Ruth H Chatlien and the Dakota War

Life on the prairie during the Westward Migration in the US was never easy, and I literally cannot imagine what it must have been like for a woman. Fortunately, there is an abundance of good women writers telling tales. That leads us to Ruth Hull Chatlien, and her story Blood Moon: a Captive’s Tale.

Tell us the Ruth Chatlien story….

I have been reading and writing my whole life. In fact, my husband and I met in a writers’ critique group thirty years ago, and we’ve been criticizing each other’s work (constructively and kindly) ever since. My other interests include gardening, knitting, and art. Recently, I’ve also started studying Swedish as a way to explore my heritage. Both of my grandparents were born in Sweden. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll write a historical novel set there.

Well, you can write off your trips to Sweden as research, so that’s a plan. In a nutshell, what’s this story about?

Blood Moon: A Captive’s Tale takes place during the little-known Dakota War of 1862, when some of the Dakota people of southern Minnesota attacked white settlers because of anger over poor treatment and the lateness of the annual payment they were supposed to receive for ceding their land to the U.S. government. It’s one of the deadliest Indians wars in our history, but it’s not taught in schools because it took place at the same time as the Civil War.

My main character is a real woman named Sarah Wakefield, whose husband John was one of two government-appointed physicians on the reservation. When hostilities broke out, John tried to send Sarah and their two pre-school children to the nearest fort for safety, but they were captured on the way and their driver was killed. Fortunately for the Wakefields, one of their two captors was a Dakota acquaintance named Chaska. He took Sarah and her children into his mother’s tepee and vowed to protect her for the duration of the war and to return her to her husband.

What is it about this time period that is so fascinating to you?

Sarah’s character is what intrigued me. She’s a bit of an enigma; there was a whiff of scandal about her even before the war, but she was very secretive about whatever it was in her past that made churches in Minnesota hesitate to accept her. Christian morality motivated her behavior, yet she was never a formal member of a church. I too identify as a person who values faith more than institutional rules, so I could relate to that aspect of her life.

The other thing that intrigued me is that she was quite interested in Dakota culture and had learned a bit of the language before the war. Her strategy for surviving was the exact opposite of the strategy used by most white captives. Sarah decided to try to fit in with her captors’ way of life. And after the war, she testified on behalf of Chaska, her protector. As far as I know, she was the only white captor to testify on behalf of a Dakota warrior, and white society despised her because of it. I chose Sarah because I saw her as a bridge character who could help me show both sides of the conflict.

We all love all our kids equally, so it’s not a fair question (although I’m asking it any way) but what is your favorite scene in the book?

My favorite scenes in the book involve the deepening relationships between Sarah and Chaska and between Sarah and Chaska’s mother, whom she calls Ina (the Dakota word for mother). In one scene late in the novel, two Dakota women rush up to tell Sarah and Ina that the U.S. army is coming to attack their camp. Sarah dismisses the rumor, pointing out rightly that they would see dust clouds on the horizon if an army were marching that way. When the women accuse her of ignoring the danger because she wants to help the soldiers capture Indians, Ina comes to Sarah’s defense, saying, “She has seen the truth. The people run about like rabbits beneath the hunting hawk. We act from fear, not wisdom.”

To keep the peace, Sarah agrees to hide in the woods as the women want. It turns out that she was correct in assuming that no attack was on the way. As everyone heads back to camp, Ina whispers to Sarah, “Rabbits,” and she laughs. I love that scene because it shows how the bonds of human affection can bridge cross-cultural differences.

Where can we learn more about you and your work?

Ruth’s website: https://ruthhullchatlienbooks.com

Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3210752.Ruth_Hull_Chatlien

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071KWSNWL

 Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2qB5GWK

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/blood-moon-a-captive-s-tale

 

 

The Legend of Orrin Porter Rockwell with David J West

As a kid, I remember watching an episode of “Death Valley Days,” (It was a repeat, i’m not that old) where they talked about the legend of Orrin Porter Rockwell. He was-depending on who you ask- either a bad-ass enforcer and assassin for Brigham Young or a lawman with almost mystical powers. Either way, with his long hair, mystical religion and supposed bullet-proof skin, he was pretty much the stuff of legend.

David J. West writes dark fantasy and weird westerns because the voices in his head won’t quiet until someone else can hear them. He is a great fan of sword & sorcery, ghosts and lost ruins, so of course he lives in Utah with his wife and children.

What’s the story about in a nutshell?

Scavengers is an adventure featuring an infamous, gunslinger named Orrin Porter Rockwell who had a near supernatural aura hanging over him. Supposedly he was blessed by the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, that if he never cut his hair, he could not be harmed by either bullet or blade; and for someone who was in the thick of things throughout the old west – that blessing remarkably came true. He was never shot nor stabbed though plenty of people tried on numerous occasions.

Rockwell is on a short list of real-life people I’d love to write novels about. The list starts with Byron de Prorok (from Count of the Sahara) but includes people like Kate Warne, Richard Francis Burton, and Eugene Francois Vidocq. Why did Rockwell fascinate you so darned much?

