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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight with Ginger Simpson

Hello and welcome to Wednesday Spotlight! Today’s featured guest is Ginger Simpson, and she’s here to chat with us about her upcoming release:

And with a backdrop of cold, gray skies and snow-capped mountains outdoors, a warm fire crackles in the hearth, permeating the parlor with the rustic scent of birch. Hearing the doorbell, Oliver runs off to answer, a huge smile on his face when he greets Ginger. And here she is!

Let’s have a warm round of applause for Ginger Simpson!

Sharon: Howdy, Ginger. Have a seat in front of the roaring fire and take a load off. I swear, this has been the longest winter. How about it?

Ginger: This cold weather has certainly hung around for a long time. I’m ready for Spring. Of course, seeing the snow come and go, makes me wonder how in the world the pioneers dealt with weather. We whine when we’re chilly. Just think of being in a covered wagon, trying to cross country when sleet and snow are part of the equation. Brrr. I still shiver when I see the last part of Dancing with Wolves, where the tribe is at their winter camp and that handsome brave sits on his horse atop a hill, out in the cold, and yells down to Kevin Cosner, in his native language, “I am Wind in His Hair. Do you see that I am your friend? Can you see that you will always be my friend? Actually, now that I think about it, the goose bumps have nothing to do with the cold. *smile*

Grinning his roguish grin and pumping his biceps wildly, Oliver comes out, silver tray perched above his head. With a sweeping bow, he presents glasses of Tennessee Sweet Tea and a huge, overflowing bowl of Lay’s wavy potato chips. He chooses the largest and feeds it to Ginger. The chip snaps as Ginger sinks her teeth into it, a big smile on her face.

Sharon: (grabbing a chip before Oliver feeds them all to Ginger) Well, this interview is off to a delightful start. It just so happens these are my favorite munchies. Oliver, dearheart, keep ‘em coming! Brushing the crumbs off her hands, Sharon holds up the book. Ginger, when you stopped munching, how about reading a blurb and excerpt from your book.

Ginger: My pleasure

Caught between the world of red and white, how will Grace Cummings choose?
A normal morning turns to disaster when a small war party attacks Grace Cummings’family and slaughters everyone but her.

She returns to the Lakota camp filled with hatred, anger and fear, but through the help of another white woman in camp, learns the Lakota way. Broken treaties, dead buffalo, and the white man's foray of gold in the sacred hills give the people reason to defend themselves. When white soldiers invade the camp and presume to rescue Grace, she must decide where her heart lies.

Papa scraped the last speck of egg from his plate and set it aside. “I s’pect Kev and me’ll find gold any day now. People are discoverin’ it all around us. When we make our strike, we can find some land and build a real house. It’s sure to happen soon… afore summer is past and the weather turns cold. In fact, Sassy, you and yer ma might want to start gatherin’ fair-sized stones and rocks for our fireplace.

He pointed to the lean-to, still in progress. “In the meantime, Kev and I will finish our temporary shelter, so we can spread out a bit.”

No more climbing in and out of a wagon to sleep. Grace clapped. “Oh, Papa, that sounds so good.”
She sobered and flashed the look that always won him over…the half-pout, wistful gaze. “When we finally settle in our real house, it will be near a town, won’t it? Otherwise, how do you expect me to be courted out here in the middle of nowhere?”

“I’m not so sure I want you to be cour...” He jerked around and looked over his shoulder. “Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?” Kevin asked.

“I hear it, Papa,” Grace chimed in. “Sounds like yelling.”
Her father stood and scanned the horizon. He pointed. “Look. There!”
A group of riders emerged from a dust cloud in the distance. The yelling grew louder as they came closer.

The furrows in her father’s brow frightened Grace. “What is it, Papa?”
He darted for the wagon. “It’s Injuns! Hurry! You two women get inside and keep low. Kevin, get yer rifle!”

Grace’s heartbeat quickened and fear clutched her chest, making it hard to breathe. She’d heard about savages, but never saw one up close. She didn’t want to.
Her mother stood frozen in place. Grace grabbed her hand and pulled. “C’mon, Mama, we’d better do as Papa says.”

They ran around to the back of the wagon, and her mother boosted her up and over the closed tailgate. Grace dove inside, her mind filled with horrible thoughts. Would she get scalped or worse…were they all going to die?

All the while, piercing yells sliced the air while thundering hooves pounded the ground. Realizing her mother hadn’t followed, Grace rose up on her knees and peeked outside.

A pack of whooping Indians rode round and round the wagon, their voices creating a din of eerie screams while bullets exploded. The hair on Grace’s arms stood on end. She covered her ears, crouched against the sidewall and prayed the savages would
go away.

Hoots and whistles erupt as Ginger takes a bow and sits down.

Sharon: Wow! I felt as if I were right there in the Wild, Wild West. I could actually hear the thundering of horse hooves and the piercing screams in the distance. Very thrilling. Tell us about the research for this book.

Ginger: I’ve had a long fascination with American Indians, specifically the Lakota Tribe. I have no idea why, other than the assumption that I might have been a squaw in another life. I seem to know far more than I should about their customs, beliefs, and way of life.

Sharon: This excerpt takes me back to the old Westerns starring Clint Eastwood and The Duke. Sad but true, a lot of scalping and unspeakable massacres took place back then, didn’t they?

Ginger: Yes, but those acts didn’t happen without provocation. In White Heart, Lakota Spirit, I tried to present Indians in the most positive light. During the time period in which my story takes place, the white man had made treaties with the Indians, granting them deed to their lands and promising peace and then reneging on the deal. Indians relied greatly on buffalo for everything from food, clothing, bow strings, and utensils, and when white men started killing them for sport, they threatened the very being of the Indian nation. There are always two sides to the story, and unfortunately in TV westerns, the red men were always portrayed as the villains. You never heard much about the unspeakable acts of the whites against those they considered savages.

Sharon: Imagine seeing a bunch of riders in the horizon coming straight for your camp as just a cloud of dust. And your character Grace sees her entire family slaughtered. Tell us a bit more about that.

Ginger: Of course she was scared to death. She’d never seen anything more than a picture of an Indian, and had heard only horror stories about them. I can’t image the heart-pounding fear she experienced when she raised up from cowering in the wagon and came face-to-face with someone she presumed was going to kill her. Then to have her hands bound and led away from the bodies of her family, with no idea of what lay in store for her.

Sharon: And she returns to the Lakota camp with a lot of mixed emotions, no doubt. Tell us more about the Lakota way?

Ginger: There’s no doubt she felt hatred in her heart for those who killed her family, but I imagine the fear of what lay ahead was just as great. Just as we have gangs today who want to prove their strength and power over others, the Indian tribes were no different. Young warriors saw war and killing as the only answer, and they often went off on their own or followed someone who wasn’t the perfect role model. Thankfully, there were also wise elders who tried to hold them in check and make them accountable for jeopardizing the entire tribe. That’s what happens in White Heart, Lakota Spirit when the person who planned the raid is banished by the tribe.

Sharon: Just so everyone knows, White Heart, Lakota Spirit is the sequel to your debut novel, Prairie Peace. Tell us a bit about that.

Ginger: Oh, Prairie Peace. I loved writing that story, and it was during the process that I realized I was a “pantser” rather than a plotter. My characters came to me and shared their story and I wrote it. Then with the help of a wonderful historical editor, I refined it into a novel. Both books are stand alone stories, but share characters.

In Prairie Peace, Cecile meets and marries Walt, who later goes for supplies and leaves her alone with no idea where she is. Facing possible pregnancy and a winter without food, her rescuer is an injured Indian seeking help. Cecile nurses him back to health, and then realizes that Walt may well be dead. She accompanies Lone Eagle back to his village, and there is born her new character, Green Eyes. These two, the medicine woman, Cecile’s child, and Little Elk all transfer over to White Heart, Lakota Spirit and play an important part in Grace’s life.

