22 August 2010

Guest Author: Liz Fichera

This week on Unusual Historicals we're welcoming Carina author Liz Fichera as she celebrates the release of CAPTIVE SPIRIT. It's different from many of the books profiled here in that the main characters are all Native American and it takes place around 1500AD in the Sonoran Desert of the American Southwest. Liz is giving away one free copy of CAPTIVE SPIRIT to a randomly selected person brave enough to leave a comment or ask a question!

Aiyana isn't like the other girls of the White Ant Clan. Instead of keeping house, she longs to compete on the Ball Court with her best friend Honovi and the other boys. Instead of marriage, she daydreams of traveling beyond the mountains that surround her small village. Only Honovi knows and shares her forbidden wish, though Aiyana doesn't realize her friend has a secret wish of his own...

When Aiyana's father arranges her marriage to a man she hardly knows, she takes the advice of a tribal elder: Run! In fleeing, she falls into the hands of Spanish raiders and finds herself being taken over the mountains against her will. Now Aiyana's on a quest to return to the very place she once dreamed of escaping. And she'll do whatever it takes to survive and find her way back to the people she loves.

"Readers will cheer for the intrepid Aiyana and brave Honovi as the teens fight for their chance at love despite the collapse of their world." ~ RT Book Reviews

"This isn't your traditional romance--it's much more!" ~ Peeking Between the Pages

"CAPTIVE SPIRIT was utterly gripping and engaging." ~ Debuts & Reviews


How long have you been writing? Is Captive Spirit your first book or have you written any unpublished works?

CAPTIVE SPIRIT is my first published novel. It's also my first historical romance. I've written several novels before CAPTIVE SPIRIT and am hopeful that at least one of them will be published! I've been writing since I was about ten years old, but I didn't start to get serious about being published till about five years ago. I write mostly young adult and women's commercial fiction.

What were your inspirations for creating a story based on Native American culture? How much research did you need to complete for this story?

Living in the American Southwest, it's hard not to be inspired by Native American culture. For CAPTIVE SPIRIT, I did a lot of research online, in the library, and at a wonderful place called the Phoenix Heard Museum which has one of the most comprehensive Native American collections in the entire world. CAPTIVE SPIRIT involves an intriguing people called the Hohokam Indians.

When I first moved to Phoenix, Arizona, from Chicago, I remember learning that the Hohokam were the first inhabitants of the Sonoran Desert and of Phoenix, in particular. They traveled to the desert from Mayan and Aztec cultures around 300 BC and existed peacefully as master canal builders and farmers till around 1500 AD when they vanished for reasons unknown. Archaeologists still don't know why they disappeared--abandoned their whole lives, really--and it was the Pima Indians who called them Hohokam which means "Those Who Have Gone." I always thought that little bit of history was so unbelievably cool. It's also what inspired me to write CAPTIVE SPIRIT.

If you watch the book trailer for CAPTIVE SPIRIT (above), you'll see the rugged setting for the book--much of it hasn't changed in hundreds of years--along with Hohokam petroglyphs. I always wondered if maybe the Hohokam were trying to leave us a message with their petroglyphs about what happened to them? We'll never know, but it teases the storyteller in me.

Are you working on anything else at this time?

I've just finished up a contemporary fantasy romance, and I'm starting another historical romance with a literary bent involving a well-known Apache Indian. My head is already spinning with that story.

Besides writing, what else keeps you busy? What are your hobbies and interests?

I'm one of those crazy people who actually likes to run--not 100 mile marathons or anything. But I do like to run in the desert, although I have to run inside at my local gym at the moment because it's currently 105 degrees and will probably stay that way for another month or two. I also love to visit museums and watch theatre productions in Phoenix, where I sometimes write theatre reviews for local blogs and organizations. When time and money permits, I love to travel anywhere there's a museum and really good room service.

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. When she's not writing her next novel, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, or her blog dishing about writing, books, hunks du jour, LOST reruns, or the best brands of chocolate. Don't hesitate to connect with her at her website because it can get real lonely in the desert.


Thanks for stopping by today, Liz! We were thrilled to have you here.

Readers, if you'd like to win a digital copy of CAPTIVE SPIRIT, please leave a comment or question for Liz. Are you intrigued by the setting? We'd love to hear your feedback about this most unusual romance! I'll draw the winner at random next Sunday. Void where prohibited. Best of luck!


Elise Warner said...

Captive Spirit sounds fascinating, Liz. Downloaded your book to my new Nook and will begin what I know will be a fscinating read tomorrow.



Claire Robyns said...

Captive Spirit is up next for me, I have been so looking forward to this one. (please don't enter me for comp)

Liz Fichera said...

