Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mother Earth Father Sky by Sue Harrison

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley/Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Read: August 20, 2013

A young woman fights for survival amid the brutality of the last Ice Age. It’s 7056 BC, a time before history. On the first day that Chagak’s womanhood is acknowledged within her Aleut tribe, she unexpectedly finds herself betrothed to Seal Stalker, the most promising young hunter in the village. A bright future lies ahead of Chagak—but in one violent moment, she loses her entire way of life. Left with her infant brother, Pup, and only a birdskin parka for warmth, Chagak sets out across the icy waters on a quest for survival and revenge.


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Prehistories are for a hard sell for me. I don't know why, but they are difficult for me to get into so when I manage to find one that holds my interest, I tend to take notice which brings me to Mother Earth Father Sky by Sue Harrison. 


Like Song of the River, this piece is character heavy, but what is so remarkable is how distinct, well-rounded and realistic each cast member feels. I can't imagine what goes into  painting the motivations, personality and emotional struggles of so characters so vividly, but Harrison's effort certainly isn't wasted. In point of fact, I feel the authentic quality of her cast is what makes not just this piece, but her entire body of work so exceptional. 

Speaking of relatable characters, I should probably mention my attraction to Chagak. Her path is a difficult one, but as a woman who had to overcome sexual abuse, I really admire Harrison for creating a character that doesn't allow the experience to define her life. I've seen authors attempt this story line before, but can honestly say few have pulled it off as well. 

Strong characterization isn't the only aspect of Harrison's work worth mentioning. Her books are long, but they are also overflowing with cultural history. I might be going out on a limb, but I think it safe to say Harrison puts as much into her research as she does developing her plot lines and her cast. Her understanding and respect for the indigenous people of North America emanates from every page, making her work as intriguing as it is entertaining. 

All told, Mother Earth Father Sky is a beautiful story of perseverance and strength amidst incredible hardship, as notable for its content as its flawless presentation. 

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In his joy he laughed and for a moment his laughter seemed as strong as the wind, louder than the sea.
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CHeck out all the stops on sue Harrison's Mother Earth Father Sky and Song of the River Virtual Book Tour!


Monday, August 5
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Tuesday, August 6
Review Bitches with Books (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Wednesday, August 7
Guest Post at HF Connection
Thursday, August 8
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book (Song of the River)
Monday, August 12
Review at Just One More Chapter (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Review at Closed the Cover (Song of the River)
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Tuesday, August 13
Review Bitches with Books (Song of the River)
Wednesday, August 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Song of the River)
Thursday, August 15
Review at A Chick Who Reads (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Friday, August 16
Review at Broken Teepee (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Monday, August 19
Review at Carole’s Ramblings & Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Tuesday, August 20
Review at Unabridged Chick (Song of the River)
Wednesday, August 21
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, August 22
Review at Book Drunkard (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Friday, August 23
Review at Too Fond (Song of the River)
Review at Broken Teepee (Song of the River)
Monday, August 26
Interview at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Tuesday, August 27
Review at Book Drunkard (Song of the River)
Wednesday, August 28
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Thursday, August 29
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time (Song of the River)
Review at The Musings of a Book Junkie (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Friday, August 30
Review at Carole’s Ramblings & Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell (Song of the River)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Interview with Andrea Zuvich, author if His Last Mistress

Today Flashlight Commentary is pleased to welcome author Andrea Zuvich who has joined us to discuss her debut release, His Last Mistress. 

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Welcome to Flashlight Commentary Andrea. To start things off, please tell us a bit about His Last Mistress.
Hello, thank you so much for having me! His Last Mistress is a biographical fiction about the real life doomed love affair between the legendary Duke of Monmouth and his lesser-known last mistress, Henrietta Wentworth. Monmouth was a larger-than-life character, a Restoration rake, a bad boy, a favourite of the ladies, and admired by many. The story begins in 1675, during the reign of Monmouth’s father, King Charles II and ends with Monmouth’s death in 1685. I’m not giving the story away, because most of my target audience already know about what happened to the Duke of Monmouth, but very few know of Henrietta and their love story. The decade the book covers has political plots, assassination attempts, passion, the raging troubles between Protestants and Catholics, and concerns about who will inherit Charles II’s throne – his brother, the Catholic James, Duke of York, or his son, the Protestant James Scott, Duke of Monmouth.

