Sunday, September 19, 2010

Liz Fichera discusses CAPTIVE SPIRIT


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.

Thank you so much for stopping by! You can read an excerpt of Captive Spirit at Liz's website: http://www.lizfichera.com or buy it at Carina Press and other booksellers.

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About Liz:

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/






22 comments:

MLS said...

Liz,

Are you writing more Native American stories? What are your current projects?

Susanna

Joanna St. James said...

that is a lot of research, you deserve every success u get Liz

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Susanna!

Thanks again for hosting me today. I know it's early (at least where I live) but I've already got the pitcher of mojitos chillin'.

I'm currently doing some edits on a YA that I've been working on for about a year. It's about a Native American girl golfer. I love the story. Let's hope a few editors do too. :-)

Once that's finished, I want to return to a retelling of a very popular legend here in the Wild West that I believe history got wrong, at least from the Native American end. Am in the middle of doing my research. It's still in the early stages. We'll see where it takes me.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Joanna!

Thanks for finding me here! I enjoyed every minute of the research. It was so cool to learn about the Hohokam. Thanks for your kind wishes!

Jennifer Lane said...

Great interview! I just added "Captive Spirit" to my to-read list on goodreads, Liz. And wow, a story about a Native American golfer? Sounds great!

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Jennifer!

Great to see you here! I've rewritten the golf girl story about a million times. Hopefully this time I got it right. We'll see.

Thanks for adding Captive Spirit to your list! I so appreciate it and look forward to hearing what you think. :-)

eleristone said...

This one's been on my TBR pile for after I've finished my current WIP. I'm with you on loving first drafts and hating edits, synopsis writing, etc which is what I've been avoiding all morning. Also a confession: I've never had a mojito. Is there a favorite recipe here?

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Eleri!

Great to see you here. Thanks for your kind words about my novel too--hope you enjoy it! Regarding the best Mojito recipe, if you love sugar, lime juice, mint, and rum, you'll love them! It's tough to have just one. Maybe Susanna has a recipe...

Susanna Ives said...

You need a recipe? Mojito Literary Society has you covered. How to make the perfect mojito:

http://themojitoliterarysociety.blogspot.com/2010/07/how-to-make-perfect-mojito.html

Sondrae Bennett said...

That cover is beautiful! Very thought provoking. I've been researching Native American culture myself for a story I've been working on. Sounds like a great book!

eleristone said...

Thanks for the recipe Susanna. I will be trying this.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Sondrae!

Great to see you here too--thanks for coming over. :-)

Carina Press puts out some gorgeous covers. When I first saw it, I literally got tears in my eyes. Also, a little bit of trivia, the woman who modeled for this cover friended me on Facebook. How cool is that?!

What tribe are you researching?

Liz Fichera said...

Susanna, happy hour might have to start a little earlier than usual today in the Fichera household. That recipe is TDF!

Susanna Ives said...

Liz,

An early happy hour sounds lovely!

Tina said...

What a lovely interview! I am especially intrigued by the name "Those Who Have Gone." What a fascinating idea -- I'm glad it took hold and developed into this book, which I am headed off to Carina Press to get.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Tina!

Thanks for your lovely comments--and so hope you enjoy the book. Please let me know!

Regarding "Those Who Have Gone," the cool thing about the Hohokam is that no one knows why/how they left the Sonoran Desert. There are all sorts of theories--war, migration with other tribes, drought. I even read one story where they thought aliens (like, from space) were involved. Anyway, no one knows for sure why they vanished to this very day.

Jenny Schwartz said...

It's funny, isn't it to stand on a piece of land and think who has lived here before you. So glad you took that challenge and wrote a whole novel, Liz.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Jenny! And thanks so much. It was truly a great year. I loved every minute of the research.

Nicki Elson said...

Thanks for doing this interview. I am intrigued. A good story is just the way I like to learn about different cultures.

This sounds like a perfect read before the next time I go visit my girlfriend in Litchfield Park just outside Phoenix.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Nicki!

Great to see you here! Litchfield Park is just west of where I live. I believe they have found Hohokam petroglyphs there as well. Let me know when you go for a visit!

Laura Valeri said...

I love the premise of the book. I'm also fascinated by how a people can just up and disappear. I'm looking forward to it.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Laura, and thanks! At one point, there were literally tens of thousands of Hohokam Indians populating the Sonoran Desert. That's a lot of people to just up and disappear! It remains a mystery.