Today we have a guest post from Kathleen and W. Michael Gear on their newly published book -The Dawn Country.
It’s part of a sweeping series and saga based upon North America’s First People; it’s the second in a smaller series inside the collection – People of the Longhouse.
The Gears are professional archeologists and have years of writing experience, which culminates in expert insight and information inside their books. Let’s welcome them as they share about their writing process and give some glimpses into this popular series.
Why did you write this series? We wrote the “North America’s Forgotten Past” series to chronicle the rise and fall of the magnificent native cultures that inhabited North America long before Europeans arrived on our shores. As archaeologists, we know the role these extraordinary cultures played in what America would become, but most people don’t.
Most Americans have no idea, for example, that their unique concepts of democracy, and even their very identity, was molded by Iroquois concepts of self, government, and liberty. The notion of one-person-one-vote, referendum and recall, and especially the notion of confederacy of states—or a United States--originated not in Europe or ancient Greece, but in the forests of upstate New York in the mid- 1400s.
Does your story line develop organically or is it a gestalt before you begin? Well, it depends. The story is based upon the archaeological information, as well as Iroquoian oral history, so we know the beginning and ending when we start. What we don’t know is exactly how the characters are going to reach that ending. As a result, characters evolve organically as they must deal with the stresses of the storyline.
How does your archeological degrees and experience impact your story telling? Our 35 years of experience as archaeologists heavily influences the story. Everything the characters wear and eat, the tools they use, the activities they participate in, are all based upon the archaeological record—what has actually been dug up.
Do you have a favorite character in the book and if so why? That’s like asking a parent which child is their favorite! We love them all or we wouldn’t have written their stories, but that said, we feel especially close to the children who are stolen from their homes during war raids and sold into slavery. Seeing warfare through the eyes of its youngest victims is a powerful experience for authors, and we hope, for readers.
What do you like the most about writing? Character creation is a kind of magic, you’re never quite sure where these people are going, and watching it happen is just plain fun. Additionally, we have had people explain how our stories have helped them in times of crisis. The notion that our fiction can help hurting individuals is really humbling.
Where do your new story ideas come from? They come from archaeological excavations and native oral history. With People of the Moon, for example, we were touring the site in southern Colorado and the story just popped into our heads. The same thing happened at the Poverty Point site in Louisiana—bam! People of the Owl was just magically there.
What advice has helped the most in your writing? Kathleen’s father was a short story writer, and he said, “Writing is 3% inspiration and 97% hard work. Don’t sit around and wait for a story to come. Just sit down and start writing.”
Is a sequel in the works? Yes, actually, The Broken Land, book 3 in the Iroquois quartet is already finished, and we’re hard at work on The Black Sun, the final book.
Who is your favorite author and why? There are so many it’s hard to name just one. Here are a few of them: John Steinbeck, Margaret Mitchell, Elmer Kelton, Craig Johnson, A.B. Guthrie, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lisa Gardner, C.J Cherryh, David Morrel, Greg Iles, Tess Gerritsen, and the list goes on.
What advice would you give for the want to be writer? Tenacity is worth ten times what talent is. You have to have both, but without the ability to see a project through, regardless of all the idiots out there who tell you that you can’t do it, you are lost. For ourselves, Mike wrote 8 novels before he sold his first. Kathleen had written 5. You must learn the craft and excel before you can sell in the modern market.
The children are still being held captive; even if they die they know someone has to escape to carry the story back to their people - to stop an evil old woman. The elders have not abandoned their search for the children, as many have been sold and carried off to distant villages and lost to their families and homes forever. Hardcover: 304 pages; Forge Books (March 15, 2011)
Six hundred years ago in what would become the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, five Iroquois tribes were locked in bitter warfare. From the ashes of violence, a great Peacemaker was born… Young Odion and his little sister, Tutelo, live in fear that one day Yellowtail Village will be attacked.
When that day comes and Odion and Tutelo are marched away as slaves, their only hope is that their parents will rescue them. Hardcover: 304 pages; Forge Books; 1 edition (July 20, 2010)
Bios: Kathleen O’Neal Gear is a former state historian and archaeologist for Wyoming, Kansas, and Nebraska for the U.S. Department of the Interior. She has twice received the federal government's Special Achievement Award for "outstanding management" of our nation's cultural heritage.
W. Michal Gear holds a master's degree in archaeology, has worked as a professional archaeologist since 1978. He is currently principal investigator for Wind River Archaeological Consultants. For more about the Gears and their books link to their website, Facebook page, and blog.
***Win A Copy*** In case your interested in winning a copy of just released - The Dawn Country, head on over to Bill’s Blog – Azure Dwarf (link to enter and to see his fun March header)!
Thanks for reading!