Our interview today is with Carmen Peone. Thank you Carmen for being here today and for agreeing to do this interview.
Question: What do you think prepared you or qualifies you to write in your chosen genre?
Answer: I write historical YA that is Native American based. I married a Colville Confederated Tribal Member and we moved to the reservation in 1988. I have lived among the Natives and raised three tribal member sons. I work in the local K-12 school and have worked with elders, particularity one woman, Marguerite Ensminger, learning the culture and language. I’m qualified because I live amongst these marvelous people and have learned their ways.
Question: Tell us a little about your “real” (Non-writing) life — family, job, church life. Does it give you inspiration for your writing? Does it get in the way of your writing, or are there times when you get help, from people or circumstances?
Answer: My non-writing life consists of my family: husband of almost 30 years, our four sons, and 7 grandchildren. They are why I write what I write. I currently coordinate the afterschool program on the reservation at the K-12 school, ride horses, keep company with my Dingo dog who is the daughter I never had, love photography, reading, a good Hallmark movie, and camping.
We live in a remote area surrounded by rivers, streams, and mountains in Northeast Washington. There is nothing more peaceful than looking out my window and gaze upon the Columbia River. I attend out local Community Church, have in the past taught teenage Sunday school and have been involved in Vacation Bible School.
My job of all things gets in the way of writing, especially in the spring when I have all the end of year reports and information to gather and report to the state. But I love working with the youth, who inspire me and my writing. They are my greatest fans! Who I write for and about–their People and way of life as it once was.
Question: Since you have several books out, tell us what you think works for promotion. What are your thoughts on ebooks versus print books and different ways to let people know about you and your books?
Answer: I think word of mouth is still the best form of promotion. Social media is a great way to promote our labors of love along with book reviews and the good old book signings or speaking engagements. I love fairs and festivals where you have a few days to let people get to know the person I am, not just a name on the cover of a book. I love to tell them why I write my books and brag on the people in my community and on the reservation.
I think this is a day where both ebook and print format are a must, especially in this day and age of book saturation. There are those who do all things technical, and there are still those of us who love to crack open a new book and smell its pages.
Question: Tell us about your newest book. Make us want to read it.
Answer: My newest book, Heart of Passion, was released in August of 2013. It is the last of the Spupaleena adventures in the Heart Trilogy. Spupaleena, meaning rabbit in the Sinyekst or Sinixt (Arrow Lakes meaning place of the bull trout) language which is a Salish speaking language, is at the top of her horse racing game as a young adult in a male dominate world in mid-1800’s. But racing isn’t enough.
Spupaleena is a Native girl who has fought for her dreams of racing horses, training them, and becoming a breeder in a time when girls and women in her culture where expected to pick berries and roots, tan hides, sew and bead, all of which she respects, but wishes to leave to other women in her village. Horses are her world, the surge of flesh and muscle she feels when at a full gallop, their smell and soft hair, the bond she forms with each and every mount.
Spupaleena is a gifted rider in the wrong era. But finds strength of God with the help of her non-native friend and mentor, Elizabeth Gardner.
She learns lessons dealing with trust, patience, and perseverance. She struggles with knowing if her horse obsession is of the flesh or of God.
Question: What is the “message” of your writing? (For example, is your purpose to encourage old-fashioned values, encourage romance, or do you have different purposes in different books?)
Answer: My books always encourage young adult readers to know and believe that no matter how hard life slaps them in the face, God is always stronger and will get us through life’s trials and temptations. He takes care of us and loves us no matter what we do or say, His love is unconditional. We form the questions and God gives us the answers. I trying to teach youth that when we lean on God and not our own understanding, God he blesses what we set out to accomplish.
Question: Tell us one place you want to visit, or person you want to meet, and why.
Answer: Australia. I want to see the outback. I would love to fly my own horse back there and ride with locals. I’m not real picky where I go, but to the outback! I want to smell the smells and feel their culture and way of life. I would like to see new critters and taste new foods. For some odd reason, I’m really drawn to Australians. Who knows, maybe it’s their fun accent.