What inspired you to write this story? What was it about the affair between James Scott, Duke of Monmouth and Lady Henrietta Wentworth that convinced you this was a story that needed to be told? 

I came across this story during my research for my upcoming biographical fiction novel, William & Mary. I already knew that the Duke of Monmouth is and was a popular figure and that he led Monmouth’s Rebellion in 1685, which in turn led to his infamous execution. During the course of researching this fascinating Restoration rake, I came across a brief mention of Henrietta Wentworth in John Evelyn’s Diary, in which he referred to her as “that debauched woman.” The more I learned about Henrietta and Jemmy’s (Monmouth’s) love story, the more it pulled at my heart, and I wept when I learned more about them. I did feel that something that moved me so profoundly and was not well known, would be a story worth telling.

James Scott, Duke of Monmouth
What research went into His Last Mistress and what, if any, challenges did you face adapting your research to fiction? 
I am a historian specializing in the Late Stuarts, so I primarily draw upon primary sources, or documents that were written at the time of the events. During this phase of research, I create a timeline of events. The challenges of bringing the 17th-century to a modern audience are many. Views on morality, human rights, women’s rights, were almost the polar opposite of the views most people have now. I had to stay true to the time period in which the story was set, and I have tried to make all the characters speak and behave as they would have done then. Also, Henrietta and Monmouth were apparently in a relationship from around 1680, but I found that Monmouth fathered a daughter in 1682, so something happened! What I need to get across to readers who do not know the Stuarts is that they were an incredibly sexual dynasty; Monmouth had the same voracious sexual appetite that his father Charles II had, and very few Stuart men were faithful as a result of this. Monmouth fared a great deal better than others in his family, however, and ultimately settled down with Henrietta.

What scene was the most difficult for you as an author? 

Unquestionably, Monmouth’s execution scene was the most difficult for me, as I had emotionally invested in him as my hero; but I could not change history, and I wasn’t prepared to alter it for the book. I could have ended the story before the rebellion and given the falsehood of a happy ending, but that would have been just that, a lie, and history lovers would have been up in arms. Monmouth’s execution ranks as the one of, if not the “bloodiest in English history”. With that sort of macabre status, you cannot gloss over it, and so I wrote it to be as accurate as we are able to tell. So, when I was writing that terrible scene, I thought, it was a horrible, gory, painful, way to die, and people won’t truly appreciate how bad it was for him, unless I show how it was. Yes, it is very shocking to us in the 21st century, but it was necessary for that time. That is how it was. 

Toddington Manor by Dave Bushell
What is your favorite scene in the novel? 
I really love their scenes in the woods together. I got the idea for the bluebells because there is such lovely woodland in Bedfordshire (where some of the story takes place) and the way the countryside gets covered with this blue-purple flower is just so beautiful, and so romantic, that I wanted to incorporate that into their story. Also, though this has been criticized by some, I quite like the scene where Henrietta is combing Monmouth’s hair to remove the lice – some might say that’s gross, but it is a detail put in purposefully so that people remember the poor hygiene of the time, and lice was very common, and body odour generally quite strong! It’s also endearing to groom your beloved!

Obviously the book is about James Scott and Lady Wentworth, but do you see yourself in any of your characters and is there one of them you wish you were more like? 

I really felt close to Henrietta because she’s a quiet, shy, introverted woman, as I am. I definitely prefer Henrietta’s character to Eleanor Needham’s – for I wrote the latter to be a vain and hot-tempered sort of woman (since we don’t know much about her). Shyness is not weakness. Personally, I would like to see more shy heroines in historical fiction, as that’s more historically accurate, than say, a heroine who swordfights her way out of every problem. We have to remember that we cannot judge historical people by our modern eyes; it just isn’t feasible.

Lady Henrietta Wentworth
When all is said and done, the love affair is a tragedy. Did you find this an intimidating hurdle when composing the book and how did you work around it? 
There’s no question that is it a romantic tragedy, and yes, I was concerned about how people would react to the ending, given that modern readers seem to only want happy endings. Personally, I love tragic romances, and I grew up intensively reading tragedies such as most of Thomas Hardy, Wuthering Heights, the Arthurian legend tragic romances of Tristan and Isolde, Guinevere and Lancelot, and Shakespeare’s tragedies with love stories of Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Troilus and Cressida, etc. Henrietta and Monmouth are no different, and they deserve to be remembered, possibly even more so because they were completely real; they had joys and sorrows as we do today.

