In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I have taken down the brown "butcher" paper that held ideas, photos, drawings, and my hand-drawn maps and plot outlines for the past five or six books. I've placed all those items into three-ring binders, and cleared the deck for paintings and photographs that involve courage, as I move forward in GHOSTKEEPER, the new novel set in Lyndonville, Vermont. My 1850 Vermont adventure THE LONG SHADOW is under contract with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you a publication date as soon as I know! Scribbling lots of poems, too. And there's a possible route to publication of the "Vermont Nancy Drew" novel I built on Wattpad (see right-hand column). Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Saying Goodbye to the Underground Railroad Myths


One of the hard parts of growing wiser and kinder is saying goodbye to some things we once thought were wise and kind -- but turned out not to be. For me, one of the sad farewells to make involved the Little House books of Laura Ingalls Wilder ... a series I enjoyed as a youngster, imagining myself as part of the cozy little family that moved West along with the American frontier.

When I "grew up" in terms of historical fiction, I began to realize the harm those books can do, in particular Laura's mother's opinion that Native Americans were dangerous and should be killed -- after, of course, depriving them of their lands and customs. It was a painful change to make, to see the books as only "reference" for folk ways and for traditional American White bigotry. It still hurts.

With that new awareness came the realization that many books for children in particular embrace myths that do harm. The books pictured here -- one of which is actually sold as nonfiction -- have problems in terms of the history they teach and the myths they encourage. Because I care about young readers having good books available that show more truthful accounts of the past, I dug into both American and Vermont research on the 1800s. And then I got to work and wrote THE LONG SHADOW, an adventure of three teenage girls in 1850 in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. The book will be published in about 8 weeks, on April 18, 2018.

For a quick summary of "what's wrong with the Underground Railroad myths," check this succinct and authoritative version provided by Prof. Henry Louis Gates.

And for more discussion, join me to learn about my new book at a local bookstore, or on the radio, or invite me to bring the conversation to your club, church, or classroom. After all -- that's why I wrote this book. So that you and I could talk about it all.

No comments: