As some of you may or may not know, I continue to write my novel, Tiny House, Big Mountain. The novel tells the story of a woman, from New Mexico, who returns to Vermont after her husband has been convicted of fraud and embezzlement. The only property remaining is what she possessed prior to her marriage—several thousand dollars and some acreage left to her by her grandfather in Vermont. But instead of finding a vacation home, she discovers a poured basement covered only by the first floor deck; and the contractor and her daughter living inside.
The father’s attempt to murder both his daughter, Cody, and her mother force the women to rely on each other in ways they never expected; while the daughter’s near death vision of the future changes all their lives. The novel touches on loss, story-telling, myth, spiritual experience; and is drawn from my own experience of death as a child. Without making it the centerpiece of the novel, native American culture was a meaningful presence in my childhood. I wanted to express some of my appreciation for that culture in the novel, in the daughter’s Abenaki identity and in the symbolic presence of the animals that move in and out of the story.
At 30,000 words I released a first rough draft to a small circle of friends. I’ve just surpassed 60,000 words and am offering it to readers of my blog. If you have commented on my blog, or subscribed to my posts, and if you’re interested and are among the first to respond, then I’d be pleased to make it available to you. I’ll shortly be publishing it as a passworded post. But comment below if you’re interested in reading the latest rough draft. I’ve applied for a Vermont Arts Council Grant and hope to finish the novel this fall or early winter.
The image below is of Bessie Darkcloud, she was the daughter of Dark Cloud, Tahamont of the Abenaki tribe of Algonquins—a First Nations silent film actor. She sadly died at the age of 15 in 1909. She and her sister were the first Native American children to attend a New York Public School.
Bessie’s sister, Beulah later appeared in films and on stage. Beulah’s own daughter, Bertha Parker, was an archaeologist and ethnologist who wrote about the lore, mythology, and early history of Native Americans in California and Nevada.
As I write, I enjoy searching for images, people and places that help me describe and imagine the characters I write about. I’ve always been struck by this photograph of Bessie Tahamont, am inspired by her in my description of Cody (the novel’s main character) and wanted to share it.
Lastly, if you’d like to read the rough draft in GoogleDocs rather than as a blog post, send me you’re email address. My email address can be found here.
upinVermont | July 31 2019