If you could sit down and talk with one of your characters, maybe meet and discuss things over drinks, who would you choose and why? 
I’d take Monmouth by the cravat and say, “Don’t you dare invade England! Don’t be such a bananahead! Go to Hungary or Germany like your cousin William suggested!” Honestly, I would like to sit down to a cup of coffee (newfangled drink) with him and ask if he really thought that he was Charles II’s legitimate son, and - I can’t help it - I would like to flirt with him! 

The Morning of Sedgemoor
What do you hope readers come away with after reading your work? 
My aim in writing the novel was to make this unknown love story come to light. Everyone who reads this will learn about one important episode in English history. By reading His Last Mistress you will walk away with a pretty good understanding of the latter part of Monmouth’s life and of Late Stuart politics. And if I am able to spark a reader’s interest in the history of the seventeenth century, I will be well and truly pleased. 

Finally, what is next for you? Any new projects waiting in the wings? 
I have a historical horror due out in time for this Halloween called, The Stuart Vampire, which is full of witch trials, vampirism, and plague! Also, I am still waiting on whether or not William and Mary gets picked up by a publisher. Other forthcoming works include a HAPPY historical fiction/romance about Restoration actors, a non-fiction history of the Stuarts, and an adventure series about the dashing Prince Rupert of the Rhine! I intend to try to write something in every genre, but all set in the 17th-century, because I love it so much! 


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About  the Author: Born in Philadelphia in 1985 to Chilean-Croatian parents, Andrea Zuvich is a historian specialising in the Late Stuarts of the Seventeenth Century and is the creator and writer of the history website, The Seventeenth Century Lady. Andrea studied History and Anthropology at both the University of Central Florida and Oxford University, and has been independently researching the 1600s since 2008. Andrea is a leader on and one of the original developers of The Garden History Tours at Kensington Palace, Historic Royal Palaces, and lives with her English husband in Lancashire, England. For more information, please visit Andrea’s website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

About the Book: Set in the tumultuous late 17th Century, His Last Mistress tells the true story of the final years of James Scott, the handsome Duke of Monmouth, and his lover Lady Henrietta Wentworth. As the illegitimate eldest son of King Charles II, the Duke is a spoiled, lecherous man with both a wife and a mistress. However, this rakish libertine is soon captivated by the innocence of young Lady Henrietta Wentworth, who has been raised to covet her virtue. She is determined to spurn his advances, yet she cannot deny the chemistry between them. Will she succumb? At the same time, the Duke begins to harbour risky political ambitions that may threaten not only his life but also that of those around him. His Last Mistress is a passionate, sometimes explicit, carefully researched and ultimately moving story of love and loss, set against a backdrop of dangerous political unrest, brutal religious tensions, and the looming question of who will be the next King.

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Check out all the stops on Andrea Zuvich's His Last Mistress Virtual Book Tour


Monday, August 26
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, August 27
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, August 28
Review at The Happy Booker
Thursday, August 29
Guest Post at The Happy Booker
Friday, August 30
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Monday, September 2
Review at West Metro Mommy
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, September 3
Review at One Book at a Time
Review & Guest Post at The Lit Bitch
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, September 4
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, September 5
Review at Historical Tapestry & The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Interview at A Chick Who Reads
Friday, September 6
Review at The Worm Hole
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

His Last Mistress by Andrea Zuvich

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Read: August 23, 2013

Set in the tumultuous late 17th Century, His Last Mistress tells the true story of the final years of James Scott, the handsome Duke of Monmouth, and his lover Lady Henrietta Wentworth. As the illegitimate eldest son of King Charles II, the Duke is a spoiled, lecherous man with both a wife and a mistress. However, this rakish libertine is soon captivated by the innocence of young Lady Henrietta Wentworth, who has been raised to covet her virtue. She is determined to spurn his advances, yet she cannot deny the chemistry between them. Will she succumb? At the same time, the Duke begins to harbour risky political ambitions which may threaten not only his life but also that of those around him. His Last Mistress is a passionate, sometimes explicit, carefully researched and ultimately moving story of love and loss, set against a backdrop of dangerous political unrest, brutal religious tensions, and the looming question of who will be the next King.

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A veritable casanova, James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth was a notorious ladies man. That is, until he crossed paths with young Henrietta Wentworth. Their subsequent affair scandalized the court, but his final declaration of love and affection made it a legend. Largely overlooked in the realm of fiction, their story is brought to life in Andrea Zuvich's debut, His Last Mistress.

By and large I liked this one, but the story has a lot going for it so that isn't much of a surprise. Zuvich does an excellent job depicting the politics of the day without overburdening her story with unnecessary details, but she also doesn't shy away from the complexities of her subject matter. Monmouth's position made it difficult for him to rest easy, but his affair with Henrietta was also challenging and I think Zuvich's treatment of both demonstrated those difficulties very well. 

In point of fact I think my only disappointment lay in that this book was written as a novella. Don't get me wrong, I loved the story. I just think it might have been more compelling if Zuvich had given her readers a little more time to get to know James and Henrietta before getting caught up in the momentum of their story. Maybe it's just me, but I think it might have been easier to accept how profoundly this relationship affected Monmouth if I'd been allowed to really explore the man he was before meeting Henrietta and would like to see what Zuvich would do given freedom to work in longer format. 

His Last Mistress is a tragically beautiful romance that offers a wonderfully unique glimpse into an oft overlooked chapter of Stuart history. Not to be missed. 

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"I have lived recklessly, gambled my income away at the horse races, gone whoring, have been more drunk than sober, beaten men to a pulp with my hands, have had a man’s nose cut off for insulting my father and have been indebted to villains more times than I care to say. But, I do not want to live like this anymore. I want a quiet life with a good woman who will care and love me..."
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Check out all the stops on Andrea Zuvich's His Last Mistress Virtual Book Tour


Monday, August 26
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, August 27
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, August 28
Review at The Happy Booker
Thursday, August 29
Guest Post at The Happy Booker
Friday, August 30
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Monday, September 2
Review at West Metro Mommy
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, September 3
Review at One Book at a Time
Review & Guest Post at The Lit Bitch
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, September 4
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, September 5
Review at Historical Tapestry & The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Interview at A Chick Who Reads
Friday, September 6
Review at The Worm Hole
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A White Room by Stephanie Carroll

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: August 21, 2013

At the close of the Victorian Era, society still expected middle-class women to be “the angels of the house,” even as a select few strived to become something more. In this time of change, Emeline Evans dreamed of becoming a nurse. But when her father dies unexpectedly, Emeline sacrifices her ambitions and rescues her family from destitution by marrying John Dorr, a reserved lawyer who can provide for her family. John moves Emeline to the remote Missouri town of Labellum and into an unusual house where her sorrow and uneasiness edge toward madness. Furniture twists and turns before her eyes, people stare out at her from empty rooms, and the house itself conspires against her. The doctor diagnoses hysteria, but the treatment merely reinforces the house’s grip on her mind. Emeline only finds solace after pursuing an opportunity to serve the poor as an unlicensed nurse. Yet in order to bring comfort to the needy she must secretly defy her husband, whose employer viciously hunts down and prosecutes unlicensed practitioners. Although women are no longer burned at the stake in 1900, disobedience is a symptom of psychological defect, and hysterical women must be controlled. A novel of madness and secrets, A White Room presents a fantastical glimpse into the forgotten cult of domesticity, where one’s own home could become a prison and a woman has to be willing to risk everything to be free.

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From time to time I start reading a book without so much as glancing at the description. Call me crazy, but there is something fun about flying blind and diving in with absolutely no idea what direction a story might take. Such was the case with Stephanie Carroll's A White Room and for once, my adventurous spirit was not disappointed. 

Carroll creates a deliciously creepy atmosphere within these pages and I love the parallel between the figurative and literal captivity this character suffers while confined to her new home. Like Shirley Jackson, Carroll relies on terror rather than horror to tap into the emotions of her readers, creating a unique and additively page-turning brand of fear. 

