Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chatting with authors, Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

Young Wrass is still being held captive, along with several other children, in Gannajero’s camp. Wrass knows he can’t wait to be rescued. He has to organize the children for an assault on Gannajero’s warriors. Even if he dies, someone has to escape, to carry the story back to their Peoples. It’s the only way to stop the evil old woman.

But Koracoo and Gonda have not abandoned their search. They’re coming for the children, and they have allies: a battle-weary Mohawk war chief and a Healer from the People of the Dawnland. Together, they will find the children and destroy Gannajero. But not before many of the children have been sold and carried off to distant villages—and lost to their families and homes forever....

Question and Answer with Kathleen and W. Michael Gear.

Q: Why did you write this book?
A: 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.

Q: Does your story line develop organically or is it a gestalt before you begin?
A: 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.

Q: How does your archeological degrees and experience impact your story telling?
A: 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.

Q: Do you have a favorite character in the book and if so why?
A: 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.

Q: What do you like the most about writing?
A: 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.

Q: Where do your new story ideas come from?
A: 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

Bestselling authors and award-winning archaeologists Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear are renowned for their novels on North American prehistory, a series that melds the latest archaeological findings with sweeping dramatic narratives and strong Native American tradition. The “North America’s Forgotten Past” series educates readers about our continent’s more than 15,000 years of prehistory and brings to life its natural and cultural heritage.

Beginning with People of the Wolf (Tor; July 1990), and continuing through to People of the Thunder (Forge Books; January 2010), the series provides a vital understanding of the history of North America in a way that is entertaining, full of cultural detail, and intelligent. One of the more recent novels, People of the Raven, won the Spur Award for Best Novel of the West in 2005.

Bringing more than 50 years of combined archaeological experience to their writing, Michael and Kathleen have written over thirty-three novels dealing with historical or anthropological themes. They have between fifteen and sixteen million copies of their books in print worldwide and their books have been translated into twenty-one different languages.

W. Michael Gear has a master’s degree in anthropology from Colorado State University, and has worked for twenty years as a professional archaeologist in the western United States. Kathleen O’Neal Gear has a master’s degree in history from California State University, and studied for her Ph.D. at UCLA. She received two special Achievement Awards from the Department of the Interior for work as an archaeologist in the Bureau of Land Management. Both Michael and Kathleen are principal investigators for Wind River Archaeological Consultants, a cultural resource firm in the Rocky Mountain region.
As archaeologists and novelists they have made appearances on CNN, NPR, and have been featured on “Greenroom” on PBS, as well as local network features. They currently live in Wyoming, bordered on two sides by the Wind River Reservation, and raise registered North American bison.

No comments: