Lucia St. Clair Robson
Along with my library degree I learned one of life's great truths: you don't have to know all the answers, you just have to know where to find them. As a public librarian in Maryland I gave book-related programs in the local schools. While gathering material for the talks, I ran across the story of Cynthia Ann Parker's life with the Comanches. I told the kids that this was a more fascinating story than anyone could make up. Shortly after that I went to a science fiction convention and met Brian Daley, author of the Han Solo books. I mentioned Cynthia Ann's story to Brian and his editor who referred me to Pamela Strickler of Ballantine Books. She advised me to, "Write the best story you can, from the heart, to please yourself." In 1982, Ballantine published Ride the Wind, which made the New York Times best sellers list. It also won the Western Writers of America's Spur Award for Best Historical Novel of the year. Now in its 27th printing, WIND was included in the top 100 westerns of the 20th century, and has garnered more than 100 5-star reviews in Amazon. I've written eight other historical novels that feature people and times seldom mentioned in history texts. I got a kick out of Kirkus Reviews' take on my characters, "...Robson's phosphorescently magnificent gallery of forgotten women whom she's dug up God knows where." In order of their appearance, the titles are: RIDE THE WIND, WALK IN MY SOUL, LIGHT A DISTANT FIRE, TOKAIDO ROAD, MARY'S LAND, FEARLESS, GHOST WARRIOR, SHADOW PATRIOTS, and LAST TRAIN FROM CUERNAVACA. In June of 2011 Western Writers of America awarded LAST TRAIN FROM CUERNAVACA their Spur award for best long novel of 2010. A historical novelist must do more than list which generals fought where and when. She tries to re-create the society in which people lived, and she has to make it so vivid that readers can feel as though they're living there too. I no longer collect a paycheck as a librarian, but my library training helps me find out what people wore, what jokes they told, how they insulted each other, what they ate, how they amused themselves, what diseases laid them low and how they tried to cure them. As a writer of historical fiction, it's my job to create a plausible reality in a time long gone. A descendant of one of my characters once asked me where I got the stories in my book about her family. I told her I had either read them or made them up. She said I couldn't have because those were stories only the family knew. I blamed it on coincidence, but sometimes I do believe that novelists can "predict" the past. I worry about being mis-marketed as a romance writer. I wonder if those who want happily-ever-after stories will be put off by the grit and gore in mine. I fear that readers who're looking for historical fiction won't pick the books up. Love is a vital part of every period of history and I always include it in my stories. However, it is not the focus. When I became a librarian in 1975 I could not have imagined I would write even one novel, much less nine. The internet did not exist then, so I could not have known that one day people from all over the world would get in touch with me. My job is to re-create how other people lived, and yet I could not have imagined the way my own life would unfold. I find it hard to believe that the three following quotes are about my words. Historian and novelist Thomas Fleming wrote about Last Train from Cuernavaca: "A gripping story that takes us deep into the tumultuous years of Mexican history. We need more books like this." "Shadow Patriots, a Novel of the Revolution" -- From Kirkus Reviews "Few novelists working now have a better grasp of early American history than Robson ...Wholly believable, confidently realized, attention-holding historical fiction." In 2011 True West Magazine named me Best Living Fiction Writer- "With her greatest achievement to date, 2010's Last Train from Cuernavaca... Lucia St. Clair Robson once again proves a master in prose, description, character development and authenticity via her diligent research. Look for more from this powerful writer."Read more Read less
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