What is the title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
First, growing up in Southern California, among the Spanish Missions (at San Juan Capistrano, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo), I began to wonder where all the indigenous peoples were–for whose conversion these missions were built.
Second, I wrote a lyric poem entitled The Husbandman, in which a gentleman was genetically sequencing animals out of plants: brains in garden rows like cabbages, cranes opening their wings out of pink aquatic plants. That sort of thing. And I felt like I had more to say about the subject.
Genealogies is the marriage of these two impulses.
What genre does your book fall under?
It depends on how you want to approach it. Formally, the poem is a Romance, the essential element of which is adventure: a sequential and processional narrative involving human characters who have extraordinary abilities, which they exercise in extraordinary circumstances.
In contemporary terms, think of the X-Men and their heroic battles. Historically, think of Noah in the Old Testament.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Since the poem is an adventure tale, there are multiple characters involved:
John Elam: Dustin Hoffman in The Little Big Man.
Sarah: Roseanne Supernault in Into the West.
Alfred Ison: Michael Gambon in The Singing Detective.
Velma Ison: the imperial Helen Mirren in The Queen
Evelyn Weatherly: Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind.
Osgood Weatherly: Glenn Ford in Is Paris Burning?
Nate Weatherly: Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands (minus the scissors)
Mae Pinson: Cate Blanchett in Notes on a Scandal.
Bartlett Smith: James Earl Jones in The Great White Hope.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The chronicle involves a Native American woman who, having fallen through a bad patch of time, lands in Berkeley in 1968, where she learns that her people and many, many other indigenous New World inhabitants were exterminated by then, and resolves to return to her own era and enlist the aid of a ship-wrecked English adventurer to assassinate Cortez before he succeeds in his decimating conquest–failing in which, the two of them return to Florida and travel through time in the usual sequential way, discovering in the quotidian process that they have been immortalized in body if not soul, and therefore that they cannot escape history. It’s sad, man.
Who has published your book?
The book is published by Greenhouse Review Press. Copies can be found on Amazon, and at your local independent bookseller.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your book?
Longer than usual, I think, for a book. I had to research the needs of sea-going explorers, and so embraced ocean kayaking–which took a lot out of me. Also, to commit to the project, I needed tattoos:
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The best examples are (in this order): Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Books IX-XI in The Odyssey; The Parliament of Fowles; Jonah.
What else might pique our interest?
Tattoos don’t hurt so much, really. Many of you probably knew that already, but I was gratified.