Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Inspiration and History Behind Native American Historical Romance Novel Red Bird's Song


Two years ago in September Red Bird’s Songwas released. As a tribute to my favorite novel, I am revisiting the first book I ever wrote, and rewrote, and learned how to write in the process of all those endless revisions. It’s also the story I’ve cared most deeply about and connected with on various levels. Part of me is still seated around the circle at the fire with my Native American brothers and sisters.

“This is a beautifully written story filled with adventure and suspense…This book touched my soul even as it provided a thrilling fictional escape into a period of history I have always found fascinating. “
--Night Owl Book Review by Laurie-J

The initial encounter between Charity and Wicomechee at the beginning of the story was inspired by a dream I had on New Year’s Eve–a highly propitious time for dreams–about a young warrior taking an equally young woman captive at a river and the unexpected attraction between them. That dream had such a profound impact on me that I took the leap from writing non-fiction essays to historical novels and embarked on the most amazing journey of my life. That was years ago and the saga continues.
I also met the prophetic warrior, Eyes of the Wolf, in another dream at the advent of this adventure, so when I describe him in the book I’m envisioning a character I know. He became a spirit guide and spoke to me throughout the writing of this book, and several others. He is there still, though not as vocal as earlier in my life. Perhaps my journey with him is complete. Perhaps not… I am working on the sequels to historical romance novel Enemy of the King and Scottish time travel romance novelSomewhere My Lass, but after that, I hear the faint call of Indian drums in the distance. Meanwhile, stay tuned for the release of the sequel to Through the Fire, and the third in my colonial Frontier trilogy, historical romance novel Kira, Daughter of the Moon, out Nov. 2nd. And, my colonial American historical Christmas romance novella, A Warrior for Christmas, is out in early Dec. So lots happening.
Back to Red Bird’s Song. The setting for much of the story is the same as my other strongly Native American novel, Through the Fire, the spectacularAlleghenies. Much of the history depicted in the story was inspired by accounts I came across while researching my early American English/Scots-Irish roots and the Border Wars. The French and Indian War is the most well-known, but there were others. Pontiac’s War followed on its heels, and is the war taking place inRed Bird’s SongDunmore’s War came after that one and so on it goes. Life in the frontier was unsettled even after The American Revolution had ended and warfare a reality. The boundaries of the frontier just keep shifting farther west.

The ruggedly beautiful Alleghenies are also the setting for my historical-paranormal romance novel, The Bearwalker’s Daughter and my short historical romance, The Lady and the Warrior. I see the ridges of these mountains from our farm in theShenandoah Valley. The foothills are only a hop, skip and a jump away from us. The ever-changing panorama of the seasons never fails to inspire and console me–the mountains are constant. 
 (*Images of the Alleghenies taken by my mother, Pat Churchman)

In the early mid 18th century, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and surrounding mountains was the colonial frontier and only hardy souls dared to settle here. The bulk of these were the tough Scots-Irish.  If the Indians had only had to fight regular British troops they might ultimately have won because they scared the crap out of men trained for conventional warfare, but the long knives were another matter.  They weren’t easily intimidated and soon learned from their cunning enemy.

Although Hawk Eye in The Last of the Mohicans is an adopted Mohican, his lifestyle and behavior is that of a colonial frontiersman.  The more rugged of these men dressed as he did, much in the Indian way.  They hunted and fought with muskets, tomahawks, and their famous knives.  Indians acquired these knives as well. They blended traditional weapons and ways of living with newfound tools and weapons of Western man.  A highly adaptable people.
The attack at the opening of Red Bird’s Song in the Shenandoah Valley is based on one that occurred to my ancestors and is recorded by Historian Joseph A. Waddell in The Annals of Augusta CountyA renegade Englishman by the last name of Dickson led the war party that attacked them.  Initially I’d intended to make the Colin Dickson in Red Bird’s Song a villain but as soon as he galloped onto the scene I knew differently.
Wicomechee, the hero in Red Bird’s Song, is based on the Shawnee warrior by that name who lived early in the nineteenth century and to whom I have ties. The Moffett’s, an early Valley family I’m related to, include a reference to him in their genealogy. Wicomechee’s father, John Moffett, was captured in Kentucky by the Shawnee at the age of eight and adopted into the tribe. It’s said he was a boyhood companion to the great war Chief Tecumseh, a chief for whom I have enormous admiration. The accounts of John Moffett and Wicomechee are recorded by Waddell. It’s also noted that during the Black Hawk Wars Wicomechee recovered the captive daughters of a Dr. Hull and brought them safely into camp, which reminds me of Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans. I’ve included more on this amazing warrior at the end of the novel as a bonus for those who read it.
“With “Red Bird’s Song”, Beth Trissel has painted an unforgettable portrait of a daring and defiant love brought to life in the wild and vivid era of Colonial America. Highly recommended for lovers of American history and romance lovers alike!” Amazon Reviewer Virginia Campbell
Red Bird’s Song is available in print and eBook at the Wild Rose Press,AmazonBarnes&Noble and other online booksellers.

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