So happy to host Monette Bebow-Reinhard today, historian, actress, screenwriter! Ever since the iconic movie, Dances with Wolves, Bebow-Reinhard has been researching native American Indian Cultures. Her grandfather’s great uncle, Henry Bertrand, was in the army from 1862 through 1884 and he said, “We didn’t try hard to catch the Indians. We could see they were good people.”
Bebow-Reinhard earned her master’s in 2006 and has a saying: “The one thing historians need more of is time.” She is compiling a master database of all pre-contact copper artifacts found in the Americas, with nearly 66,000 compiled so far, and envisions a series of resource books. She’s an actress and screenwriter in her spare time, and has two grandchildren. Her sons work for Microsoft and her daughter is a tenured professor. She currently holds a full-time job but hopes to retire and travel with her husband and finish other projects by 2019.
The book she’s talking about today is called Saving Boone: Legend of the Half-White Son, and was published by All Things That Matter Press on October 25, 2017. It’s 228 pages long.
About the book:
n 1853 young Boone Tyler is thrust alone into the rapidly changing and dangerous environment west of the Mississippi. Was his white mother killed by his Kiowa father? His mother refused to let Kae-Gon into Boone’s life, but he told Lynelle he’d come for Boone when he was twelve. She swore she’d rather kill Kae-Gon than see Boone live in a world under constant threat. She made Boone swear to stay white, even taught him Shakespeare to help center him in her world in eastern Kansas.
After her death, Boone seeks out his grandfather, an army general, to help him kill his father. He quickly learns that many in the white world only see him as Indian.
On his adventures alone in the wilds of the western territories, Boone is often saved by the mysterious voice in his head that he thinks is his dead twin brother. Sam’s voice, and the symbols he becomes obsessed with, remind him that he’s more than just a half-white son and to learn more of his father’s world before killing him.
Events keep tangling with Boone’s desire for revenge for Lynelle’s death, including a wife, a cattle drive, thieves, Civil War, and people who continue to see him as Kiowa, not white. By 1874 he comes to understand the meaning of being “half-breed,” but is Sam’s voice enough to save their father’s life?
Why did you decide to write this book?
Back when I was getting my master’s, and doing a lot of research on the time period used, and about the experiences of half-breeds, I wanted to share the realities of their world, and started writing just some short adventures and these were then combined and added to and the full novel developed.
What genre is your book?
Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?
Character driven, definitely. The boy is 12 when his mother is killed and he runs off to grow into a man so he can kill his father, who he blames. Along the way his experiences tell him that there’s more to what happened to her than he thought.
What makes your book unique?
One of the things I really like is that this is his white-half perspective, that he was raised by his white mother to live in the white world, and she taught him a lot of Shakespeare. So all along the way he is finding different Shakespeare quotes to reflect on what’s happening in his life. And at the end – I swear I never realized this until that moment – his father asks him if he still reads his – and then he shakes his spear. I wanted to be careful in this book to make it appealing, and correct, to a Native audience, as much as possible.
Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?
I generally outline. With this novel, I had a series of short stories first, which form a bit of an outline. In the longer version, I take him into the Indian world to marry, and to try and get whites and Indians to get along, and he dies in the end. In this version, I end at an earlier, and much more appropriate spot. I like how novels change and become what they need to be, all along.
How do you develop the names for your characters?
They just come to me. As I think about the character the right name just happens. At least for the major characters – if I’m on the right track. I’ll know I’m not if I struggle with their names.
How do you decide on the setting?
I have a master’s in history and have done a lot of research on the time period in question, and the location is spread out west of the Mississippi, but ultimately, I needed to be in an area where he’d have the most experiences.
Do you have a writing mentor?
Not really. I try to find readers, and as my first published novels were Bonanza novels, I’m really honored that a number of them read everything I do. I have a few favorite authors, but I don’t emulate style.
Do you have a favorite place to write?
It’s really hard for me not to write. Just put me down in front of a computer! I’m fortunate to have a job where I have to wait for people to send me stuff, and wait for the phone to ring. As I wait, I can do whatever I want. And I can type fast!
Anything else you’d like to add?
While I was trying to sell this novel, I called it Saga of a Half-Breed. But some people were incensed that I’d use that word on the cover. I don’t believe we should hide what happened in history. But at the same time, we shouldn’t promote it. So I changed the title on the cover, but I will use historical terms in my work. I also gave a presentation on this topic and have developed a short article for True West Magazine on half-breeds. I need to get back to that and send it to them again. They said they’d look at it when the novel is published. But I’ve had some people ask, what the heck is a half-white son? So I don’t know if I’ve done myself any good with this title, either.
Where can we find you?
On The Premises: http://onthepremises.com/issues/issue-27/ Short story “Job as Told in Fortune Cookies”