Monday, January 9, 2012

Wheezer and the Painted Frog by Kitty Sutton - Excerpt & Interview

Who killed Usti Yansa? Find out September 15, 2011, in Wheezer and the Painted Frog, Kitty Sutton's debut novel about the aftermath of the infamous Trail of Tears. Healthy little boys shouldn't grow weak and die when they have shelter, food and the care of their families, yet Sasa's little brother, the last of her family, sickens, mumbling the mysterious 'I didn't do it right, I didn't do enough. Why didn't it work?' Left alone, mourning and trying to survive in a new place with new ways, Sasa seeks answers with the help of her new friend, Wheezer. The Jack Russell Terrier seems too wise, too fierce and too loyal to be just a dog. Did the Creator send Wheezer to Sasa and if so, how can a dog, albeit a smart one, help to solve a murder?

From the time Europeans landed in North America, the People were forced out of the land they had known for generations. By the nineteenth century, the United States had pushed them into the remote and undeveloped area known as Indian Territory and promised them food and protection that never came. Plagued by the loss of their ability to farm and hunt, the lack of food and shelter, the disease brought by the White Man, every tribe suffered losses so great only the memories of the survivors could document the dead. This story, taking place among the Cherokee after the Trail of Tears, is a story for all the People.

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by Kitty Sutton, 2010
Chapter 1
The dog had been running for shear panic.  He had no clue where he was, nor did he take the time to stop to look around him.  He had been so frightened by the 'big boom', a sound he had never heard before, that he had run blindly into the forest.  As he ran deeper into this unknown place, everything became foreign to him, even the smell of the land.  As he frantically ran, he took no notice of the splotches of blood that sprang from his paws as each one contacted the moldy ground, strewn with sharp rocks.  His mostly white fur, coupled with small brown patches, began collecting thick knots of burrs and small crawling things on his otherwise clean coat.  His heart thumping as it pumped, combining with his desperate panting, filled his ears, blocking out all other sounds.

The all-consuming rush of fear, forced his muscles onward, working flat-out.  Painfully burning now.  His breath began growing shorter, shallower.  His blood red tongue lolled sideways, hanging to cool in the wind, while white, foamy flecks of spittle kept flying in all directions from its surface, draining him of needed moisture.  His ears, eyes and nose, tried scanning ahead, sideways, behind, but mostly behind.  Was the terrible thing following him? He wouldn't be able to run much longer! Already his gait was getting erratic.  The wild surge that sent him flying in bounds over boulders and branches, crashing and smashing through bushes as though there were none there, continued on.  In a storm of twigs cracking, snapping, vines tearing, branches whipping as he passed, he pushed further into the unknown forest.  His stride was no longer a gallop, ...running now, body elongated, low, close to the ground next to the leafy mat, as foxes would run when he hunted them, ...trotting now, staggering ever so slightly...he knew he must turn and fight or drop and  hide.  The blood pumping in his ears was not so loud anymore, pain throbbed in the torn flesh of his paws, as burning in his muscles and lungs demanded he cease his mad dash.

As quickly as his run began, now it stopped.  He stood trembling in the twilight of this unfamiliar forest, looking in every direction for any movement that might indicate danger to him.
He looked slowly behind, halting, puzzled.  He cautiously trod toward the setting sun which he could barely see through the thick trees.  His heart still raced; the panic in him was still close to the surface.  His skin flicked and rippled in waves from head to tail as he proceeded, trying to get his bearings.

He topped a ridge and stopped cold in his tracks panting in his thirst.  He stared at the panoramic scene before him.  An endless forest lay as far as his keen dog eyes could see, undulating with high ridges and deep hollows almost black and bottomless.  He turned in a circle not knowing what direction to step.  Finally, his thirst won out and satisfying it became his only goal.

In the fading light, he noticed well-worn trails extending across the ridge he perched on and down the slope.  Guided by instinct alone, he moved forward and down.  He continued down the trail, taking care to listen to the forest noises.  A soft breeze buffeted the leaves around him, warm and perfumed with all the forest scents.  Sensing he was losing his light, he quickened his pace.  As he followed the path, other trails joined it as if all were pointing the way.  When darkness was almost complete, he came to a small mountain spring with cold sparkling water trickling over the rocks.

