Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Olivia Godat, author of The Blue Mesa.
FQ: Your descriptions of the settings are absolutely vivid; are you originally from New Mexico?
GODAT: No, but I have heard it said that once you visit “The Land of Enchantment,” you will return again and again. That holds true for me as I have visited New Mexico many times.
FQ: How much research did you do regarding the war in the 1600s, and the Indians involved?
GODAT: Quite a bit and enjoyed every minute. Over the years I have visited museums, pueblos, missions, read several different history books, and talked with locals whose ancestors helped settle the southwest. For instance, I talked with a woman who lived at a pueblo. She had only a small amount of Tewa (Pueblo Indian) DNA. She was mostly Spanish, due to the Conquistadors and Americans (who came later) of different nationalities. However, she considered herself a Pueblo Indian.
FQ: Are the characters “loosely based” on anyone, or were the teens a part of the history you uncovered?
GODAT: The main characters are products of my imagination. However, characters he meets on his time travel are based on my grandchildren.
FQ: Your novel “travels” from the 1680s to the present. Did you find writing about two very different times a challenge? The characters’ “lingo,” reactions, etc. are all, to a certain degree, different, depending on what time period they are in. How difficult was it to keep the flow with the changes?
GODAT: I had to pay attention, that’s for sure. Then read and reread again and again to be sure I stayed true to the time-period they represent.
FQ: Is historical fiction your favorite genre to write? Are there others you wish to try out one day?
GODAT: I enjoy history and love reading historical novels. I found the history of the Southwest so fascinating that I had to write several books on the subject, but I have also written a few contemporary novels.
FQ: Mixing historical fiction with time travel is a unique and intriguing twist to the story. What made you go in that direction with the story rather than keep it a “straight” historical fiction novel?
GODAT: Since The Blue Mesa is a YA novel, I thought I should do something so the reader doesn’t read the book as a history lesson. Also, I enjoy certain types of science fiction novels, such as those of Jules Vern and Edgar Rice Burroughs and the more recent, The Time Travelers Wife. Most of the novels I have written have a bit of sci-fi, whether it’s a legend or a ghost or a psychic. But I have never written a straight science fiction novel and I do not ever plan to do so.
FQ: If you had to choose, is there one author/historical figure (alive or dead) who you wish to meet-and-greet? If so, is there a specific question you would like to ask them?
GODAT: Cormac McCarthy, but he is so talented I would probably only stare at him in awe.
FQ: Can you give us a sneak peek at the next project you’re working on?
GODAT: We are in the editing process of an America Historical Romance for publication, Skylark Dancing, which should be ready in a few months. This novel is suited for adult readers. It is the story of Alondra (Spanish for Skylark) who dances in cantinas to earn money. She meets Felipe, son of a wealthy Spanish Don. They fall in love as they race across Texas and New Mexico. But will his aristocratic family accept Alondra as a suitable wife for their only son and heir? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out.