Sunday Interview – Elizabeth Arroyo

TheSecondSign_350 Cover

Welcome back to another Sunday Interview! I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted one but, today, I am very excited to introduce Elizabeth Arroyo who has just had her first book published! (Hooray! Whoot! Whoot!) You may recall,  I included an excerpt from her book in one of my Scary October posts, so I agreed to be a part of her blog tour. Please take a moment to learn more about her and her teen novel, ‘The Second Sign’.

Hi, Elizabeth! Welcome to my blog! 

Thanks for hosting me!

Would you please tell my readers a bit about yourself?

I love watching action flicks, dancing with my daughter, and reading.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was fourteen. But started seriously writing for publication in 2008.

It must be very exciting to have your first book published! Would you please describe how that process was for you?

‘The Second Sign’ is my fourth full manuscript, the third I pitched for publication. One stayed under my bed. I first tested the waters for The Second Sign with agent judged contests and got pretty good results. Because the book included angels and demons—elements already saturating the market—I was advised to pitch it to a smaller press publisher. Sapphire Star Publishing was actually the first and only small press publisher I queried. Yay!

That’s Fantastic!

Back in October, I posted a synopsis and an excerpt of your YA novel, ‘The Second Sign’, which seems to be a classic tale of good versus evil. Why did you choose the theme of demons and angels as opposed to any other adversaries, such as vampires and humans?

I wanted to delve into the darker side of the balance between good and evil. Not everything is set in stone and in ‘The Second Sign’ that balance is somewhat tipped. Free-will is an important factor. I chose demons because they scare me and I wanted to write something scary.

From the synopsis, it sounds like there might be a bit of a romance in your story, as well as the heart-stopping adventure. How do you deal with the subject of romance in a YA novel?

I’m a romantic nut. I love reading romance, especially when it’s surrounded by high tension and conflict. In YA, romance is all about drama, it’s all about the moment. And lots of flirting. The romance in ‘The Second Sign’ is focused on the visceral attraction of both main characters and questions the purpose of love.

Getting back to the process of writing The Second Sign, how did you approach the writing of your novel? Was it a result of something like the current NaNoWriMo craze? Do you plot out your stories or write bit-by-bit as the muse whispers in your ear?

 I wrote the first draft of ‘The Second Sign’ in one month, though I’ve never delved into NaNo. I don’t think I’d do well under that kind of pressure. I usually write the inciting incident as the muse injects it into my brain. Then I pause and begin to write a loose outline of the major character arcs and relevant acts of the story and move forward from there.

The subject of your story seems rather dark. Do you inject any humorous scenes or conversations to break things up a bit?

It is dark. Hope becomes the balance of the story. As our main characters begin to unravel the mystery of the plot (external conflict) and their subsequent reactions (internal conflict) the reader gets a glimpse of hope that love is truly stronger than hate. Then, of course, everything gets pulled out from under your nose at the end. But I won’t go there.

The cover for ‘The Second Sign’ is truly beautiful. Who is responsible for the creation of your cover and what kind of input did you have in the process?

Sapphire Star Publishing involved me in every step of the design. They gave me options for the scenery, model, even the font and allowed me to pick and choose what I felt best represented the book. Then they put it all together. It is an awesome cover. I love it.

Are there any social media sites you’d like to share with us?

I can be found at:






Watch the trailer at

That is a cool trailer!

Thanks for joining us, today, Elizabeth and good luck with your blog tour. 🙂

The Second Sign Blog Tour Banner 600x188

Here’s the blurb for the book:


Dark YA Paranormal Romance

Sapphire Star Publishing

Bred to believe in the war between angels and demons, Gabby has come to the conclusion that love is responsible for war, jealousy, and all the other deadly sins she can think of. So when she’s exiled to the middle of nowhere for getting kicked out of her fifth school for fighting, she doesn’t expect to meet Jake. Much less fall in love. But Jake is quickly drawn to the eerie beauty of her violet eyes while Gabby is unsettled by their undeniable connection.

When a demon guardian comes to collect her soul, she refuses to give it up. She’s not a demon. She can’t be. Her father and twin brother are angels. The demon gives Gabby twenty-four hours to decide her allegiance, and then starts killing her short list of friends, leaving a message behind: She is the Second Sign.

As Gabby and Jake begin to unravel the mystery behind the Second Sign, she learns Jake may be the key to saving her soul. But it means a sacrifice has to be made that will change their lives forever.

