The majestic Santa Catalina Mountains predominate the desert landscape of Tucson, Arizona. Dubbed “La Iglesia,” the Church, by the Spanish soldiers stationed at the Royal Presidio of Tucson in the late 1770’s, the Santa Catalinas are revered for their beauty, their ruggedness and their potential dangers. These mountains glow in pinkish hues as the setting sun shines its last rays upon them for the day and, above them in the summers, mighty monsoons form and lash out their thunderous fury upon the land. The Santa Catalinas played as much a central character in the history of the region as Man.
I, Venetia Hobson Lewis, am most fortunate to live in this wonderful area, where “The West” vividly took place. As a writer of historical fiction, the goal for my short stories and novels is making these imaginings as indelible and vibrant as the true happenings.
June 1, 2023 is the release date of my new historical fiction novel, Changing Woman, A Novel of the Camp Grant Massacre, published by the University of Nebraska Press. It is a true tale set in Arizona Territory in 1871. Plagued by Apache attacks, men from Tucson took matters into their own hands and on April 30, 1871 slaughtered 150 Apache women and abducted at least 32 Apache children. What did the men’s wives in Tucson do or say about it? That is the premise of Changing Woman. Historically accurate due to four years of intensive research, my novel is historical fiction because fictional characters interact with real personages who re-create their actions from that time. The heroines are Valeria Obregon, a 19 year old Hispanic, and Nest Feather, a 12 year old Apache girl.
Praise from peers include:
“A fascinating and impeccably researched novel of Arizona Territory. Apache, Mexican, and Anglo cultures clash in this harrowing recreation of the Camp Grant Massacre of 1871 and its impact on those who lived through it. Lewis transports the reader to a place and an era not likely to be forgotten. Immensely readable!” – Rosemary Simpson, author of the Gilded Age Mystery series
“The remarkable achievement of this novel is Venetia Hobson Lewis’s skillful handling of these disparate and desperate female voices . . . .These voices went ignored in the nineteenth century, and it would be our own spiritual loss to ignore them now.” – Sidney Thompson, author of Follow the Angels, Follow the Doves
“A must read.” – Susan Cummins Miller, author of A Sweet, Separate Intimacy: Women Writers of the American Frontier, 1800-1922
Changing Woman may be purchased at the University of Nebraska Press website:
Several years ago, two of my short stories, “The Laundress” in 2013 and “The Devil, As a Roaring Lion” in 2016, were awarded Honorable Mention in the Art Affair Annual Literary Contests, Western Short Story. “The Next Rising of the Sun,” another of my short stories, is featured in the Oro Valley Writers Forum Anthology, Monsoon Madness, currently available for purchase online at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1095304615.
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Excerpt from “The Next Rising of the Sun” by Venetia Hobson Lewis
One among many, Librada Ysleta trudged over the Sonoran Desert toward Tucson. She had travelled by foot with others many times, dragging her belongings with her as those currently around her did. Yet now, Librada lumbered alone and without possessions. For the last twenty days, in her knee-high leather moccasins she walked beside, yet apart, from these women. In the beginning days, the others chattered among themselves for comfort. As the days lengthened, they too fell as silent as Librada.
A woman close to her tripped on a small, unseen barrel cactus. Librada hurried to grab her arm, righting her. In the young woman’s face Librada saw lines etched by the numbing days of walking, little food and the disruption of their lives in Mexico. She also saw coldness creep into that woman’s features that became as hard as the granite mountains looming nearer with each passing day. Librada released her hold. She walked on.
Soon, one of the Mexican men on horseback, who followed the poor assortment of thirty-eight women, kicked his animal’s protruding ribs and rode to the front. He signaled that their day’s walk was over.
Where they stopped, most women sank to their knees and whispered a prayer of thanks or groaned quietly. Others swayed, shoulders drooping, and stared dead-eyed ahead, their children whimpering.
“The Next Rising of the Sun” copyright 2019 by Venetia Hobson Lewis