No other animals were at the spring, so he slaked his monumental thirst.  He gazed at the moonlight reflecting off the small stream; he calmed and breathed deeply.  Feeling vulnerable he moved off into the forest a little way, circled several times upon some fern plants, then lay down.  He could keep his eyes open no longer, then sleep overtook him.
* * * * * * * * * *

Sasa, a girl of the Cherokee, sat next to a dry, waterless creek.  She could feel the thick dust with drying traces of long shed tears over her rounded cheeks under large black-brown eyes.  She had no family now.  Her parents and extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins and all the rest had made the “Long Walk” from their traditional Cherokee lands, many moons now to the east.  She had watched as each day they walked a few more miles, her family becoming weak and sick.  Now she thought it almost a blessing for some families when their elders and children were slaughtered by white settlers before the soldiers forced them to the west.  Sasa thought her immediate family had escaped succumbing to sickness, starvation and death on the trail.  But, after the soldiers ended their long travail, they left them alone with many new problems.  All the People needed homes, food and medicine.

Her red calico skirt and blouse were exceedingly worn and stained from endless days of walking.  No amount of washing would make the dirt from sleeping on the ground every night, and the blood from her cuts and scraps come out.  She still wore the moccasins her mother made her.  She had resoled them several times with old hides that had been given to her.  They were almost unwearable.  Even though she had repaired them, most of the beads her mother had sewn on were gone now.  Her raven hair was cropped short just under her ears.  With each death in her family, she cut a little more off.  Her mother would have hated the cutting of her hair.  She always said, "My little Swan, my little Sasa, how beautiful you are with your long black hair.  You be sure to comb it every day with the carved shell comb your father made you," but there was no one left to worry if she combed it or not.

This northeast corner of Indian Territory seemed similar in some ways, but much drier,   compared to the forested slopes of her traditional home in the East.  The land was flatter to the west of her new camp.  Green forests to the east, but to the west were endless vistas of rock and prairie.  In sparse places were well watered streams and land that could be farmed, but not nearly the rich land they had left.  Her homeland of verdant green had many differences to Oklahoma Indian Territory.  It was possible her people could make it here, with hard work and determination.  Unfortunately, they had been made to march with only the clothes on their backs.  They lacked weapons to make meat with until the government sent supplies for them.  The soldiers departed, and the People were left to live or die as they might.  But, the winter had taken its toll, and her mother was the first to die in the new land.  Even after they found ways to gather the wild unfamiliar roots, fish the streams, or snare small game the People continued to die.

The survivors began to call the forced march that brought them to this new land, Nunahi duna Dlo Hilu-i 'The Trail Where They Cried', but it was worse than the name implied.  Daily walking through the camp of survivors, Sasa heard stories that chilled her to the core, each as bad as the next, of death on that Long Walk.  Many of the stories, she had been a witness to, others were new and frightening.  Some said, the dead were lucky because the living were suffering still, but the dead were not.  She had heard of beatings, rape, and robbery by white settlers on the trail; walking in snow and ice with no shoes, no blankets, cholera, small pox and many deadly diseases they knew no name for.  It was printed in the white man's newspapers that the blankets given to some of the Cherokees waiting at different forts before The Long Walk, were brought from the small-pox hospitals without disinfecting them.

The tribe had been rounded up allowing them nothing from their homes, and packed into stockades with no shelter, were not allowed fires and with nonexistent sanitary arrangements.  They waited for months through the rest of the summer, then in winter were cruelly marched one thousand one hundred miles from Georgia through Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and down through Arkansas into Oklahoma.  Sasa had also heard unbearably sad accounts.  One, that a boat carrying over eight hundred Cherokee had overturned in the Mississippi River and at least four hundred drowned.

Sasa did not question the stories because she experienced first hand the cruelties of the trip.  She and her family had traveled with Chief Ross and his family as they marched with the rest of the tribe.  Usti Yansa had walked bravely with the refugees as well, but his blanket had been taken from him by a roadside gang of hecklers.  Mrs. Ross, who they called Quatie, saw him, and noticed his lips were blue as he shivered violently.

“Look John, Little Buffalo will not make it much longer if he does not get warm,” Quatie said as she shivered, “How many more babies and young have to die on this cursed march.  Quatie already had a cold, but she took one look at Usti Yansa and gave him her only blanket.  Her cold turned into pneumonia, and she died a few days from Indian Territory.  It was ironic to Sasa, that Quatie gave life to help Sasa's little brother live, just to have him die later for no reason at all.