Here’s where you can find a copy of ‘The Second Sign’:




Elizabeth also is holding a raffle, so if you’d like to win a copy of her book, here’s where you should go:

Rafflecopter link:

Please drop in to her blog or her website to follow her blog tour and learn more about her and her book. 🙂


Crafty Wednesday – another thank-you card and a history lesson

Sorry it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve done a crafty post. In my last couple of Crafty Wednesdays I showed you some of the thank-you cards that I made for the Manitoba Writers’ Guild‘s fundraising event Words In The Flesh. If you’d like to see photos of our celebrity readers, head over to the Writer’s Guild Facebook page, here. And here is a taste of what the readings were like:

If you liked Don’ Percy’s rendition of ‘The Cremation of Sam Magee’, you might also like to see Chris Reid (a local radio personality), who read from ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, and a local writer’s reading of the children’s book ‘Jelly Belly’ (my favourite Canadian poetry book for kids).

I still have one more of my thank-you cards that I haven’t shown you, yet, so I will do that today. I chose this one to give to the Riel Gentlemen’s Choir, our musical portion of the evening. If you ever have the chance to hear these incredibly talented young men sing a capella, please do so. Since Riel was a leader in the Métis ‘rebellion’, I thought this was the most appropriate thank-you card to give to them.

thank-you red sash

A Red River cart and teepee with the Métis flag.

This card has a plain white card stock base (half a sheet of 8-1/2″ x 11″). I brushed the edges with navy blue ink using a rough sponge. The next layer is navy blue card stock, cut 1/2″ smaller than the base. The next layer is a blue flower print paper cut 1/2″ smaller than the navy layer. I cut out a rectangle that was about 1/4″ larger than the photo. I attached the photo to the base with Sookwang double-sided tape. As a final touch, I added the piece of ribbon after fraying one edge. I added the ‘buckle’ to make it look like a belt, because the Métis Voyageurs wore colourful red sashes. While my ribbon doesn’t exactly have the arrow pattern, I thought it was the closest I had at hand to represent the ‘Ceinture Fléchée’ or arrow-patterned belt.

Ceinture Fléchée

The photo on the card was taken last September at the ‘Arrival Ceremony’ celebrating the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first settlers to the Red River area. The current Earl of Douglas was present to commemorate this historic event.

The settlers were poor crofters brought over from Scotland by Lord Selkirk when their land was taken from them. Thomas Douglas, the fifth Earl of Selkirk, had already arranged for a group of settlers to create a colony on Prince Edward Island and established another colony at Baldoon near Lake St. Clair in Upper Canada. When he and his brother-in-law acquired controlling interest in the Hudson’s Bay Company, he set his sights on establishing a colony in the Red River area. He received a grant of 116,000 acres of land along the Red River valley to which he distributed among the settlers. This created harsh feelings among members of the rival Northwest Trading Company, which resulted in a bit of sabotage, culminating in the conflict known as the Battle at Seven Oaks.

In other news, here in Winnipeg is the annual Festival du Voyageur, a week-long series of events celebrating the city’s history, particularly the Métis culture. Many of the events are held at our historic Fort Gibralter, which pre-dates my favourite locale, Lower Fort Garry. The existing fort is a recreation of the one that stood on the east side of the Red River, a trading post for the Northwest Company, the original post for hunters and traders in the Red River area.

Although today’s Crafty Wednesday is more of a history lesson than a crafty post, I hope you enjoyed it. 🙂

An Unusual Sunday Interview, continued

A couple of weeks ago, I began a character interview which can be found here. During the interview, I described undergoing the withershins ritual, leaving the present time following my interview with my main character Michelle Langly and her daughter Kristen, and arriving back in January 1847, shortly after the end of my first story, ‘Withershins‘.

To set up this segment, Owl-Who-Sees-All has been accused of murdering Michelle when she left the Red River area in January, 1847. His grandson, Bear-With-Fire-Paw, asked me to speak to the Governor on Owl’s behalf, which I agreed to do, despite my reservation that I would be interfering with future events:

business office, Big House

entrance to the main office of the Big House at Lower Fort Garry

 * * *

Bear accompanied me to the business office in the Big House. The clerk glanced up, pen in mid-air.

“How may I help you, Mr. Bear?” he asked.

