what I don't write

I had an email from Tammy today:

I was curious as to why you didn’t do a book between 3 and 4 of Hannah’s life with Strikes the Sky? I’ve been totally hooked on your books this summer, but that little part makes me sad not to hear of her life with him.

This is a question that comes up now and then. Many people love Hannah, and they were disappointed that there’s a chapter of her life you don’t see. I can only try to explain why I haven’t written that novel, and why I won’t write it.

First, others have written about this time and place, at in depth. There are some fictionalized versions that read like novels (Thom’s Panther in the Sky is one of them). But as far as I know there is no account of that time from someone who lived inside it, and certainly no record of the women’s stories.

So Hannah goes west with Strikes-the-Sky in a period of great upheaval. Tecumseh — a Shawnee chief — was making a last ditch effort to unify all the tribes, in the hope that the European’s westward expansion could be stopped. There were even points when it looked like he might succeed — if only in part.

What went wrong, how and why, what that meant for the indiginous peoples, those are hugely complex topics. Historians have looked at this period intensely, and my sense is that there is still a lot of work to do.

I wanted Hannah to experience all that, and so she went west and she did, she was there for the high points and very lowest. But it was not someplace I could follow her. I don’t feel capable of describing what it was like to be one of Tecumseh’s followers, young and hopeful, or even harder: how she would deal with the collapse of those hopes. Maybe if I read everything there is to read — original documents, historical treatments — maybe in ten years or so I might feel ready to tackle this project.

But it’s not something to take on lightly, and at this point, I don’t feel that I could do that story justice.

On a different matter: there are still a number of hiccups in this new weblog structure. You may note that the header and some images are missing. Why? I’m at a loss. But they’ll come back eventually. Two other features that I want to get working: the ability to increase or decrease font size according to your individual needs and wishes; and a very nice, very elegant shoutbox that will live at the bottom of the sidebar. All of the sidebar elements can be collapsed (see the plus/minus signs? that’s how you do it) — and the shoutbox will be too. I decided to do this when I came to the conclusion that I’d have to shut the forum down.

4 Replies to “what I don't write”

  1. I was always glad that we didn’t see that part of Hannah’s life–war and slaughter. Just seeing her condition after her son died and she made it home to Lake in the Clouds was bad enough. I love Hannah, too. But I really couldn’t take watching those things happen to her.

  2. I agree with Sarah, what I knew was hard enough already, I didn’t need more details. I found it hard to accept the loss of her son and then her husband. This is where I ask you, as a writer, how do you do that, how do you not want or give a happy ending to your characters or did you already know Hannah was heading towards a better life farther down the road?

  3. I knew a few things at the beginning of Fire Along the Sky. I knew that Hannah’s story wasn’t over, but that it would be a good long while before she was ready. Fire Along the Sky is mostly Jennet’s and Lily’s stories, with Hannah there, getting a little stronger as we went along.

    I also knew that she and Dr. Savard — who was her teacher in Manhattan at the Kine Pox Institution (Lake in the Clouds) would cross paths again. Not in a romantic way, but he would be important in her story-arc.

    Finally, I knew that Hannah, Luke and Jennet would be at the Battle of New Orleans.

    That’s where I started, and you know where I landed..

  4. Though an interesting subject I suspect the Hanna/Strikes-the-Sky story would have thrown off the flow of the series? It being a pretty “heavy” subject, more about the time then the characters, if that makes sense.

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