Her family had the same problems as the others, they had no tools with which to bury the dead.  Her tribe believed that the dead should be buried the day after death to complete the cycle of life set out by the Creator.  But, it was winter, the ground too frozen to dig and everywhere was the sight of stiff bodies that would rot when the weather warmed and the sound of numb silence, for without their old and young ones who died on the trail, the living felt dead already.

That time seemed only yesterday, but it was plain that many moons had passed.  They arrived in winter, now it was very early summer.  When all that survived had arrived, it was evident that there were no longer many old ones to ask for advice about how to live in this new land.  There were few old and extremely few young.  Just yesterday, Sasa's little brother died.  Sasa had cried for hours because her little brother did not have a death song, he was only five.  Sasa herself was only thirteen.  For a Cherokee, she was considered on the edge of womanhood and expected to take care of herself.

Mr. Edwards, the new Indian Agent, showed up on Cherokee lands a few weeks after all of the Cherokee arrived.  His corpulent body would sway as he walked through the camps of the last to arrive.  He occupied a log building that, she learned, was his lodge as well as the agency office.  Sasa had seen little of his family.  If there was a family, they chose not speak to the People, but stayed in their lodge.  He brought food, but too late for some.  Even after the food arrived, many sickened and died.  That was when her father, so sad over all that had happened, refused to eat what Mr. Edwards offered.  Within ten suns, her father closed his eyes and did not open them again.

For the last few moons, it had been up to Sasa to take care of her little brother Usti Yansa, or Little Buffalo in “the English”, as her mother used to say.  She worked hard to find food for him, but he never seemed to gain any weight. He had been a robust, healthy boy even after their first arrival, but something changed.  He began to weaken.  He complained of headaches, then he had the running of the bowels and his stomach hurt him.  His fingernails started to turn odd colors as if he had pounded his fingers with a rock.  He took to his bed, having vomited many times.  Sometimes he would thrash about like a devil had him and afterwards he would sleep for long periods.

His last words to her were, “Wado, Sasa,” which meant 'Thank You, Swan' as the English used to say.  Usti Yansa gradually stopped talking and then one morning he just did not wake up.  There was no other family member to mourn for Usti Yansa, so she had to do it.  She had no idea how many of her clan relatives survived, and they were scattered over several miles of land.  She did all she remembered, but with no other members of her family to assist her, she was unsure if it were enough.

She carried the boy out beyond the camp.  His body not weighing terribly much, she walked for a long time.  She wondered where she might bury her brother, and hoped she would know when she saw it.  Then, as she walked around a coulĂ©e, she saw in the far off distance, a patch of Mimosa saplings, dripping with their pink, feathery flowers.  Under the saplings stood a large rock shaped like a young buffalo calf.  Her eyes had filled with moisture as she looked down at her brother, knowing she had found his place.  She carried him there and laid him down under the Mimosa beside the buffalo rock while she searched around for a stout stick or thin rock to dig with.  She was astonished to find the white bones of a long dead buffalo laying a short way from the buffalo rock.

She knelt and said a prayer to the Creator, thanking him for his help, then took the pelvic bone to use like a shovel.  This spot was a green place, and the earth turned easily.  Usti Yansa was unusually small, so she did not have to dig terribly deep.  She had laid him curled in a ball, placed fragrant sage in with him and slowly covered him while she sang the one and only death song she knew, her own.
* * * * * * * * * * *

His wet, black nose glistened in the sunlight, but he was so tired, the sunrise did not wake him.  The noises of the forest, the birds or the drinkers at the spring did not wake him either.  What woke him was the sound of a far off call of a human, calling his name “Jack”, frantic with worry.  He jumped up at the sound, but the sound faded with the sleep that drifted from his mind.  Still tired he circled again and lay down.

He heaved a huge sigh, laid his head on his crossed paws, his medium brown eyes shifting  about, watching for danger.  He tried to remember how he got lost.  He had been extremely happy in his home.  It was in a place with many humans, and he remembered that he lived in a large white house with real tall white sticks, taller than a human.  Jackson, his human, used to have to put white sloppy liquid on them.  There were humans of light and dark skin there, but his human was the leader, head of the pack.  Everyone, including him, had to obey what Jackson said.  But that was not hard because his human always rewarded him.  And he made whatever they did together fun.

There was lots of room to run and sometimes Jackson would take him on a hunt.  The master always laughed when he told him that he named him after himself.  Jackson called him Jack.  Jack Russell, he sometimes would say.  Jack's job was to follow the pack of bigger dogs until their prey, usually a fox, would run down into a hole.  Then it was Jack's turn to do what he was born to do.  He would follow the fox, dig and crawl until he was nose-to-nose with it.  Then he would kill it and wait until Jackson reached down, grabbing hold of Jack's short tail to pull him out, fox and all.

But what had happened to make him run away?  It was hard to think of events in the past.  What was it?  Then his mind recreated the 'big boom'.  Yes, that was it.  He shivered at the thought.  First there had been fire and humans running wild over the lawn carrying buckets of water.  Jack thought it was a game and ran with Jackson trying to grab the pail of water from his hands.

“No Jack, get away!  You men get to that storage barn.  Hurry, the gun powder is stored in there.  If the fire gets to it, we'll be blown to kingdom come.  Now get on with ya all.  Jack, get back,” Jackson said while running along to the side of the house.

As Jack watched, he saw the fire race a fast line across the lawn, as if it were running of its own will.  Jack chased it along, he could feel the heat on his nose, and began to bark at it.  He could see where it was running to.  Jackson had said it was bad and that it shouldn't get near the storage barn.  But there it was, greedily licking at the boards around the bottom of the barn.
Jack started turning in circles looking this way and that, barking as loud as he could manage.  “It's here, it's here.  Come get the bad thing.  Jackson, come get it,” Jack tried to say.

But, Jackson was paying no mind to him at the moment.  So Jack had begun to run to Jackson, bite his pant leg and pull, then bark his warning.  But Jackson just kicked at him.  Jack tried again and then again.  Finally, Jackson turned to yell at Jack, but Jack had run toward the storage barn, barking and yelping as if someone were pulling his leg off.

“Jack, this is no time to.......Oh My God!  Boys get the water over here.  The storage barn is about to blow.  Jack, Jack get away from there boy....” Jackson's last words screamed in his ears.

At that moment, Jack had heard an odd hissing noise, and in mid bark, a huge explosion of noise, and hot timbers erupted from the barn.  So loud and so frightening, Jack had run into the woods and had kept on running.  The sound seemed to continue in his head as he ran, dodging trees and jumping over rocks, deeper and deeper into the wild.
* * * * * * * * * * *

Sasa sat under the Mimosa saplings watching the brilliant fuchsia and pink, feathery flowers flutter to the ground.  She had come every day now for a week, trying to understand the upheaval in her life.  There was something tugging in the back of her mind.  It had to do with Usti Yansa.   She might think his name, but now could not say his name.  It is forbidden to speak the name of the dead.  Now, with the first day of mourning time over, the nagging feeling that her brother had been trying to tell her something in those last few weeks kept intruding into her thoughts.  He had told her that he had some big medicine that was going to help them and she should not worry.  He was not a child that talked a lot anyway, but the way he grew silent each day, the way he ate but did not gain any weight, was bothering her.  She could not explain why.  One of the last things that Usti Yansa said to her made no sense to her.  He had said, “I don't know why it is not working.  Maybe I am not doing it right or enough times.”  But he refused to explain what he meant.

It seemed to be after their father died that things started to go wrong.  Mr Edwards had brought food for all, there were problems with it just the same.  First of all, it was not the food they had been used to eating in their homeland.  She remembered the day she had gone to get her first allotment.  She had just finished building a traditional wigwam, a dome frame of saplings, tied together with wild grape vines.  In the olden times, they would have covered the frame over with tanned deer, elk or buffalo hides; a hole was left at the top for smoke to escape.  Sasa had no hides, no cloth, so she used dried brush, tied together in bunches and tied to the frame.  Because she used dry grass to cover the frame, she could not have a fire inside.  Just one spark could burn the whole wigwam down.  She built her fires outside the front flap, several feet away.  However, for many years, the Cherokee lived in log cabins, just like the white settlers, with furniture and dishes, pot and pans.  This old, old way was much harder to do.

She left her little brother and her father inside on a bed of dry grass and leaves.  She still had the blankets and some clothes that her parents had worn on the “Long Walk”.  Sasa used them now to make beds for all of them.  At this time, her father was still alive, but he lay on the grass bed with sad eyes and did not talk.  It was left to Sasa to go and get what was promised to them.  The food given to her that day included oatmeal.  She did not know how to cook it with no pots to cook it in.  Her father would not get up from his bed and would not tell Sasa what to do, so Sasa and Usti Yansa grabbed handfuls of oats and ate them dry.

“I am still hungry Sasa, is this all we are supposed to eat?” her little brother asked.

“No, we are supposed to have many things.  But, it might take time to get them.  Mr. Edwards is supposed to give me meat in an airtight,” Sasa answered.

“Sister, what is an airtight?” he asked.

“I am not sure.  Mr. Edwards says that is where we will get our meat, fruit and vegetables.  I have not seen them.  But the headmen say they look like metal cups with lids that don't come off,” Sasa explained.

“If the lids do not come off, how are we to get to the food Sasa?  I am hungry,” Usti Yansa asked, concern in his eyes.

“I will have to ask,” Sasa told him.
And ask she did.  But the answers to her questions were not truly satisfying.

“Mr. Edwards, my brother and I cannot eat this food.  We have nothing to cook with.  Our headmen say you are to bring meat to us.  Can I have this meat?  My brother is hungry,” asked Sasa on a day when she saw Mr. Edwards coming out of his agency office.

“Well, hello there, Little Squaw.  Now ain't you lookin' well.  I guess I don't rightly know what your a talkin' about.  You got your allotment, didn't ya?”  Mr. Edwards replied.

“Yes we did.  But there was no meat in it.  We got oatmeal, flour, some coffee, a box of powder they said was corn meal, with bugs in it, but nothing else.  My brother is sick.  We need this meat that our headmen say was promised,” Sasa said as she tried to look into Mr. Edwards eyes.
Mr. Edwards turned slightly so that she could not look directly at him.  Instead of turning his head to talk to her, he spoke to her while squinting from the corners of his eyes.

“Well, I reckon I'll have to check into that, little squaw.  Now, you go on to your Mam and Pap, and I'll see what we can do fur ya,” he said while looking out to the far horizon, and before she could say anything more he was gone.

Sasa had asked him several more times over the few weeks after her father died, but Mr. Edwards answers were just as frustrating as before.  Meanwhile, Usti Yansa grew sick and lifeless.  His skin turned a sallow gray, and his lips had faded to chalk.

Sitting where she had buried her brother, she remembered these things.  There was something of deep meaning about these memories; however, she seemed to be missing some pieces to the puzzle.  She would wait and maybe the Creator would reveal it to her.

Now it was only herself that she collected the allotment for.  Even that was strange, because the size of the allotment did not change.  The canisters of oatmeal, bags of flour and the bug filled corn meal were piling up in her wigwam.  However, she did find a use for the coffee.  She noticed that after the coffee was brewed by some of the mothers close to her in camp, they would throw out the used up grounds.  Sasa noticed that earth worms liked the grounds very much, so she would scoop them up and run down to a nearby creek to catch a fish or two using a trap made of grape vines and the worms for bait.  Even the small fish were better than nothing to eat.  She gave all her coffee to the mothers.  Sadly, she thought, no matter how many fish she caught and cooked over the fire with a stick and fed to Usti Yansa, he never stopped his decline.  Oh he ate as much as she provided, and the food kept her fairly healthy.  That was one of the things that nagged at her, not letting her mind rest.  Why did the food not keep him alive?


To begin, was there a particular inspiration that set your writing in motion?

For this book yes there was.  I am an avid reader of Native American historical fiction genre.  My other projects were not in that genre, I had never tried to write historical fiction.  It was in October and I was invited to participate in the National Novel Writers Month challenge for November.  It happens every year and I had never tried it.  The object is to write a book at least 50,000 words long within the month of November.  There are local and national groups that keep track of how many words you have written each day and various groups have different incentives.  I just wanted to see if I could do it.

What genre do you prefer to write in? 

I wrote for years in literary fiction even though I preferred to read historical fiction.  After writing Wheezer And The Painted Frog, I have found a new energy and excitement in writing, a feeling I have not experienced before.  So now I prefer historical fiction mysteries in Native American sub-genre.

What led you to write about this particular time in history?

One day I was doing some researching into our Cherokee heritage and I was wondering what had happened to the Cherokee people when the soldiers left them in that barren land.  I was not interested in the political struggles of which I had read much.  I wanted to know about the common 'every day' Cherokee family who walked the Trail of Tears.  What happened to them on a daily basis.  Well, I looked hard for anything, even non-fiction that might answer that question and came up empty.  That was when I dove into heavily researching it.

How difficult was the research for your book?

It was daunting to say the least.  Every place I turned only documented the political fights and physical fights between the various governing parties, over who would get what and who would be chief.  I even called the Cherokee Nation and was directed to one of their historians.  At first he was a little ambivalent about it.  He was sure that the information I sought was easy to find.  The next day he called me back and had to admit that he had only found a very small mention in his history books.

Next, I took a trip down to visit the old fort at Fort Smith, Arkansas.  That post was responsible for keeping-the-peace in Indian Territory and they have myriads of documents from that time.  The facts were still slim but enough to build a story around.  However, they explained why I was not finding much in the published accounts of the time.  They said that there had been a huge public outcry over the deaths on the trail and the suffering of the Cherokee people.  The newspapers of that era were worried that their coverage would result in canceled subscriptions.  So they pulled all their news men out of the Territory when the last group was dropped off.  The only reports available to me of what happened next were found in memoirs written many years later.

What events in your book are historical? 

Well, the months after the last group were left in Indian Territory proved devastating to the Cherokee.  Their U.S. Government allotments of food and other supplies to help them through as agreed to by treaty, were systematically being stolen right from the get go.  That winter, over 1,000 more Cherokees died of starvation because the food they were being given was rotten or full of worms or bugs.  It was a great shameful episode in American history.  It was the War Department's responsibility to oversee it and they failed in their duty.  Not only that, but some of them participated in the crimes.

Why did you choose the Jack Russell Terrier as the breed for Wheezer?

Several reasons.  First, I knew Jack Russells are known to be the most intelligent dog there is, and the time frame would have been correct for when Rev. John Russell in England had succeeded in breeding a terrier that could think for itself, especially when it went down a fox hole among other special attributes. There is no documented evidence when the first Jack came to America so I made Wheezer the first of his breed to be shipped over as a gift from the Reverend himself.  And lastly, I own three.  I know what they are capable of and how their brains work.  Oh, and I forgot, Wheezer is a real dog.  He lives here with me and oversees every word I write about him.

Introduce us to the main characters.

Of course, Wheezer the Jack Russell Terrier.  Sasa (Swan) is a thirteen year old Cherokee girl who watches her mother and father grow sick and die in the camps after their arrival.  Usti Yansa (Little Buffalo) is Sasa's five year old brother who is healthy when he arrives but dies for no apparent reason.  Jackson Halley, who is the original owner of Wheezer, and his father Andrew Halley, who owns a financial house that has loaned money to many Cherokee enterprises and therefore both father and son are friends of the Cherokee.  Arch, a full blood Cherokee and Jackson's friend and business partner.  And Samuel Edwards is the Indian Agent and his daughter Anna.  I cannot give you the name of the villain/s or it would spoil the book for you.

For those of us who have Native American ancestry, and in particular Cherokee, why should this book be important for us to read?

How can you learn from the mistakes of the past if you have no clue what happened?  If the information was hard for me to find now, think of how much harder it would be to find even a generation down the line.  I never thought I would run smack dab into a story that no one has ever told.  Especially with all of the books we have on the Trail of Tears and what led up to the removal, you would think that there would be clear documentation of its aftermath.  At the time, the mindset of the nation was in spreading what they considered civilization across the continent.  They weren't thinking then that a good portion of the population would later have ties with Native Americans.  True this is fiction, but sometimes historical fiction can be the best representation of a time and place than a history book, as in the case of Charles Dickens.  Historians have learned much from his writings.

What lessons did you in particular learn while researching and writing Wheezer And The Painted Frog?

I learned to never say never.  I thought that after I no longer had my show in Branson as a veteran entertainer, my creative days were over.  Now I am finding a whole new vista of possibilities.  I have also learned that there is much in history that has been swept away and can never be retrieved, and how important it is to those who come after.

We understand this is the first in a series called 'Mysteries From The Trail of Tears'.  Can you give us a hint about the next book in this series?

Very happy to.  It is called Wheezer And The Shy Coyote.  It takes place in 1840, one year after the Cherokees walked the trail and mostly happens in Indian Territory (Now Oklahoma), Van Buren and Fort Smith, Arkansas.  The historical part of this book will cover the Whiskey Wars which very few people know anything about, but is another shameful episode in what the settlers were willing to do to gain Indian land.  Of course Wheezer will be front and center with Sasa, Jackson Halley and Anna Edwards.  And there will be many new characters both good and bad.


1 comment:

Kitty Sutton said...

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my writing. Your site is very well put together and I am looking forward to your review of the book when you are finished. Wado (Thank You in Cherokee) Kitty Sutton - Author of Wheezer And The Painted Frog