November 13, 2011

Beth Trissel Shares Virginia

Not only have I lived in the Old Dominion for most of my life, but also several previous centuries in the sense that my family were among the earliest settlers of the Shenandoah Valley.  My Scots-Irish forebears settled in Augusta County in the southern valley with names like Houston, Patterson, Finley, Moffett and McLeod.  These clannish people frequently intermarried so I can tie in with many of the early families depending on how I swing through the ancestral tree.  In those days Augusta Country was vast, much of it in the colonial frontier. Settlers came for a chance at cheap land resulting in clashes with the Native Americans.
This brings me back to Jamestown, the site of the first successful English colony, and rich in history. Virginians are steeped in it, especially in the Shenandoah Valley.  How could I not be drawn to this wealth of stories?  If the earth could speak what tales it would tell, some of them horrific. Virginia has seen more battles than any other state in the union, encompassing the Indian Wars, the Revolution, and that most uncivil of wars, the Civil War. The history of Virginia, the Native Americans, and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of my inspiration. 
One account I came across in my study of the early Scots-Irish influenced my writing more than any other, the tragic story of a captive woman who fell in love with the son of a chief.  As the result of a treaty, she was taken from her warrior husband and forced back to her white family where she gave birth to a girl.  Then the young woman’s husband did the unthinkable and left the tribe to go live among the whites, but such was their hatred of Indians that before he reached his beloved her brothers killed him.  Inconsolable and weak from the birth, she grieved herself to death. 

Heart-wrenching, it haunts me to this day.  And I wondered, was there some way those young lovers could have been spared such anguish; what happened to their infant daughter when she grew up? I couldn’t let this happen to my hero and heroine, but how could I spare them.  I schemed and dreamed and hatched more stories in the fertile ground of Virginia.

Two of my books were strongly influenced by that account.  Daughter of the Wind, a light paranormal romance with American historical roots set among the clannish Scots in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies, is a tale of the clash between two peoples and the young lovers caught in the middle.  Another book that sprang from the above account is my Native American historical romance novel Red Bird’s Song.  The hero and heroine in this story, Wicomechee and Charity, were most like the couple in the original tragedy, while the parents of the heroine, Karin, in Daughter of the Wind were based on that pair’s sad fate. Not to fear, though, in romance you get your Happy Ever After, or as near to that as my bittersweet endings can provide. 
Blurb for Red Bird’s Song:
Taken captive by a Shawnee war party wasn't how Charity Edmondson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather's vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl. George III's English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts. As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other.~
*As most of Red Bird’s Song is set in the Virginia colonial frontier, I am giving away an ebook, pdf or kindle, your choice, chosen from among visitors who leave me a comment.
Red Bird’s Song is available in print and various ebook formats from The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers.
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  1. Hi Beth, I live Virginia,
    It's beautiful landscape and history are hard to pass up. After reading your entry, I want to visit again. I'm dreaming of the trip already. Thanks.

  2. Thanks, Beth for that wonderful commnentary on Virginia. I've been there many times visiting historic sites, traveling the Skyline Parkway, and just passing through the gorgeous countryside. Your ancestral roots are fodder for many stories and I like that you have used the folklore of the state as plots for your books. It keeps the history alive. Lots of luck.

  3. Very interesting post. I've not visited Virginia but it's certainly on my list of want-to! Your book, Red Bird's Song sounds like a good read.

  4. Thanks Nora. Virginia is soul stirring.

  5. Thanks for having Beth on the blog today. Since a couple of my novels begin in the Shenandoah Valley, it intrigues me no end. To find Beth, who lives nearby to my (fictional) characters' homes, is such a great serendipity. Hi Beth [waving]. Thanks for telling us about the people and history of the area and of Virginia.

    Marsha Ward
    Writer in the Pines

  6. René CiofaniNovember 13, 2011

    The beauty of your state shines in your writing and it's definitely a trip I look forward to making!

  7. Thanks Fran, Heidi and Marsha. *Waving back. I do think novelists like me who are engrossed in the past, especially early America, do help to keep that era alive. Not much colonial history is taught in schools these days. Marsha its so interesting that you have novels set in the valley.

  8. Hi Beth, every time I drive through VA, I think about you. Last week, I asked my daughter where exactly was the Shenandoah Valley compare to their house. She said to the west. Next time you may see me stopping for a visit.

  9. One of my daughters lives in Fairfax and another attends Virginia Tech. I love the state. It is so beautiful and steeped in history.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  10. A beautiful state with much historical interest. I also had family early in the Shenandoah Valley.

  11. I was fortunate to be able to tour a lot of those sites when I lived in the east for a short time. So much compelling history. I love stories that incorporate the truth with the fiction - and do it well!

  12. Beth, your post reminds me of Cyntha Ann Parker, who was taken captive by the Comanche and married Chief Nocona. Their son was the great chief, Quannah Parker. Cynthia Ann was captured by her relatives and returned against her will to anglo life with her young daughter, Prairie Flower. She grieved herself to death also, and her daughter also died. It's such a sad story. It was made into a movie for John Wayne--told totally from a "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" mentality--in "The Searchers." I'm sure it happened more than those two times. One of my favorite of Jodi Thomas' books deals with that, but although I remember the story well, I've forgotten the book's title. In it, the hero rescues the recaptured anglo woman from a dishonest "preacher" and then locates her lost brother.

  13. So do I, and thanks for sharing my love of Virginia.

  14. What a sad sad story Caroline. At least in mine the daughter lived.

  15. Thanks all. The winner of Red Bird's Song is Debby.


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