“I beg an audience with the governor, if you please,” Bear replied. “This is Susan Rocan, a reporter covering the trial of my grandfather.”

“Miss Rocan,” the clerk nodded to me and held out his hand. “For which paper do you work?”

“I freelance, but have sold many articles to the Toronto Herald. I was staying at Upper Fort Garry and heard about the unusual circumstances of this trial. I wanted to get the details first-hand.”

“I will inform the governor of your request.” The clerk rose and headed for the door.

“Thank you, Michael,” Bear said.

The clerk paused, a hand on the doorframe, and nodded his acceptance of Bear’s appreciation before continuing to the governor’s quarters across the hall. A moment later, he returned with Governor George Simpson, a balding, slightly paunchy middle-aged man. His expression held a hint of reservation, despite his smile and warm handshake.

Governor George Simpson
(from Wikipedia)

“My dear lady, Michael informs me that you request an interview,” the governor said.

“It’s less an interview and more of a gathering of information,” I replied. “It is my understanding that a young woman went missing from the community and you suspect Mr. Owl of harming her in some way. Is that correct?”

“One of our well-respected residents saw Mr. Owl leave with the woman, but he returned without her. It was very late on a bitterly cold night. Mrs. Wilson claims she saw Mr. Owl in possession of clothing that the young woman was wearing when she left. She suspects he killed her out on the prairie and disposed of the body.”

“Was there any blood evidence, any signs of a struggle, or indications of a burial anywhere?” I asked.

“Everyone in the area has searched their properties, the empty spaces and anywhere else we could think of to locate the woman,” the governor replied.

“What about the Upper Fort? I only heard rumours about the disappearance, but I don’t recall anyone from that area involved in the search. Is it not possible that she is somewhere at the Upper Fort?”

“I suppose it is possible, but when we circulated a sketch of the woman, no one claimed to have seen her.”

“May I see the sketch?”

Governor Simpson nodded to Michael who ruffled through some papers on his desk. He pulled out a piece of parchment with a rough charcoal drawing of a woman with long dark braids, dark eyes, a roundish face and full lips and handed it to me. It vaguely resembled the woman I knew as Michelle, but could easily be mistaken for someone else, if one did not know Michelle well.

“This is the woman you are looking for?” I asked, pretending to study the picture. “Could you tell me a little bit about her?”

“Miss Michelle Langly came to me last October after suffering an accident in which she lost her memory,” Governor Simpson revealed. “Doctor Buchannan, who came with the Sixth Regiment of Foot earlier in the season, examined her and suggested she not travel with her head wound. He requested that she stay here at the fort so she could recover. It was our hope that she would recover her memory and head off towards her home.”

“Is it possible that she suddenly remembered her home and headed off in that direction with Mr. Owl’s assistance?” I asked.

“Why would she remove the clothing she was wearing when it was so cold?”

“Perhaps her clothing got wet and she worried about freezing to death,” I suggested. “They might have brought clothes into which she could change. Is that not possible?”

“That was not evident and Mr. Owl has not said anything to that effect.”

“He may not be aware of all your suspicions, since he is unfamiliar with our language.”

“Mr. Bear has been acting as liaison and translator. I would have thought such questions would have been conveyed to him.” The governor glanced in Bear’s direction, as though accusing him of neglecting his duties.

“Perhaps we are hoping that my grandfather will be formally charged and real evidence presented, not detained and accused of murder with only speculation and innuendo as ‘evidence’,” Bear retorted. “You have completely dismissed the letter that the doctor discovered the morning after Miss Langly disappeared, a letter in Michelle’s hand telling him that she was going to try to go home. One would assume that if she was heading to the Dakotas, where she suspected her family was attacked, that she would have brought the appropriate supplies, including a change of clothing.”

I inwardly smirked at the reference to the story invented by Michelle and Duncan to explain how she happened to be found, injured, near St. Andrew’s Church late one night, something other than the fact that she performed the withershins ritual and travelled to the past. The made-up story was that she and her family had been attacked by bandits travelling to the Dakotas and she wandered, dazed, for miles until stumbling upon the Cochrane’s cottage.

I waved the sketch and frowned, as though I was remembering something.

“Is Michelle about this high,” I raised my hand above my head to about five feet six inches, “with a slim build, approximately 120 pounds?”

“Yes,” the governor responded. “Do you know her?”

