|Shoshone Chief Washakie|
After months of research & writing, my manuscript Nick, the White Indian Boy was accepted by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. As a final detail, HBJ wanted Charlie to sign a release. "No problem," I said. But his letter chilled me. I never gave you permission, he responded. You may not write about my father. I felt sick. Literally, I was shaking inside. When I calmed down, I phoned him. A caretaker explained that Charlie had just had surgery and "wasn't well." Translation: all our correspondence was null and void.
|One of my favorite covers|
Now it was HBJ's turn to say "No problem." They advised that I just rewrite it and change the names. Rewrite a novel? It was like pulling a thread in a patchwork quilt that made the whole thing unravel. One change led to another ... you get the idea. It was a ton of work, but the process actually freed me. I no longer had to be 100% accurate, as biographies should be. I could make stuff up!
What fun it was to find The Legend of Jimmy Spoonin my head. In a future "Notes From the Sunroom," I'll tell about doing research with teenagers from the Shoshone-Bannock tribe.