The opening to both of my Native American Historical romance novels, THROUGH THE FIRE and RED BIRD’S SONG were inspired by dreams, as were some of the subsequent scenes in them. I also encountered several of the key secondary characters in that mystical realm. Behind these stories lies an immense wealth of research. Boggles the mind how much work went into them (into all my stories, really). I have shelves of books and piles of manuscripts given to me by historians, old journals, etc, heaped here and there in my house. Now, of course, there are all the online sources too, but back in the day, there weren’t. And I began this research fifteen plus years ago.
Apart from all of these non-fiction sources, I’ve read very little NA based fiction. And I’d already written Red Bird’s Song before I got around to seeing the superb 1992 film, The Last of the Mohicans. Granted I loved the movie, but never set out to reproduce it in any of my novels, only to say that they have that sort of flavor.
My admiration for Native American peopleand their culture is a long-standing one, as is my profound regret at the horrific treatment they suffered at the hands of Western man. In my stories, I aim to depict both points of view with varying the shades of grey. No one group is ever all bad or good–people are people the world over.
I tire of some readers telling me my hero, if he’s a warrior, wouldn’t do this or that. First, he doesn’t have to fit a Native American cookie cutter mold. He’s an individual. And yes, I consulted historians, anthropologists, archeologists, reenactors and even some of the Shawnee themselves before and during the writing of these stories, so I had a good idea what comprised traditional behavior for that era, and there’s no one size fits all for warriors. It just all depended.
Bear in mind that Eastern Woodland warriors intermingled heavily with the whites, or could have, through trade, acting as guides…not to mention the inevitable warfare and captive situations that threw the two groups together. Many warriors spoke at least some English and possessed an awareness of Western ways. Again, to various degrees. Some were educated. The eloquence of their words are with us still, at least in those instances where they’ve been preserved.
Back to the interaction, remember, the first settlers to the New World arrived in the late 1500′s (think Roanoke Island and The Lost Colony), and Jamestown was established in the early 1600′s. So, Eastern Woodland Tribes had a lot of experience with Europeans by the time period my stories take place. Unlike western and Plains tribes, some of whom hadn’t even seen whites until the mid 1800′s. Makes an enormous difference.
I’m at work on the sequel to Through the Fire, a story that also builds on the history of Red Bird’s Song and follows closely on its heels time wise.
At long last, today is the first of March. After spending much of January and most all of February sick with one thing or another, I tottered forth into the sunshine and managed to accomplish a few much-needed errands. Now I’m whacked and feeling it’s time for a nap. That’s what seemingly endless virus’s will do to a body. Considering I’m not the only sufferer in the Shenandoah Valleyor the country, I think most everyone except the die-hard skiing fanatics would agree that what we all need is SPRING! A tonic to mind, body, and spirit.
To that end, I point out the snow crocus and snowdrops blooming here and there in sheltered spots of my yard and garden. Welcome green shoots of crocus, daffodils, tulips…are pushing up through the earth most everywhere, and tomorrow the weather is to be sunny and 60 degrees. The pussy willow is bursting forth with catkins, and fussy barnyard geese are laying eggs. I conclude it’s early spring and much prefer that term to ‘late winter.’ Far more mood brightening.
In keeping with the season, I’m sorting through boxes stuffed with envelopes of seeds leftover from the past year or two and ordering more (we count our wealth in seeds) as well as potatoes, strawberries, culinary herbs and all things garden. Which as far as I’m concerned equals all things good as any true gardener will agree. I also save seed, am a big fan of heirloom seeds, and have been known to share so I’m not simply hording my treasure trove.
An excellent place to be for those in want of plants is out in the garden with me on a fine spring day while I divide perennials and thin overly generous larkspur, love in a mist, and poppy seedlings…I’ll soon tire, allowing them to take over certain spots of the garden, but in the beginning I’m imbued with the determination that this year all will be in order. I soon concede to a more wildflower look and justify many of the weeds as ‘kind of pretty.’ We definitely have a wildlife habitat here, another justification for the unkempt tangle that encroaches as the season unfolds. But now, all is fresh, new, and filled with promise.