Kevin Peter of Moterwriter.com caught up with author Patricia Stinson and got her to talk a little about her latest book Range War Legacy. This is what transpired in the tête-à-tête with the author.
Kevin Peter: What’s a typical day in the life of Patricia Stinson like?
Patricia Stinson: A typical day is never typical. My dog, Nike, and my two chatty parakeets, Frick and Frack, are always surprising me with some activity. At the moment Frick is distracting me with her scolding of Frack. I don’t know what he said but she did not like it. Living in Minnesota in winter, I spend considerable time reading and writing. I write because the characters keep badgering me to get their story on the page. They wake me at night, they interrupt my conversations with family, and they make a nuisance of themselves until I put them on paper. But I love them all
KP: Tell us a little about your background?
PS: I was an elementary teacher for forty years. I taught in Austin Minnesota, where pigs roamed the playground, in Madang New Guinea, where geckoes, huge spiders, and snakes were in the classroom, and in Minneapolis Minnesota, where jackhammers tore up cement outside the windows. I have been in single engine planes and hot air balloons. I have ridden English and Western style since my high school days. I was a member of Columbia Heights police reserve. I am a member of First Lutheran Church in Columbia Heights.
KP: How would you describe your writing process?
PS: Chaotic! Sometimes the characters tell me the story, in bits and pieces, and I have to assemble it. Other times, the end of a story pops into my head, but I don’t know how I got to it, so it needs to percolate in my brain for weeks before the middle or beginning comes creeping in to my gray matter.
KP: Just as your writing will inspire others, who are the writers that have inspired you?
PS: Jack London, Robert Frost, A. B. Guthrie, Jr.
KP: What do you think is the best way to influence others, through your actions and your deeds or through your words?
PS: Definitely through words, especially prayers. Actions and deeds are great for the small circle of people who know me and see me, but words and prayers influence those near and those far.
KP: Do you believe in the old adage ‘Write what you know.’ Or do you think this shouldn’t apply to fiction writers?
PS: Plot and settings, I do not need to know except through research. But characters, their thoughts, actions, and emotions, I do need to know from experience. In my book, Range War Legacy, Molly and Cassie Sue are real to me as they are a part of what I know from my childhood as to looking at the world. The other characters all share the thoughts and emotions I or other people I have known experienced.
KP: What’s ‘Range War Legacy’ all about and what was your inspiration behind it?
PS: The inspiration was an article in The Wild West Magazine. A reporter interviewed a woman in her eighties. She witnessed, as a young girl, the killing of sheep and the herders. Everyone knew she recognized the killers, but she never said who they were. Even after sixty years, she kept the secret. I wondered why. That was the beginning of my search for an answer.
KP: How much of research was involved to form the back story and get the historical facts right?
PS: Days and more. I researched how President Theodore Roosevelt got involved which led me to research how he became president. I also researched the Mexican War. The hours added up to days, to weeks and if I kept track of the number of hours it might be an entire month. But I don’t want to know as it is hard enough for my brain to hold the research information without asking it to figure out how long it took to get the info.
KP: What was the impact & significance of these range wars on U.S. culture and history?
PS: The forest and pasture land was moved from the Department of Interior to the Department of Agriculture, quotas were established for grazing, the killings stopped and a new breed of sheep was developed.
KP: Within the context of these range wars. The idea of justice it seems relies on the perception of the side it is viewed from. So in the general sense of the word, do you think those people received the justice they deserved?
PS: Not by society’s standards. The statue representing justice is blind and does not see the crimes. Though out ancient and modern history, crimes have happened and people have not seen justice.
KP: What’s your lead protagonist Molly like?
PS: A young, innocent girl who sees the world through rose colored glasses, and her future as wonderful. Then reality hits and it hits hard. She has to learn to cope with the knowledge the people she loves are not perfect and she isn’t either.
KP: In your research did you discover some real life interesting person from that period and did they make an appearance in your book?
PS: Yes! President Roosevelt. I did research on his private and public life. Much of it, of course, is not in the book as it is not a biography, but I gained a deeper respect for him.
KP: In your book all the perpetrators and instigators are dealt with karmic justice. Did you discover something to this effect in your research?
PS: No. But I believe that all people face a final judge, and there is justice, even if we don’t see it.
KP: What are your future plans? What more can the world expect from Patricia Stinson?
PS: I have almost completed the final draft of another historical western where the character from the East clashes with a character from the West. They each have their prejudices and their views on how life should be lived. The setting is during the days of Kit Carson moving the Navahos to reservations. Society’s conventions of behavior, prejudices of culture and races affect the characters.
I am two-thirds through a rough draft of a book concerning a generation before and going to a generation after the Civil War.
KP: Reading anything at the moment?
PS: Yes. I am reading The Way West by A. B. Guthrie, Jr and Unto a Good Land, Book II of the Emigrant Novels by VilhelmMoberg.
KP: And lastly, thank you for parting with your valuable time Patricia Stinsonand all the very best for your book.
PS: Thank you for your interest and I hope readers will read Range War Legacy and tell me what they thought of it.