Thursday, August 04, 2016

Adding Flavor to my Books by Paty Jager

"It’s slightly reminiscent of Clan of the Cave Bear, but more lyrical and with all the boring parts removed to showcase the love story."
That is part of a review written by Bethany at Cloudy with a Chance of Books about my first book, Spirit of the Mountain, in my historical paranormal romance Spirit Trilogy set among the Chief Joseph band of the Nez Perce.
She understood the lyrical cadence I tried to show in all three of  the spirit books.
photo of Chief Joseph by Nickie Norman
How I worked toward getting the cadence of the Native American speech and thoughts in my books came from two mediums. One – I listened to Native American music as I wrote. Some had lyrics and some were instrumental. Two- I read books like Tales of the Nez Perce by Donald M. Hines not only using the tales to add flavor to my stories but to also get a feel for Native American word usage.
The books I relied heaviest on were Yellow Wolf: His Own Story by L.V McWhorter. In this book Yellow Wolf a member of Chief Joseph's band and who was on the flight to Canada told L.V. McWhorter the details up to and during the chase. His wording and thoughts were put down by an interpreter and still show the cadence of how they talked before being influenced by English.
The other book was That All People May Be One People, Send Rain to Wash the Face of the Earth by Chief Joseph.  Just the title shows you the cadence and thought process of this eloquent Native American. The stories in this book are from interviews Chief Joseph gave reporters in 1879 in Washington DC while there trying to persuade the leaders to let his followers return to their beloved homeland. 
photo by Carmen Peone
Now, as I write the next book in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series that is set on the Colville Indian Reservation, I am again, listening to Native American music, as well as reading books that were written by contemporary American Indians and using my resource who lives on the reservation. I'm anxious to finish this book and have her read it to see how well I kept to the lifestyle and feelings of the people who live on the reservation.
The best way I find to add the flavor I need to my books to make the setting and characters ring true is to put myself in that place with as much atmosphere as I can get to bring it alive in my mind. 

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