I was fascinated with this real person and since no one had written any adventures featuring him to my satisfaction I set out to do some of my own. I found him to be the perfect character for the weird west genre, where I can play around a little with spooks and legends and such.

There were a lot of funny scenes, and some good dialogue. What was your favorite scene to write?

A favorite scene? That’s a hard one but perhaps when Porter has his horse leap a wide chasm while pursued by bandits. I did base that on a real place in the San Rafael swell where a cowboy did leap the divide on a bet.

So where can we learn more?

and interact with me on my blog at http://www.kingdavidjwest.com/ or twitter at https://twitter.com/David_JWest

 

 

 

 

 

Shannon’s Land- a Western from D B Woodling

I admit to being conflicted about westerns. One man’s heroism is another man’s racism, sometimes what’s seen as exciting is really borderline pathological and probably criminal behavior. Still, there are few environments more ripe for a good adventure story. And romance too, I suppose, although the lack of running water, overabundance of vermin, and the constant smell of horse sweat probably makes stories like that better on paper than in reality.

Picture

Either way, that brings us to this week’s featured author, DB Woodling. While she writes in a number of genres, her latest book, Shannon’s Land, is about a plucky (but then what heroine worth her salt isn’t plucky?) Irish immigrant alone in Missouri.

Okay, lady. What’s Shannon’s deal?

Abandoned by her abusive husband in Missouri’s wild frontier, Shannon — an Irish emigrant — must learn to fend for herself and quickly. While she’s accustomed to rattlesnakes and the threat of both Indian and coyote attacks, she’s unprepared for Jack Marsh, a psychotic banker with a decade-old grudge.
Hungry, frightened, and concerned for her infant son, Shannon seeks assistance from the townsfolk. Because her father absconded with a great deal of their money some years before, they extend only harsh words and pent-up condemnation. Discovering Jack (a villain so evil his gun belt’s just an accessory) now owns the deed to her land, Shannon is ready to accept defeat . . . until she encounters a mysterious stranger offering friendship and a risky proposition. I’m currently writing the sequel, Shannon’s Revenge.
So historical fiction hasn’t been a thing for you til now. What is it about this story?
After relocating to a rural 1870 farmhouse, well, I wouldn’t say I became possessed — nothing nearly that dramatic — but I did feel an overwhelming urgency to write this desperate and lovely young woman’s story.
I know authors hate answering this one, but it’s my blog darn it. What’s your favorite scene in the book?shannonsland
There are a few; decidedly foremost is when Shannon meets Luke Richards, a tormented range boss running from devastating loss, a misguided frontier philosophy, and the U.S. Army’s retribution. He’s a complicated guy, suddenly confronted by a woman who has long ago grown tired of wild, angry men. The sexual tension is palpable.
Love me some palpable tension.  Where can people learn more about you, Shannon’s Land, and your other books?

Young Adult Western History- Danielle Grandinetti

So I mentioned that there are a lot of Chicago area writers who love historical fiction, but that takes all forms. One of the genres that makes me a bit crazy is “YA” (there’s probably a whole rant here that you don’t care about) but anything that gets kids to read is okay in the great scheme of things. To that end, I’d like to introduce Danielle Grandinetti, author of “The Vanishing Kidnapper.”

The Vanishing Kidnapper by Danielle Grandinetti
The Vanishing Kidnapper by Danielle Grandinetti

Since 2008, Danielle has worked as a freelance editor and writing instructor, helping teens and adults become better writers. While mystery is her favorite genre to both read and write, she also enjoys historical topics, classic literature, and a good adventure. Her short stories and articles have appeared in several publications; her novel, The Vanishing Kidnapper was released in December; and her republished novelette, Choices Amid the Trees was released as an e-book in August. Though a Chicagoland native, Danielle now lives in Wisconsin with her husband. She also enjoys a good cup of tea.

So  what is The Vanishing Kidnapper all about?

Teenagers John and Kaitlyn Rivers have a simple life in their 1870s outpost, running their family’s general store for the surrounding communities and operating the stagecoach stop. But one stormy night, the stage’s visit is anything but ordinary. Kidnappings, attacks, and shady characters change a usually boring existence into a fight for life.

Confronted with their past, John and Kaitlyn begin to unravel a mystery that left them survivors of not one, but two kidnapping attempts. Their questions uncover facts different than the truth they had always believed. Now they have to decide whom to trust – and the lives of those they care about depend on it.

There’s been a real resurgence in local history writing lately, especially in the Midwest. What is it about this time period that you find so interesting?

The period after the Civil War is labeled the Reconstruction Era, in which it was hoped that deep scars would be healed and relationships rebuilt. Historians debate how well this happened and what impact those events have on the present. The tumult of this time is especially true of the Old West, or Wild West. That’s why I thought it served as the perfect backdrop to explore John and Kaitlyn’s discovery that people are not always what they appear to be.

Without giving away the goodies, what’s your favorite scene in the book?

