Friday, August 29, 2014

Authors Simone Beaudelaire & Edwin Stark - MEET MY CHARACTER

MEET MY CHARACTER BLOG TOUR

We are highlighting one of the main character from our new release!


1) What is your name? Where are you from?
 Hello, there. I’m Rachael Munro and I’m from Omaha, Nebraska. Are you familiar with Omaha? If so, you probably have heard of my parents. We’re those  Monroes. You know, the ones who know everyone worth knowing?
I notice that this statement, which might have sounded boastful and snobby is delivered with a wry and sour-looking twist of the lips.
I’m not familiar with Omaha, actually. What do you do there?
I’m a graduate student. Biology. I’m steering a course away from being a political socialite.  That’s what took me to Belize. I love birds, especially hummingbirds, and there are so many in the tropics.

2) When and where is the story set, Rachael? 
 The story is set in San Rosario, a small town lost in the trackless jungles of Modern Day Belize, although some significant portions of the tale happened there nearly 500 years earlier. Is that too much of a spoiler?
She seems so eager now. Clearly this is more to her taste than talking about her silver-spoon upbringing.
It’s not if you say it’s not. Why San Rosario?
I mentioned I Love hummingbirds, right? Well that town is close to a huge, trackless jungle teeming with wildlife. One little area in particular, Devil’s Vale, seemed to draw me like a magnet the first time I saw it.

3) What should we know about you?  
 I’m a free spirit. Wealth doesn’t tempt me. I’m also bone stubborn. No amount of pressure my parents put on me could force me to conform to their will. I am determined to chart my own course.

4) What is your personal goal?  
 I’m going deep into Belize’s rainforest to improve my chances of discovering a new species of hummingbird. With all the bio-diversity present there, I’m bound to find something interesting, aren’t I?

5) What is the main conflict? What messes up your life?  
 Huh! What doesn’t mess up my life? For starters, my family wanted me to forcibly marry  the dweeby son of Senator Nolan. Oh hell no. One of the ways I rebelled against it was to embark in this amazing journey to Central America. And there’s Josh, the man I’ve chosen as a fiancĂ© instead of the Senator’s son; he’s so possessive that he didn’t want me to come to this place alone. He insisted in tagging along and “protect” me.
Of course, things surely got interesting when I met Xaman, a very handsome and mysterious stranger who has found a way into my life all of a sudden.
Rachael looked a bit flushed all of a sudden, not with embarrassment though, and she emits a nervous giggle, biting the corner of her lower lip. Very interesting indeed.
Tell me more. Who is Xaman? What does he do?
You know, I’m not sure what he does. He seems to be everywhere all the time. Everyone in town knows him. Some act terrified when he’s around. Others seem to adore him. And he’s incredibly strong. I’ve personally seen him put down a big, scary trucker with one hand.

6) Is there a working title for your story, and can we read more about it? 
My biographers have called my story Xaman, which is pronounced Shay-man, you know, like a medicine man, and I can understand why they chose that title. For a stranger, he sure takes up a prominent position in my life. For another, I can absolutely feel in my bones that there’s more to him than some sort of local, small-town celebrity. But they’ve asked me to say no more. You’ll have to read the book. It’s available now for pre-order on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and the official release date is September 6.
Thank you, Rachael, I’ll post those links at the end. I appreciate you stopping by today.
Thank you for having me.
BUY LINKS:



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MEET MY CHARACTER BLOG TOUR
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Interviewing W. Michael Gear

One Of My Favorite Authors!

  
W. Michael Gear is a humble man who loves his wife.
I think that is my favorite thing about him, but he is so much more!
Mike is an incredible intellect who has a thirst for knowledge that ignites my own educational pursuits.
He is a respected scholar in fields that entrance me, but then
he takes that to an even higher level.
How, you might ask?  Mike is a brilliant writer!
Working with his amazing partner Kathleen, their talents of storytelling bring history alive with a vivid richness that changes how you look at the world around you!
Not only has w. Michael Gear and his lovely bride inspired me as a writer, they have expanded my knowledge and encouraged me to learn more.
Since becoming a published author myself, I have reached out to the Gears and their kindness and guidance has been priceless!
More so, their offered friendship has been a gift!
I can tell you that I truly loved their work, but now, getting to know them, I have such a deeper admiration for them!
They see the beauty in the world around us and they always remember to appreciate it.  I respect that greatly!
To be able to interview Michael and to share it with my readers & followers is such a personal honor!
I am thrilled to present it to you! 

