As you should know by now I love to read. I pass on a lot of books these days due to storage space but there are a few that make it onto my forever shelf and one of those books is most definitely Ride The Wind by Lucia St Clair Robson. And the interview I did with Lucia is today’s topic for Throwback Thursday – I hope you enjoy!
Lucia St Clair Robson is the author of all these books:
Light a Distant Fire
Ride the Wind
The Tokaido Road
Walk In My Soul
Last Train from Cuernavaca
Not bad for someone who never set out to write!
I happened across the story of the capture of Cynthia Ann Parker, and mentioned it to an editor I met at a science fiction conference in 1979. He persuaded me to try my hand at writing it. Once I started researching the story and really got into it, I was hooked.
The access to the information I had for the first three stories– about the Comanches, the Cherokees, and the Seminoles—came mostly from books and other materials I got through interlibrary loan. I took a LOT of notes on 4×6 cards and set up my own version of a library subject catalogue drawer. I also travelled to the places I was writing about so I could get the lay of the land, and find those small local historical museums and book stores.
A very astute observation. In 1980 I called one of the Parker family elders to ask some questions, but she wasn’t very helpful. She explained that she had helped a writer before, introducing him to the tribe’s elders. But when his book came out it was so full of errors that she lost face. So I didn’t use any of the Comanche descendants as sources of information. I’ve gotten to know them since the book came out.
This is the first I’ve heard of it. I checked and what I found is that Indians are raising money for Obama’s campaign, not getting money from him. And they rank him as #2 in the eight best presidents for dealing with Indians.
I used the term Native Americans for years until I realized the people themselves use the word Indians… at least the ones I know do. Indians are very pragmatic people and the ones I’ve met aren’t bothered by political correctness. Comanche, for example, is not a Comanche word. It comes from the Ute word, Komantsia meaning “Enemies” or “They who are always against us.” The Comanches’ name for themselves is Numunu, but the ones I know go with Comanche. And really, it is catchier than Numunu.
Cynthia Ann was captured by Comanches when she was nine and grew up with the tribe. She married Nocona; leader of the band called Wanderers, and had three children. She was recaptured along with her infant daughter, and returned to her Anglo family, but by all reports longed to return to her people and Comanche family. Her son, Quanah, was the last Comanche chief to surrender.
Are there many still fighting for justice? The Comanches I know, mostly members of the Parker family, are very patriotic. I would bet that a higher ratio of them serve in the military than any other ethnic group. And they open every powwow and event with a colour guard to honour their military veterans. I haven’t heard any of them express concern about past injustices or fighting the government.
WIND has been optioned a few times, and many people have expressed interest, but none have followed through. A producer contacted me about it last year, so we’ll see if he can move Hollywood off the dime.
People have been casting WIND as a movie since 1981, before it was even published. At that time Sissy Spacek was the one suggested. As years passed, Daryl Hannah’s name came up. Personally, I’d like to see an unknown play Naduah. And there are some gorgeous Indian actors now who would be great as Nocona.
I didn’t decide to become a writer. I was herded into it. That Science Fiction editor from Del Rey kept calling me at work until I finally started researching and sent in the first six chapters. A Ballantine editor read them, called me at work, and offered me a contract. Nothing like a contract, a deadline and an advance to make one decide to become a writer.
Please describe your writing process?
I try to write every day, but have no set schedule. When writing historical fiction, the reading and note taking and staring into space can be as important as the writing and I have to do a lot of that. Life has an inconvenient way of intruding though, so I’m very slow.
From the people I write about. They’re a very inspiring lot.
Since history provides the story and ending for historical fiction, I like to read mysteries to see how they manage plotting. John D. McDonald is my favourite for character development. And P.G. Wodehouse is great for dialogue and an easy-going style.
As a kid I loved The Sword and the Stone by T.H. White. It gave me the notion that history could be fun and funny and fascinating.
Don’t talk about it. Don’t squander energy telling your friends and family all about it. Just do it. There are many more ways to get published now than there used to be.
I don’t own an e-reader and never will, but any format that gets people reading is fine with me.
My two Peace Corps partners and I lived in a poor neighbourhood in a small Venezuelan town for 20 months. We lived “on the economy” and worked with the neighbourhood’s Development Committee on projects they wanted to do. We also got people enthused about clearing overgrown land to use for a sports program that became very popular.
Earth is my favourite place on earth. I couldn’t narrow it down to one location, although I am fond of my quirky, riverfront community. It’s very quiet and a great place for a writer.
Read, do crossword puzzles, work in the yard, sew, and since I live in an old house, I’m constantly fixing it up. And I travel whenever I get the chance. (Okay, I like to go on-line with facebook).
What does the future hold in store for your writing?
I can barely keep up with the present. I don’t think about the future. After all, I never expected to be a writer, so it still doesn’t seem real to me.
That depends on what Indian nation people are interested in. Otherwise, the sites are too numerous to list. I know the Comanches have a museum and website, and I’m sure the other tribes do too.
Do you think the world will ever go back to respecting nature properly again?
The world (meaning humanity) has never respected nature. The Indians did better than most, but even the earliest immigrants who crossed the Bering Strait wiped out a lot of the New World fauna.
I enjoy speaking to and with the D.A.R. because they “get” history. They’re a wonderful audience. Today the Regent of the group I spoke to last night emailed me a copy of the piece she wrote for those who weren’t there. It begins, “Our speaker last night, Lucia St. Clair Robson, was nothing short of extraordinary.” So I guess I did alright.
You can find out more about Lucia and her writing at her website: