Yes, a return to fiction is planned, actually it is underway right now, and Navajo Blood will be the first novel published in the upcoming future. In 2012 my daughter Marissa joined me for an extended visit to the Navajo Reservation, as we explored the land by ourselves and with a Navajo guide.
This has been a project close to my heart for a long-long time. When she was young, Marissa had accompanied me on earlier exploratory trips onto the Rez. Background research, as always, is ongoing and will continue until the book is published. The leading players will be two Diné, as the Navajos call themselves, an older warrior and his granddaughter, and a frontiersman who had become a legend in the West, but who now wants to spend the remainder of his life with his family.
Navajo Fortress Rock is the centerpiece of the story. It is here that the three major characters will come face to face with each other and their future. It is here that the Navajo warrior, Pedro Hueros, will make a decision that will impact his life, his granddaughter’s life, and the life of the bilagáana, the white man, who devastated his people with little blood staining the ground.
Copyrighted text from Navajo Blood
“Pedro Hueros stepped slowly out of the hogan. An arrow nocked in his bow and ready. The coolness of night caressed Mother Earth. A breeze tugged on the bandanna he had tied around his head. There was a stillness that made everything one. This was the best part of day, this time between dark and first light.
“This was also the time of evil spirits.
“Streaks of orange sliced through a gray sky as Father Sun awoke. Pedro walked slowly, his eyes darting about—searching. Searching. There was a skinwalker, a wolf man, lurking out on the plain. It had awakened little Marguerita during the sleep hours when it leaped onto the hogan roof and dropped corpse powder down the smoke hole.
“Not a good omen.
“Pedro moved slowly, feeling the stiffness in his legs and the pull on his lower back. He didn’t like aging, but accepted it as a part of his time. His first priority now was sharing his knowledge with the young ones. Harmony among the Diné was all important.
“He had to kill the skinwalker before …
“Suddenly he heard the pounding of hooves, harsh yells, sporadic gunfire, shrieks of terror and pain. Pedro whipped around and ran, ran as fast as he could, stumbling, catching himself, running, … running. Out of breath, he paused bent over and gasping. Suddenly he jerked upright. Nothing! No sound at all, not even the rustle of the gentle breeze. The silence was deafening. Pedro sucked in air as an inward fear grabbed his innards and squeezed. He began to run … “
Navajo Blood will deal with race relations, humanity, and tragedy in a land I love—northeastern Arizona and northern New Mexico. With everything I write, there is a back story. Will I tell it? Don’t know. Maybe. Anyway, I’ll post updates on this page as they happen (and alert you on the blog).
Kit Carson … fiction or nonfiction?
Years back when I plotted Navajo Blood I knew that I wanted to write this novel, as it gave me the opportunity to explore Kit Carson—family man, patriot, warrior, but also a soldier who had a difficult task to complete that he didn’t want to do. The plot also gives me the freedom to explore the Navajo culture and lifeway and more, the tragical events that ultimately led to the end of their days of freedom.
But then …
With the eventual completion of Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway (for OU Press) moving slowly forward I would be some day confronted with the fact that I had zero nonfiction Indian wars books in my future. How could this be? The Indian wars have been my freelance writing life (other than increasing move into the era of the golden age of cinema). I began to rethink Kit Carson. Could Navajo Blood become a nonfiction book? Yes! But it would be a different book. Could it be both fiction and nonfiction? I don’t know. Has this ever been done before by a writer? If no, this could be a marvelous challenge to a writer, and certainly one that could juice my creative mind. … If again no, is there another Kit Carson story that deals with race that grabs my interest? The answer is yes. To date OU Press is lukewarm, at best, to me doing a nonfiction book on Carson. I don’t know why, for I think that it is a terrific project for me. … There’s a lot of writing still to do on Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway, which buys me time to fine tune the nonfiction Carson book I’d like to write as well as complete as much research as possible.
Should these comments be in the nonfiction book section? Probably. Will I move them there? Probably. But for now they are here as these thoughts currently impact a novel I want to write that is in progress.