Sharon: I find it interesting that you’re rewriting this book based on the experience you’ve gathered along the way. I couldn’t agree more. When I look back at some of the things I’ve written, it’s like “I wrote that?” Is that how you feel?

Ginger: Of course. The first thing my editor told me about Prairie Peace...
"you write a wonderful story, now we have to make it into a novel.” Unfortunately, in small press, sometimes editors are authors just like we are, and their knowledge is limited to what they’ve learned in the process. With each book, I’ve learned something new, and as I continue to write, I apply that knowledge with the hope of creating something better each time.
Sharon: What’s next for Ginger Simpson?

Ginger: I wish I could say I have a major contract looming, but with the economy and the competition, I have to be realistic and realize I may have found my niche. I would like nothing more than to have one of my books appear in a real “brick and mortar” store, but that might never happen. Unlike some of these young chicks around, I’m an old hen and I don’t have the time or energy to deal with rejection after rejection from agents because I don’t write to word lengths or fit my story into that pre-conceived box. I’m happy with the following I have, and if I can keep people interested in what I write, then I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing.

Sharon: What is that noise?

Oliver appears with a banjo, singing a verse of Home, Home on the Range. Plopping himself in front of Ginger, he belts it out for all he’s worth.

Sharon: Enough! Go away, Oliver!

But Oliver plops his copy of the book down and opens it. Might I have your autograph, my lovely?

Ginger: *Fanning herself.* You can have anything you want. Are you sure my autograph will suffice? I might be an old gray mare, but I still can teach a young pup a few tricks. *lol*

Sharon: Well, sadly, this brings us to the end of our hour. But before you go, I adore legends and lore and superstitions. Can you share one with me?

Ginger: I’m fascinated every time I read something about the women’s hut. Indians were very superstitious and believed that being around a bleeding woman would zap them of their energy and power. For this reason, during their menstrual cycle, women were forced to remain in a special hut created for this purpose. I’m sort of thinking that PMS might have been around much longer than we realize and that was the real reason for sending the wife away. *smile*

Sharon: I find that very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Now for my final three questions. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? If you could star in a literary fiction, which would it be and why? And who would you want playing your romantic hero?

Ginger: Oh my gosh. If you’d asked me those questions twenty years ago, I probably would have had quite a different answer, but I’m quite content living here in Tennessee with my husband Kelly. I had a period of time between husbands where I sowed a few wild oats, and it wasn’t nearly as exciting as I expected it to be. As far as starring in a literary fiction…Gone with the Wind comes to mind. I’d love to wear those beautiful gowns, sit on a veranda and fan myself, but I’d choose to leave the war out of the picture. I hate violence. And… Tom Selleck can be my hero any day. I’ll play Scarlett to his Rhett, and I’ll do it for free.

Sharon: Thank you so very much, Ginger. You have been a delight. Tell us where we can buy White Heart, Lakota Spirit and all your books?

Ginger: Thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure to spend time with such a great group…and enjoy such eye candy to boot. *ogles Oliver*. I’m not certain of the exact release date of WHLS, but sometime in April you can find my book at Moongypsy Press. Almost everything I’ve written is available in print at, and in e-book format at the various publishers. You can check my website for excerpts, videos and buy links.

Unchained Melody plays on the stereo. Understanding this is Ginger and Kelly’s song, Oliver sings it while the curtain goes down.
Ginger lives in Tennessee with her husband Kelly, and they're alone, at last. Out of thirteen years of marriage, they've lived with relatives or vice versa for about ten of those years, and this time, they moved into a place so small, there isn't even room to hang a vacancy sign. She says overnight guests are welcome, but there's a two day limit.

