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Lit Chick Corner travels back in time to the fur trapping era
Sylvia Massara | November 2, 2010 at 01:29 pmby
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This week, I am pleased to feature Lotus Landry and her novel Skookum Man. Landry tells LCC about the plot of her novel. “This is a speculative narrative about how an ambitious bi-cultural girl, Matooskie, might have grown up in the forest during the fur trapping era. The novel is written as a Western romance, but provides back story on the main character’s father so that the reader learns how animal pelts helped to build America. Matooskie’s father is the executive responsible for commerce, welfare and safety in the territory. The reader is introduced to wood-wise ingénues, confused men, matronly women, clever animals and assorted asses and fools. The wood-wise ingénues lose their wisdom. The confused men become calculating and the outpost seems to contract into itself. The book’s airy structure and modern references contribute to a bouncy, tale-like mood.”
So what about the romance side of things? “There is a romantic hero in the story. Robert Lovelace is a newly arrived officer at the fort, a remote place with several peculiar luxuries but very few romantic options. He has a history of being a slick player of sophisticated women of the London social scene.”
How would Landry pitch this story in one sentence? Landry responds: “Free-range feminist confronts greenhorn ladies man in 1830’s rainforest.” This seems well put. So back to the story and its main character, Matooskie. “Matooskie is extremely tenacious, goal oriented and she loves keeping secrets,” Landry explains. “She is sharp enough to master Latin with the assistance of the private tutors who pass through the fort as guests. On the other hand, she believes that she is in competition with the English rose, Rebecca. Matooskie’s accidental boyfriend (accidental because she stumbles upon him in an unlikely place) appears to be shining and noble on the outside, but he has a history of taking advantage of young women. He takes advantage of Matooskie’s confusion about sexuality. She is also unaware of how her father is scheming to prevent her from leaving his provincial domain for the excitement of the big city.”
And how did Landry’s personal experience factor into the plot of her novel? Landry says, “I recollect that my father’s office was within an easy walk to where an Indian used to carve totem poles. Of course, I was influenced by contemporaries from the Pacific Northwest. When I wrote the heroine as a person with a passion for botany and a compulsion to classify plants, I gave her the habits of my best friend’s mother, a horticultural writer who deposited her children on trailheads in remote mountain forests where the children were instructed to seek rare plant specimens. As for the name ‘skookum’, I had a ‘skookum’ brand Indian doll when I was a child.”
This promises to be an interesting read, especially for those readers who are interested in this particular era or want to learn more about it.
Landry spent her professional years as a software developer in the aerospace industries of Southern California. She wrote avionics applications (think of line of sight stabilization code for a helicopter) and Monte Carlo simulations. She also worked on technical proposal teams. She prepared for this by earning a degree in mathematics, but she more recently completed a fiction writing course at the University of California. Landry resides in the Los Angeles area and has two adult sons.
Skookum Man was finished in 2002 and released in 2009 as a Kindle ebook. Landry is a native of Seattle and has spent most of her childhood not far from the setting of the book, along the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest.
For more information on this author and her book, please visit her website.
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