Friday, April 22, 2016

From guest author @actuallyalethea preorder Náápiikoan Winter #western

At the turn of a new century, changes unimagined are about to unfold. 

THE WOMAN: Kidnapped by the Apaches, a Mexican woman learns the healing arts. Stolen by the Utes, she is sold and traded until she ends up with the Piikáni. All she has left are her skills—and her honor. What price will she pay to ensure a lasting place among the People? 

THE MAN: Raised in a London charitable school, a young man at the end of the third of a seven year term of indenture to the Hudson’s Bay Company is sent to the Rocky Mountains to live among the Piikáni for the winter to learn their language and to foster trade. He dreams of his advancement in the company, but he doesn’t reckon the price for becoming entangled in the passions of the Piikáni. 

THE LAND: After centuries of conflict, Náápiikoan traders approach the Piikáni, powerful members of the Blackfoot Confederation. The Piikáni already have horses and weapons, but they are promised they will become rich if they agree to trap beaver for Náápiikoan. Will the People trade their beliefs for the White Man’s bargains? 

Partially based on the works of Canadian trader, explorer, and mapmaker David Thompson, Náápiikoan Winter spans a continent, examining the cultures in flux at the passing of an era and the painful birth of another. 


From the Author

Fictional Characters and Real Life
by Alethea Williams

The principal sources for the second part of my historical novel, Náápiikoan Winter, were David Thompson's Narrative of His Explorations in Western America 1784-1812, and Richard Lancaster's 1966 book, Piegan. Richard Lancaster's book was helpful mainly as a narrative of a white man in Native culture, and for his accounts of trying to learn the Piikáni language. Many of the events in my story follow those David Thompson records in the last four chapters of Part One of his book, which deal with his recollections of the Plains Indians at about the turn of the nineteenth century, and in particular his dealings with the "Peeagans."

-Why isn't your primary male character named David Thompson?

Historical characters add flavor to my novel, but they only really serve to illustrate the opinions and mores of the times, both European and Piikáni. Although my novel is based on fact, the principal characters are entirely fictional. Donal Thomas resembles the young David Thompson of record in many aspects, but I wanted the freedom to place in the realm of fiction Donal's internal dialogue, the thought processes and motives that led to his decisions, and his growing awareness of the huge cultural differences he is supposed to surmount in order to succeed in bringing trade to the Piikáni at the close of the eighteenth century.

-Which characters in Náápiikoan Winter came from historical accounts?

These characters' names, their occupations, and some of their actions are recorded in David Thompson's Narrative of His Explorations in Western America 1784-1812:
William Flett, English youth in service to HBC
James Gaddy, leader of the HBC expedition to the Piikáni
The Black Indian, Nahathaway (Cree) guide
Saokohtoo  (Straighten Out), the Orator of the Inuk'sik (Small Robes) band of the Piikáni
Saahkómaapi (Young Man), Beaver Bundle Man to the Inuk'sik band of the Piikáni, the band's Dreamer
Kotonaa-áápi (White Kootenay), first war chief
John Charles, a schoolmate
I gathered other character names from modern and historical sources, many listed in the back pages of Náápiikoan Winter.
-So what does Náápiikoan mean? Why do you keep a title that few people can pronounce? Aren't you afraid readers will not be able to locate your book under a search for that title?

Variously spelled throughout history, Náápiikoan simply means white man. Retaining the word in the title implies that although the young white trader is a main character in the story, it is not just his story. His is not the only view of events that counts. He is an outsider. I think the cover of Náápiikoan Winter, by Brigida Blasi, shows why choosing that title works. "White Man Winter," of course, would have been easier to find in an Internet search, but I hope no one has to put so much effort into looking for my book that they give up!

-What gives you the authority to write a book about the Piikáni people?

I have no authority. Although it took more than 20 years for Náápiikoan Winter to see print, I was captivated by David Thompson's story at least that long ago. I found Richard Lancaster's book in a library sale, and although Native feeling about him today is ambivalent, I found much of value in a book written by an outsider living with the Piikáni. I sincerely admire Piikáni history, and hope my novel honors the people about whose heritage I have written in Náápiikoan Winter.

Find me:
Alethea Williams is the author of Willow Vale, the story of a Tyrolean immigrant’s journey to America after WWI. Willow Vale won a 2012 Wyoming State Historical Society Publications Award. In her second novel, Walls for the Wind, a group of New York City immigrant orphans arrive in Hell on Wheels, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Walls for the Wind is a WILLA Literary Award finalist, a gold Will Rogers Medallion winner, and placed first at the Laramie Awards in the Prairie Fiction category. 

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