Thursday, October 3, 2019

Interview with author Charles Suddeth and Stone Man and the Trail of Tears

by Charles Suddeth
Dancing Lemur Press
Middle Grade Historical
180 pages
ages 8 to 12

OCTOBER 8th, 2019!!!

Driven to Stone Man’s trail...

After U.S. soldiers attack twelve-year-old Tsatsi’s Cherokee village, his family flees to the Smokey Mountains. Facing storms, flood, and hunger, they’re forced to go where Stone Man, a monstrous giant, is rumored to live. 

His family seeks shelter in an abandoned village, but soldiers hunt them down. Tsatsi and his sister Sali escape, but Sali falls ill and is kidnapped by Stone Man. Tsatsi gives chase and confronts the giant, only to learn this monster isn’t what he seems.

Their journey is a dangerous one. Will Tsatsi find the strength to become a Cherokee warrior? And will they ever find their family?


I'm excited to have a fellow author from my very own publisher, Dancing Lemur Press, here on Bookworm for Kids today. Not only am I honored to help him shout-out his upcoming release to the world (October 8th), but am so glad he's taken the time to stop by and chat. So, here he is...
Charles Suddeth!!!

It's so nice for you to stop by here! After doing some research (I never stalk), I noticed that you've published several books for various ages—everything from children to adults—and most of these take a turn in the Native American direction. What inspires you to write these stories?

I have many Native American ancestors, but I am not legally Native American. My ancestors left the main bodies of the Cherokees and Shawnees. To survive in a white world, they concealed their identities. I am trying to reclaim that identity. I learned that Cherokees in eastern Kentucky still speak Cherokee despite 200 years of white hostility. A mixed-blood Shawnee community survives in Indiana, just 25 miles from Louisville. I am helping keep the stories alive. 

Wow. That is a wonderful thing to do, and after reading Stone Man, I'm glad that you've decided to take this direction. It sounds like you do quite a bit of research, though. What does this look like because I can imagine its horribly interesting!

My research is a lot of fun! Visits/letters to reservations, individuals, museums, historical sites. Reading lots of books and journals about Cherokee culture. Learning to speak a little Cherokee. Learning Cherokee folklore. Nowadays, Facebook is handy to connect to Cherokee groups. 

That does sound like fun! I would have never guess that about Facebook, although it does make sense. What is your favorite part about writing? And what would you rather eat worms than do?

My favorite part of writing is coming up with unique storylines/plots. My least favorite is promoting myself—I am a modest person.

The marketing end of publishing can be quite the challenge. I'm betting you'd rather spend the time with your head in a book. Many authors were avid readers during their childhood. What were your favorite books while growing up?

Books by Mark Twain, Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. A. Milne, John Steinbeck, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Hugh Lofting (Doctor Dolittle). Another series that I really loved is unknown today: Lad, by Albert Terhune, is about a collie. Lad inspired the Lassie and Rin Tin Tin stories. 

Believe it or not, I've heard of Lad! What book are you reading right now?

Red Metal, by Mark Greaney. It is a military/hi tech thriller similar to Tom Clancy’s novels.

I'm willing to be you don't spend your entire life reading and writing. When you aren’t doing these things, what do you like to do? 

I like to hike and visit historical places. If I can combine them, all the better. And if wildlife shows up during my hike, I have a triple play!

What was your biggest wish as a child?

I lived on a mule-powered farm before I started school, but we moved to Michigan. I always liked going to my grandparents’ farms. I wanted horses and mules and rural life near Louisville where my family comes from. 

And here he is...

Charles Suddeth has published poetry, picture books, middle reader’s books, young adult thrillers, and adult mysteries in English, Cherokee, and Turkish. He is active with Green River Writers and leads a monthly SCBWI Social. He lives in Louisville and teaches for the Jefferson County Schools. 


This is a tale which transports readers back into history but in such a way that hits home and leaves a mark.

The Trail of Tears was an awful moment in history, and this is where we meet twelve-year-old Tsatsi. His family has been chased out of their village and runs away in hopes of not being found and slaughtered. The journey is perilous, and Tsatsi, along with his young sister, are separated from their family. Things become much more dire when the younger sister falls ill and is kidnapped by the 'evil' Stone Man. Tastsi, determined to save her, discovers that the rumors surrounding Stone Man might not be all they seem, and there is perhaps hope after all.

From the very first page, there is non-stop action and tension. The author throws Tstasi and his family into the deadly situation right away and doesn't let their struggles dampen the entire way through. Although historical, the author does a terrific job and presenting Tstasi and his sister in a way young readers will easily connect to. Their thoughts, hopes, and dreams might be different than those which modern children face, but in many respects, they are similar too. It's easy to root for Tstasi and hope the family pulls through unharmed.

While this is an exciting read, there are many more layers added in. Tstasi is out in the wilderness and needs to overcome some very natural (and dangerous) situations. Survival fans are sure to find several scenes interesting and maybe learn something new along the way. There's also the historical aspect, which allows young readers a very up close look at this sad historical event. It's presented in a way young readers will understand and sympathize with, while still holding it very age appropriate. Add the themes of friendship, sibling relationships, and the wonder of seeing past rumors to the truth, and it's an inspiring mix.


Charles said...

Hi Tonya!!! Thanks for hosting me. I had a lot of fun with this post. I hope your readers did, too. I am impressed by the number of rewards you have won. Thanks again!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Great interview. Interesting information. I love history, especially when it deals with your own family. Congratulations on your latest book, Charles. Looking forward to reading it.