Some people have asked me about the novel I claim to be writing. I am happy to say that I have recently completed the first draft–over 86,000 words in about 19 months. The book is tentatively called Peyote Fire, and is about the first peyote shaman.
The protagonist, Deer Cloud, is painting the stories of the Powerful Ones in a stone alcove high above the
river. His grandfather Panther Claw consecrated the alcove when Deer Cloud was a boy, especially for him to paint. The two spent many years tracing designs on the ground to arrive at the best composition to honor the gods and preserve their greatness for generations to come. When Panther Claw dies, Deer Cloud’s life takes a dramatic turn.
The book is set in the Archaic Lower Pecos, or about 4000 years ago in the area of the confluence of the Pecos River and the Rio Grande, bounded on the east by the Devil’s River. The Rain Bringer clan lives in the canyons , river banks, and uplands of this territory. There are many magnificent, brilliantly painted rock shelters that tell the stories of their gods within their lands.
I have used archeological reports and treatises written about the people of the Archaic Lower Pecos as a factual base for the story. I have tried to make descriptions of everyday life as accurate as possible, given what we know. But we do not fully know the people’s understanding of their world. As a stand-in for their undoubtedly rich religious and philosophical life, I am relying upon ethnographies of the Huichol people of Mexico, whom some suspect may be distantly related. I’ve had to strip out every agricultural mention in the Huichol mythologies, and other modern strains, such as cultural changes brought on by contact with the Spanish, in order to seek an Archaic core.
From these core beliefs and descriptions of Huichol ceremonies, I have constructed a fictional world view that pervades the Rain Bringers’ lives. This world view brings meaning to their lives and explains the natural phenomena that surrounded them; the same mysteries that surround us today.
I have a list of revisions two pages long which I am working through now. When I get that done, I will start completely over to add characterization and nuance (hopefully) to the manuscript. I hope to have it finished and ready to shop around by next June. (Which means I’d better get to work!)
I’m not sure how it will be published yet, but I know I want an ebook version. My son Miles, the composer and computer dude, is writing music for the electronic book. I may also add a bit of video of the landscape, just to set the mood. There will also be plain, unenhanced, paper copies, whatever publishing route I choose.
Thank you for reading my blog, and I hope you will read the book when it becomes available. Stay tuned for another year to find out.
- Tourists to Mexico still drawn by peyote trips_ (oddly-even.com)
- Mexico’s peyote casts mind-bending spell on tourists (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)