My Interview with W. Michael Gear
I want to start by saying thank you
for taking the time to allow me this interview.
You and your wife Kathleen O'Neal Gear are my favorite authors of all time, so I am thrilled to be able to speak with you!  This is one of my most treasured accomplishments!
·         As I do in all of my interviews, I would like to begin by asking you to describe yourself.
o   That’s complicated. I guess I’d call myself unconventional. I enjoy living on the edge of the modern world, and as I write this, I’m looking out my window at essential Wyoming wilderness with not a fence or house to be seen. My preferred mode of travel is by motorcycle, and I enjoy studying and shooting large-caliber firearms. Anthropology, history, and comparative religion fascinate me. I love raising and working with bison because they’re still wild and majestic animals. And everything pivots around Kathleen and our shelties.
·         I know your family has had a tremendous impact on your life and career.  Your parent’s education must have helped to impassion your own thirst for knowledge.  Who and what would you say most influenced you?
o   They provided the foundations by instilling a love for knowledge, forever sticking a book under my nose, traveling endlessly, and hammering a sense of responsibility and reverence for dreamers into my hard head. From the beginning, it was understood that education, however you get it, was the measure of a man. But beyond that, that life was to be lived with passion and sense.
·         Your step-dad, Joe taught tool-making and die making.  Did he teach you these skills and if so, how old were you when you learned them?  How do you think this knowledge has benefited you both as an archaeologist and as a writer?
o   Oddly, for an educator, my step-dad Joe didn’t teach me to be a machinist. He always said, “When you want to learn, go take a class.”  Looking back, he was wise to do so. Sometimes people in close relationships expect too much of each other.  That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t constantly being taught. I learned early to keep various motors and pieces of equipment running.  It probably comes down to learning self-reliance, which was a huge asset in my archaeological career, and of course, in running Red Canyon Ranch.
·         What does physical anthropology entail exactly?  What made you choose this discipline for your major and how does it affect your career?  How does physical anthropology interplay with archaeology and more specifically, an archaeological dig?
o   Physical anthropology is the study of human origins and evolution, genetics, and variation. I was seduced into it by a National Geographic TV show in the 1960s that documented Louis Leakey and Olduvai Gorge.  When I entered college, I wanted to be the next Leakey discovering hominid fossils in Africa. Learning osteology led me to paleopathology, which is the study of ancient metabolic, degenerative, infectious, and traumatic injury to bones. And that, of course, leads to forensic anthropology, all of which were part of my training, along with genetics.  At the same time I was taking cultural anthropology and archaeology courses, all of which interrelate. As I finished my Master’s degree, I was offered a job as a field archaeologist at Western Wyoming College in Rock Springs, Wyoming.  Somehow, one project led to another, and I never got back to tackling a PhD in physical anthro.
·         I read that you had your own archaeology consulting company and that federal policy changes ultimately motivated you to sell your share in it.  What brought you from owning your own company to the literary world?  How did you transition from field scholar to author?  Was it a difficult choice to make or did it just seem like the natural progression of your life and work?
o    Yes, I was a founding partner in Pronghorn Anthropological Associates, a contract archaeological firm operating out of Casper, Wyoming.  We did archaeological work for energy companies and the federal government. Like everything government gets involved in, contract archaeology was transformed from actual field work to a paper shuffle so that bureaucrats could justify their positions.  I’d already written a couple of novels, and the dream to write full time wasn’t a hard choice to make.
