A Sky Without Stars
Linda S. Clare
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Can a quilt bridge the gap between two cultures?
After her husband is killed on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, Frankie Chasing Bear wants a fresh start. But in 1951, relocating through the US government’s Relocation Program didn’t just mean a new town; it meant a new way of life. Frankie quickly learns that raising her son, Harold, to revere his Lakota heritage, will be a challenge in the white man’s world. Searching for a way for her son to respect his ancestors but also embrace a future of opportunity, she begins a Lakota Star-pattern quilt with tribal wisdom sung, sewn, and prayed into it—something that will not let him forget where he came from.
A bed without a quilt is like a sky without stars, but neither the quilt nor her new life come easily to Frankie. Federal Agent Nick Parker, for instance, is the last man Frankie wants to trust. She’s already struggling to understand Nick’s culture, how can she embrace his Christian faith? Will Frankie learn that love is the most important ingredient for her son’s quilt—and life itself?
Linda S. Clare is an award-winning author of books, essays, short stories, and poems. She edits and mentors writers and is a frequent conference speaker and church retreat leader. She and her husband have four grown children. They live in Eugene, Oregon, with their three wayward cats.
~ Thank you Linda for coming and sharing with me today, especially on short notice. I wanted to share you and your story with everyone, I myself have Native American Heritage, Iroquois on my moms side of the family. I am very taken by your love for the Lakota Children and your desire to help them and be a blessing to them. I think it is a blessed thing when God calls us to help others. The lord has surely touched your heart for these people. May he bless and prosper you in your endeavors to do so.~
Please tell us a bit about your background and how you started as a CBA writer.
I started out writing poems and articles, studying at the feet of some wildly talented writers who have become very successful: Melody Carlson and Heather Harpham Kopp.
~ Exiting , I wrote poems years ago and had not thought to have them published, you have encouraged me….
How did you come up with the concept for A Sky Without Stars?
I love to write about Native Americans. Lakota Star patterned quilts are used by the Lakota to honor their members in “giveaway” ceremonies like naming ceremonies, births and marriages. When I learned that the star pattern is also called “Star of Bethlehem,” it was a natural for me to link the two ideas in Frankie Chasing Bear and Nick.
~ My Grandmother Fisher took up quilting in her later years and now I am learning and doing more myself this year. I think quilts add so much to our lives and carry the stories on into the future.
Do you have an Indian heritage?
Yes, but I only learned of my Cherokee/Choctaw connections when I reunited with my birth father about twenty years ago. My paternal grandpa was born in 1897 in Salisaw, Oklahoma, practically on the Cherokee reservation.
~ I still have my own heritage to learn of and from, it can be exciting.
What made you decide to write an historical novel based in the early fifties?
The early fifties were a time of great change in America—both positive and not so positive. For Native Americans, the times were challenging, as the US federal government sought ways to get the Indians off the payroll by enticing them with a Relocation Program. This program promised training and/or good city jobs if the Native Americans agreed to move off the reservation. Unfortunately, the promise wasn’t realized much of the time, either stranding Indians with little formal education/skills or forcing them back to the rez.
~ I have my own thoughts and frustratons on those issues as well and allowing them to build Casino’s here in NY state wasn’t the answer to making things right, it is only leading to the downfall of others.
How do you feel being a believer has influenced your writing ?
My main characters (including Frankie Chasing Bear) need to live out their faith questions. Sometimes they’re so wounded that they question God’s Love for them. This in turn causes me as the author to seek out the real Living God—I cannot accurately portray something so fundamental as belief if I am not firmly hidden in His Wings. I keep my relationship fresh with worship, prayer, community and Scripture reading. The characters must also find their way home. This mirrors my own faith journey, one of twists and turns, questions and thank goodness, real answers I can believe in with all my heart—that of Jesus’ loving salvation.
~ Praise the Lord for Salvation ! His free gift to us is the most important thing in life.
Who is your favorite Author ? and Why ?
Hard to narrow it down! I tend to love women’s fiction—especially realistic stories of people struggling but overcoming. I like Jodi Picoult and Sue Monk Kidd, but also love long-time pal and coauthor, Melody Carlson’s young adult stories. I have recently discovered Billy Coffey, a Christian author who’s fabulous! I have to be immersed in the fictional dream of the story and if the characters are underdeveloped (or censored) it doesn’t ring true to me.
~ My favorite’s so far are Julie Lessman and Joanne Bischof ! I guess its the Moral Purity and Old Fashioned values I hold.
What is your favorite Drink when Reading?
I like to tell folks I have only one vice (LOL) and it’s Diet Dr. Pepper. I drink it shamelessly.
~ I can say I gave up Pepsi many years ago and only drink Ginger Ale !
Favorite Dessert or special treat ?
I don’t drink while reading (or driving!) as much as I love to gnosh while reading. My weakness is Paul Newman Fig Bars but I usually settle for no-butter popcorn.
~ To funny, I have since a girl loved Fig Newtons !
Do you have any pets ?
Do I! At one point my bio said “five wayward cats and two dumb dogs.” Right now we’re down to three wayward cats and the same two dumb dogs, although Bella the teacup Chihuahua would beg to differ.
~ We have some ferral cats here who adopted us !
Linda S. Clare is the author of women’s fiction, including The Fence My Father Built (Abingdon 2009) and upcoming A Sky without Stars (Abingdon 2014). She teaches writing at a community college and for George Fox University and lives in the Northwest with her family and three wayward cats.
@Lindasclare on Twitter.