July 15, 2008

Conley on Native fiction

Cherokee scholar begins new journeyICT:  You've written nearly 80 books. What areas do you most like to focus on?

Conley:  A good many of them are Cherokee historical fiction; I think someone could probably read that series of books and get a good idea of Cherokee history. Even though it's fiction, as much as possible it sticks to the facts as we know them about Cherokees.

ICT:  Why do you choose to write from a fiction angle?

Conley:  Well, when I started writing them, it was fairly easy to sell historical fiction. But mostly because I thought that more people might be likely to pick up a novel than they would a history book. I hoped I would get a broader readership that way.

ICT:  Do you hear from Indian people about your novels?

Conley:  Yes, from quite a few, actually. A lot of Cherokees back home read them and have commented to me about them. I hear from people in far-flung places, too--positive responses, so far--I've been very lucky.

ICT:  What's your favorite book you've written?

Conley:  That's a tough one to answer, but I think, maybe, one called "Cherokee Dragon." It's based on the life of a Cherokee whose name was Dragging Canoe. And the colonists made that play on words, and called him the Cherokee Dragon. It's basically the story of the Cherokees through the American Revolution. That's an important story for people to know and understand. A significant number of the Cherokees fought on the side of the British, and their reasons were very good. The British wanted to contain the colonies on the East. So, the Cherokees and some other Indians joined the British in an attempt to keep the colonies where they were.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Books.

1 comment:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Robert Conley and writerfella met as Host Writers at the first Native Voices writers conference held at Oklahoma University in the 1990s, and even roomed together at the Red Earth writers conference held at Oklahoma City University a few years later. We got along famously as we both love our beer...
All Best
Russ Bates