February Lecture to Feature Local Historical Fiction Author
On Thursday, Feb. 15, at 4 p.m. in the DesertView Theater, the Friends of SaddleBrooke Libraries (FSL) lecture will feature local historical fiction author Venetia Hobson Lewis. Lewis’ presentation will focus on her book Changing Woman: A Novel of the Camp Grant Massacre.
This lecture is free for members of Friends of SaddleBrooke Libraries and $5 for nonmembers to attend.
In 1871 Valeria Obregón and her ambitious husband Raúl arrive in the raw frontier town of Tucson in the Arizona Territory, hoping to find prosperity. Changing Woman, an Apache spirit who represents the natural order of the world and its cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, welcomes Nest Feather, a 12-year-old Apache girl, into womanhood in Aravaipa Canyon.
Mexican and Anglo settlers have pushed the Apaches from their lands, and the Apaches carry out raids against them. In turn, the settlers, angered by the failure of the U.S. government and the military to protect them, respond with a murderous raid on an Apache encampment under the protection of the U.S. military at Camp Grant, kidnapping Nest Feather and other Apache children.
In Tucson, while Valeria finds fulfillment in her work as a seamstress, Raúl struggles to hide from her his role in the bloody attack, and Nest Feather, adopted by a Mexican couple there, tries to hold onto her Apache heritage in a culture that rejects her very being. Against the backdrop of the massacre trial, Valeria and Nest Feather’s lives intersect in the church, as Valeria seeks spiritual guidance for the decision she must make and Nest Feather prepares for a Christian baptism.
Venetia Hobson Lewis always envisioned herself as an author, composer, and actress/singer. She has accomplished the first and the third of these visions. A graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, her hometown, she worked briefly with such stars as Carol Lawrence, Arte Johnson, and playwright Alfred Uhry. Returning to SMU for a semester of law school after several years of working in stock brokerages, Venetia moved to Los Angeles, sang with the Los Angeles Master Chorale for two years, and became a corporate paralegal at a major motion picture studio for nearly 18 years.
More recently, two of her Western short stories were honored with awards. Two of her stories are published in Monsoon Madness, an anthology available on Amazon. Changing Woman: A Novel of the Camp Grant Massacre was published by Bison Books, a division of the University of Nebraska Press, and was released on June 1, 2023. The novel was named a finalist in the Best Book Award at the 20th Annual American Book Fest, was long-listed for the 2023 Goethe Book Award for Late Historical Fiction, and is currently a semi-finalist for the 2023 Laramie Book Award for Americana Fiction to be awarded in 2024. Venetia is currently writing another historical fiction novel set in Arizona and a non-fiction biography of an Arizona pioneer.
An Evening with David Baldacci
International bestselling author David Baldacci is one of the most popular authors in our SaddleBrooke Community Libraries. He mostly writes thrillers and has published 55 novels. He very seldom makes personal appearances in bookstores, as he prefers to be writing. He says writing is not “what he does” but “who he is.”
The Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale is a charming but small, independent bookstore that has been on its street corner location since 1989. The “Pen,” as it is affectionately known, hosts many live and podcast events with local and national fiction authors to help them promote their latest publications. In late September when I saw that their list of events for October included a rare appearance by David Baldacci, I knew I had to attend! My husband Jim and I already had tickets for an event in Phoenix that weekend, and with family there, it was easy to plan a weekend around the two events. The Pen usually hosts authors in the early evening, so if you have to drive up and back from SaddleBrooke, it’s not easy to attend. We felt very lucky.
Space is at a premium in the bookstore. For this event attendance would be limited to 140. So, on Oct. 28 we arrived at the bookstore about 75 minutes ahead of the start time and found seats in the third row. Then I went to purchase books to be signed and learned I would be number 44. I had visions of standing in line forever after the interview, but I was determined to have an opportunity to meet David Baldacci in person.
Bookstore owner Barbara Peters is a highly knowledgeable and skilled interviewer. She and Baldacci were seated on a small, raised platform equipped with microphones, and the event was also recorded. The hour flew by as the author shared insights into his writing as well as glimpses of his personal life.
We learned that Baldacci had been writing short stories for many years through high school and college. He also practiced law in the Washington, D.C., area for about 15 years. One day while biking past the White House, he was thinking that all those tunnels under the government buildings would be great to cover up a murder committed by the President. That led to his first novel Absolute Power, which had agents fighting over who would represent him, and his career as a full-time author was launched.
Baldacci’s newest novel The Edge is set in Maine where he, his wife, and two children have vacationed for years. Details of the setting are authentic, but the author said he no longer uses real place names in his novels because some eagle-eyed readers are always quick to point out details he got wrong. He also worries about not being current with the latest technology in his novels.
When it was time for the book signing, we were asked to organize ourselves, as we each had a number. Amazingly, that process went smoothly, and everyone was very civil. The bookstore was highly efficient with the book-signing process, and only 20 minutes later, it was my turn to meet David Baldacci in person for a short conversation and photo opportunity. I told him how popular he is with our SaddleBrooke readers, which he loved hearing. I asked him if he would ever attend the Tucson Festival of Books. He said they keep asking, and he probably will do that in the near future. So, maybe someday you, too, will be able to meet the charming David Baldacci.
SaddleBrooke Library Offerings
DesertView Library has a selection devoted to children’s books. This is an excellent resource for grandparents to have books on hand for their youngsters or for storybooks to read to them. Two of the books I have donated are Mommy, Read Us a Story, and The House That Ran Away.
In the SaddleBrooke One Library, there is a cart full of books written by SaddleBrooke authors. Here one can find collections of fiction, poetry, and history books available to be checked out. Four of my books that can be found here are Tombstone, Boothill: and Short Stories, Poems, Prose, with fun twists and turns; Arizona: 100 Years, 100 Poems, 100 Poets; Oracle, Arizona, and Beyond; and Living with a Shadow. Many resident authors have donated their collections for SaddleBrooke residents to enjoy.