·         Do you have a preferred writing genre?  Do you prefer to write fiction or non-fiction?  Why or why not?  Is your favorite reading genre different from your preferred writing genre?  Why or why not?
o   Do I have a preferred genre?  Unlike so many authors, I hate having to write only in one genre. This, of course, upsets the stomachs of marketing people and book buyers. Kathy and I are indeed type-cast as authors of prehistory, but we constantly write modern thriller/suspense, and I’m currently dickering with Tor/Forge for another Western-Historical novel.  And I’d dearly love to write a science-fiction series that’s been on the back burner for a couple of years.
·         What motivated you to have a buffalo ranch?  Do you raise them to sell the meat or is your ranch more like a reserve?  What sort of archaeological dig site is located on your ranch and how did you discover it?
o   Our motivation for the buffalo ranch came from our academic and family backgrounds.  We bought Red Canyon Ranch because it’s beautiful and remote and had a great archaeological site. Agricultural property must be used for agriculture, and the first year we ran cattle, we remembered why our families were always scrambling to make ends meet. The markets are controlled by the packers. Bison, however, was worth (and still is) twice as much as beef as a commodity.  We just didn’t anticipate how much we’d enjoy the animals.  Besides which, we had the constant archaeological exposure to bison, and felt that we’d be able to learn from them.  Talk about an understatement!  Most of Red Canyon Ranch’s bison production goes to the breeding and feeding market.
·         Do you prefer to write alone or co-authoring with your wife, Kathleen O’Neal Gear?  What do you like about writing solo?  Do you prefer to write as a team?  Why or why not?
o   It doesn’t matter whose name is on the cover, Kathleen has been integral to the creation of the novel. I’ve never written anything that she hasn’t been through, and I hope I never have to.
·         What advice would you give to a new writer or a budding archaeologist?  What advice was given to you that has had a lasting effect? 
o   The advice I give budding archaeologists is to “live the dream” and don’t let the bureaucrats in either government or the academy kill it with administrative paperwork.
o   For writers, my advice is that tenacity is always worth more than talent. The most influential advice I ever received was “Don’t throw away a perfectly good career to write books. You’ll starve to death in a year.”  Had to prove them wrong.
·         Your books have made a lasting impression on me; RAISING ABEL, DARK INHERITANCE, and PEOPLE Books specifically.  What motivated these stories to be written?  What are the similarities and contrasts for writing about pre-history peoples like Neanderthals or Native American cultures?  Does your answer change if you are writing about them in a modern context opposed to a pre-history setting?  Why or why not?
o   All of our books have been motivated by some aspect of anthropology.  Sometimes, like with PEOPLE OF THE MOON they’ve popped up full-blown while visiting an archaeological site. Sometimes, like DARK INHERITANCE they’ve been born of a particular session at a professional meeting such as the American Association of Physical Anthropology.  Our novel THE BETRAYAL resulted from a question by a Cherokee elder and friend of ours: “You do lots of books about the origins of Native religion.  Have you ever thought about doing the same thing with early Christianity?”  Each novel is different, but the characters are still just people. Our job is to make them intelligible and relevant to a modern reader.
·         Where do you see yourself in five years?
o   Where will I be in five years?  How about semi-retired and only writing one novel a year with time to tour on the motorcycle, play with the dogs, do a little target shooting, and enjoy every single moment with my Kathleen?

