What a couple of months! Through September and October we spent quite a bit of time on the road in an eight-state sell-in tour for PEOPLE OF THE THUNDER. We alternately drove and flew all over the Southeast, meeting with booksellers and conducting seminars on both PEOPLE OF THE WEEPING EYE and PEOPLE OF THE THUNDER. Finally we ended up at the Delaware Book Festival on the first of November, where we had a wonderful time.
Excitement seems to be growing for the release of PEOPLE OF THE THUNDER. To tell the truth, we’ve been a bit anxious about this one. For those who haven’t heard, due to changes in the marketplace, the publisher decided to split our eleven-hundred page manuscript into two volumes—something unique in the PEOPLE series. We’ve done long books before, as those of you who read PEOPLE OF THE LAKES, PEOPLE OF THE SILENCE, and PEOPLE OF THE MOON know. That was before so many of the grocery stores, airports, and other retailers decided that a minimum of five books had to fit into the pockets.
Why so big? PEOPLE OF THE WEEPING EYE and PEOPLE OF THE THUNDER deal with the highly complex Mississippian civilizations that filled eastern North America after the fall of Cahokia. We were looking to create an epic story that did these majestic cultures justice and provided an idea of the depth, diversity, and sophistication reflected in the archaeological record. Then, as is so often the case, the characters took over and ran with the story.
How did we do? So far the critics seem to love PEOPLE OF THE WEEEPING EYE. Most of the reviews on Amazon and B&N.com have been great. We’re really anxious to hear how our readers react when they have both books back-to-back. Writing the ending of PEOPLE OF THE THUNDER was especially powerful for us. Great epics are supposed to end that way. When you read THUNDER, please let us know if we pulled it off. Meanwhile, while we love to hear from you, save the postage, you’ll find out how the story of Old White, Two Petals, Trader, and Morning Star ends in January when the book lands on your bookseller’s shelves.
Also, this is a heads up for those of you waiting for the paperback of WEEPING EYE. It should be on the shelf just after Thanksgiving.
Progress report: We’re hard at work on PEOPLE OF THE LONGHOUSE, dealing with the origins of the Iroquois Confederacy set around 1425 in New York and Pennsylvania. To date the manuscript is over two hundred pages in length, and the story is really starting to cook! Given the new constraints on length, we’ll have to struggle to keep everything acceptable when it comes to spine size. We project that this will be a duology.
The next bit of news is that we’re working on a spin-off series: CONTACT: THE BATTLE FOR AMERICA. How many times over the years have we been asked if we’d write a novel that dealt with the native peoples first contact with Europeans? Our reluctance has always been that Europeans just didn’t fit the established PEOPLE framework, and we really believe that North America’s lost heritage deserves a series all its own. Face it, more Americans know about Ankor Wat in Cambodia than Cahokia in America—and Cahokia, just outside St. Louis, is a World Heritage Site. The archaeology in our own backyards remains a mystery to most. Therefore, we will continue to write the PEOPLE series as intended for years to come. We sure won’t run out of archaeology. And in the BATTLE FOR AMERICA series, we will chronicle the contact period between the native peoples and Europeans.
A great number of myths have been spun about the arrival of the first Europeans. Most are fanciful enough to fit into a fantasy series, and the Native Peoples come off either as saints or savages. Our mandate is to tell the story from the original inhabitant’s point of view. We’ll keep you posted as the series progresses.
We’ve had questions about THE BETRAYAL. Oh, yeah, and some really interesting fan mail, too. For those of you who haven’t picked it up, this is our recently released novel about how Constantine’s minions essentially bent and folded early Christianity into the Roman Empire. And, yeah, we have expertise in that field, too. One of the questions we constantly hear is: Why? What you get here, in the Midden newsletter is an inside scoop. Part of the answer is that one our friends, John Gritts, a Cherokee, once asked why we don’t take a serious look at the mythology and religion in our own culture. That’s the reason THE BETRAYAL is the only novel we’ve ever written with footnotes. Outside of the characters and plot, we didn’t make anything up. The assertions in the novel can be checked against the actual sources. So, read the novel, consider the footnotes, and make up your own minds. If you’re not into the theology, it’s a rollicking thriller, and Kalay, with her checkered past and handy sharp knife can really drive pious monks insane.
That’s all for now. Thanks for subscribing, and with fewer weeks on the road through this winter, we should be able to keep in better touch.
Read in peace, and remember, a book lasts longer than a movie in these financially trying times.
All the Best,
W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear