How long to did it take to write the book and why a series?
The first book took me a year to write and it morphed into many books from the first. The complete story could not be told in a standalone book. When I first started writing the series my daughter was in elementary school and she is now 21.
How many books are there and when will they all come out?
So far there is the 2nd book to “The Star Medicine” which is called the “ The Star Songs” . I am hoping that I can have the 2nd book out by the end of the year.
Will you have a book out once a year?
That is the goal.
Why an ebook?
I saw that the publishing world was changing and I did not have a great experience with a big publishing house. The story is not more dramatic than that.
It is just a genre I enjoy writing in. I also wanted to get some serious historical Native American issues in a book but didn’t want to do a historical novel. I wanted to make something that would entertain and hopefully the reader would learn something at the same time. To me it was like making a cheese enchilada but sneaking in vegetables.
Are you creating a genre of your own?
I wasn’t set out to make a different genre but several people have referred to my book as Indigenous Fantasy.
Do you have favorite writers in Fantasy and who Influenced you?
Many different writers have influenced my work including Shakespeare, Eugene O’Neil and Euripides. Linda Hogan’s “Mean Spirits” and Louise Erdrich’s “Love Medicine” and “Tracks” My favorite writers in the Genre of Dark Fantasy would be Anne Bishop and Jacquelyn Carey. The late L.A. Banks who put Native Issues and Urban issues in her writing and it was done with a great deal of respect to Native communities. Sara Douglass was a big reason I started writing in this genre. And always Marion Zimmerman Bradley “ The Mists of Avalon “ one of my biggest influences.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing very young in my early teens.
Since you come from theater was it hard to switch from novel writing to theater?
No, the switch was not hard to make and I used the same writing methods that I do for a theater piece.
How do you get your stories?
I get my stories in many different ways. Anything can inspire it.
What are your inspirations behind characters?
My biggest inspirations come from historical figures that I have read about while researching. Some characters are made up of many different elements of different people but most characters are a total creation from my imagination.
Is Felicity Ashe a real historical figure?
No, she is not.
What is the length of time it took to develop characters?
It depends on the character.
Who are your favorite characters?
I love all of these characters very much. I can never really choose a favorite because they all mean something to me and I enjoy writing all of them.
Could you tell readers more about Russell O’ Grady?
I have to say that all of the questions that I get asked, they are always about him! Never thought that he would be so popular but for some reason women love him and men admire him and I really can’t tell you why. Only that he has a lot of sex appeal. He is my most flawed character in the books but yet still very likable. He had many different forms from the very beginning of the first draft. He came in many different layers with many different surfaces. But the one thing that always stood out with him was that readers cheer for him. In all of his rewrites he has always came to me with a deep sense of honor and a deep passion that motivates him but also carries a great element of danger. In the very first hand written draft that my husband read, he asked me “ What about this character? You need to develop him more in the story.” Russell was just a love interest in the first story and after many drafts, he just kept on developing and developing until he became one of the alpha males of the storyline. There was no ignoring him and he just kept on coming to me in different manifestations that became stronger and stronger. And he finally was built into the story like an old western, the man who everyone talks about but is never seen. He shows up in town with a black hat on a black horse with black gloves and the audience is not sure if he is the hero or the villain.
Who was the hardest character to write?
Elaine is always the hardest to write. Her voice is extremely complicated. She has a simplicity that is magical but also surprisingly ruthless. She also has extreme sorrow so that makes a very thin line to write so she doesn’t come off too saintly, too tragic or too romantic. It is hard for me to keep a character like that real but yet she is the most real of the characters because of her historical trauma. She is a woman of her time period that had to live within color restraints of being a Native woman in Virginia. She is a Native woman who is an heiress of a great fortune and she survives through her great intellect but she is also spiritually powerful. So that makes her far more complicated than any of the other characters because she knows from the beginning what she is and yet denies it at the same time.
Felicity or Jeb were never as hard to write because from the beginning they came to me with so much information. They came with great power that they inherited because the time period permitted them to have influence and because of that they were easier to write. Felicity and Jeb were always ruthless and ambitious. But yet their soft side was always there too and there was never the same chance of those two characters on becoming too tragic or too romantic.
Is this a love story?
There are love affairs in the storyline but I always wrote from the perspective that there was great love of family.
Will Jeb get married?
Maybe but you will never know if you don’t read the next book.
Are Felicity and Russell in love?
I think that is always the question but remember she is married to his brother Michael. If they are in love, they have a very long road ahead of them to get there.
Are Russell, Felicity, Jeb and Elaine mortal?
After reading the book you can see that they all have powers in some sort of way but haven’t tapped into it completely nor really committed to those powers yet.
Why do readers feel for the villains of your story?
Well, I write from the point of view that sometimes the villain has a sad story that makes he or she into the villain. They are the most fun to write because they have a point of view that is the same as the hero/ heroine but they just see things differently. I like the idea of a villain you love to hate but yet wish it was different for them. And the reader understands their point of view but doesn’t agree with their actions.
Your heroic archetypes are very flawed and very manipulative, is there a reason for that?
I wrote it from the point of view that these are hard people that come from hard times. They are very damaged and how could they not be? The books are set in a historical period that is before the Civil Rights Movement, The Women’s Movement and Native American Land Rights. The Genocide of Native Peoples is still very fresh in their minds and every Native person in this book is affected by that. These characters are outcomes of their environment of the social order and their historical trauma.
Is cultural identity a main theme of the book?
What saves them is their cultural identity and their heritage. That heritage grounds them to eventually do what is right for the land and the people of the land. And knowing that they can see the big picture and that is why they are the leaders and were chosen to be the leaders. I wanted their motivation to be that they will go to great lengths to sustain that heritage and identity.
Are your books about the American Dream and the Urban Experience?
I cannot say that I ever write from the point of view of the American Dream because I am not a product of the American Dream, I am the product of the American Nightmare. My Tribal Nation are survivors of genocide, relocation and displacement from traditional territories. My historical memory is based on that and the stories I write are about that experience. But I also do write stories about the Urban Experience and sustaining cultural identity within the restraints of an urban setting. My storylines are about the grittiness of the streets of New York City and the Native Communities that had to rebuild their lives off of their traditional territories.
Would you consider this adult reading (Erotica)?
This is not a young adult book series. I write about dark elements and with that my work has erotic parts to it. But I would not say it is a historical Fifty Shades of Grey though Russell O’Grady in particular has dark erotic elements.
What is it that you would like your fan base to do for you as support?
First of all it is very hard to believe that I even have a fan base! But all I have to say is keep on reading and to give as many reviews that you can on Amazon where my book is found.
Don't Feed the Indians - A Divine Comedy Pageant!
The Star Medicine
Praise for Murielle Borst Tarrant.
Murielle Borst Tarrant is a one woman earth cruise to the infinite and so is her work! - Linda Hogan, Chickasaw Nation. Author of Mean Spirit, a winner of the Oklahoma Book Award, the Mountains and Plains Book Award, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Muriel Borst Tarrent takes story-telling to another realm to explore what is possible in her new work, THE STAR MEDICINE.
She gives to her reader knowledge of the importance of native mythology, not only with a taste of the past, but of the future.
She follows myth beyond the boundaries of what can and cannot be done.
Muriel is half-visionary, half-story-teller. In her braided work, she goes to the stars to bring back their magic to the earth, then gives it back to the sky. - Diane Glancy, Cherokee author of Pushing the Bear, and winner of the American Book Award.
Murielle Borst Tarrant is a daring, creative performer, writer, director and now novelist!
Watch her, as she carries forth the gifts that have come through.
- Joy Harjo, Mvskoke poet, musician, writer, performer and artist