Thank you so much for your time!
It has been a pleasure to speak with you and I know my readers will love you just as much as I do!
I wish you success and joy in all you do!
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Interviewing Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

My Favorite Authors

Click on the photo to be redirect to the http://www.gear-gear.com website
As my readers and followers know,
my favorite reading genre is historical fiction.
I was always a literature and history buff, so this makes
perfect sense.
Plus, coming from such a mixed and largely diverse heritage (which includes Native American, Norse, and a multitude of other Latin and European bloodlines), I am fascinated to know about the people and places that have cultivated our world. 
Of course, I also have a strong passion for prehistoric and ancient near eastern cultures, so when I found PEOPLE OF THE WOLF at my local library many years back, it not only drew me in,
but it changed my life!
That was the book that introduced me to North America's Forgotten Past series and to the Gears themselves.
Then DARK INHERITANCE and RAISING ABEL blew my mind!
Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear are two people that I have great respect for.  They value the same things I do:
Literature & words, nature, all life (human & animal), culture, knowledge, kindness and humility.
Their writing reflects their morals and intellect, offering me new perspectives and deeper understanding of the subjects they write about, to include human behavior and society.  It intrigues me and they present it in such
an exciting, adventurous, and entertaining way!
I cannot tell you how much these two talented writers have meant to me.  They have embodied all the things that I admire and have not only brought together the elements of this world that fascinate me, but they have done it in such a brilliantly delightful way!
I'm honored to share this author interview with you
as it's very personal to me!

