What is your book about?
Bone Necklace is inspired by the true story of America’s last “Indian War,” in which a small band of Native American warriors held off four converging armies while their families escaped to Canada. Chief Joseph became known as the “Red Napoleon,” which surprised nobody so much as Joseph himself. He would have done anything to avoid the war that made him famous. Joseph famously surrendered with approximately 400 members of his tribe who were too weak to make the final dash across the border to safety. But Chief White Bird led nearly 300 people to Saskatchewan, where they were given political asylum. It would be 143 years before those Nez Perce were able to return to their homeland in Joseph, Oregon. In 2000, they purchased a small piece of their ancestral village known as “the Place of the Boulders.” They walked their horses down Main Street and reclaimed what was theirs, inspiring political refugees everywhere.
How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?
I worked on Bone Necklace, on and off, for over twenty years. In 2000, I visited the Big Hole Battlefield in Wisdom, Montana, the site of one of the bloodiest and most shameful battles of the war. I became fascinated by the story, and wanted to learn more. Writing has always been a way for me to organize my thoughts, so that’s how it started. In 2004, I published a law review article based upon some of my research, but I still wasn’t satisfied. I eventually decided to write a novel, something I had never attempted before. It’s been a long and amazing journey.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
As a lawyer, I have always been drawn to stories of injustice. I also loved the fact that, while the Nez Perce story has iconic elements, it doesn’t end the way people might expect. The Nez Perce emerge, if not victorious, then certainly not beaten. I found that inspiring. While deeply rooted in American history, the story also has many elements that resonate today, including the failure of politicians in Washington, D.C. to understand conditions on the ground, the bias and prejudice of those reporting the situation, and the call for courage in times of moral crisis.
How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
Almost none. I just started to write. And rewrite! I’d like to be the kind of writer who can plan the whole book out in advance. It would be so much more efficient! But it never really works for me. I make all sorts of outlines, but I never really followed them.
Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching the Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)
I really enjoyed researching Bone Necklace. It was probably my favorite part of the whole project, and the most fascinating. I started researching the book in 2000, before I discovered Google or Amazon. I had to do it the old-fashioned way!
I spent weeks at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., reading handwritten notes from various treaty councils, and correspondence from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of War. I also went to the Library of Congress, where I found, among other things, a magazine article written by Chief Joseph the year after the war. Now you can find that article on any search engine, but it was a big deal (for me) when I found it 20+ years ago!
I traveled to historical societies all over the Pacific Northwest, collecting first-hand accounts. I traveled the entire 1,100 mile Nez Perce trail, stopping at all the key battlefields. And of course, I read a lot of books. Many of the participants wrote books and manuscripts about their experiences, which I collected and devoured.
At some point, I had to force myself to stop researching and start writing!
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I am working on marketing Bone Necklace, which, it turns out, it a pretty big job for a debut novelist. I’ve also started another book, which I’m realy excited about. I still practice law, though I don’t accept very many clients anymore. And I work as a commercial arbitrator, which I enjoy very much.
When were you first published? How were you discovered?
Bone Necklace is my first novel. It’s being released on June 3, 2022. I’m thrilled.
How have you marketed and promoted your work?
Brandylane Publishing Inc. and Anthony Mora Communications have been amazing. We’ve been doing lot of interviews and getting as many reviews as we can before the June 3 release date. I’m also figuring out how to advertise on social media and Amazon. It’s been a very steep learning curve!
What are your current writing goals and how do you juggle the promotional aspects with the actual writing?
Right now, I’m spending a lot of time launching Bone Necklace. But I’m looking forward to refocusing on my writing, hopefully this summer.
What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?
It’s a big job! So set aside some time and resources and really focus on promotion for three to four months before your book is released.
Where can our readers find you?
Please visit my website: www.juliasullivanauthor.com
Copyright © 2022 by Julia Sullivan
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work for educational purposes, should contact the publisher.
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Printed in the United States of America
Brandylane Publishers, Inc.
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At the sound of Chocolate Bar’s deep-throated growl, Jack scrambled to his feet and grabbed the Hawken rifle leaning against a scrubby white bark pine. He found the dog crouched at the foot of a massive basaltic boulder, baring his teeth at a buff-colored mountain lion. The cat had been stalking Jack and his dog all day, all the way up a steep ridgeline overlooking Hells Canyon, but Jack was surprised at the predator’s boldness now, venturing so close to his camp.
The cat let out a hair-raising howl, high-pitched and apocryphal, the kind of sound Jack imagined he’d hear the day he finally arrived in actual Hell. The dog’s growl was a low, dull rumble, like distant thunder gathering momentum. Jack’s mule, Hammertoe, shuddered and bucked at the end of her picket line. Her instinct was to run, but the picket kept her moving in frantic circles.
Jack wedged the Hawken’s worn maple stock between his shoulder and his cheek, aiming at the mountain lion’s chest. He felt the rifle’s cold trigger against his finger, but he didn’t pull. The cat was such a beautiful thing, so sleek and daring and dangerous.
Jack had loved mountain lions ever since the day he saw one sitting on top of a giant saguaro cactus. For all their beauty, all the elegance in their movements, all the heat in their fiery eyes,cats sometimes made spectacularly bad decisions. Jack, whose life had been one bad decision after another, understood the astonishment, the bewilderment, the futile regret of that cat on top of the cactus, almost as if they were kin.
He hollered—“Hey! Hey! Hey!”—and fired the gun in the air. The muscular cat took the warning and bounded away. She flew to the top of a rocky outcropping, fifteen feet or more in a single leap, and disappeared in the fading light just as silently as she’d arrived.
Chocolate Bar, about the same size as the cat, chased after her, snarling and full of bloodlust, but the dog couldn’t hope to match the mountain lion’s retreating speed. He ran back and forth from Jack to the base of the high, bony shelf where the cat had escaped, moaning and sniffing every footmark she’d left. Hammertoe trembled, brayed, and reared against her picket line, which only tight-ened the knot.
Jack stood in a patch of wild buckwheat, holding the hot-barreled rifle, breathing in gun smoke. “You’d have died gloriously if you’d caught her,” he told the dog, “but you’d have died all the same.”
Chocolate Bar yowled and whined and refused to come when Jack called him.
“I’m not drunk,” he told the insolent dog. “I missed her on purpose.”
Chocolate Bar stared at Jack doubtfully, but it was the truth.
Jack sat down on a dusty boulder, surrounded by mountains with names like He Devil, She Devil, Ogre, Goblin, Devil’s Throne, Mount Belial, and Twin Imps. Vertical walls of rock, covered with pictographs and petroglyphs, plunged thousands of feet from the high shelf where Jack had stopped for the night to the Snake River crashing through the narrow gorge below. He wondered how the ancient Indians had climbed those sheer canyon walls with their pots of ochre paint to record births and deaths and plagues on the face of the rock. He wondered how a spider could hang on there.
Jack took his supper from a pretty silver flask. Eventually, the Bone Necklace truculent dog settled down beside him. Jack pulled pine needles, sticks, pebbles, and bits of grass from the dog’s bushy tail and used oil to remove gobs of sticky sap from the thick black fur around his neck. Forgetting his grievance, Chocolate Bar rolled over so Jack could scratch his tummy.
“Sometimes I think God put cats and women on this earth for the specific purpose of humbling men like us,” Jack told the dog, picking up their earlier conversation. “He knew full well how they’d taunt us.”
The dog stretched and yawned.
“You mustn’t ever let them see your desperation, though,” he said. “No whining. No moaning. No panting if you can help it.”
Chocolate Bar yawned and closed his eyes.