An author of mainly historical novels, Ginger has dabbled in other genres but migrates back to her comfort zone because those are the characters who are in her head, clamoring 24/7 for their stories to be told. White Heart, Lakota Spirit, the sequel to her debut novel, Prairie Peace, is re-releasing from MoonGypsy press next month, but in a much improved format. A benefit to continued writing is "learning" and she's applied her lessons to strengthen this story of a woman kidnapped by marauding Indians. Retired, Ginger has tons of time to write, but her grandson, Spencer, loves spending time with his "Nee Nee," and he's the most important guy in her life...right next to Kelly.


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Sharon and Ginger,
Wonderful interview.
Ginger you are such a talented writer, I know I keep telling you this, but sometimes I get the feeling that you don't believe me. But believe me,these lips of mine never lie, you really are a talented, keep me rivetted to the seat, story teller.


Sharon Donovan said...

Ginger will be along after Oliver shows her around. Margaret, our first guest. Welcome. Have a seat and some Earl Gray tea and some delicious oven baked muffins from Oliver's kitchen! I agree. Ginger can spin a tale, can't she just?

Jeremiah and Kristin said...

Hi Ginger *waves*
Great interview, Sharon. I was thoroughly entertained.
Cant wait to read more of this book :-)

Trent Kinsey said...

Great interview!

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Ginger and Sharon (and Oliver)

What an interesting interview! I love historcal Westerns, and have always been fascinated by the Native American Indian culture, and thought they've had a 'bad press' in the past, although thankfully these days we have realised the injustices done to them. (I cried buckets at the end of 'Dances With Wolves, by the way, and 'Cisco',the horse Kevin Costner rode in the film reminded me so much of my little buckskin mare Sally.)

One of my heroes is Chief Seattle (I named my heroine's starship computer after him) I love these words of his best known speech:

"What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected."

Perhaps if the white man had believed these words, we wouldn't now be threatned with global warming.

Your books sound wonderful Ginger,especially 'White Heart.' Congratulations and I wish you loads of success,

Tabitha Shay said...

Wow! What a wonderful, entertaining interview and that Oliver...(Fans self)...Whew!...That said, Ginger you have a special gift for writing historicals, so keep up the good work...Hugs....Tabs

Buffalo Soldier 9 said...
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Ginger Simpson said...

Thanks to my friends who found time to come by today. I so enjoyed my time here with Sharon and Oliver, and it's very plain to see that she goes to a whole lot of extra effort to make her visitors feel warmly welcomed. I hope to come back again soon.

Sharon Donovan said...

Ginger! What a nice party, with so many cheers for you and your upcoming book. It sounds like a real winner, and one that I will add to my bookshelf. Thank you all for dropping by. Oliver has opened the bar, and there is plenty of sweet tea and soft drinks to go with his array of appetizers. Dig in and sit a spell.

Sharon Donovan said...

I'd like to thank everyone for stopping by to chat with Ginger about her upcoming novel. We'll be sure to watch for that. A special thanks to Ginger for being a delightful guest. As always, a big shout out to Hywela Lyn for adding the great graphics. Thanks, Lyn. Well done, my friend.
Until next time, may the luck of the Irish be with you as you travel through life.
Love and Blessings,

Ginger Simpson said...

Honestly, Sharon & Company, you put so much effort into your wonderful guest spots. I tried like heck to get more people to come and appreciate the time you spent to make me and my book feel truly special. Don't think your work didn't go unnoticed. I'm in awe of what you do, and I so appreciate being invited to be your guest. The graphics were a wonderful touch and made the time period come to life. Thanks again.

Cate Masters said...

Wonderful interview, Ginger and Sharon! Congrats on your release, Ginger! Loved the excerpt, and that you're a meticulous researcher too.
Oliver, you never cease to amaze me, you're so multitalented.
Sharon, I also wanted to let you know I've given your blog an award. If you visit my blog, you can learn more!
Happy trails, ladies!

Sharon Donovan said...

Aw, gee thanks, Cate. You leave me speechless! I left my comment on your blog. Cheers!

OdiliaRWynne said...
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