Cherokee, Choctaw, cursed doll, death, Georgia, gypsy curse, Heidi Vanlandingham, historical romance, hope, love story, military, Native Americans, obsession, Oklahoma, OKRWA, Romance, Rosa, Scrimshaw Doll, soldiers, Spiro Mounds, Tales of the Scrimshaw Doll, The Wild Rose Press, Trail of Tears, TWRP, Writing
Whether blogging or writing books, the hardest thing for me is finding my subject, especially if my story is historical, which to me means factual. But at the same time, these subjects can be so sensitive, no matter how careful the author is, someone will be offended.
A good example of this type of story is Trail of Hope, my scrimshaw doll tale. My fascination with the Native Americans goes back to my early childhood. A family story—you know the kind—on my mother’s side, states that I’m related to Pocahontas. Well, her sister anyway. (Yes, it’s true—I checked.) I’m related to the founder of Pryor, Oklahoma, Nathaniel Hale Pryor, but that’s another story.
Growing up in Oklahoma also had something to do with my fascination. Every year in school, we learned about the Five Civilized Tribes. However, there was never enough of the story. For me, the textbooks seemed very one-sided, and it wasn’t the tribes’ side. Ergo, my first lesson in controversial writing.
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘The proof is in the pudding’? That’s what makes or breaks the historical story for readers. If a cook doesn’t use the right ingredients, I promise, the pudding will taste horrible, no matter how tasty the individual ingredients are. The same theory applies to the historical tale. The right facts help make the story.
The love story I wove around my characters in Trail of Hope was fiction. However, the journey they took in 1838-9 was very real. The places they saw and stopped at, the people on the trail with them, and the events that happened during the story were all real.
My goal in Trail of Hope was to bring the history to life. I wanted my readers to breathe, feel, and live—however much they could—through these characters. Sophia’s humiliation, not so much for herself but for the Cherokee living and dying in the stockades and along the trail; waking up to find a child’s frozen body; and with little to no food or fresh water, wondering if she would survive too. To some, this might be construed as disrespectful. To me, it was an honor to those who were there. The only honor I could give them–immortality.
One of the worst times in American history should never be forgotten and it should be told with understanding on both sides, not just one. The same should be done for so many other tragic events in history.
How much do you know about the Native Americans’ forced marches? How do you think you would have faired? Would you have had the strength to survive? What subjects do you find difficult to talk about?