Guest Author Smoky Trudeau Zeidel Posts

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July 2nd, 2012

Today I would like to welcome Smoky Trudeau Zeidel to my website. Her latest novel, The Storyteller’s Bracelet, is now available in both print and e-book form.

As you know, there is always a story behind the story and this novel is no exception. I am fortunate that Smoky agreed to share the story behind The Storyteller’s Bracelet here.


The Storyteller’s Bracelet: The Backstory

Of all the books I’ve written, none has generated the curiosity and questions my new release, The Storyteller’s Bracelet, has generated.

Several years ago, my sister Bonnie gave me a Navajo storyteller’s bracelet for a holiday gift. I was charmed, and knew immediately I had to write a novel based on one of these beautiful silver wrist cuffs.

The bracelets usually tell the story of the silver worker’s life, or the customer who commissions a bracelet. While I’ve led an interesting life, it isn’t novel worthy and I’ve already told the only interesting stories from my life in my short story, In a Flash, and in my essays that comprise my book Observations of an Earth Mage. My thoughts immediately turned to one of the ugly stories in U.S. history that most of us weren’t taught in our high school (or college) history classes: the forced enrollment of Indian children in government-backed Indian Schools during the late 1800s–mid 1900s.

During this era, Indian children were taken away from their families and forced to attend the Indian schools by a mandate from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The goal? To erase every last vestige of Indian from the students. While some of these schools were close to the reservations and run in a compassionate manner (well, as compassionate as a place can be that has ripped a child from his or her home), many were not.

The most famous of the schools was the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, located in Pennsylvania, and founded by Richard Henry Pratt in 1879. Pratt is famous for having said, “A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him and save the man.”

That pretty much sums up the goal of the schools. Students were forced to cut their hair, forbidden from wearing tribal dress, and not allowed to speak their native languages. Some tribal languages nearly died out because of this. Students were taught skills like woodworking, landscaping, and housekeeping, so they could become “productive” members of “society.” Of course, that meant white society.

Today, the Indian tribes have taken over and run their own schools, although some tribes do use boarding schools simply because students are scattered over such a large geographic area. Efforts are being made for students to learn their native tongues in order to save the languages and undo the damage done by the Indian schools of yesteryear.

When I got my storyteller’s bracelet and began researching ideas for a novel, I realized a lot of people had no idea the Indian schools had existed. That didn’t surprise me too much; in history class we weren’t taught about the World War II Japanese internment camps either. American history tends to be white American history, and even that a glossed-over version.

I decided my novel would tell the story of these shameful schools as they were. Oak Tree Indian School is a made-up place; it is not the name of an actual Indian school. But everything that went on with my characters, Otter and Sun Song, at Oak Tree really occurred in the Indian Schools, which I researched meticulously. Abuse was rampant in the schools. The abuse Sun Song suffered in The Storyteller’s Bracelet actually took place frequently at the schools. So did outbreaks of tuberculosis and influenza, which killed hundreds of students.

In writing The Storyteller’s Bracelet, I wanted to increase awareness of this shameful time in our nation’s history. But I wanted the book to be much more than that. I wanted a sweeter side, a love story. I wanted suspense. I wanted magic! The love triangle between Otter, Sun Song, and Wendy was so much fun to write, but difficult, too, because it involved a mixing of cultures that was simply not acceptable at the time. It put Otter in the position of having to make difficult and heart breaking decisions.

I love magical realism; it’s a tool I used in my last novel, The Cabin. I love playing with a veil between worlds, with portholes where individuals can slip through from one world to another, provided they have the key. In The Storyteller’s Bracelet, the bracelet is that key.

I’m very excited about the release of this book, because the pre-release buzz has been very favorable. Author and Jungian analyst Patricia Damery said, “The Storyteller’s Bracelet is a transformative vision of healing through tolerance, forgiveness, and evolution.” Debra Brenegan, author of Shame the Devil, wrote, “A vivid account of the experiences of Native Americans Sun Song and Otter, Zeidel’s book illustrates the cultural divide of the period and renders a tender look at the outcomes assimilation policy had on the personal lives of the people involved in the venture.” The book was released simultaneously in print and eBook form, and is available in all formats from the usual places: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

You can read the first four chapters of the book on BookBuzzer at:         http://www.freado.com/read/12793/the-storytellers-bracelet.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll also look me up at all the places we authors tend to hang out online. My links are below, and I’d love to have you join my fan page or friend me on Twitter:

Website and Blogs:                   www.SmokyZeidel.wordpress.com

Facebook Fan Page:                 www.Facebook.com.Smoky.Zeidel.Writes

Twitter                                          @SmokyZeidel

Amazon Author Page:               http://amzn.to/mUvjpC

Goodreads Author Page:          http://bit.ly/pGXAXq

Smashwords Author Page:      http://bit.ly/qan6Nx

All Romance Author Page:      http://bit.ly/p6pR9O

Thank you, Beth, for hosting me today.

4 Responses to “Guest Author Smoky Trudeau Zeidel Posts”

  1. Smoky Trudeau Zeidel says:

    Beth, thank you for hostessing me today.

  2. Pre-release buzz is always a good sign, especially when it’s worthy of the book–as your buzz had been. Best of luck with the release.

    Malcolm

  3. Smoky Trudeau Zeidel says:

    Thank you, Malcolm. So far, so good–the book is even selling well in print, and nobody buys print books anymore!

  4. Beth says:

    Smoky,
    It is always a pleasure to have you guest post. You are welcome here anytime.


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