Elise and Claire, hugs and kisses to both of you! Be sure to let me know what you think.

elysemady said...

I love to being transported to new time periods. Not that I don't love a nice rake in Hessians ;) but it's so nice learning about other fascinating times and people. This story sounds great, Liz.


Liz Fichera said...

Thanks, Elyse! It was a ton of fun to research too.

Maria Zannini said...

Ref: museums

Those are my favorite haunts. My favorite museum was the museum of Natural History in Chicago. I used to go so often the guards knew me by sight. :)

I hope you got a chance to go while you were up there.

Alison said...

What a fascinating setting for a story (though I must confess I got my ADs and BCs mixed up, and wondered why there were Spanish in America thousands of years earlier than I had thought...)

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Maria, Great to see you here! I have been to the Natural History Museum, many times, although not on my most recent Chicago trip. Cool place!

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Alison!

The story in CAPTIVE SPIRIT takes place in AD, around 1500 AD to be exact. The first recorded visit to the Americas by Europeans took place in 1492, with Columbus. Spanish colonization followed in earnest.

The dawn of the sixteenth century (1500-ish) is very critical too in Hohokam history because that's about the time their entire population vanished. And no one knows why, exactly, to this day.

Hope that helps! And fear not: I've gotten by ADs and BCs confused more times than you can imagine. :-)

Tia said...

I loved Liz's book, so I don't need a copy! I just wanted to ditto her statement about being inspired by living in the Southwest. I used to live near Phoenix and if I lived there still, I'm sure I would have pestered Liz into meeting me for lunch somewhere!

Liz Fichera said...

Thanks, Tia! It would be so totally cool if we lived close enough to have lunch!

Susanna said...

It's amazing that the video matched with the mental images I had formed of the landscape based on the descriptions in your book. I love how you took a mystery, a culture that was gone, and reconstructed it. How much information did you find on the culture and rituals of the Hohokam?

It is a lovely, unique book.

Laurie Wood said...

Liz, I'm intrigued by the fact no one knows where they went or what happened to them. Have there been no archeological digs in that area? The early 1500's weren't so far back that you'd think something would be recorded. I wonder if their petroglyphs are being studied at any univerisity's (guess I'm thinking of the mom in Natural Treasure 2). :) What a great way to come up with your story.

librarypat said...

I like the sound of this book. We lived on Colorado for three years and have traveled in the Southwest. Th Native American cultures, both current and ancient, fascinate me. We made many trips to Mesa Verde and stopped at every site we could. One of these days soon we hope to get back to the region so we may visit Chaco Canyon and Canyon de Chelly. That such a culture could vanish leaving little but their building, pottery chards, and petroglyphs is mystifying. All the digging and research have given them theories, but I don't think there is any concrete evidence indicating what happened to these people.

My first book read on the ancient peoples of this region was SHE WHO REMEMBERS by Linda Lay Shuler. It mixes many different cultures, but urged me to explore the cultures more.

I look forward to reading your book, CAPTIVE SPIRIT, and wish you the best on its release.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Susanna, There is not a whole lot written about the Hohokam, however the Phoenix Heard Museum does an excellent job of explaining what little we know. They also have a fascinating collection of pottery, jewelry, clothing, and tools that have been found at archelogical digs and when someone has tried to construct a building, for example, around Phoenix. Through these findings, archelogists have been able to piece together some information about their rituals and lives--e.g. ball courts, pit houses, even how they buried their dead. But, much of it still remains a mystery. Thanks so much for reading my book!

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Laurie, nice to meet you here! While the 1500's weren't that far back, they were in terms of this part of the world. The Sonoran Desert during this time was pretty desolate. Much of the recording of the Hohokam was done years later--even hundreds of years later. No doubt the petroglyphs are still studied today. Fortunately, many of them still exist.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Librarypat, nice to hear from you again! :-) I think Mesa Verde is gorgeous; same with Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo Indian Reservation. It's one of a kind and simply takes your breath away.

The book you mention by Shuler is very well researched and I'm so glad to hear you mention it, especially since there aren't many like it. Shuler's book focuses though on the Anasazi, if I recall. The Anasazi is another Puebloan people and they lived mostly in northern Arizona, whereas the Hohokam stayed more central and south. So much culture and history there, too.

Thanks so much for stopping by today and thanks for the kind words. I appreciate it!

Verona St. James said...

What a neat premise! I know I for one wouldn't mind seeing more books set in ancient Native cultures like this. :)

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Verona and thanks! I feel exactly the same way. In fact, given how intriguing the Hohokam are, I'm a bit surprised there aren't more books about them!

Carrie Lofty said...

We have a winner: Maria Zannini!

Congratulations! Details here:


Thanks to everyone who stopped by, especially Liz!