Re Blogged from All Things Urban Fantasy
Don’t we all want to belong?
Writing about Tee, my Native American heroine, in my new release gave me such a wonderful opportunity to write about belonging—what it means to belong to a partner, a tribe, and ultimately oneself. The growth progression I’ve listed is reversed for Tee. She has to learn self-love and acceptance before can be a partner to Leo and feel like she belongs to her tribe.
I don’t belong to a Native American tribe. In fact, I am a Scotch-Irish white woman with a side on French Creole. But, when I conceived Tee in my mind, I knew I wanted her to be part of the Southern Paiute tribe outside Las Vegas. I also wanted her to be strong and capable; a kick-ass modern woman, who’d overcome and excelled professionally as a casino hostess at the Crown Jewel.
However, when I started my research into Tee’s Native American culture I was frustrated to find very few resources. How could vamps and werewolves and dragonshifters abound in modern stories, but not many Native Americans?
I did what I could, I watched YouTube videos and ordered every Paiute book I could find. You know that middle of no-where spot in the dessert everyone wants to dump nuclear waste? Yep, that is Yucca Mountain, a sacred spot for both the Southern Paiute and Western Shoshone. Another modern struggle is the alleged air pollution caused by a nearby coal-fired power plant.
All the history and modern issues were good-to-know, but they didn’t tell me much about the culture. Luckily, I found a class about Native American culture online and begged my wonderful instructor to serve as a factual editor for me. Thank goodness, she-who-actually-belonged was willing to help me portray Tee’s culture both accurately, and I hope sensitively.
Here are few paragraphs from Stop Dragon My Heart Around that set up the powwow:
You didn’t have to be a part of the Paiute tribe to know the dark tank of water and the eroded sandstone cliffs surrounding it were special. The place had an ancient feel, as if the desert eased its exhalations in and out over the pool. The very wind calmed itself to avoid disturbing the sacred ground.
Tee squatted to her haunches and leaned over the dark pool, careful to keep her extended hand away from the water. The ancestors believed that when the earth gave up its sea, this small enclave of water remained, providing the tribe with a way to survive in the arid land.
Amazingly, geologic studies of the area and the slight alkalinity of the water supported the ancient tale. There were no fish in the water, no life at all, and her people treated it as the lifeblood of the desert. No one bathed or swam or frolicked in its dark depths.
It was simply too sacred.
Don’t you want to go! I do. I hope one day to be invited to a real live powwow instead of just imagining it in my head. I hope you will read Tee and Leo’s story and be swept away by both the fictional and factual elements—and the hot, sexy bits are great too!
All my best,
PS> I want to give a shout out to my amazing editorial team at Entangled Publishing. They found an actual Native American model (not easy!) for my cover, when using a dark haired ethnic-neutral woman would have been acceptable. I’m so proud of how they got behind the story and really pushed the envelope to give you a great cover image that honors Tee.