Question: Share something that’s amazing, touching, or that makes you angry.
Answer: My grandchildren are the most amazing creations of our Heavenly Father. I thank him daily for this gift. I used to laugh and say “whatever” to my mom and others when they would tell me grandchildren are the best because to me, my boys filled that basket. They were right. It’s a blessing to have children and raise them to love the Lord and have a productive life. It is even a greater blessing to see these little beings born and grow up, to hear them call me grandma, or NahNah is my case, which is the Sinixt baby word for Kaknah, meaning maternal parent. They make me smile when I’m having a bad day. They keep me young with pony ride after pony ride. They cause my heart to swell to the point of near rupture as they cuddle in my lap or kiss my cheek with her soft lips or wrap their little arms around my neck and giggle. I can only smile and thank God for such a special gift.
Question: What’s your next project? Tell us so we can’t wait for it to come out!
Answer: I have a completed manuscript, Delbert’s Weir, which is a spinoff of my Heart Trilogy. It is about Delbert Weir, a sixteen- year-old boy who was merely a toddler in Heat of Passion, who heads out for a wilderness adventure in Northeastern Washington State mountain range in the mid-1800’s with two teenage friends and a Native young man who is a longtime family friend to guide the way, or so they thought. His Native friend, Pekam, which means Bobcat, was to take these boys on a three day traditional hunting quest, but had to cancel at the last minute. The boys ride out on horses by themselves, tall on confidence but short on skill. Through struggles involving food shortage, poisoning, injury, cougar scare, wasp attack, and weather complications the boys fight their way through a seven day test of survival. They are camped in the mountains by a creek; attempts at fish trapping fail as do attempts at most small animal snaring. Delbert and his injured friends try to construct a traditional fishing weir across the creek they are camped by in order to get the food they need for the trek, on foot no less, back to Pekam’s village. Delbert recalls watching Pekam and his family build one, but is that enough?
I am currently searching for a new publisher, so I’m not sure when this book will be released.
Question: How many books do you have out?
Answer: I have three books out. Check them out on http://carmenpeone.com Change of Heart, Heart of Courage, and Heart of Passion—a trilogy. All are Native American based in the mid-1800’s and are about Spupaleena, a young Native American girl, who struggles with the death of her mother and toddler brother. She fights with her sister and runs off in the middle of a winter snow storm. She finds herself hurt and cold. A trapper finds her unconscious and near death. He brings her home to his wife, Elizabeth Gardner, who mends her cuts, bruises, and heart with herbs and the Holy Spirit. Change of Heart
She then finds a love of horses and her way back to her village. But not after bonding with Elizabeth, a woman of a different culture and ways. Spupaleena, now a young adult, is racing horses against young men who want nothing to do with her. Skumhist (meaning Black Bear), Spupaleena’s father, is furious. After many attempts at stopping his daughter from racing, he accepts and agrees to his daughter’s defiant behavior, not wanting to push her away. Heart of Courage
She succeeds at winning races even with attempts of one particular boy’s efforts to stop her and her horse. She goes on to win his horse. There are many races and training sessions with adversity, but her goal to be taken seriously as a trainer and breeder, with the help of Jack Dalley, cowboy and neighbor and partner of Phillip Gardner, leave her livelihood in the hands of the Creator and His son. Will she succeed? Will she be accepted in the man’s world? Heart of Passion
Question: Are their characters/stories/scenes/etc based on anything in real life?
Answer: Yes. All the cultural aspects in my trilogy are historically accurate. The setting runs along the Columbia River where the reservation currently resides. The Characters are fictionalized as is the plot, but everything from the various tribes involved and their way of life is how things used to be for my husband’s ancestors.
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Carmen, I really enjoyed your interview. Your book covers are beautiful and I look forward to checking into your books! Best wishes, Katherine