My Interview with
W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear
First, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to allow me to interview you.
Your writing has been a personal source of entertainment and inspiration.  You have encouraged my education, opened my mind, and ignited my passions
for literature and history alike!
·         As I do in all of my interviews, I would like to begin by asking you both to describe yourselves.  How would you describe one another?
o   We’re companions, spouses, lovers, conspirators, colleagues, dreamers, and collaborators.  We balance each other, support each other, and cover for the other’s short-comings. Yin and Yang. Red and White. A whole greater than our parts.
·         What was the first piece of work that you collaborated on?  What motivated you to work together?  Did you intend for the professional partnership to continue or did it just sort of take on a life of its own?  What helps you to determine if a project will be written individually or co-authored?
o   Everything we’ve ever written has had input from the other.  We were first asked to “officially” co-author by Michael Seidman, the editor at Tor Books who acquired the PEOPLE series. It took us half of the book to work out the “who does what” but in the end, it lead us to a most remarkable collaboration. The success of PEOPLE OF THE WOLF cemented our reputation as co-authors.  Recently, what determines if a book has one of our names or both is the publisher’s marketing department.  Anything we write, even if it has only one name on it, will be co-authored.
·         Writing partnerships fascinate me, as you are combining two writing styles and voices into one.  How have you confronted the obstacle of blending your work into one successful and cohesive piece? 
o   Our partnership is unique in that we constantly rewrite each other’s material. We don’t fuss too much over the writing, but sometimes we’ve had some real knock-down drag-outs over the interpretation of the anthropological data. The goal is to create a piece of fiction that reads seamlessly.  We killed the sacred cows long ago.
o   One of the lessons we learned with PEOPLE OF THE WOLF was that one of us has to take the lead on a given story.  That person takes responsibility for the plot, characters, and setting—with lots of input from the co-author.  The decision is usually made based upon which of us has academic expertise in a given area.  For example, Kathleen is the Iroquois expert; Michael is more proficient in Southeastern Mississippian culture.  Either of us could take the lead on a Southwestern Anasazi book.  We constantly re-read and rewrite each other’s stuff, but sometimes it’s with a warning like, “Don’t touch the dialog in Chapter Seven. It’s got to read exactly that way for things to work out in Chapter Eight.”
·         Do you feel like things have gotten easier the longer you have collaborated or do you have to revisit the same challenges with each novel?  Why or why not?
o   Are things easier?  After fifty-six novels, we’re pretty much functioning like a well-oiled machine. All the obstacles and problems were solved decades ago.
·         Co-authoring has its own unique challenges, but do you think being married has helped or hindered you in this endeavor?  Why or why not?
o   In our case, being married has definitely helped. We trust each other implicitly. Our entire relationship is based on teamwork and partnership. We make a joke out of it, but our philosophy is: if you have no talent, marry it!
·         How do you blend your stories into one?  Do you delegate different responsibilities for different projects or is there a certain pattern which you follow?  How do you decide on the story, characters, and events you will write about?
o   How do two people create a single story?  We talk a lot about the story arc, who the characters will be, and how the plot will unfold.  In discussions about the craft of writing, research only receives lip service, but along with story, characters, and setting, it’s a huge part of the author’s job. In many cases the research dictates the direction a novel must take. For instance, we would have loved to have killed Atotarho in the PEOPLE OF THE LONGHOUSE quartet.  The same with Hernando de Soto in A SEARINGWIND.  Historically, to have done so would have been inaccurate.  Research also dictates what we’ll write about, from papers in professional conferences, to journal articles, to actual visits to archaeological sites.  Sometimes the decision is based on what’s in the news, like Kennewick Man in PEOPLE OF THE RAVEN.  With PEOPLE OF THE NIGHTLAND the book was born out of a suggestion by our editor.
·         We all have different people, places, or things that move us.  Are your influences different than one another’s and if so, how to you deal with that?  Do you have specific writers who influence you as team opposed to just as individuals?
o    Are we moved by different influences?  Of course. Kathleen was very moved by the high percentage of young Native American girls who end up being forced into the sex trade in Minnesota. It influenced how she developed PEOPLE OF THELONGHOUSE—for which she had the lead--and provided a motivation for individuals from warring enemy nations to create an alliance.  Michael agreed and augmented the book, helping to create one of our great villains: Gannajero.  In PEOPLE OF THE MORNING STAR, Michael has been fascinated by the size and extent of Cahokia as it’s been revealed through modern excavations. With Kathleen’s guidance and input, Seven Skull Shield has appeared—a man who could exist nowhere else but Cahokia.
·         Is there a certain tribe or culture that speaks to you more than any of the others?  Why or why not?  Are there areas that one of you is better educated than the other and how does that impact the progression of a story?  Will this dictate who will write about a certain topic or who is to research a certain element in your work? 
o   Does a particular prehistoric culture or nation speak to us more than others?  Sure.  We have favorites like the Iroquois, Muskogeans, Anasazi, Mississippians, Cahokians, and others, but tens of other cultures remain to be written about.  We’d love to do a Fremont book set in Utah in the 1100s, or a Hohokam book set in the Phoenix basin in the 1200s.  We have not written about the Adena peoples of the upper Ohio River, or the ancestral Cherokee, or the Caddo in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.  There are just so many cultures, so little time to research and write about them.
