new improved Strikes-the-Sky question… and an almost answer

Sara has more questions regarding Strikes-the-Sky:

So now I’m going to do the bold and unthinkable and ask you a question, which as author you aren’t obligated to address (though I surely hope you will). Why — when his character was so immediately interesting, endearing and obviously significant — did you have Strikes-the-Sky die? I simply sensed such potential had he lived — in whatever circumstance. I humbly admit, however, that I have secretly hoped he still did live, and I know that however the story ends up it will be right.

It’s an interesting question, but not easy to answer. Why does any character die? Why does Strikes-the-Sky die? Was that a cold blooded, cold hearted decision on my part?

To be truthful, I don’t even remember when I knew that Strikes-the-Sky wouldn’t be around for Fire Along the Sky. What I knew, before I started writing, was very little beyond a basic fact: Hannah needed to be in the Ohio territory during the time Tecumseh was trying to unite the tribes. She had to be a part of that, and to experience first hand what was coming for all the first peoples. Strikes-the-Sky took her there, and made it possible for her to have those experiences.

The loss of her husband and son is mirrored and made more intense by a larger loss of what was widely believed to be the last real chance for the native peoples to resist European encroachment. But I never sat down and reckoned this all out for myself. It happened behind the door of my subconscious, and then appeared one day as a done deal.

I don’t know if that is an answer that will help anybody understand the process, but it’s as close as I can get to describing how things came to pass for Strikes-the-Sky.

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8 Replies to “new improved Strikes-the-Sky question… and an almost answer”

  1. I, too, had hoped that he was still alive. In the short time he was around, I grew to enjoy him as a character and wanted to see how he and Hannah would grow together, how he would challenge her and meet her challenges. I think that because for so long in FAS his assumed death was a shrouded in mystery, there was always a chance that he was in fact still alive. But when Manny came to confirm the fact of his death, I thought to myself rather sadly, “Oh. So he really is dead.” For me, there was such a change in Hannah from the plucky girl of Dawn on a Distant Shore to the serious, almost withdrawn young woman of Lake in the Clouds, and I was so pleased to see how Strikes-the-Sky brought her out of herself and made her laugh again. She may have had ten years of laughter with Strikes-the-Sky, but we are not privy to that, so in FAS, we see her not only serious and withdrawn, but closed in on herself, gripped with grief and seemingly moving through life in a fog, a daze, a terrible dream. It breaks my heart to see her spunk draining away.

  2. It is true that I was sad that Strikes-The-Sky died, but when I read a story, I don’t ask myself what ifs. I don’t think: ” Why did the author decide to kill this character?” I actually don’t think about the author while I read, because the story is real to me. So when things happen, I just accept them as part of what’s meant to happen to the characters. If I’m making any sense at all…

    PS: I do think about the author once I’m done though, and think of what an incredible job she’s done!

  3. I absolutely agree with what Teresa posted. That’s exactly how I felt about Strikes-the-Sky. It was during their brief time together that I really got pulled into Hannah’s character. It was with him that I was able to connect with Hannah’s character on a more deeper, emotional level.

    In FAS, her grief and internal turmoil is what really had my heart reaching out to her – and much like Nathaniel – my greatest wish was for Strikes-the-Sky to return.

  4. If Strikes-the-Sky is indeed dead, is there ANY chance we can get a seperate book detailing their 10 years together? :)

  5. There is an excellent outdoor drama in Chillicothe, Ohio called Tecumseh! (www.tecumsehdrama.com) which tells the story of the later days of Tecumseh and Tippecanoe. -I’m not trying to advertise it, I have no affiliation with it except for attending the program- but they do a very good job at describing the frustrations and sabotage that went on and showing the horrors and heartache of the time.

    That being said, I still read FAS with the hope that history is wrong, Tecumseh succeeds, and Strikes-the-Sky is safe. Even with the assurance that Strikes-the-Sky is no longer with us, I still feel the sense of disbelief since I haven’t “seen” the body.

    -Soup

  6. Oooohhh. See my earlier post re my secret hope. Even when Manny told us Strikes the Sky was indeed dead, I didn’t want that to be all we knew. That’s when I sort of thought, well, since we have no idea where Hawkeye ended up and he had such a bond with Hannah, maybe, just maybe, he found Strikes the Sky and sometime in the future a long lost letter will turn up which Hawkeye wrote to say he had met up with Strikes the Sky after he and Hannah were parted and to reassure her that her husband was all she hoped and knew in her heart.
    Yeah, I’m a sentimental old fool but it’s also partly to do with the fact that I miss Hawkeye too. I really feel like Nathaniel struggled a little at times without him as well.

  7. I would like to assert that Hannah needed this tragic experience in her life in order to learn what she needed to learn, perhaps to prepare her for later experiences, perhaps to help her move forward in her personal evolution.

    On a totally different note….. I was born in Cooperstown and one of the things I love about the Wilderness books are the incredible descriptions of Upstate New York. Well, that I and I just want to BE Elizabeth. LOL. Especially if I can’t be the White Witch.

    Whatever effort, struggle, fight, and fatigue you have experienced in order to write and publish – thank you.

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