I have been going to retirement villages out on the Olympic Peninsula and within a day’s drive of Tacoma to read from Strong Heart and Adrift, or once to discuss the research I did before writing the tales. Without fail, I get more out of these events than the audience, because after the reading and questions and book sales and signings I get to hear their stories, and some of those stories are astounding. I am surprised, though I should not be, at how many in the audience have Native American ancestors, how many are fourth or fifth generation descendants of the first pioneers, how many are writers themselves, and especially how many have ornery and complex daughters, cousins, nieces, or grandchildren so like Sarah Cooley, the main protagonist in my tales. I don’t know where Sarah came from, she just appeared when I started the book, but she seems real to me. Is real. Apparently so with audience members, too.
Many of my listeners cannot hear very well, so I talk loudly or use a microphone, and many others ask about an audio version, as they cannot see that well for reading. I am in the process of producing an audio version of Strong Heart with a company which will produce both MP3 files for phones and pads and CDs as well. If this works I hope to to the same with Adrift, using the same great narrator, Laurel Anne White, and when my third book appears, probably next September, tentatively titled Found, that one, too. It’s fun to go to these places, knowing these tales will be in the hands of children and grandchildren (after being read first, of course) in time for the holiday season.
I also have prepared this talk, about 20 minutes long, describing all the research that went into Strong Heart – human origins, human migrations, glacial epochs, DNA evidence, fossil evidence, sea level changes, climate shifts, where the ice was and where not, glacial refuges, how people may have traveled ages ago, when they may have first reached the Americas, and whether the ancient legends among First Peoples that they have always been here might be true. The discussion after such a talk with these groups of elders, some of great age, experience, and knowledge, is fascinating.