Author, Darrel Bryant, knows something about the topic of warriors. Over a ten-year period, he served in both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army where he learned about the courage and skills needed for the warriors of the Army's Special Forces. He’s hiked the Grand Canyon, up the Appalachian Trail, and along Hadrian's Wall in England. Bryant's life experience and interest in history serve as great sources of inspiration to create thrilling stories. As our Author of the Day, we chat with Bryant about his debut novel, Geronimo's Bones - a riveting book inspired by an Apache legend.
Please give us a short introduction to what Geronimo's Bones is about.
Geronimo’s Bones is based on an Apache legend I came across while doing research for another novel. According to that legend, several months after Geronimo’s death, one of Geronimo’s nephews dug up the old warrior’s remains and carried them west to be buried in a secret place in New Mexico, Arizona, or northern Mexico.
What inspired you to write about a Marine corporal who has to liberate Geronimo's bones from an Apache cemetery?
Chaco, the novel’s hero, who’d been raised by white teachers in an Indian school, wouldn’t have been taught warrior skill sets. Through my research, I discovered the 1906 Cuban Pacification Campaign, a little war tailor-made to both combat-harden and mature the story’s hero.
How much research did this book require from you? What was the most interesting aspect of your research?
I did extensive research for years. With the exception of Cuba, I visited and drove over every mile of country described in the novel and visited the local history centers in all the towns. Additionally, I located and purchased large maps printed around 1909 and read quite a lot about automobiles of that era. In 1909, the Model T Ford led the field.
Why is Chaco such a great protagonist? What makes him so special?
That’s a difficult but good question. I wanted to create a Native American who, despite having been born and raised a virtual prisoner of war, did not see himself as a victim, and who remained undefeated by his crushing circumstances. A Native American who didn’t need to be, nor was saved by a white hero; Chaco became an Indian hero of the sort AIM leader Russell Means would have admired had he lived to read Geronimo’s Bones.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I was a fair sailor and a good soldier. I’m told I’ve been a good father. I’ll stand by that.
Why did you pick the early 20th century Southwest as the backdrop for your book? What drew you to this time period?
The legend of Geronimo’s Bones dictated the time and place, and the story itself drew me in. It flew in the face of a much darker story novel I’d been working on. To paraphrase a line from a John Ford classic western: “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
Your readers report that the book had them at the edge of their seats from start to finish. How did you pull this off?
Another tough question but I’ll go with what Elmore Leonard said: "I leave out or skip past all the boring parts nobody reads." Truth is, the novel very nearly wrote itself. It was out there in the world, waiting. Whether by luck or by divine providence, the story came to me and I am grateful I was the writer lucky enough to discover Chaco’s story.
What's an aspect of being a writer that you didn't know about going in?
That you never cease learning, that perfect is the enemy of good, that you can never get the work right. That Papa Hemingway, in one respect, was wrong: there is no ‘one true thing’. And way more than I’ll include here.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
The great bard, William Shakespeare, hands down.
Among the wealth of characters in Geronimo's Bones, who was the most difficult to create?
That has to be Doc Kale. Beneath Doc’s sad bravado lies a layered, complicated character.
Tell us about your writing habits. What does an average writing day look like for you?
When I am working well and disciplined, I rise early, wash my face, and while the coffee is brewing, I rinse my mouth out with Jack Daniels old Number 6. And then, with coffee mug in hand, I retire to my office. I try to limit myself to four hours, but when the story takes control, I work the day through without a break.
What are you working on right now?
Enchanted Indie Press, who published Geronimo’s Bones, has urged me to complete an epic pre-Civil War epic that I set aside to write Geronimo’s Bones. That said, at the moment I’m about 85,000-words into a science fiction story set about two thousand years in a future galaxy.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Geronimo’s Bones can be found on Amazon at http://amzn.to/2FRsk4x and on my website at www.DarrellBryant.com. I’d greatly appreciate if readers, leave an honest review on Amazon. At present, Geronimo’s Bones is the only novel I’ve published. I have about a half-dozen others in more or less finished form. Stay tuned.