Next Up to Bat
I've shared a few pieces of this while visiting museums and meeting interesting people while doing the research. But now that the book is out of the dugout and warming up, here's the whole story.
More than a year ago I was asked to speak to the Historical Society of Butts County, Georgia. Following my presentation, members of their board asked if I would write a historical fiction novel for young readers about McIntosh. I was quite overwhelmed, and said I needed time before giving them an answer. Most of what I knew about Indians I'd learned from Hollywood. I didn't know any background on McIntosh. I assured them if I wasn't the right person, I would find them an author who could. Then I began investigating.
What I discovered first was, they were right, there was nothing available for students about the Creeks, even though Butts County sits smack in the middle of the Creek Nation. There wasn't even much for scholars and adults. This would require a lot of research. I also discovered that even today the Muscogee Creeks are divided in their opinion of their former chief. Is he a thief and traitor or is he a hero and martyr? I would not be entitled to an opinion. I'm the historian storyteller. Yes, I said I would try my best to deliver.
This has been the year of the Indian for me. I've been to museums, libraries, lectures, and read a stack of old material. I've gotten to know some Native Americans and descendants who shared family stories and opinions. I compiled tablets of notes highlighting the Must Use information and absorbing background I needed for my own background.
I needed to cover two time periods, the 1930s when Indian Springs, Georgia, was in the heyday of mineral springs resorts, and 1925, the end of McIntosh and his hotel. The decision to use a time travel motif was huge for me. I don't read or write time travel. Could I pull this off? I didn't know, but if it didn't turn out, there's always delete and redo.
From beginning to end, including editing, this is the fastest book I've written. Once the story got started I could hardly keep up with it. Inman Walkingstick, my fourteen year-old protagonist, literally took over. He narrated and I entered his words. Did it work, or would it be a do-over?
Beta readers of all ages reported it was a GO. The Cultural Resources Specialist and Historian for Indian Affairs at the Ocmulgee National Monument read it and declared it to be "Excellent." He's eager to get it into the museum bookstore and into the Georgia school libraries. His counterpart in Ocmulgee, Oklahoma, says this is so important for the Creeks, and all American young people.
The publisher, Progressive Rising Phoenix Press in Aledo, Texas, has received the illustrations and cover art from artist Steve Daniels. It is ready to go.
It's been an education and enlightenment for me, and growth as a writer. I am so humbled and blessed to have been used to tell his story.
Look for the release announcements in May. The title is McIntosh Summer.