·         Do you have any quirky writing habits?  How do you get your muse?  Some writers try to write a certain amount each day and others use different techniques.  What does a typical writing day look like for the two of you?  Does this differ from your individual styles?
o   Michael’s office is in the basement.  Kathleen writes in her office on the second floor. We’re separated because we like different kinds of music. Michael goes for classical and opera, Kathleen for folk, blues, and soft rock.  Kathleen writes as an immaculate craftsman, writing and rewriting paragraph by paragraph to create a finished product.  Michael calls his method “vomit and mop” wherein he spits out twenty pages at a time, only to go back and spend a couple of days revising, correcting, and polishing.  We’d love to have a schedule where we could dedicate a certain amount of time each day to writing. Instead, given the exigencies of the real world and the ranch, we write whenever we can lever the time into our schedules with a crowbar and a hydraulic jack.
·         How do you move from a story concept to seeing that idea come to fruition?  Do you use an outline or story board of some kind?  How do you keep your story on target together?  I would assume you have regular meetings about a story and its direction.  What is this like for you?
o   Normally we don’t outline or story board. Generally the archaeological or historical information provide us with the story and its conclusion. After fifty-six published novels, structure is almost instinctive. On the other hand, outlining is a tool we’ve used in the past when we’ve found ourselves stuck.  It just depends.
·         Do you have a particular book or series that you enjoyed writing the most?  Do you both agree on the answer?  Why or why not?  How does your answer change if you are asked this as solo artists?
o   Yeah, all of them!  And that’s not stated facetiously. If they weren’t fun and favorites, we wouldn’t have written them.  That’s not to say that some books weren’t harder than others to write, for example PEOPLE OF THE SONGTRAIL coming in May of 2015 was particularly difficult.  The novel is about early Norse contact with the Native peoples in the Canadian Maritimes.  Our problem was how to make Norse religion, especially Seidur magic, not sound like modern fantasy.  And to put a spin on your question, we sincerely believe the most important novel we’ve ever written was THE BETRAYAL.
·         How is publishing a work of fiction different from publishing a scientific paper in the archeological world?  Is one type of publishing easier than the other?  What about the writing element, is it easier to write facts or fiction for you?
o   Call it two different universes in which each piece has its own obstacles. It just depends.  The same with the writing.
·         What advice would you give to a new author?  What about a writing team?  Does that advice change and if so, how and why?
o   Our best advice to a new author is that tenacity is worth ten times what talent is. Michael wrote eight novels, learning his craft, before he finally sold one. Authors who want to succeed must learn how to structure the plot, develop compelling characters, and drop them in enticing settings.  All of this hinges on in depth and exhaustive research.  Then do it again, and again, and again, never giving up.
o   Co-authoring is a whole different can of worms fraught with landmines, but if each partner is willing to do 80% of the work, and if they have a well-thought-out business plan, and trust each other implicitly, it can be wonderful.
·         What do you think it the most difficult part of the literary world and how do you deal with it?  What do you feel is the most rewarding part of the industry?  Was there anything that surprised you when you decided to write professionally?  Has that changed as the industry has changed?
o   In this day and age, almost everything. We spend more time on social media, marketing, and administering than ever before.  In the last ten years 80% of the retail space devoted to books has vanished. Amazon and the publishers are locked in a battle for the future with authors caught in the middle.  Print books are becoming a boutique industry, and the e-book market is an ocean of product containing millions of titles screaming for attention.  We can see the day coming when a quality, bestselling novel that took a year to research and write will net an established author less than he’d earn running the cash register at the local convenience store.  Publishing has never been fair, but through hard work, if an author consistently provided a quality read, he was generally incentivized to write another book. That day may be past.
·         What can we expect to see from you next?  What are you currently working on?  I, personally, am extremely excited to read your new series about De Soto – the Contact series!
o   We’re delighted that you’re reading the CONTACT:BATTLE FOR AMERICA series.  It starts with COMING OF THE STORM followed by FIRE THE SKY and concludes with A SEARING WIND. No one has ever told the native side of the de Soto story.  The man was a narcissistic butcher, and American grade schools are named after him?  The trilogy focuses on a Chickasaw trader, Black Shell, and his wife, Pearl Hand, who will do anything to stop de Soto as he burns his way across America.  Do let us know what you think when you finish the trilogy.
o   Additionally, PEOPLEOF THE MORNING STAR is out in hardback and e-edition.  We’re working with the publisher to include the novella, COPPER FALCON, also set in Cahokia, in the mass market of PEOPLEOF THE MORNING STAR to be published in March.  Then, in May, PEOPLE OF THE SONGTRAIL, our Viking novel, will be released in hardback.  You’ll meet Godi Gunnar, a self-made noble, who locks horns with the evil Thorlak as the latter seeks a hidden Seidur seeress and her Power.
o   At the same time, we’re hard at work on another MORNING STAR novel featuring Clan Keeper Blue Heron, Night Shadow Star, Fire Cat, and the irascible Seven Skull Shield.  Again the setting is Cahokia, and again the Powers of the Underworld are in jeopardy.

