Hey Everyone! Today is an exciting day because I have a fun treat for you all. The fabulous historical fiction author, April W. Gardner will be chatting with us about an amazing series that she wrote, the Creek Country Saga.
About the Creek Country Saga
Beneath the Blackberry Moon Boxed Set includes Parts 1-3 of this first set in the Creek Country Saga plus the novella-length compilation of deleted scenes, The Untold Stories.
Adela McGirth has never feared her neighbors, the Creek Indians, but a suspicious encounter with a steely eyed warrior shakes her confidence. Her dread soon becomes reality, but no fort is strong enough to hold off a party of warriors who fear nothing but the loss of their ancient ways.
Big Warrior Totka Hadjo, a Red Stick bound by honor to preserve his heritage, enters his toughest battles yet—the fight for love, the invasion of fear, and the inescapable ashes of each. The war was simpler before his enemy became a beautiful face with a gentle warrior’s spirit he cannot resist.
War, captivity, hunger that will not be denied. And a blackberry moon with enough pull to endure the test of time.
About the Author
APRIL W GARDNER writes history with a Christian perspective and a little imagination.
She is a copyeditor, military wife, and homeschooling mother of two who lives in Texas. She writes Christian historical romance with a focus on our Southeastern Native tribes. In no particular order, April dreams of owning a horse, learning a third language, and visiting all the national parks.
Becky: What are three random facts about yourself that you’d like to share?
April: I wash my feet every night before bed because I don’t like the feel of tacky feet under the covers.
I have a love affair with freshly ground black pepper. It goes on everything.
I was thrown from a horse as a kid and landed on my head. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with me… 😉
Becky: Who are some of your favorite authors that inspire you?
April: Louis L’amour’s style and settings captivate me. After I’ve read him, I always want to pull out pen and paper and get crackin’.
Tamara Alexander inspires me to strive for excellence. She puts out fabulous quality with every book. No rush jobs for her.
Becky: The Creek Country Saga is so fascinating. What inspired you to begin writing it?
April: I grew up on the story of one of my (thought-to-be) ancestors, Chief (Red Eagle) Billy Weatherford, leaping from a bluff to save his people from General Jackson. Little ol’ romantic me had that story all sorts of built up in my mind until one sleepless night in 1999, I decided it needed to be put into a novel. So I did.
Sadly, the leap from the bluff didn’t make it into the series. The scene was cut and now can only be read in the deleted scenes, The Untold Stories.
Becky: That’s really neat! So Totka is based off of Red Eagle?
And now I need to grab a copy of The Untold Stories! Hehe.
April: Totka isn’t based on any historical figure. Red Eagle spurred my curiosity, and when I went digging for more information, I can across the account of Fort Mims, then the McGirths survival. Their story launched my writing and Totka morphed into existence from the need for conflict and romance.
Also of interest–in the original version Nokose was the male lead. At some point, I decided to make it a romance, so Nokose graciously gave the spotlight to Totka. So glad he did!
Becky: Who was your favorite character to write about?
April: Anyone who knows me at all will say I’m lying if I don’t name Totka Hadjo as my fave. He’s bold, deeply passionate, and enticingly romantic, if a little moody. Here’s a word on his character from Copper Woman….
Totka Hadjo, Mad Fire. As in wild, all-consuming.
She’d witnessed her Totka in battle, on the ball field, on the hunt for man and beast. Seen firsthand that it wasn’t by happenstance he’d achieved the rank he held. No, he’d earned it through practiced skill and ruthless brawn. Not to mention a heaping dose of natural ability and raw determination.
Becky: That’s awesome! I’m considering making a blog post about favorite swoon-worthy fictional males eventually. Totka is definitely going to make the list because I agree with everything you just said.
April: I’m all about swoon-worthy heroes! Will look forward that, and what an honor that Totka makes the cut!
Becky: Who was your least favorite (perhaps the hardest) character to write about?
April: Milly, the runaway slave from The Ebony Cloak, was the hardest to write because of the violence she experiences in the book. To write deeply so that readers connect, an author has to become the character. That was a rough stint with her but worth it.
Becky: What was your favorite historical event to write about?