“Not personally, but I did see a woman resembling this sketch at the Upper Fort a little less than a week ago. She didn’t appear to be any the worse for wear. As Bear said, if you have no real evidence that there was any foul play, how can you condemn a man simply because of a rumour?”

“Our, err, witness was very convincing,” the governor said rather sheepishly.

“You mentioned Mrs. Wilson. She is well-known for her dislike of the native population and anyone who is friendly with them. I can see her making up a story just to prove her opinion that the Indians in the area are evil. I also overheard her once, at the Upper Fort, telling someone how she disapproved of ‘country wives’ and insinuated that you, sir, had fallen victim to their magic. Is this really a woman you would trust not to bear false witness?”

“She is a God-fearing woman…” the governor began, his face flushed with embarrassment. I noticed he did not deny his involvement with his ‘country wives’.

I issued a snort of derision. “I have seen much cruelty presented at the hands of ‘God-fearing’ citizens. That doesn’t prove anything to me. Are you sure she is trustworthy?”

“Well, I, uh…” The governor cleared his throat. “Perhaps this matter requires further investigation.”

I glanced at Bear. He mouthed the words, ‘Thank you’ to me and I smiled.

“Sir, I am glad you are not prepared to condemn a man because of mere rumours,” I said. “You will feature favourably in my story.”

I reached out to shake his hand. He took it and lightly kissed the back of it.

“You are a gracious and intelligent woman. I look forward to reading your article. Do you know when it will be printed?”

“I will not submit my story until I am certain of Mr. Owl’s fate,” I said. “Do you have any idea when the Council of Assiniboia will be called in to consider the case?”

“It will not, in all likelihood, be decided for a couple of weeks. Since the nature of this case is so unusual, they have been uncomfortable about being asked to make deliberations and refuse to come to any conclusions until they have all the facts. I will mention that you may have seen her, that Miss Langly may still be alive, and that she may have travelled south of here.”

“Thank you for your cooperation, Governor Simpson. Please send a courier to the Upper Fort when deliberations have been completed and I will return for the verdict,” I said.

“I look forward to seeing you again,” the governor said – with a genuine smile, this time.

I returned his smile, happy that I had managed to alleviate his distrust of the media.

Bear and I left his office, at that point, returning to the turret prison to let Owl know what had transpired. Another man was speaking with him in a manner that suggested Owl was trying to teach him his language. When he heard our entrance, he stood and greeted us.

“You must be Susan Rocan,” the man said. “I am Doctor Buchanan, Charles Buchanan. Owl was just telling me you were here to help.”

“I am pleased to meet you, Doctor. Michelle told me all about you. She is very grateful for all you did for her, all you taught her.”

“Miss Langly was a very sweet young woman and reminded me so much of my own departed daughter. I was happy to help her in any way I could.”

* * *


Well, the interviews aren’t exactly typical, more anecdotal, but I hope you are able to glean a little about some of the characters from this little adventure. To learn more about the people mentioned in this ‘Unusual Sunday Interview’, click on the links, or pick up a copy of ‘Withershins’ in order to share the journey back to 1846/47 with Michelle. 🙂

For Teachers On Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day only a few days away, I thought I’d share something with all you teachers out there.

Valentine's Day Lessons on Self-Love

A friend of mine, Margaret Shaw-MacKinnon, has recently established an on-line store, part of a site called Teachers Pay Teachers, where one can find a variety of teaching tools. At her store, she has a digital download available called ‘Valentine’s Day Lessons on Self-Love’. It’s geared for grades 4-8 and provides lessons on self-reflection and gives students a chance to ‘celebrate him- or herself’. There is a short version of Ovid’s myth about Narcissus and Echo with discussions to follow. She also provides an art lesson, giving the opportunity for the students to add colour and different artistic techniques to enhance some of the images she provides in the packet. You can learn more about these Valentine’s Day activities by heading over to her TPT site, here.

Along with her Valentine’s Day lessons, you will also find her book, ‘The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach’, a story about bullying, along with a teacher’s guide. She provides a teacher’s guide for her beautiful picture book ‘Tiktala’, as well as Halloween Poetry Exercise pages (free download) and ‘Northern Lights Haiku and Art’, a range of activities suitable for grades 1-8.

poop heart

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! 🙂

Special gift

Sorry I didn’t post a Crafty Wednesday, yesterday. The day slipped by without me even realizing it and most of today’s gone, too! So, to make it up to all of you, I thought I’d share a very special gift I got from a dear friend who has a knack for cross stitch and other needle crafts. She’s the same one who gave me cross stitch sentiments for some of my other cards. For Christmas, she gave me another batch of beautiful stitchery. Each piece is the perfect size for incorporating into a card. I am very grateful that she has taken the time to create these beautiful pieces. Here’s a taste:


bird small

butterfly large



That’s about all I have time to reveal, for now. I’ll be sure to share some more of them, along with the cards I make with them, in some future post, so please pop by from time to time and check things out. 🙂

An unusual Sunday Interview


Since I didn’t have an interview of a real-life person this week, I thought I’d interview another couple of integral characters from my books, Withershins and Spirit Quest. The two interviewees I had in mind had a major impact on Michelle Langly, Kristen’s mother. I interviewed the two of them a few months ago.

This won’t be the usual sort of interview, however, because in order to interview Owl-Who-Sees-All and Bear-With-Fire-Paw, I had to perform the withershins ritual and travel back to the past. I asked Michelle if I could borrow her talisman and try it. After some hesitation and a bit of meditation, she finally agreed to let me attempt it.


This is less like an interview and more like an adventure, an adventure that took place during the full moon last Sunday night. I had no way of knowing to what time I would be transported, if in fact I actually succeeded in traveling back in time, or if I would get back in time to post the interview. I only knew I wanted to give it the old college try.

Michelle came along to guide me through the process. She’s become a strong elder in the native community and I believe she possesses some of the magic of her ancestors. I hoped it would be enough.

Before heading to the church, she insisted I go through a cleansing ceremony. We stopped at a friend’s property near St. Andrews where a domed-roof lodge had been erected, similar to those used for sweat ceremonies. Her friend had already started a fire in the pit inside the lodge that was normally used for the heated rocks. Michelle indicated for me to sit beside her while she unloaded her medicine bag, including a long clay pipe adorned with an eagle feather. She tossed a pinch of an herb on the fire, causing the flames to spurt and spike. I recognized the scent as sage.

She held a twist of dried sweetgrass over the flames, igniting the ends for a second and waving the smoke over herself. Then, she passed it to me. I waved the smoke over me, as well. Michelle chanted the appropriate prayers and songs. We cleansed ourselves again with the sweetgrass smoke and then she lit the pipe. She sucked in the smoke, holding it in her mouth for a moment before she released it into the air. In English, she expressed her wishes that the spirits assist me in my task. Michelle passed the pipe to me. I brought smoke into my mouth, thought about the time travel journey of which I was about to embark. Then, I slowly blew out the smoke, with the prayer:

“I hope that by performing the withershins, I will be able to write another chapter of Michelle’s story and provide greater understanding about the ancient culture of the First Nations people.”

Michelle sang the final prayer and indicated that we should rise. She led the way out of the lodge down the path to her friend’s house.

“I hope this fits,” she said, holding a long garment bag. “I’m a member of the Historical Society, so was able to borrow this dress for you, as well as a suede jacket, winter moccasins, and a fur cloak. There’s also a pair of wool stockings, mittens, and a scarf.”


Once I changed clothes, we got into her car and headed towards the church. About ten minutes later, we arrived. She found an obscure place to park and we walked back towards the short stone fence. My heart raced, knowing what might happen if we got caught trespassing in the churchyard after dark. Now I understood how Michelle must have felt when she was here with her friends, Jason and Kevin.

No Trespassing after dusk

As we crawled over the low wall, the moon’s light reflected off the snow like millions of diamond chips.

Michelle checked her watch and said, “It’s almost midnight.”

The chill air was still. Not a breath of wind stirred the naked tree branches. Michelle gave me the arrowhead necklace and I placed it around my neck.

The area around the church seemed to be fairly well-packed so I had no worries about stumbling through deep snow. I peered through the night towards the rectory across the street, afraid I might see lights appear in the window. All remained dark, except for the orange glow of the street light marking the intersection of River and St. Andrews Roads. Michelle touched my shoulder.

It was time.


I took a deep breath, pulling the scarf up over my mouth and nose. I patted the suede pouch tied to my waist, confirming that I still had the ink, stick pen, extra nibs and a pad of paper wrapped in leather with the questions I wanted to ask Bear and Owl when I met them. I also checked for my asthma inhaler, knowing the running I was about to do would most likely bring on an attack. I only hoped I’d have enough breath to accomplish my task.


