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Writing Red Willow’s Quest led to an unexpected revelation January 22, 2015

Posted by heidi skarie in Book Review.
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A1uYOglfMKL._SL1500_-188x300Every novel has a story behind it—a reason the author felt drawn to write it.  When I started writing Red Willow’s Quest I decided to write a fantasy story of a young woman who was on a spiritual quest.  I began writing the story as fantasy because it was close to the genre I’d written my other novels in.  However, after writing several chapters, I realized I was writing about a culture that was much like the Plains Indians.  I debated starting over and writing the book as a Native American story.  While I was pondering this, I was sent a manuscript.  As soon as I started reading it, it seemed as if the universe was speaking to me, for the story was about a woman who remembered her past life as a Native American woman.  I wondered if the story I was writing was based on my own past life as a Plains Indian.

I had to take my daughter to her flute lesson so I put aside the manuscript and went outside.  There I found a hawk feather in the yard.  It was standing up and in perfect condition.  On each of the next two days I found another hawk feather in the yard.  For me finding three hawk feathers was a significant spiritual sign that I should start over and write the story of my own past life as a Native American maiden.


Later, I heard a talk by a spiritual leader who said that to some Native Americans the cry of a hawk meant clear spiritual vision and flying above the mundane world.  This was further confirmation that I was on the right track.

Once I’d made the decision to write about my own past life, memories of that life started coming through especially as I began doing research on the Plains Indians.  It was as if the reading I was doing opened the door to this past life.  My memories revealed much about that life, but I didn’t know the time period or place where that life took place, nor did I know what tribe I’d been part of.

I knew that the story took place in the mountains, so I started out by figuring out what mountains range I lived in.  Through my readings and looking at photographs, I soon realized that I had lived in the Rocky Mountains.  I had always felt a deep affinity and love for the Rockies that I now realized came from that life.  As a child my family had made many trips Glacier National Park where we had gone camping and hiking.  Later as a young adult I went backpacking in the Rockies. On these trips I always had the feeling of being home.

Draft of map for Red Willow's Quest

Draft of map for Red Willow’s Quest

My research also revealed that I was a Shoshoni Indian. Their culture, clothing and food matched what I remembered from that life.  One book I read about them was entitled The Shoshonis, Sentinels of the Rockies because of where some of the tribes lived.

The time period where that life took place turned out to be fairly easy to establish because in the story Red Willow and her companion go to a fort on the mouth of the Big Horn River.  Research revealed that in 1807 John Colter and Manuel Lisa built a trading post called Fort Raymond in that location. The fort was only in existence for one year.  John Colter was one of the men who was a part of Lewis and Clark’s expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase.  He built the fort after the expedition was completed.

More pieces of the puzzle of that lifetime fell into place as I continued my research, such as figuring out which people attacked Red Willow’s village.  When I traveled out west, I also found out that a name I thought I’d made up for a tribe was the real name.  I’ll talk about these discoveries in the next post.

Here is a review of the book from Amazon posted on Jan. 21,2015

I could not put this book down. The action, suspense and awesome detail of life as a native American of that time period totally absorbed me. From the first page I was enthralled. Red Willow’s courage (as a 16 year old!) to hold to her visions and implement her dreams despite enormous resistance and danger gave me an entirely new insight into the depth of commitment that is possible in this physical life. It’s a story about living truly on the edge and being faithful in every respect to one’s principles and spiritual mission as revealed through visions and the counseling of one’s spiritual guides.

I can say that Ms Skarie’s story deeply inspired me. There was no room for compromise nor weakness, nor even for what might appear to be pragmatic. Always there was the decision made to follow the star of spiritual vision and the goal of accomplishing one’s mission in life. No quarter was given to personal attachment or ease. That kind of vision clarity is so rare. It was a delight to see it so clearly illustrated in this novel.

It would seem to me that this story would be recommended reading for any young person seeking to discover her/his own spiritual purpose in life or to build confidence and courage in living through the challenges of the modern world. Finding one’s core and staying true to it despite all objections of family and tradition is a worthy goal for anyone serious about their life’s purpose.

As I became increasingly captivated by the spiritual strength of the main character, Red Willow, I found myself identifying with her and literally absorbing her strength and centeredness. Something in me shifted to a greater acceptance of and commitment to my own mission. My guess is that if you read this book with a desire to know yourself better and be true to your own visions you will come away a changed person.

If you’re interested in buying the book click here to get a link to Amazon.



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