Tag Archive | Shenandoah

Rabbit Trails

My guest today is Lynne Tagawa, who is a very busy lady.  She shares a lot of things with me as a writer, except down a different path as I do contemporary and she does historical fiction.

Lynne Tagawa is married with four grown sons and three marvelous grandbabies. A biology teacher by trade, she teaches part-time, writes, and edits. She’s written a Texas history curriculum in narrative form, Sam Houston’s Republic, and two novels, A Twisted Strand and The Shenandoah Road. Lynne lives with her husband in South Texas.

Here’s what Lynne has to say about something that is the same with a lot of writers.

Have you ever hunted for something and become distracted? Pulling open drawers, searching shelves, or opening the closet?

Oh look! A box of old photos. I really need a new album for those. And here, why, I’d forgotten I ever started that cross-stitch pattern. Soon I’ve forgotten what I needed in the first place.

Writing historical fiction is like that. When I do research for my novels, I often lose myself. For example, in my current project, one of my characters is a Shawnee Indian. I need to know what the Shawnee wore, what they ate, what their houses were made of, but most of all, I need to know how they thought.

It isn’t good enough to say, “Well, they were people just like us.” No, even the white folks back in the 1750s didn’t think quite like we do today. I have to study the Shawnee religion (which may have changed slightly between 1750 and today). I need to study their culture. Their history.

And that’s where I fall down rabbit holes. Who knew that nobody really knows the history of the Natives Americans of the southeastern woodlands? Where did they originally come from? Modern-day Creek Indians often share DNA with other groups with Mayan roots. But no one knows about the Cherokee or Shawnee. And then there’s the mystery about blood types.

But wait a minute, nobody even knew what DNA or blood types were in the 1750s, so why do I care? It was a pesky rabbit trail, that’s what.

For the first book in the series, The Shenandoah Road: A Novel of the Great Awakening, which takes place in the 1740s, I did research on what folks sang in church, what books were available on herbal medicine, and I watched a YouTube of a guy firing a Kentucky long rifle.


Distraction. Yup. I know it well. I think many of us do.