I loved this book. Lee is forced to flee her home after her parents are murdered. Disguising herself as a boy, she heads west during the Gold Rush. Keeping her ability to sense gold a secret, as well as her true identity, she begins a dangerous, life changing adventure that teaches the meaning of trust, friendship, and courage. Lee is a wonderful, empowering character who learns to take charge of her own destiny, and works selflessly to ensure the survival of everyone in her wagon train to California.
Please welcome Helen Sedwick to the virtual offices today. Helen’s novel, Coyote Winds, is set during one of the most devastating environmental calamities to befall the Midwest. I find the Dust Bowl, and all of the heartbreaking challenges it presented, fascinating, so I am thrilled to have Helen here for a chat. After the interview, please enter for a chance to win a copy of Coyote Winds!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Helen Sedwick] An intense redhead who’s spent her life balancing restlessness and responsibility.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Coyote Winds?
[Helen Sedwick] COYOTE WINDS follows the adventures of a boy and his coyote living on the prairie in the years leading up to the Dust Bowl. It explores the American spirit that drew families to the wind-swept frontier and the consequences of that spirit, both good and bad. And it asks whether that spirit can survive the over-supervised life of a modern boy.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Helen Sedwick] I was inspired to write COYOTE WINDS by my father’s stories of growing up during the Dust Bowl. While there was plenty of blowing dust in his stories, he also talked about freedom and adventure. With the schools closed, he spent his days hunting rattlesnakes and rabbits. And driving at the age of 9. I wanted to contrast my father’s unfenced boyhood with the over-supervised life of a modern, suburban boy who “couldn’t ride a bike without a helmet, play soccer without pads, or ride in a car with a driver under thirty.”
As I researched the Dust Bowl, I discovered that it is a classic story about American optimism. Our can-do attitude drew families to the prairie with dreams of owning their own land. They plowed up millions of acres of native grassland. Then the wind did what it always did–blow. What followed was one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in history, the Dust Bowl. COYOTE WINDS is about good families doing what they believed to be the right thing, only to have the results turn out so terribly wrong. I wanted to tell that story.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Myles?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Andy had a theme song, what would it be?
[Helen Sedwick] NO SUCH THING by John Mayer
“They love to tell you Stay inside the lines But something’s better On the other side.”
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Myles is never without.
[Helen Sedwick] His Remington .22 rifle.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Andy’s pockets?
[Helen Sedwick] Andy is a 21st century suburban boy trapped in a life of rules.
At the beginning of the novel, he wouldn’t have a pen knife (too dangerous), an arrowhead (politically incorrect), or car keys (not until he has a B average, which means no time soon).
By the end of the novel, he has all three in his pockets.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Myles’s greatest regret?
[Helen Sedwick] Trying to chop off the head of a live rattlesnake.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Helen Sedwick] I love the power of a story to make us laugh, cry, learn, believe, and connect with others over distance and time. Whenever I experience a new story, whether it be in a book, a film, or a play, I am inspired to write more.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Helen Sedwick] Characters I love.
A vague yearning to express.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Helen Sedwick] Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Helen Sedwick] Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. If this 19th Century novel could move a 20th Century Manhattan girl, that says something.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Helen Sedwick] Hike the granite outcroppings of the Sierras.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
When thirteen-year old Myles brings home a coyote pup half-blinded by a dust storm, his father warns him a coyote can’t be trusted. His neighbor loads his rifle and takes aim. Yet Myles is determined to tame the pup just as his father is taming the land. The time is 1930. Tractors and fertilizers are transforming the prairie into the world’s breadbasket. The American dream is within every man’s reach. But when drought turns these dreams into paint-stripping, crop-killing dust, Myles wonders if they have made a mistake trying to tame the untamable. Seventy years later, when Andy remembers his Grandpa Myles’s tales about growing up on the prairie, he wonders what stories he will tell when he has grandchildren. Algebra, soccer practice, computer games, the mall? Determined to keep his grandfather’s memories alive and have some adventures of his own, Andy heads out to discover what’s left of the wild prairie. Inspired by her father’s tales of growing up during the Dust Bowl, Sedwick weaves insight, humor, historical details and unforgettable characters into a coming-of-age story that reminds us that chasing a dream, even if it brings heartache, is far better than not dreaming at all.
About the Author:
Helen Sedwick is the author of COYOTE WINDS. A finalist in the 2011 Mainstream Fiction Writer’s Digest Competition and the Lorian Hemmingway Short Story Contest, Helen Sedwick recently won second place in the Redwood Writers Flash Fiction Contest for a piece adapted from COYOTE WINDS. She is a lawyer and lives in the Sonoma wine country with Howard Klepper, a builder of handcrafted guitars, and an exuberant hound dog named Farlow. For more info, http://www.helensedwick.com.
Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.
Holly Thompson’s Orchards was one of my favorite reads in 2011. I loved the book, and it got me hooked on novels in free verse; previously, I wouldn’t touch them with a 10 foot pole. Her latest release, The Language Inside, will be in stores 2013. I can hardly wait!
A beautiful novel in verse that deals with post-tsunami Japan, Cambodian culture, and one girl’s search for identity and home.
Emma Karas was raised in Japan; it’s the country she calls home. But when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, Emma’s family moves to a town outside Lowell, Massachusetts, to stay with her grandmother while her mom undergoes treatment.
Emma feels out of place in the United States, begins to have migraines, and longs to be back in Japan. At her grandmother’s urging, she volunteers in a long-term care center to help Zena, a patient with locked-in syndrome, write down her poems. There, Emma meets Samnang, another volunteer, who assists elderly Cambodian refugees. Weekly visits to the care center, Zena’s poems, dance, and noodle soup bring Emma and Samnang closer, until Emma must make a painful choice: stay in Massachusetts, or return early to Japan.