Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]
The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here.
Round Rock Public Library Book Group meets monthly at 7:00-8:30 PM. Check the library website for more information, or ask Carla.
Monday, July 27, 2015
Author Visit: David Marion Wilkinson
The parts of the following post that are highlighted in yellow were written from notes by Pam Fuchs; much is verbatim. Thanks, Pam!
We had the honor and privilege of receiving an author visit from David Marion Wilkinson! Wilkinson wrote Not Between Brothers, a historical novel covering Texas from 1816-1861, and consulted on the television production Texas Rising, for the History Channel. Wilkinson told us about some of his experiences writing the book, which was published in 1996, and working with the producers of Texas Rising, which was recently. Wilkinson also expounded on the history of Texas that he had researched. From what Wilkinson said, we can assume the historical facts and physical and cultural descriptions in Not Between Brothers were real.
Wilkinson has been working on TV and/or movie scripts and productions ever since the book was published. The book was well-received, selling 5500 copies in 2 months, mostly in Texas and surrounding states. Then the movie and television industry began asking Wilkinson to help them bring to the screen some of the history he had so thoroughly researched.
Apparently, the recent completion and screening of Texas Rising on the History Channel was a difficult situation and somewhat of an embarrassment to our author. As a historical-accuracy consultant and screenwriter, he was appalled by the producers' failures to be true to the history. Three blatant examples the author railed about were filming in the mountains when there were no mountains where the events took place, the characters wearing hats that look like souvenirs from highway rest stops rather than from the 1800s, and the characters using more current language styles than would accurately represent the history. Wilkinson knew the Texans would notice the discrepancies, but the producers didn't get that. They realized and admitted later that Wilkinson was "right." Nevertheless, Wilkinson claims he has refused to "write" another screenplay for the group who produced Texas Rising.
Wilkinson said he read hundreds of books about Texas history before starting. The book that pushed him over the edge to do this book was The Raven's Bride. He become good friends with the author, Elizabeth Crook, and expressed gratitude toward her for help with his book. To write the book, Wilkinson quit his carpenter/construction job. With a wife and 2 children to care for and a novel to write, he built a 7' by 7' room and filled it with bookshelves and books. Other than helping with some childcare, he spent 24/7 in that room writing, for 11 months. Just after he started, both his agent and his editor quit on him. He told us he wrote purely from fear: fear of not being able to care for his family, fear of failure.... He said he believes the reader can feel the fear he felt as they read the book - which he thinks worked well for it because those days were about fear.
The fear and anxiety that Wilkinson claims were constant companions of everyone living in the 1800s in what is now Texas were about feeding families, feeding tribes, retaining access to hunting grounds and living spaces, and raising children in a time and place of hard work and almost constant warfare. The expansion of the country was a major theme of history. The whites were farming the Texas soil for the first time. A lot of Native American tribes were decimated as soon as they had their first contact with others, as in the smallpox episode that Kills White Bear endured. Everyone is always caught up in their time and place, and this historical novel is about normal people in extraordinary times. There are stereotypes of natives with a pastoral life, but the reality is that they were always fighting with other tribes over every water hole (small and important), access to the buffalo herds, (huge and important), and, it seems, most everything else. The natives had to cope with the Mexicans and the pioneering whites, and the whites suffered constant fear of natives raiding their holdings to steal horses, women, and children. The whites fought with the Mexicans. The Mexicans worried about Indian raids, too, and didn't like the hardworking but relatively uncultured whites who were arriving in droves and taking over the land. Among all these different cultures, kill or be killed was what happened.
A lot of potential was lost in the fighting, such as Native American knowledge about nature.
Wilkinson admires the pioneers' self-reliance, strength, and endurance. He can forgive the people in the story, by judging them according to their times and not ours. Life was physically harsh! People were always willing to fight. Western expansion wasn’t a scheme but was a need. People needed more land to house and feed their families and animals. They moved to where land was cheaper. Part of the cheaper package was that it was located where you could more easily get killed. People were fighting for their families; that’s what made them so strongly motivated, so interesting and brutal. If you lost, you lost it all.
The Comanches played a big role in making Not Between Brothers exciting. Wilkinson mentioned some authors who wrote about the Comanche. Of all the Indian tribes that were fighting for the Texas area, the Comanche held on to their lifestyle and freedom the longest: 45 years! Some of the other tribes ceased to exist after only 10 years among the white pioneers. Wilkinson spoke of the differences between experiences of children captured. Many boys wanted to go back to the Comanches after being returned to their parents; they loved the Comanche lifestyle! Some women, too, adapted to the native ways. Wilkinson's story was that if a woman was captured, she was hazed, often tortured. They tribal women tested (tried to break) the whites; if the white women "survived" and stayed strong, they were often accepted and became wives of warriors.
Wilkinson asked, When the politicians say we should get America back to when things were great - when was that exactly? He believes every period had and always will have its difficulties, struggles, and wars.
Questions & Answers:
Janice asked about the Comanche vision quest. Wilkinson said these happened early in life and much in the way described in the book. Early in the 1800s, the Native American boy would go out alone, cold, sleep-deprived, and fasting. The physical deprivation brought visions etc. Later more substance-induced visions became more common, e.g., with peyote. Wilkinson said they did get into an altered state. As for the example of talking with a bear; Wilkinson was not saying that the bear talked, but that the person heard it. Another example that is covered in the history literature is that birds told Crazy Horse where he could find elk, and he saved his people with those elk.
Shirley asked whether the symbols between the chapters in the book are authentic. Wilkinson answered that these are from a book by Jack Jackson, about ranches and brands. The brands in the book are not from Texas but from old Mexican haciendas.
Carla asked about Wilkinson's story of how Sam Houston and Andrew Jackson had planned to annex and start a war. Wilkinson explained some of the complexities of the situation, which he said is not documented history, but he and others think that was what happened.
Wilkinson would like to finish a novel he has been working on. We can understand his staying where he's needed in video media right now, but we look forward to another book!