Today Liz Fichera is stopping by the Mojito Literary Society to answer some questions about her awesome book Captive Spirit. Liz’s vivid prose captures the culture and surroundings of the Hohokam, a tribe of Native Americans that lived in the desert around modern day Phoenix. Her book is a fabulous coming-of-age/ adventure / love story that is suitable for both adults and young adults. I gobbled her book up in a day and a half. The pacing is exhilarating as Aiyana and Honovi escape Spanish traders and outwit Apache tribesmen.
Your book Captive Spirit is set in the lands around Phoenix in the sixteenth century. Can you tell us about the archeological evidence that shaped your story?
First of all, thanks for having me on your blog today! It’s fun to take a break from our usual Facebook discussions about chocolate, wine, and Italian food—although not always in that order.
It wasn’t the archeological evidence as much as it was Hohokam history that shaped and inspired CAPTIVE SPIRIT. The Hohokam Indians lived in what we now know as southern and central Arizona from approximately 300 BC to 1500 AD. They traveled to the Sonoran Desert from the ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures and existed peacefully as farmers and master canal builders until around 1500 AD when they vanished for reasons unknown. It was the Pima Indians who called them “Hohokam” which means “Those Who Have Gone.” That, specifically, is the nugget of information that intrigued me to write the novel.
Regarding archeological evidence, my Phoenix neighborhood literally sits upon what was once Hohokam land. Archeologists have found traces of their pit houses, pottery, and bits of jewelry and clothing, most of it is catalogued and housed in the Phoenix Heard Museum where I spent a lot of time doing research. You’ll find petroglyphs on rock faces in lots of places in the desert. I’ve included some of them in the CAPTIVE SPIRIT book trailer, which will also give you a flavor for the terrain. Much of it is still very rugged today.
Did you draw inspiration from other Western writers or Native American myths when writing Captive Spirit?
I am so intrigued by Native American culture and legends, not just the Hohokam. It’s hard not to be inspired and awed by it when you’re surrounded by so much of it in Phoenix. As far as I know, I’m the only person who’s written a novel about the Hohokam. Given their cool history, I cannot for the life of me understand why.
The story moves across many miles. Did you drive or hike Aiyana and Honovi’s journey?
Oh, yes! Aiyana and Honovi’s journey covers not only the Sonoran Desert but the mountains known today as the Mogollon Rim. I travel to the little mountain towns of Payson, Forest Lakes, Overgaard, and Heber on a regular basis as we have a cabin near there.
Can you describe your writing process? Do you outline your entire story, or do you plot just a few chapters ahead? Do you write an entire rough draft, or do you polish each chapter before you progress? Do you use note cards or a flowchart?
I wish that I were that organized but I am not. Generally, I start with an idea in my head and take it from there. While I might jot down little bits here and there, most of it stays in my head. So, usually my first draft is horrible. I spend a lot of time on rewrites and editing. That’s really the hardest part. Getting the story on the page and seeing it come to life is pure fun.
How did you learn that Carina Press wanted to publish Captive Spirit? A.K.A “The Call”
Last January, I saw a tweet from Angela James where she said, “We’re hungry for historicals! Our editors want historicals!” So I shipped off CAPTIVE SPIRIT and hoped for the best. In March, as I was having coffee with a couple of my girlfriends, I got “The Call.” Much hyperventilating ensued and I think I may have choked on the scone that I was noshing. The rest is history.
Liz is an author from the American Southwest by way of Chicago. She likes to write stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things, oftentimes against the backdrop of Native American legends. Her debut historical romance novel was published in June 2010 by Carina Press. Don’t hesitate to connect with her around the web and especially at her web site because it can get real lonely in the desert. http://www.lizfichera.com/