My favorite scene in the book contains the biggest spoiler. It is wrapped around a character who fleshes out the main theme of the story. We as humans often put others into categories. The question is whether the definition of those categories really fit the people we’ve placed in them or whether people are bigger than the labels we give them.

How can people learn more about you and your books?

Danielle Grandinetti
Danielle Grandinetti

The Vanishing Kidnapper is available in paperback and as an e-book. For ordering information, please visit: danielleswritingspot.com/The-Vanishing-Kidnapper/ for links.

You can follow me on my blog (danielleswritingspot.com), Twitter (@dgrandinetti), or my facebook page 

Texas is a Hard Land to Rule – Anthony Whitt

Full disclaimer: I view Westerns like I view Super-Hero movies: I know that most of what I’m seeing or reading is as much mythology and wish-fulfillment as  history, but that’s okay as long as they’re fun. I’m also aware that there are political and social ramifications associated with them. I just maintain a healthy skepticism/cynicism about it all and enjoy the ride. Some people, though, take the whole “Wild West” thing very seriously and that’s where today’s interview comes in.

Anthony Whitt, looking exactly like what someone who writes about Texas should look like
Anthony Whitt, looking exactly like what someone who writes about Texas should look like

Anthony Whitt is a darned good writer from the Austin, Texas area. He’s currently working on a trilogy about the hardy settlers that scratched a living out of the Texas Hill Country surrounding Austin after the Civil War. Hard Land to Rule is first in the trilogy that takes the reader on a ride through treachery, greed, lust, and death in a riveting tale that’s more than just another western. Cold Hard Ride continues the story as the characters battle their inner demons and devious enemies in the hills and the hellhole known as Austin. His goal is to create a trilogy with continuity, but make sure each book delivers a compelling story in its own right. The third book has a release date planned in the spring or summer of 2016.

So briefly, what’s the Hard Land to Rule trilogy all about?

Hard Land to Rule is a story of faded love, forbidden temptations, treacherous adversaries, and the conflict of competing interests on the Texas frontier. Returning from the Civil War where he served as a sergeant, Matt is forced to deal with a marriage complicated by a tragic death and the alienation of his wife. He can’t seem to find the right combination to patch things up despite his dedicated efforts to provide for his family and maintain his ranch in the hills. The times are economically tough after the war and opportunistic carpetbaggers prowl the countryside searching out targets for their aggressive efforts to secure ranchlands burdened with overdue taxes. Raiding Comanche complicate the harsh conditions he faces in the Hill Country while he is also forced to battle the unscrupulous politicians and businessmen that call Austin home. Surrounded by overwhelming problems it’s no wonder that an attractive neighbor with a struggling marriage of her own tempts him with her siren song of seduction. A proposition to serve as a Texas Ranger seems to offer an answer to his tribulations, but opens him to a plague of personal doubts and uncertainties that threaten to undermine the life he has worked hard to mold out of an unforgiving land.

Besides a higher than usual loathing for Texas politicians, what is it about the story that grabbed you?

Throughout the early years of my youth, my grandparents and their tales of the old days exerted a heavy influence on me. My grandfather often talked about his time as a cowboy working the ranches in the rugged hills west of Austin. During the first years of his marriage to my grandmother they actually traveled and lived out of a covered wagon to follow the work wherever it was available. As a young boy on family drives through the Texas Hill Country I can still recall them pointing out the locations of Indian trails they remembered seeing in their younger years.

My grandfather also regaled us with tales of his grandfather, a sergeant in the Civil War and a famous Texas Ranger with a colorful history. One of the favorite stories I grew up hearing from him was about an Indian raid on his grandfather’s homestead west of Austin. Despite my great-great grandfathers reputation as a well-known Texas Ranger the Indians gave him little respect and singled his place out for a raid. The tale always fascinated me and I set out to write a fictionalized short story about the event unaware of where the decision would lead. After the story received early praise, it transformed into a full-length novel that needed room to grow. As a result, the decision to write a short story became a life changing moment that gave birth to the Hard Land to Rule Trilogy.

A Hard Land to Rule is the first book in Anthony Whitt's Trilogy
A Hard Land to Rule is the first book in Anthony Whitt’s Trilogy

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

It’s hard to pick a favorite scene in Hard Land to Rule because I strived to stitch the chapters together in a cohesive flow of storytelling. But if I have to select my favorite scene it would be the one where three innocent characters are oblivious of their danger as they stroll into a Comanche ambush guaranteed to inflict death and perhaps rape if things proceed as the warrior plans. The reader is fully aware of their impending peril and is forced to take the walk with them unsure of their collective fate. The buildup of tension is such that my editor advised me not to change a single word in the scene. Naturally I was delighted to receive this kind of advice.

For what it’s worth, I think your strongest writing is in the action scenes, so I tend to agree. Where can people learn more?

His website       www.anthonywhitt.com

 

Twitter              www.twitter.com/AnthonyWhitt_

 

Facebook           www.facebook.com/AnthonyWhitt.Author

 

Goodreads            www.goodreads.com/author/show/7334347.Anthony_Whitt