A snowy owl hooted from its perch high in the old oak tree.

“The spirit guide!” I whispered, excitedly.

Michelle grinned at me and nodded. I took another deep breath, the frosty air strained through the wool strands of my scarf. My spectacles fogged as the warm air beneath my scarf met with the cold glass. I took them off and placed them in their case and then into my pouch. My distance vision isn’t too bad, so I could still see the slightly fuzzy images of the church and trees around me.

I began to run counterclockwise around the church, quickly completing the first circle. As I started the second, I could feel a slight burn in my lungs. It wasn’t too bad, yet, so I initiated the third circle. Half way around, my legs began to feel like jelly. It had been a long time since I’d had so much strenuous exercise and I am no longer the 18 year-old I was when I did this the first time – and then, I never finished!

I rounded the last corner of the church and saw the glow Michelle had described to me. Although I felt a sudden pang of fear, I carried on, plunging into the bone-chilling cold of the swirling vortex. I felt suspended for what seemed like an hour, but must have only been a few seconds, before the ground met my face. I lay there, stunned for a moment, the wind knocked out of me. Turning on my side, I reached into my pouch and brought out my inhaler. After shaking it vigorously, I pressed it against my teeth. I expelled all my breath, then squeezed the plunger and inhaled the vapours. I repeated the action until I felt my bronchial tubes open up and the burn in my lungs ease. I picked up a handful of fresh snow and rinsed out my mouth. A little of the cold liquid drizzled down my esophagus, further cooling my throat and lungs.

Suddenly, a leather-mittened hand was thrust in my face, offering to help me rise. I took it and stood, staring at the chest of a young man. I had to raise my head to see his face, as he was about a foot taller than me.

“You must be Bear,” I said, my voice sounding hoarse and shaky in the darkness.

“I am,” he replied. “Grandfather is waiting for you.”

Bear led me to one of the two horses waiting patiently by a hitching post. He boosted me onto the back of the smaller one. It had been a long time since I’d ridden a horse and I sincerely hoped I wouldn’t fall off the beast. I was glad the skirt of my dress was full enough for me to straddle the animal without it riding up too much, exposing my stocking-covered legs as it was considerably colder than the time from which I’d left.

Once I was a little more confident with my balance, I glanced around me, curiously. The stone church was almost complete, but the window frames remained empty, the stained glass panes still en route to Red River. The original wooden church stood behind the stone structure, much as I had imagined it. I strained to see the landscape, but there really wasn’t much to see. There was only snow and a few scrubby bushes along the river bank, illuminated by the light of the full moon.

“What year is this?” I asked.

“1847,” Bear said.

“What month?”

“January,” Bear answered. “Michelle has only been gone a week, but her disappearance has caused quite a stir.”

“Yes, she told me about the problems she caused, leaving so abruptly,” I said. “She found a notice about it in an old newspaper.”

“Are you here to help dispel the rumours?”

“I’m sorry, no. I don’t think there is anything I could say that would make a difference. I’m only here to document what happened and talk to you and your grandfather.”

“You are a newspaper reporter?”

“No, but I am a writer and want to tell your story as accurately as possible.”

Bear seemed to ponder this for a long time before he spoke again.

“Grandfather said you would help us. I assumed that meant you would save him from his fate, but I must be wrong. Michelle was always worried about the consequences of disrupting the future by changing the past. Maybe the best thing you could do for us, other than changing the inevitable, is simply to tell people about us and how we lived our lives.”

“I hope that will be enough,” I told him. Something nagged at the back of my mind. “Aren’t you supposed to be up north?”

“I was heading north, but Grandfather talked to me in a dream, so I returned to the fort. I knew I was needed here.”

“That explains it,” I mused.

Studying the man riding beside me, I could definitely understand why Michelle was so enthralled with him. He was not just handsome, with a prominent nose and high cheek bones, but he had a depth of wisdom in his dark eyes that seemed well beyond his age. He also seemed quite sad, probably because he had just lost the love of his life. I wondered how this would affect his future, with Michelle gone.

river gate

Imagine the ground is covered in a foot of snow.

Dawn streaked the sky shades of pink by the time the high stone walls of the fort rose up ahead of us. Before we reached the blacksmith shop just south of the fort, Bear dismounted and assisted me to the ground. We led the horses to a post by the shop and tethered them, then I followed Bear to the west gate. As we entered, I heard a bugle trumpet the tune of Reveille, calling the soldiers to rise with the sun. We followed the shoveled path around the Big House to the southwest corner. Two soldiers stood outside the solid wood door. All the windows of the turret had bars across them.

SW turret

The northwest turret, taken last summer.

Bear leaned over and spoke to one of the guards, tossing his head in my direction. He turned and told me to take the writing utensils out of my pouch. When I did so, the guard ushered us inside. It was strange not to see all the museum pieces and information boards I was used to seeing set up in the divided space. Instead, more bars with heavy metal hinges closed off the room on the right. The left-hand side was set up like a dining room with a bench against one wall and a heavy wooden table in front of it. Dishes with half-eaten food still sat on its surface.

The guard unlocked the barred room and let us enter, but locked the door behind us. It wasn’t much warmer inside the turret than it was outside. The single paned windows were not much protection against the frigid winter air and the wood-burning stove in the centre of the room wasn’t throwing much heat.

An elderly native man sat cross-legged on a fur carpet near the stove, his back to us. A low moaning sound emanated  from his throat, rising and falling in a quiet prayer song. Bear kneeled behind him and placed a hand on his shoulder. The older man finished his song, opened his eyes and smiled at his grandson.

“She . . is here?” he said in a voice barely audible.

Bear took my arm, bringing me around to face him. Then he introduced him to me.

“This is my Grandfather. You may call him Owl.”

I took Owl’s right hand in both of mine and said, “It is such a pleasure to meet you, Owl. You may call me Susan.”

“Susan,” he said slowly, saying my name as though trying on a shoe to see if it fit. He smiled and covered my hands with his left one. “That is a good name.”

“Thank-you. Would you mind if I asked you some questions? I have heard Michelle’s story about her time with you and there are some more things I’d like to know about you. Is that acceptable?”

Bear leaned over to Owl and murmured something in his ear. He looked at me and said, “Since Grandfather’s English is not very good, I will translate.”

He glanced at Owl, who spoke softly.

“He wants you to know that he is just a humble teacher and not worthy of such interest,” Bear told me.

“A man who is so attuned to nature is certainly of interest to me,” I told him. “How did you become the medicine man for your tribe?”

“His mother was the medicine woman and he learned everything from her. When she went to meet the Creator, he was asked by the people to replace her.”

Although Bear was translating, I looked at Owl when I asked my questions. “I would have thought you’d automatically become the medicine man. Is this not so?”

“He was the most qualified of all the people, the most revered. Our Chief respected his visions. Our village prospered when he was consulted. That is why he was chosen to be our medicine man.”

“What about you, Bear? What’s your story?”

“When I was about five years old, Grandfather had his first vision about the future. He discussed it most arduously with our Chief Peguis, so when the Reverend Cochrane came to our encampment, Grandfather knew he was the person to help me learn to speak English and teach me the ways of his people.”

“There is a saying about knowing your enemy. Is that why he wanted you to learn about the Europeans?” I asked Bear.

“Grandfather did not consider them his enemies, despite the fact that the dream he had was about the Europeans and how we would have to adjust to the arrival of more from that part of the world. He did fear that our ways might be lost with the influence of so many. He says that is why he brought Michelle here and why he allowed you to come and talk with us. You can bring our messages back with you.”

“What messages would those be, Bear?”

Owl waved me closer. He grabbed my chin and smiled. His dark eyes were bright, intense. They bore into mine as though he was trying to look into my soul. He released my chin and settled back in his chair. He nodded and spoke to Bear, who in turn translated.

“Grandfather believes you are the one best suited to tell Michelle’s story. Michelle carries the messages. The more people you encourage to learn Michelle’s story, the more you will help spread those messages.”

“I have already written her stories and I am trying to spread the word,” I assured them.

“That,” Owl said, then paused searching for the words, “is all we can ask. Thank-you.”

“My pleasure.”

“Will you speak to the Governor on my grandfather’s behalf?” Bear asked, changing the subject.

“Like I said before, Bear, I don’t know what I could say. No one knows me from Adam. Why would they take my word that he’s innocent of killing Michelle?”

“You could say you have seen her since she left that night with Grandfather.”

“I could do that,” I agree. “If you think it will help, I will talk to the Governor.”


Since this post is already long enough and it is so late in the day, I will post the rest of this story/interview another day. Hope you’ve enjoyed the ride so far. 🙂