The transition to the second portion of the story wasn't as clear as I might have liked, but I can't deny I found the material Carroll covered in the later chapters as compelling and intriguing as that of first. The key difference being that where the early sections of the novel showcased Carroll's gift for storytelling, the latter brilliantly demonstrated her ability to tackle delicate subject matter through fiction. 

Though I greatly enjoyed the book, there was one aspect I found insensitive and rather disappointing. Carroll's story touches on not one, but two controversial issues: abortion and assisted suicide. Personally I don't care and feel the author's manipulation of this touchy material was, but I was upset to discover neither topic was mentioned in the jacket description. It is one thing for a reader to ignore the cover blurb as I did, but is quite another for an advertisement to blindside readers by completely omitting the appearance of subject matter some find uncomfortable and/or offensive. 

I pride myself penning honest commentary and while the above paragraph is critical, I want to reiterate how much I enjoyed this story. Carroll is a wonderful storyteller and a truly gifted writer. But for my disappointment at the lack of discretion afforded her readers, I found A White Room a highly satisfying and thought-provoking read.

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I thought of the woman in the white room—she chose to sacrifice her freedom for the people who relied on her to survive, but how long could she possibly survive without freedom? How long could she last before choosing the alternative?”
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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Little Joe by Michael E. Glasscock III

Rating: ★ ★  ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: August 22, 2013

When Little Joe Stout survives the car accident that took his parents’ lives, he is sent to live with his maternal grandparents in the small town of Round Rock, Tennessee. Orphaned and missing his Texas home, Little Joe is reluctant to adapt. But his grandparents, especially his grandmother, are up to the challenge of raising him despite their own struggles. Soon, childhood friendships are forged in the oddball duo of Sugar and Bobby, and—with the help of a new canine companion—Little Joe begins to see that his new home offers the comfort and love he thought was lost forever. Set against the drama of World War II and the first sparks of the civil rights movement, Little Joe’s new home is a microcosm of America in the 1940s. A frightening incident with a Chinese motorist traveling on the wrong side of town, the migration of troops across the countryside, and a frank discussion of Jim Crow laws are just a few of the local events mirroring the radio broadcasts that bring the news of the day into his grandmother’s kitchen. Little Joe begins a four-part series from Michael E. Glasscock III that explores the intricate social cloth of Round Rock, Tennessee.

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Freedom From Want
by Norman Rockwell
Michael Glasscock's Little Joe reminds me of a Norman Rockwell painting. Covering everything from prejudice and racism to the harsh realities of farm life, Glasscock creates a very authentic portrait of small town America in the shadow of World War II. Unfortunately, his touch and go style of storytelling makes the narrative equally one dimensional. 

I guess what I'm trying to say it what works on an easel doesn't translate as well in fiction. Glasscock does an excellent job illustrating Little Joe's situation, but he always seems to stop short of letting his readers under his protagonist's skin and experiencing the tumultuous spectrum of emotions running wild within him. 

The mechanical problems in this piece doesn't end with the lack of character development either, there are several elements that treated this way. For example, Glasscock spends a lot of time developing Little Joe's affection for Chicken Little, but doesn't allow it to go anywhere. There is a brief discussion about the injustice of the Jim Crow laws, but the narrative never returns to explore the material. We encounter the prejudice felt by Asian Americans as war waged in the Pacific and short of a single letter of thankful correspondence late in the novel, this component also falls flat. See what I mean about touch and go?

A great idea, but the execution wasn't as convincing as I needed it to be. Hoping the follow next installment of the Round Rock series, The Trial of Dr. Kate, is more satisfying. 

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“I know you miss them. I miss them, too. It’s terrible to lose your parents when you’re so young. My heart goes out to you, but you’ve got to deal with it. They’re gone, and there’s nothing either of us can do. And I know it’s difficult for you, living on a farm, but again, that’s just the way it is.”
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Interview with Sue Harrison, author of Mother Earth Father Sky and Song of the River

Today, Flashlight Commentary is pleased to welcome author Sue Harrison to our little corner of the net to discuss two of her recently re-released titles, Mother Earth Father Sky and Song of the River.