Thank you so much for your time!
I wish you success, prosperity, and joy in all you do!
 
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To learn more about the Gears,
check out the individual interviews I did with them!

Just click on their name to be linked to their interview:
Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

Interview With My Favorite Author

Kathleen O'Neal Gear

Click on the photo to be redirected to the http://www.gear-gear.com website
I am so excited to share this interview with you all!
Kathleen O'Neal Gear is a very influential person to me personally on so many levels.  Kathleen and her husband, W. Michael Gear are honestly my favorite authors of all time.
Furthermore, Kathleen is my personal role model.
She is an incredibly educated scholar, fearless archaeologist and naturalist, and incredibly charming.  Her passion is apparent even in her gentlest of voices and her thirst for knowledge is inspiring.
Not only do I love the way she writes, but I love the spirit in which Kathleen speaks and sees the world around her.
Her respect for life, the land, history, words...  the way she values people and nature and the stories they have to share are all reasons why I look up to her.  Furthermore, her kindness and the way she loves her best friend, husband, and partner, Michael endears me to them all the more.
After reading about this fascinating and talented lady, I am certain that you will love her too!

My Interview with Kathleen O’Neal Gear
First, I want to start by thanking you
for taking the time to allow me to interview you.
This interview is extremely personal to me because you are truly my favorite author.
Your intellect, skill, passion, and knowledge are admirable and what make you my role model!  To be able to speak to you as a fellow author and more so, as a friend is an incredible blessing to me!
·         As I do in all of my interviews, I would like to begin by asking you to describe yourself.
o   My idea of a great time is hiking as far back into the wilderness as I can to sit on a 
mountain cliff and stare out at receding layers of blue.  No technology, no music.  Just birdsong, buffalo calling to each other across the distances, and Michael at my side.  A great romantic weekend is cooking over an open fire, then falling to sleep in a tent with the rain pattering on the roof and the feel of Mike's arms around me.
·         Is your Ph.D. in literature, history, or a discipline in archaeology?  Do you consider yourself to be one particular thing over another, like a historian instead of an archaeologist or now that you write full-time, do you consider yourself writer instead of a historian?  Why or why not? 
o   I never finished my Ph.D., but my Ph.D. coursework was in American Indian history, which I thought filled a gap in my education.  I'd been studying comparative religions, particularly Native American religions, and archaeology. I felt that I needed to understand the historical development of native traditions to give context to the other disciplines.  I really don't consider myself to be one thing over another.  I sort of switch depending upon the need at the time.  I'm an archaeologist, then a historian, then a novelist, or just someone who cherishes buffalo and all things wild--including Mike.
·         Both of your parents were writers, albeit in different facets of the field.  How did their literary involvement inspire you and do you feel that it helped or hindered your own literary career?  Why or why not?
o   I grew up in a household where my parents farmed by day, raised six kids, and wrote mostly by night and on the weekends.  They were absolutely the happiest when they were writing.  I don't know how they did it.  Dad could write a great western short story with four kids hanging over his shoulders, staring at the typewriter as the words came out. Mom could cook dinner with one child propped on her left hip while she jotted notes about her latest newspaper article on a notepad on the kitchen table. They loved words.  They loved books.  Our house was filled with thousands of books.  They taught me that words were vehicles for self-transcendence and, like 
a time machine, they could take you wherever or whenever you wanted to go.
·         Is there a particular author or book that has touched you more than any other?  If so, who and what are they?  Have they changed as you have grown and matured?
o   Oh, so many authors have touched me over my life.  Margaret Mitchell, John Steinbeck, Frank Waters, W. Michael Gear.  I still think Mike is the finest writer I've ever known.
·         Who would you say have influenced you the most?  I realize that this answer can be different depending on what it relates to, so I am interested to know who had the most influence on you in your education, your writing career, your writing topics, and your life in general.  Is your answer different for each; why or why not?
o   That's not an easy question to answer.  In terms of my education, one of the greatest influences on my life was Dr. Charles Kegley, who taught the history of philosophy and the history of religions at California State College in Bakersfield.  He taught me how to think critically, and why it mattered, which is maybe the greatest lesson a teacher can impart to a student. In terms of writing, the topics I love, and my life in general?  The greatest influence on me was my quirky family.  Talk about the inspiration for characters! 
·         You said your parents used to take you and your siblings to various historical and archaeological sites during family vacations.  I am curious to know if these were primarily Native American sites or how you were driven to be so impassioned by that various Native American cultures?  Is there one era or culture that speaks to you more than another?  Why or why not?
o   Yes, every summer after Dad turned off the water on the cotton, we took a family vacation to visit archaeological and historical sites around America.  They were primarily Native American sites, but not always.  If Dad was working on a short story about a western ghost town, we went to visit it.  If Mom was working on a newspaper story about a controversial dam being built near a reservation in the Southwest, we went to sit around a campfire with the native elders and listen to their side of the debate.  We spent half of those vacations in museums.  And we couldn't just bounce around the museum glancing at things, we had to read the displays and talk about what the artifacts meant, how the prehistoric peoples lived, and speculate about what happened to them. Mom had a great way of teaching. We'd be standing in the middle of a prehistoric ruin, and she'd pick up a pot shard, hold it to our ears, and say, "Can you hear the people talking?" Believe me, when you're four years old, every pot shard has a voice.  And, as it happens, they still do.