April: That’s a tough one! I love them all, but the historical events in my Creek Country Saga are often tragedies. The Corona Road Races setting in my co-authored novel, Better than Fiction, was pure, simple fun. The story is set in 1916 and was an absolute blast to write. The characters (a racer and his female mechanic) are spunky and adventurous and good at getting into trouble.
Becky: Which event in the series was the hardest to write about?
April: Negro Fort, by far. The only thing the runaways wanted was freedom and the chance to fight for it. In the blink of an eye, they were robbed of both.
Becky: What sort of research did you do to write this saga?
April: Books, books, books! Two more came in the mail today. Yippee! I have a mountain of them, and I reference them regularly, my favorite being William Bartram’s “Travels.” He was an unbiased naturalist who traveled through Florida and the Creek Confederacy in 1775, so his extensive notes are accurate. In addition, he writes in a vibrant, poetic style that makes me sigh.
Research trips are always a hoot. I’ve been blessed to visit every location I’ve written about. And let’s not forget good ol’ indispensable Google.
Becky: Moons are very important to Native Americans. What can you tell us about the Blackberry Moon and Frost Moon and what they represent?
April: True! The Muscogees celebrated every new moon with dances and ceremonies with each clan being in charge one particular moon. Everything revolved around the moon cycles, such as hunting, harvesting, courtship, vision seeking, and even pregnancy if possible.
The blackberry moon is in June, and the frost moon is in November. The frost moon’s theme is the hunt. Four hunters led out the dances and offered bits of hunted meat to the sacred fire to ensure a good hunting season.*
By the by, “big spring” is April. That’s me! It’s also the name of my publishing house. Big Spring Press. And now you know. 🙂
Becky: Do you put yourself in your books/characters at all?
April: I do sometimes, but for the life of me, I can’t think of any examples. Sorry!
Becky: If your novels were being made into a movie, whom would you pick to play the lead roles?
April: Oh, how I’d love to see this series on screen! If I had my choice of actors, I’d go with Amy Adams for Adela. She’s got the look, and she’d do well with Adela’s sweet personality. If we’re talking just looks, I’d go with Tokala Clifford for Totka and Billy Worth for Tall Bull. We’ll stop there because with so many characters, this could go on all day.
Becky: Oh I love Amy Adams! She’d do well with Adela’s personality!
Becky:What is the main thing you want someone to take away from your stories?
April: Apart from each story’s spiritual theme, I hope readers take away a deeper appreciation for our Natives, their beautiful culture, and their sad history, which unfortunately is also our history. In short, I want readers to close my books having learned and loved the process.
Becky: Can you tell us a little bit of what to expect with Mink and Tall Bull’s story?
April: Glad to!
Mink is a war woman hard-bitten by battle yet owning a heart that yearns for a man’s love as much as any woman’s.
Her self-assessment: “I am too rough and plain. No man will have me.”
Unfortunately, Tall Bull, “the heart of her heart,” agrees. His words: In mien and manner, she was severe, cold, intimidating—qualities a man appreciated in combat. Not so much under the covers.
But the blood moon ceremonies are coming in which every unwed man will be required to take a wife, Tall Bull included. But something else is coming. A final war with the Bluecoats, the white soldiers determined to extinguish the Red Stick Defiance or drive them into the uninhabitable Florida swamps.
Becky: Oh man, now I cannot wait for this to release. Do you a have date set yet or is that still to come?
April: If I had to set a date right now, I’d say September 15, but I’m hoping for some time in August. 🙂
Becky: Are there any nuggets of wisdom you can impart to aspiring writers?
April: I’ll take a modified line from Dory the fish. Just keep writing. Just keep writing, writing, writing. What do we do? We wriiiiiite! And buy the book Self-editing for Fiction Writers. It’s a gem!
Becky: April, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing with us a little bit about yourself and your books. I had so much fun and I hope you did too as well. 🙂
April: It’s been GRAND! Great questions. They really made me think! Thank you for having me, Becky. Love your blog!
*Thanks to my Red Stick friend, Ghost Dance, for sharing his vast knowledge!
Me: Awww, thanks so much!