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Welcome to Flashlight Commentary Sue. To start things off, please tell us a bit about Mother Earth Father Sky and Song of the River.
Both Mother Earth Father Sky and My Sister the Moon are based on the legends and stories of Native Alaskan peoples, and both novels take place thousands of years ago. Mother Earth Father Sky is the first book of The Ivory Carver Trilogy, which also includes My Sister the Moon and Brother Wind. Song of the River is the first book of The Storyteller Trilogy, which also includes Cry of the Wind and Call Down the Stars. Both books combine suspense, a bit of mystery, and a romance. The main characters in each novel face tremendous challenges that require them to grow in physical ability, mental acuity, and spiritual strength in order to survive.

What inspired you to write this story and why did you feel it needed to be told?
I love stories about people who are able to overcome the odds and not only survive but thrive. I wanted to write about people like that to encourage readers when they face tough situations that test their fortitude. Of course, when I wrote Mother Earth Father Sky I had NO readers except myself. So I have to concede that I also write for myself. A few years before I began Mother Earth Father Sky, my husband and I lost a baby daughter to meningitis. In part, that sorrow was an impetus to reach out to others who were enduring times of loss and great hurt.

Both Mother Earth Father Sky and Song of the River are pre-histories. Where do you even start you research and what proved the most intriguing discovery over the course of your inquiries? 
At the beginning, my research followed no prescribed plan. That was back in the late 1970s and without an internet or a nearby library, I read whatever I could find about Native cultures, borrowing books from people I knew. I also did interviews and learned hands-on skills. Later, I began to base my research on Native languages and travel, which tends to open up whole worlds of ideas and mindsets. Preliminary research usually takes me years, but I also do another round of “small question” research in the third or fourth rewrite of the novel. That research involves specific questions about small things within the story, which I usually leave blank during the first draft rather than interrupt the writing process to look something up. I’ll have a sentence like, “She used a (some kind of bone - look it up sue) to scrape the wolf hide.” The answer to that is a caribou leg bone, notched at the widest end. 

My most intriguing discovery was how amazingly well the Native peoples adapted to their environment to survive, but a close second is that widespread trade networks existed in North America even thousands of years ago. 

Your stories beautifully balance the harsh lifestyle of prehistoric people against very familiar human emotion. How did you achieve this and why were both aspects so important to you as an author?
Thank you! The harsh lifestyle was the reality of that time period, that place, and those people. None of us on earth today would be here except that our ancestors were strong enough to survive. Of course, we know that in our heads, but it sometimes takes the “reality” of a novel to convince our hearts that that was so. I based my premise of emotion (that human emotions were much the same then as they are now) on how many surviving artifacts display some type of artistic handwork, beyond what was useful. A scraping bone might have a design incised on it. Woven grass burial mats had bits of contrasting colors embroidered into the weaving. Amulets were detailed three-dimensional sculptures. These artifacts give evidence that the people appreciated beauty, which means they felt emotions: joy, love, sorrow, pride… The combination of human emotions and a harsh lifestyle allows me to write full, well-developed characters, and full characters carry a novel into the hearts of readers.   

Do you see yourself in any of your characters and is there one of them you wish you were more like?
I see bits of myself in each of my characters. In my writing, my protagonists are what I wish I could be, especially Chagak in Mother Earth Father Sky. She is so strong. So determined. Such a survivor. I wish I were more like Chagak.  

Each of your books tackles different topics. How did you determine what ideas you would work into each particular plot? 
I always develop my characters first, and once I get to know what is important to them – at the center of their hearts – I rip it away and then write the journey they must take to reclaim what is theirs. So I guess you could say that my characters tell me what the story is about. 

Sometimes fiction takes on a life of its own and forces the author to make sacrifices for the sake of the story. Is there a character in either book you wish you could have spent more time with? 
The trader Cen in the second trilogy (The Storyteller Trilogy) is an amazing but flawed man, and I love the sacrifices he makes for those he loves. He began as a background character and pushed his way into secondary rank, but I couldn’t let give him the space he would need to ascend to protagonist status. I wish I could have spent more time with him. 

If you could sit down and talk with one of your characters, who would you choose and why?
Chagak from Mother Earth Father Sky. I would love to have a conversation with this wise, strong women. I would also love to have her show me how she weaves her beautiful baskets.