·         Do you have a preferred writing genre?  Do you prefer to write fiction or non-fiction?  Why or why not?  Is it more difficult to publish one type of genre over another?  Is your favorite reading genre different from the one that you prefer to write in?  Why or why not?
o   I love writing both fiction and non-fiction.  Mike and I write a lot of non-fiction articles about archaeology, history, and the conservation and management of North American buffalo, or bison.  We enjoy teaching about those subjects.  However, fiction has a special magic.  With fiction I can live ten thousand years ago, I can make the stone tools that we're uncovering in the archaeology excavations, and hunt mammoths, and be hunted by giant short-faced bears.  That's the charm of being a mental traveler.  When a bear has you by the throat, you can just switch scenes.  My favorite reading is non-fiction historical works, and fantasy novels, exactly the kind of things I write about.
·         Do you feel that co-authoring with your husband Mike has had any effect on your writing style, topics of interest, or writing habits?  Why or why not?
o    Co-authoring with Michael definitely influences my writing habits. We have a schedule.  Every evening we read what the other has written, make suggestions, discuss directions, and then over breakfast we talk about what the characters are going to do that day.  And actually, everything we write is co-authored. Even when only one of our names appears on the cover, the other acted as editor, writing consultant, and sometimes actually wrote a scene on two. 
·         Do you prefer to write solo or as a co-author to your talented husband, W. Michael Gear?  Why or why not?  What do you feel has been your most enjoyable project to write, both individually and with your husband?  Why or why not?  Which has been most challenging?
o   Both!  No, really.  Each has its own special kind of challenge.  The most rewarding project, for me personally, was the PEOPLE OF THE LONGHOUSE quartet of books.  Having a half million words to tell a story is a great gift, especially a story as important as the founding of the Iroquois Confederacy in the fifteenth century.  Iroquoian concepts of democracy heavily influenced America's founders, and continue to set the tone for American ideals. Probably the most challenging book to write was PEOPLE OF THE SONGTRAIL, which comes out next May, 2015.  The information about Norse contact with North American native cultures is limited to just a few archaeological sites, so it meant we had to fill in more of the gaps with oral history, but that's also an enjoyable challenge.  And being able to write about the religious persecution of the Norse traditionalists as Christianity spread across Europe was very interesting.
·         What motivated you to have a buffalo ranch?  I know you grew up on a crop farm, growing mostly cotton and alfalfa.  Do you think growing up on a farm benefits you in your life as a rancher?  Why or why not?
o   As archaeologists we had been excavating buffalo from sites for many years, and we knew the sacred role they had played in Native American cultures.  We started raising buffalo to try to understand why.  It didn't take long to discovery that when you look into the eyes of a buffalo, you see God looking back.
·         Is there anything you would do different in your writing career if you could?  Why or why not?  Was there anything you were surprised by becoming a novelist, despite seeing your parents work in the literary world?  How do you think these have effected your decisions in your career?
o   No, I wouldn't do a single thing differently.  Every hardship in a writing career teaches you a lesson.  Mike and I quit two good jobs and started writing novels in a mountain cabin with no running water.  Walking up the slippery mountain trail to the outhouse in 40 below zero was always exciting.  You certainly didn't dally. We got down to $184.47 in the bank before we sold our first book. When we finally started selling books, the thing that surprised me most was that people actually wanted to read them.  For the most part, I think authors write about what they love, and they write primarily for themselves, so it's always a gratifying surprise when you discover that other people care about the same things you care about. 
·         Do you feel like it is easier to publish scientific papers related to your work or to publish books?  Why do you feel this way and do you think they are mutually exclusive or do they benefit each other?  Does it make it easier to publish in one if you are already published in the other?  Why or why not?
o   It's probably easier to publish scientific papers than novels, but if you've published scientific papers, and your books are related to that topic, I think the scientific papers lend credibility to your novels. 
·         What advice would you give to a new writer, a budding archaeologist, or a history major?  What advice was given to you that has had a lasting effect? 
o   Advice to a new writer?  Persistence is worth ten times as much as talent.  Hang in there.  If you keep at it, you will publish a book.  Learn everything you can.  Read voraciously.  Never let anyone tell you that you can't do it.  What do they know?  The best advice ever given to me came from Mike: "Don't try to be fancy.  Just tell a good story." 
o   To budding archaeologists or historians I would say: "The past is like a black and white photograph that's been torn to shreds and half the pieces are missing.  Your goal should be to piece it back together as best you can, and tell the story.  Who were they? What happened to them?  And most importantly, tell modern people why they should care about something that happened five thousand years ago.  Explain what relevance it has to who we are as human beings today."
·         What can we expect to see from you next?  What are you currently working on?
o   We're currently working on a sequel to PEOPLE OF THE MORNING STAR, which is set in Cahokia, Illinois, in the eleventh century.  It's always a pleasure to write about the spectacular moments in North American prehistory, and this is certainly one of those.  Cahokians were charting the cycles of the sun, moon, and stars. They were trading across half the continent and constructing massive earthen mounds and multi-story buildings.  They were amazing.
·         Where do you see yourself in five years?
o   I hope I'm writing about recently discovered archaeological sites in Europe that document the fabulous trans-oceanic voyages of the earliest Native American peoples. I believe they're there.  I think Native Americans discovered Europe long before Europeans discovered America.  Now, archaeologists just have to prove it. I can't wait.

Thank you so much for your time!
It has been a pleasure to speak with you and I know my readers will love you just as much as I do!
I wish you success and joy in all you do!
  
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