Yes! The Seekers is up!

After a long haul of re-reading and tweaking, playing with different covers and titles, I'm am so happy the first Mythmaker western is finally available on Kindle and Kobo.  (I have yet to figure out B&N.)  The Mythmaker series centers around Beth McFarland, army daughter and sister to Noble McFarland, army scout, and their lifelong friend, Johnny Two Hats, also a scout.  When Beth is captured by the Kiowa on her way back from school in the East, Noble and Johnny race to find her before she's killed.  Little do they know how resourceful she is.

As the Kiowa and Comanche, Johnny's mother's tribe, raid that summer for cattle and coups, Beth finds strength in forgiveness.  As she prays for the recovery of a small Kiowa boy, her only friend, she is healed of her anger at her captors and finds she is now an accepted healer, a woman of note. 

Johnny rejoins his tribe to try to track down Beth, and in so doing, discovers he is more Comanche than white.  Noble, heading another direction to rescue his sister, is struck by tragedy and pain, but also an unexpected love.  Their search for Beth leads both men in paths in their own lives they had never imagined possible.

As the tribes gather for the Medicine Lodge Treaty, Beth, Johnny, and Noble reunite one final time. Their lives will never be the same.

Westerns and Me, Part Trois

         In my last post, I forgot to mention a super book called People of the White Mountain.   I have no idea if it's still in print - I found it a long time ago at the Smithsonian book shop - but it's a first hand look at Native Americans and what happened to them. 

        There's nothing like seeing where history happened. We drove to Ft.Sill, Oklahoma, (the hottest wind on the planet) to see Geronimo’s grave, and the reservation there, where we ate fry bread. The Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina was a sad picture of casinos. In San Angelo, Texas, we visited Ft. Concho, where the Buffalo Soldiers under General Grierson fought the Kiowa and Comanche. It's privately owned now, but you can feel how hard life must have been. We tracked down other forts across Texas, some of them nothing but piles of stone in the middle of some field with a weathered Texas State marker. In a way, these sites are the lost Roman ruins of the United States. For someone who grew up riding old Roman roads across the Middle East, this was quite a revelation.

         After all my research, I came to the conclusion that since history is written by the winners, I’d write from the viewpoint of the losers. There's a line in Last of the Dogmen where Barbara Hershey's character says (paraphrasing here), “it was inevitable that the Native Americans would lose their land. It’s how it was taken from them that’s horrible.” I wanted to show the horror of being a displaced people, starving, on the run, and finally being forced into giving up what and who they were as a free people.  If you want a chilling first-hand view, read the history of this time from original orders and letters by William T. Sherman, to what the Kiowa chiefs said at peace conferences.

            So what about American films in the Western genre?  Their heyday is over, but some can be found hanging around on cable on on DVD.  American films I consider the best in portraying the West of myth and anti-myth: The Searchers and Thunderheart.  The Searchers portrays John Wayne as unheroic for the first time I can ever remember.  He’s determined to find the little girl taken by the Comanche, so he can kill her because she’s “turned” Comanche. (The Cynthia Ann/Quannah Parker story film-ized.)  The brutality of the Comanche (and they were vicious in war) is shown, as is the stark landscape of the settlers.  The treatment of women by their families after they were captured is shown in a film with breathtaking beauty and honesty.  Another duck-out-of -water story for the captive Natalie Wood, but also a story of survival and understanding.  The camera shot from inside the shed where John Wayne’s (married to another man) only love has been raped and killed is stunning. Classic loner western hero who is really a dinosaur in his own time.

            Thunderheart never fails to hold up.  A modern western, at its heart it’s a murder mystery.  However, the surrounding portrayal of the hopelessness of modern reservation life, its alcoholism, its struggle to retain its tribal identity , and the violence that was perpetrated by the federal government in the name of sovereignty is dead on when you look at the real-life situation on the Oglala reservation, the AIM standoff, and the incarceration of Pelletier for the killing of an FBI agent.  A story of injustice never rectified, it should be seen by anyone who thinks reservations are hotbeds of wealth coming from casinos.


Westerns and Me, Part One

Since I'm working on rewrites in the Mythmaker series to get them up as ebooks, I thought I'd give a bit of background on how I came to write in the Western genre.  Since the majority of my youth was spent overseas, the affinity came mostly from TV and movies. 

I was lucky enough to see The Lone Ranger before we moved to Japan when I was a kid.  No TV, no films for three years.  I remember being fascinated with Tonto, who was a much more interesting character in my eyes.  Probably that’s where my fascination with Indians began. When we returned to the States three years later and went directly to visit my grandparents in Georgia, I remember practically the first thing she said was "You have to see this new program on Sunday night. It’s  Bonanza, about a widower with three sons and a ranch in Nevada.”  It’s the only TV program I remember except for “Wild, Wild West” that I watched with any regularity for the next four years we were in the States.  After moving to Turkey, we were once again TV-less and dependent for films on the Embassy.  (Lots of Ingmar Bergman, French films in French, etc. like the Les Parapluies de Cherbourge.)   Now and then, they’d show a classic western like Ride the High Country or The Searchers.   I consciously chose to watch the westerns I’d missed (like She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Comanchero) and the new ones that were grittier, like Valdez is Coming, Hondo, Johnny Two Hats (with Gregory Peck!), The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, and anything set in the West, when I was in college.

My four years at Ft. Leavenworth, where my dad was an instructor, were the longest I lived in one place. Ft. Leavenworth is loaded with history (we lived in the original house where Gen. George Armstrong Custer and his wife Libby did), from the 1840s onward.  Wagon ruts from the pioneers still ran along the banks of the Missouri River, close to our historic house.  My basic understanding of American history came from those four years in a place that was pretty central to the American Westward expansion.

And then came college in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a paper on the Western as a uniquely American genre. Game on.