What do you hope readers come away with after reading your work?
I hope they come away with a stronger sense of their own potential and also a deeper need to connect with the Creator. 

Finally, what is next for you? Any new projects waiting in the wings? 
I’m writing suspense novels for the inspirational market. They are outside the box, so difficult to place with a publisher, but I’m excited about them and so is my agent. In the wings? A general market novel that combines paranormal, women’s fiction and mystery. Right now the characters for this novel are living in my head, and I’m having a ball getting to know them. 

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About the Author: Sue Harrison grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and graduated summa cum laude from Lake Superior State University with a bachelor of arts degree in English language and literature. At age twenty-seven, inspired by the cold Upper Michigan forest that surrounded her home, and the outdoor survival skills she had learned from her father and her husband, Harrison began researching the people who understood best how to live in a harsh environment: the North American native peoples. She studied six Native American languages and completed extensive research on culture, geography, archaeology, and anthropology during the nine years she spent writing her first novel, Mother Earth Father Sky, the extraordinary story of a woman’s struggle for survival in the last Ice Age. A national and international bestseller, and selected by the American Library Association as one of the Best Books for Young Adults in 1991, Mother Earth Father Sky is the first novel in Harrison’s critically acclaimed Ivory Carver Trilogy, which includes My Sister the Moon and Brother Wind. She is also the author of Song of the River, Cry of the Wind, and Call Down the Stars, which comprise the Storyteller Trilogy, also set in prehistoric North America. Her novels have been translated into thirteen languages and published in more than twenty countries. Harrison lives with her family in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula. For more information please visit Sue Harrison’s website. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Book  ~ Mother Earth Father Sky: A young woman fights for survival amid the brutality of the last Ice Age. It’s 7056 BC, a time before history. On the first day that Chagak’s womanhood is acknowledged within her Aleut tribe, she unexpectedly finds herself betrothed to Seal Stalker, the most promising young hunter in the village. A bright future lies ahead of Chagak—but in one violent moment, she loses her entire way of life. Left with her infant brother, Pup, and only a birdskin parka for warmth, Chagak sets out across the icy waters on a quest for survival and revenge. Mother Earth Father Sky is the first book of the Ivory Carver Trilogy, which also includes My Sister the Moon and Brother Wind.

About the Book ~ Song of the River: Two ancient tribes on the verge of making peace become foes once more when a double murder jeopardizes a storyteller’s mission. Eighty centuries ago, in the frozen land that is now Alaska, a clubfooted male child had been left to die, when a woman named K’os rescued him. Twenty years later and no longer a child, Chakliux occupies the revered role as his tribe’s storyteller. In the neighboring village of the Near River people, where Chakliux will attempt to make peace by wedding the shaman’s daughter, a double murder occurs that sends him on a harsh, enthralling journey in search of the truth about the tragic losses his people have suffered, and into the arms of a woman he was never meant to love. Song of the River is the first book of the Storyteller Trilogy, which also includes Cry of the Wind and Call Down the Stars.

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CHeck out all the stops on sue Harrison's Mother Earth Father Sky and Song of the River Virtual Book Tour!


Monday, August 5
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Tuesday, August 6
Review Bitches with Books (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Wednesday, August 7
Guest Post at HF Connection
Thursday, August 8
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book (Song of the River)
Monday, August 12
Review at Just One More Chapter (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Review at Closed the Cover (Song of the River)
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Tuesday, August 13
Review Bitches with Books (Song of the River)
Wednesday, August 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Song of the River)
Thursday, August 15
Review at A Chick Who Reads (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Friday, August 16
Review at Broken Teepee (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Monday, August 19
Review at Carole’s Ramblings & Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Tuesday, August 20
Review at Unabridged Chick (Song of the River)
Wednesday, August 21
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, August 22
Review at Book Drunkard (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Friday, August 23
Review at Too Fond (Song of the River)
Review at Broken Teepee (Song of the River)
Monday, August 26
Interview at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Tuesday, August 27
Review at Book Drunkard (Song of the River)
Wednesday, August 28
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Thursday, August 29
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time (Song of the River)
Review at The Musings of a Book Junkie (Mother Earth Father Sky)
Friday, August 30
Review at Carole’s Ramblings & Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell (Song of the River)


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