Sunday, October 7, 2007

Margaret Coel

Margaret Coel is the New York Times best-selling author of the acclaimed Wind River mystery series set among the Arapahos on Wyoming's Wind River Reservation and featuring Jesuit priest Father John O'Malley and Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden. The latest is The Girl with Braided Hair.

From a Q & A at the author's website:

What made you choose the mystery genre?

I simply followed the old maxim: write what you love to read. Since I always loved curling up with a good mystery, I thought it would be fun to write one.

I enjoy reading mysteries that offer something more than a puzzle. I want to be transported into another world and learn something new. For that reason, I enjoy Tony Hillerman's look at the Navajo world, Sharyn McCrumb's Appalachian world, Thomas Harris's Seneca world, James Doss's world of the Utes, Ann Ripley's garden universe and John Dunning's book world. What fun to read!

Aside from mysteries, I'm an eclectic reader. I delve into history, biography, poetry, and lots of novels. I always try to "read up." That is, I try to read the best novels I can find because I'm always trying to improve my own craft.

What's it like to write novels? Where do you get your ideas?

Writing novels is the most fun I've ever had.

Many of my plots come straight out of history. The Eagle Catcher was about the way Indian people were defrauded of their reservation lands; The Story Teller dealt with the ledgerbooks — the books written in pictographs by the Plains Indians; The Lost Bird was about the heartbreaking way in which Indian babies were stolen from their parents; The Spirit Woman is all about the story of Sacajawea, the Shoshone woman who went on the Lewis and Clark expedition; The Shadow Dancer weaves in the story of Wovoka, the prophet of the Ghost Dance Religion of the 1880s. I'm fascinated by the way past injustices percolate into the present and must be dealt with on new terms.

And just reading the newspaper every day gives me more ideas for plots than I could ever dream up on my own. The plot for The Dream Stalker came from articles about the federal government's efforts to build nuclear waste storage facilities on Indian reservations. I hit upon the plot for The Ghost Walker after reading about illicit drug labs on reservations.
Read the full Q & A.

The Page 69 Test: The Girl With Braided Hair.

--Marshal Zeringue