Even before I could read, I found romance in the historical lifestyles of Native Americans – the open grasslands and vast skies of the northern plains, the freedom of living in a tipi and travelling on horseback, hearing the beat of a drum and the call of an eagle – it was such an exotic opposite of my own lacklustre upbringing in the middle of an English industrial city. How could I not be romanced?
I marvelled that everything they owned was so compact, so organised, and all of it was light-weight to aid their nomadic lifestyle. When my family went camping there were folding chairs, a table, a “portable” cooking stove that weighed a ton and needed metal gas containers, pots and pans… practically the kitchen sink went into the boot or on the roof of the family car. There was hardly room for us children to be prised along the back seat.
I had a picture-book showing a group of Native Americans around a fire, sitting comfortably on woolly buffalo hides and relaxing back on… seatless chairs? I studied that picture through the distortions of a cheap magnifying glass and sketched what I thought they were sitting on, until I convinced myself that I knew what it was made from and how it was put together. Armed with a junior hacksaw and a ball of parcel string, I went onto rough land close to our house and began.
|bag with porcupine quill decoration|
|Man's hair ornament|
I was hooked, not just on reading about and researching these peoples’ day-to-day lives, but on recreating their handicrafts, eventually meeting like-minded people and becoming a re-enactor. For a novelist, it’s akin to the difference between watching from the sidelines and taking part in the experience. Transferred to the page, it’s an experience that readers can share, too.
There’s nothing quite like sitting in front of a tipi as the sky turns orange towards a sunset, sewing moccasins with an awl and sinew, or working with porcupine quills to decorate a belt bag, while songs and laughter from a group playing a stick game drift on a breeze laden with the scent of roasting meat.
How could anyone not be romanced?
Linda Acaster’s Native American novel Beneath The Shining Mountains is available as an ebook and will soon be in print.
c1830s northern plains - Moon Hawk is set on making Winter Man her own, but why would a man with so many lovers want to take a wife? Her wry challenge to his virility catches Winter Man’s attention but starts an escalating game of tease and spar that threatens Moon Hawk with shame and her family with ridicule – and ultimately the life of the man she loves.
“..I loved learning about their customs and rich culture and seeing the land through their eyes..” 5* Classic Romance Revival
Amazon US: http://bit.ly/amusBSM
Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/amukBSM
Apple iBookstore: http://bit.ly/iBkstLA
All Formats: http://bit.ly/sw-BSM
The cold water of the creek had been unusually invigorating. Perhaps it had merely been the company and the circumstance. Moon Hawk believed so, but it seemed imprudent to delve too deeply into the reasons for her intensified senses. She walked at Winter Man’s side seeing new colours in the dry, over-grazed pasture they trod, a different beauty in the cloud formations above their heads. The air seemed never to have smelled so sweet, or the breeze to have felt so vital. She locked her arm about her husband’s for the sheer enjoyment of his touch, and listened to him laugh and joke with the young men who constantly called out to him.
Meat was waiting outside their tipi, a kettleful already cooked. It steamed busily when she removed the lid.
‘I think we are about to entertain guests,’ Winter Man mused, raising a jocular eyebrow.
Moon Hawk lifted the kettle into the lodge and lost no time in preparing a fire for it to sit over. She brushed Winter Man’s hair as a wife should, and painted his face as he directed. Then she sat and let him brush her hair and let him paint her face. She felt as proud as any married woman ever could. It was a husband’s act of love and devotion that everyone in the village could see.
When the stew bubbled noisily, she tied up the door-flap as a signal that they were ready, and took her place beside Winter Man at the rear of the lodge. They did not have long to wait. His female relatives were the first to come, bringing furnishings for the tipi. Each was offered food and each provided a bowl to eat from. Winter Man’s brothers and uncles came, too. One led two of his horses: the roan with the short line around its neck, which was picketed to a tipi-pin, and one of his buffalo-horses packed with his personal possessions.
Winter Man unloaded it with dignity and care. Various pad and antler saddles he left outside the doorway. Bags containing clothing, paint powders and tools he let Moon Hawk arrange as she wished. A bundle of seasoning arrow-shafts he hoisted high into the apex of the tipi. His gun and his bow-case he tied to the lodge poles above the bed, but his shield, a man’s most valued possession next to his Medicine, he entrusted to the hands of Moon Hawk. As his wife, it was both her duty and her privilege to keep its face, and the face of its cover, turned forever to the sun as the orb travelled slowly across the sky. The mystical properties imbued in the shield during its creation were nourished by its warmth. A sunned shield would never betray its owner’s trust, and would deflect every arrow-head, axe blow and musket-ball it encountered. Moon Hawk felt her world was complete.
Thanks for reading!
Linda Acaster writes in a number of genres, including Mediaeval, Paranormal Thriller, and Non-Fiction. Discover more about her work at http://lindaacaster.blogspot.com and http://www.lindaacaster.co.uk
She also writes Westerns under the pseudonym of Tyler Brentmore at http://www.tylerbrentmore.com