CA Kindle AU


It has been my pleasure to host Jacqui Murray and to discuss her newest novel. I wish her all success with this new book.


All images courtesy of Jacqui Murray





Comments on: "Jacqui Murray’s new book, Survival of the Fittest" (66)

  1. Thanks so much for hosting me, Shari. You’ve been with me for much of this series with great advice every time I got stuck (remember Nature-as-a-character?). I look forward to chatting with your community.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you for this wonderful interview Shari! I love everything Jacqui Murray writes and I can’t wait to read this novel. She can truly transport you into another world.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Sharon and Jacqui, I really enjoyed this easy flowing interview. You both sound relaxed and
    comfortable together.
    The interview is very interesting as it deals with many aspects where we can’t help but
    wonder and imagine.

    Cheers to you both

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sharon, you’re a gifted interviewer – great questions and fascinating answers from Jacqui! It is such an unusual genre and story that I’ve wondered too why Jacqui would choose to write in this era. How touching to know that Xhosa would not leave her alone … nagging for the story to be written. And what a story it seems to be – I’m also cheering Xhosa on!

    I’ve also wondered about the speech, and Jacqui’s answer is both articulate and intelligent.

    Excellent and enlightening post, Shari! I’m even more eager than before to read Survival of the Fittest!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Xhosa and her predecessor Lucy really would not let it go. I tried, knowing few are interested in this niche genre, but they prevailed. Of course they did!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, Jacqui, I think you’re converting a lot of us towards this niche market – which is fantastic!😀 At this rate it will start edging towards mainstream!


    • Thank you for this compliment, Annika. When I’m interested in the premise of a book, I also want to know about the inspiration and research undertaken by the writer to produce it. Jacqui was so kind to answer my questions. I really think you’re going to love the story.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Jenna Barwin said:

    Great interview. Congrats on the new book, Jacqui! I’ve tweeted to my followers.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Jacqui – I know what it is like to have characters running around in your head making demands. I believe in this day and age books with strong female leaders like Xhosa are sorely needed. Best of luck on all of your writing endeavors.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Deb Adams said:

    Wow, sounds like a unique and fascinating read!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Jacqui – you must change the covers on all your books and photo-shop your portrait on top of the characters bodies (at least the ones that are human). You are so much better looking than they are.
    xxxx judy

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Oh! This is such a lovely interview, Shari and Jacqui!! Being one of those few devoted fans for prehistoric fiction I’m always excited when a new novel comes out, especially since most books don’t touch human history this early. This way I get to do two things I really love – reading and learning at the same time. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Jeanne Herman said:

    I love that Jacqui made the hero of this story a woman.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. This reminds me I still need to finish Born in a Treacherous Time!! I love pre-historic fiction, congrats Jacqui on your latest book! Off to check it out—thanks Shari!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. C.W. Spooner said:

    Jacqui, congratulations on yet another awesome achievement. I got a sneak preview at Write On!, and now I’m looking forward to reading the final product. You are SO prolific it is amazing. Once again, Mazel Tov.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Nanette Heiser said:

    Wow, this sounds like an exciting book! Thanks for sharing, Shari, and for asking insightful questions. Jacqui must have quite the imagination to come up with a novel set in a world that we know so little about. However, it’s probably the fact that she was able to mesh the few facts we DO know with the skills of world building to create a believable and thrilling amalgamation of the two that I find so very fascinating. I look forward to reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s wonderful to see Jacqui here. I really enjoyed this book! Thanks for the terrific interview, Sharon. It’s nice to meet you.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Shari, I love every word of your blog and am happy to find you again.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I really enjoyed Jacqui’s Born in a Treacherous Time, and I have Survival of the Fittest in my kindle. I can’t wait to dive in. A fascinating interview which reinforces my awe of how much research goes into these books. Thanks, Sharon and Jacqui!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Diana, with your comment about the amount of research that went into this book. You might think that a writer could just make it all up because there aren’t any historical records. But I know that Jacqui undertook an education in prehistoric man and the life of the earth to lend an authentic hand to her story. It’s one of the qualities that I find so compelling about her books. Also, that I love reading stories about this era.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Diana. To me, it’s akin to developing a believable fantasy world, which you understand. There’s so little known about that long ago era.


  17. hilarymb said:

    Hi Sharon and Jacqui – this was a delightful commentary – and fun to find out more about Jacqui’s thoughts … great idea to give us post about Jacqui’s approach to the aspects of this series. Thanks … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  18. sara nuss-galles said:

    Shari – enjoying your blog. also want to tell jacqui that her book sounds fascinating – i love the imagination it takes to create a world we barely know from traces.

    Liked by 1 person

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