Today, as a Buy the Book Tour participating host, I’m welcoming Rohn Federbush as she tours with her new release, North Parish. I was initially drawn to this book by it’s gorgeous cover and title, then after reading the blurb, knew I had to showcase it. Please welcome Rohn as she shares her background, writing process, and what inspires her creativity. There’s also a Rafflecopter giveaway link at the bottom, so be sure to enter!
I lived on farms in Illinois until I was fourteen. Those wind-swept plains can’t compare to the storm-free, surrounding hills of my adopted state of Michigan. I’m dyslectic and uncomfortable in crowds. I’m happier in my old-age than I ever was in the riotous, experimental years of youth. Who hasn’t wanted to know everything about everything?
I first realized I wanted to be a writer when I was sixteen. My sister’s baby died after not completing a day of life. Her name was Diane Thaddeus Schultz. I was shocked because my high-school English class remained unaware of my family’s loss, or the world’s. So I wrote a poem and eulogized my niece, hooking me forever on the potency of catharsis and the power of adding to the remembrance of a lost child. What gave you your first clue that you were one of us, unable to stop putting words on paper?
How long does it take you to read a book? My first writing draft is finished in about three months, but the editing takes even longer. I’m usually at my writing desk by 9:00 in the morning. I outline. I use Elizabeth’s system from “Write Right” and Michael Hauge’s “Six Stage Plot Structure,” which is a furtherance of Debra Dixon’s “Goals, Motivation, and Conflict” structure for characters. I put the finished outline, which includes one-sentence scene descriptions into the body of my manuscript and start writing the Rough Draft. Nothing is ever final, the outline, the sequence of scenes, etc. But the skeleton exists. The next day’s scene can be reviewed before bed and embellished in the morning. If I get stopped, I interview the characters to find out where we’re going.
I’ve been writing full time since 1999, when I retired from the University of Michigan as an Administrative Assistant. Of course, I take breaks, and lunch. However, I try not to stop until I have ten new pages or 4:00 arrives. My completed books are piling up, but I am still happiest and better balanced when new work is created. It is tempting to market full time, but the writer work-ethic in me rebels.
My ideas for books follow my curiosity. How does it feel to be this character or that one? Could I live in this place or that climate? What if I had lived in those times, in that war, or among those gardens? What if my goal had been to be a race-car driver, or a ghost-hunter, or a forest ranger? While I yet live, the wonder of life keeps me intrigued.
When I’m not writing, I paint cartoonish pictures in oil and even watercolors. I love the control over colors. I paint in primary colors, heavy on the brush. After fifteen years of steady fictional work output, my family has pretty much resigned themselves to the fact that I’ll be writing on my death bed. One sister-in-law thought I might have missed a career as a painter, but she received one of my better oils.
I’ve completed 15 novels. The three historicals about Michigan and Ann Arbor history are my favorites. But the one I’m working on, editing or writing new scenes, always claims my heart. When an idea presents itself for a story, the title usually comes first and then the resolution. I think we all write with a purpose. Sure to entertain is required, but to last in the world of more books than people, the need to share an understanding of how life works and my belief in a Higher Power, Our Father’s presence in our lives motivates me.
Hiring my GirlFriday, Florence Price, has saved me from frustrating chores I don’t have the patience to learn. Such as my website design, promotion ideas and an increasing number of tasks I ask her to undertake.
I like being married better than living alone. Of course, I am married to the best man in the universe. I’m also thankful for moderate good health in old age. My grandchildren are perfect and my children claim every ounce of affection I own. Isn’t this every woman’s dream?
NORTH PARISH BLURB
An Ann Arborite, Professor Silas Douglas, became the first president of Michigan’s Historical Society. He was a teenager who witnessed the 1818 Maumee River treaty signing by seven tribes for President Monroe’s Erie Canal. The names of the tribes and the individual natives have been preserved in the Ann Arbor Public Library.
North Parish follows the diplomats around the Great Lakes.
* * * * *
Parish North is the blonde adopted son of a Huron native, and with his manhood-quest completed in time for his father’s trip with a Jesuit bishop, he’s allowed to participate in the efforts to secure powwow agreements from seven tribes around the Great Lakes for the building of the Erie Canal. During the trip, Parish recognizes his vision temptress in Dorothy Evans.
Hoping to join the delegation, Dorothy Evans dreams of escaping duties as her mother’s cook-helper at Fort Detroit. Exciting windows to the wider world open for the girl in the Fort’s Jesuit library. Two centuries worth of European books convince her everything good and pure comes from nature. And when Dorothy meets the blond native, Parish North, she feels her heart quicken when he smiles in her direction. She’s positive Parish is half of her future.
When a bishop assigned to the trip persuades Dorothy’s mother to allow him to chaperon her intelligent daughter on the trip to facilitate her education, Dorothy’s mother accepts his kind offer with the comforting knowledge that Dorothy is under the protection of a man of the Church. But the Bishop’s intentions may not be as pure as they appear and Dorothy’s virtue is in danger. Will the Bishop’s unholy plan succeed?
Fort Detroit, Fall, 1817
Cheers from the fort’s crowd drew sixteen-year-old Dorothy Evans to the river’s shore. Two high-ended Algonquin canoes from Lake Erie and a smaller French trapper’s canoe advanced toward them on the Detroit River. With each new shout, more yellow aspen leaves tumbled to the ground, crushed under the feet of soldiers and civilians rushing along the riverbank. The sober clothing of the throng clashed with the riotous colors of the maple trees.
A Chippewa runner had arrived the night before to warn, or rather to assemble the fort’s population for Bishop Pascal’s arrival. Father Sebastian, the Jesuit pastor, rose on his tiptoes to peer down river. Dorothy and her mother stood on either side of the nervous priest. Elizabeth’s short, plump figure advertised her success as the rectory’s cook. Dorothy considered herself a competent but reluctant cook’s helper.
Preparations for meals left little time to think, to read, to dream. She hurried through her daily chores to escape into the priest’s extensive library. For more than a hundred years, the Jesuits at Fort Detroit had collected Europe’s finest literature. The tomes whetted her appetite for adventure and romance.
As Dorothy waited for the Bishop, histories of Florence, its free thinkers, faces of popes and red-garbed cardinals swam in her head. The band of young and seasoned soldiers from the fort held no interest. They smelled, and treated her as the stuck-up cook’s daughter. She was only someone to hand out an extra cookie or two when their buddies weren’t around to tease. But in her secret heart, Dorothy was a mysterious spy, an adventurous temptress, a princess waiting to be rescued.
No hint of cardinal reds were in the approaching crafts, only more drab brown and black clothing. Dorothy sighed, breathed in the cool, tannic-scented air and prayed for patience as the ceremonies began. Her chores awaited and her fingers itched to re-open the Italian history she had set aside.
After the first boat emptied its passengers, a sergeant among the troops yelled, “Attention!”
The thirty or so men lined up, tucked in their shirts and squared their shoulders. The newly arrived, tall, mustached officer with soft gray eyes under menacing bushy eyebrows introduced himself to the sloppy, disgraceful bunch. “Lieutenant C. Louis Cass.” He returned their salute and marched past them taking time to point out an unbuttoned tunic, dusty boots, or straighten a jauntily placed cap. “Where is your commanding officer?”
“Abed.” A young private in the rear yelled without fear of detection.
“This way,” Father Sebastian motioned for the Bishop to follow the troops on the half-mile trek back to the fort.
Dorothy’s mother gestured for her to follow, but Dorothy shook her head. Elizabeth delayed and tidied her hair until Dorothy relented and drew closer for what she thought would be a reprimand. Her mother merely whispered. “They’re going to take more land from the natives. Mark my word.”
“Not again. Where will they let them farm now? Is that why the Bishop came?”
“Father says the seven tribes around the Great Lakes will be affected.” Elizabeth tucked a loose black strand of hair behind Dorothy’s ear. “I guess the Bishop thinks a missionary is needed to persuade the tribes to attend the new treaty powwow.”
Dorothy shook her head. “What chance do the natives have to survive, if they disagree?”
“Hurry back to help me.” Her mother scurried away to catch up to Father Sebastian.
Dorothy wandered closer to the river. Dark clouds threatened to stop the sunshine’s play with the sparkling waves. The second smaller canoe purposefully tread water in order not to be drawn ashore. Dorothy examined its crew. A tall, straight-backed Huron sat in the front of the boat. Behind him a younger native caught her eye. The shifting sunbeams highlighted the man’s blond hair. His face seemed lit from within.
His eyes dreamily swept the shoreline past her, then sharply returned as if he had been startled into remembering something. Something important.
Me, Dorothy thought. He’s looking at me. For a moment her breath seemed to stop.
She couldn’t help rushing forward to mingle among the native men helping the two pull the boat onto the sandy shore. The natives nearly bowed before the tall Huron. He spoke kindly to each. Did he personally know their families? Then he introduced the younger man to them, “My favored son.” The older man inclined his head proudly in the direction of the blond young man, whose ethereal bearing evoked the capability of walking on water.
Noticing Dorothy among the group, the older man said, “They call me Ponthe Walker.”
Dorothy nodded but could not keep her face turned away from the infinitely more interesting younger man.
“And my adopted son, Perish North.”
“I’m…I’m,” Dorothy was sure she’d never remember her own name. “Dorothy Evans. My mother is Elizabeth, the rectory cook.”
Perish stepped forward. “A pious believer then?”
Dorothy gained full use of her tongue. “More of a favorite doubter of the Lord’s. Like Saint Thomas? You know the one who had to put his hand in Jesus’ side before he would believe in the resurrection?”
Ponthe seemed to lose interest, but Perish didn’t move.
“I’ve just returned from my vision quest,” he said.
Dorothy believed he grew an inch before her eyes. She slipped a glance down to his boots to see if he’d stretched up on his toes. As she brought her gaze up, she noted his waist adornments, his broad shoulders covered in buckskin. His light blue eyes seemed bleached by the sun, or his vision.
“The manhood rite,” she said, trying not to check. A stiff breeze lifted her hair, cooling the nervous sweat on her brow.
“You’ve heard of the Midewiwins?” Perish took a step closer.
Dorothy could smell a scent of juniper. “I have, but aren’t you too young?”
A thrill passed through her at the clear, rich tones of his voice.
When his father began to lead the natives back to the Fort Detroit, Dorothy boldly pulled at Perish’s elbow. “Walk with me.”
Perish slowed to stroll beside her.
Dorothy smiled as winningly as she knew how. “Tell me.”
“I can only share Orenda’s vision message with family.” His face was serious but his eyes were friendly.
“Adopt me,” Dorothy said, then raced ahead of the group. Aware of her silliness, she knew her mother would be needing help.
ABOUT ROHN FEDERBUSH
Rohn Federbush retired as an administrator from the University of Michigan in 1999. She received a Masters of Arts in Creative Writing in 1995 from Eastern Michigan University. Frederick Busch of Colgate granted a 1997 summer stipend for her ghost-story collection. Michael Joyce of Vassar encouraged earlier writing at Jackson Community College, Jackson, Michigan in 1981. Rohn has completed fourteen novels, with an additional mystery nearly finished, 120 short stories and 150 poems to date.
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