Posted on October 11, 2010
You probably know I have a new book out in hardcover, called “Legacy”. It’s both historical and modern, and I really love that book. There are two main characters in the book, a modern woman, and a woman set in history. The main character is a Dakota Sioux woman, actually a young girl, who traveled from the Sioux village where she lived (and was kidnapped by a warring tribe, when she was in her later teens. She is the chief’s daughter), she travels to New Orleans, and from there to France.
She arrives in France, in Brittany, eventually travels to Paris, and visits the court of Louis XVI, before the French Revolution, settles in Brittany, and survives the Revolution there.
The story fascinated me as I researched and wrote it, because I discovered the Louis the XVI, the French king, was fascinated by American Indians/Native Americans, and brought many chiefs to France, to visit his court as honored guests. The main port of entry in France in the 18th century was through Brittany, and apparently several of those chiefs actually decided to stay in France, and settled in Brittany. And there are still descendants of them there now. I loved learning that piece of history, and it inspired this story. And as I worked on the outline, the young Indian girl in my story emerged. Her name is Wachiwi. I was mesmerized by a young girl, greatly respected in her tribe as the chief’s daughter, and how she could venture so far from home, to entirely different world, different customs, and make a new life there. I fell in love with her, and the courage she represented, as I wrote it. And as I did the research, I discovered that both Pocahontas and Sacajawea had gone to Europe as well. It is amazing to think of young Dakota Sioux girl winding up at the French court (in the days of Marie Antoinette!).
More than anything, the girl in the story symbolized courage, adventure, and perseverance. And I’m sure there were a few remarkable young women like her.
The modern woman in the story discovers her ancestor, a young Sioux girl, many generations back, while tracing her family genealogy, and becomes fascinated with her. And in turn, what she learns of this young girl gives her courage for her own life—something she had lacked until then. And it changes her life.
As always with my books, I did extensive research, and I really hope you love this book. I think its special, and I hope you find Wachiwi, and her brave journey, inspiring too.
One of the mentors of my early writing career, and a great friend was Alex Haley, the man who wrote ‘Roots’, which was inspired by his researching one of his ancestors, and his journey from Africa to America by slave ship. Alex told me about his excitement, while going through volumes and volumes of ship logs, and finding the ancestor he new about Kunta Kinte. The book ‘Roots’ was inspired by that discovery. Alex was an extraordinary writer and human being. I was in awe of him, his talent and his kindness when we became friends.
I couldn’t help thinking about him, as I wrote Legacy, and told the story of Wachiwi. I tried to infuse the book with the same excitement when my modern character finds her young Sioux relative in the course of her research—as Alex must have felt when he found his relative’s name in the ship log, listed as ‘cargo’.
Suddenly, it all became real!
I really hope you love this book!!