There are times I wish I didn’t have this need to make sure people learn something from my fiction books. But growing up, books were how I learned about the world. People and places that I didn’t hear about in school or see that much on television. I believe all books whether they are non-fiction of fiction should take the reader to a place they’ve never been or show them a place they’ve been in a different way.
Because of that need to teach, I always try to bring something I didn’t know about into my books so I learn about it and then add it to the story.
My Shandra Higheagle Mystery is such a series. I had to learn about finding clay and making it “pure” so it could be used in making pottery. I’ve learned different pottery techniques from magazines and online. I’ve had to research Idaho county law enforcement and the state law enforcement. And most of all, I’ve had to learn about the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington state.
I made my main character in the series half Nez Perce. Her family ancestors fled with Chief Joseph to Canada when the army tried to put them on a reservation. Their punishment for outwitting the army for so long was to be shipped to Oklahoma for seven years and when they were finally allowed to come back to the Pacific Northwest, they weren’t allowed to go the Nez Perce reservation in Idaho where their people had lived for centuries. They were placed on the Colville reservation. And that is how Shandra Higheagle has relatives at that particular reservation. You can find out more about how I shaped this character here.
Lucky for me, after I’d decided to make this her family’s home, I met Carmen Peone, an author, who lives on the reservation. She’s not Native American but her husband is and she’s taught in the schools and is friends with nearly everyone on the reservation. She’s learned some of the language of the Arrow Lakes and her young adult books are about the culture.
For my latest release, Reservation Revenge, I had to call upon Carmen many times when I’d write something and then wanted to make sure it was correct and not something that would upset the people living on the reservation. When I’d started the series, she took me on a tour of the reservation. One of the places she took me was Buffalo Lake. I immediately tagged it as a place for a murder to happen. She told me it was a place the young people liked to go to party.
When I needed photos for the cover, Carmen, came through with the background photo. She has been my lifesaver with this series and a true friend.
Through her knowledge, I was able to bring the reservation life to others and build a mystery that I hope gives people a moment of contemplation and takes them on a journey they would not have had before.
Book six of the Shandra Higheagle Native American Mystery Series
Upon learning a cousin is suspected of murder, potter Shandra Higheagle travels to the Colville Reservation to support her family in any way she can, including the insight she receives from her Nez Perce grandmother in dreams. When the tribal police and FBI refuse to look for additional clues or suspects, Shandra becomes even more determined to uncover the truth.
Detective Ryan Greer knows Shandra’s snooping could cause more harm than good. He joins her at the Reservation and in her pursuit for justice. However, he soon discovers his own hidden secrets could be as dangerous as century old feuds, jealousy, and the drug running that is connected to the murder.
blog / website / Facebook / Paty's Posse / Goodreads / Twitter / Pinterest