About the Author:
Martha Conway’s first novel 12 Bliss Street (St. Martin’s Minotaur) was nominated for an Edgar Award, and her short fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Mississippi Review, The Quarterly, Folio, Puerto del Sol, Carolina Quarterly, and other publications. She graduated from Vassar College and received her master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She has reviewed fiction for the San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Review of Books, and The Iowa Review. The recipient of a California Arts Council fellowship in Creative Writing, she has taught at UC Berkeley Extension and Stanford University’s Online Writers’ Studio.
Martha Conway’s website:
On a humid day in June 1806, on the edge of Ohio's Great Black Swamp, seventeen-year-old Susanna Quiner watches from behind a maple tree as a band of Potawatomi Indians kidnaps her four older sisters from their cabin. With both her parents dead from Swamp Fever and all the other settlers out in their fields, Susanna makes the rash decision to pursue them herself.
What follows is a young woman's quest to find her sisters, and the parallel story of her sisters' new lives.
The frontier wilderness that Susanna must cross in order to find her sisters is filled with dangers, but Susanna, armed with superstition and belief in her own good luck, sets out with a naive optimism. Over the next five months, Susanna tans hides in a Moravian missionary village; escapes down a river with a young native girl; discovers an eccentric white woman raising chickens in the middle of the Great Black Swamp; suffers from snakebite and near starvation; steals elk meat from wolves; and becomes a servant in a Native American village. The vast Great Black Swamp near Toledo, Ohio, which was once nearly the size of Connecticut, proves a formidable enemy. But help comes from unlikely characters, both Native American and white.
Both a quest tale and a tale of personal transformations, Thieving Forest follows five pioneer women and one man as they contend with starvation, slavery, betrayal, and love. It paints a startling new picture of life in frontier Ohio with its mix of European and Native American communities, along with compelling descriptions of their daily lives. Fast-paced, richly detailed, with a panoramic view of cultures and people, this is a story of a bygone era sure to enthrall and delight.
Click here to read Chapter 1:
I planned to write a mini-review to go along with Martha's guest blog but my book hasn't arrived yet due to a hiccup in the world of technology. After reading Martha's guest blog and chapter one, I'm more interested than I was after reading the synopsis. Welcome Martha to the blog today and share something you find interesting or intriguing.
"Everybody has one conversational show-stopper; mine is the number of sisters I have. Six. Six sisters. That’s right, seven girls —and no boys. My father comes from a family of eleven boys and two girls, and one of my uncles has six boys and one girl, so there may be a genetic component going on here. When I thought about having children, I assumed I would have either all boys or all girls. It came as quite a surprise when I landed with one of each! Even now that seems strange to me.
My novel Thieving Forest revolves around five sisters (I thought seven was too many for the reader to keep track of) who live in the wilds of northwest Ohio in 1806. The novel required a lot of research (what was the landscape like then; what is the Wyandot word for peace; were buffalo still around?) but any scene in which the sisters were interacting with each other was easy to write. Sisterhood, in my opinion, hasn’t really changed much in 200 years.
Sometimes authors talk about the healing process of writing, and I have to say that, for me, writing Thieving Forest was very healing. When I began writing the novel, three of my sisters were estranged from the rest of the family. Part of the impetus for writing Thieving Forest was to help me come to terms with this—although at the time, I didn’t think of it that way. I did not want to be estranged from them; their quarrel was with my parents, not me, but they decided to split from all of us. There were times when I wished that I had enough courage to knock harder at their closed doors. So I created a nineteenth century heroine, Susanna Quiner, who was more courageous than I was.
Susanna alone is spared when a band of Potawatomi Indians kidnaps her sisters. With no immediate help nearby, she decides to go after them herself. Over the course of five months she finds them one by one, but the result is not what she expected. They have changed; they have new lives. Part of Susanna’s transformation is coming to terms with this.
By the end of writing Thieving Forest I felt, like Susanna, that I could accept my sisters’ choices as well as my own. And even more surprising: when I was finally ready to publish Thieving Forest, I’d begun once more to have a relationship with my formerly estranged sisters. We all found the courage to reach out to each other again. And that has been a real blessing.
William Blake famously wrote: “Damn braces. Bless relaxes.” Being relaxed with another person— being able to laugh at and laugh with someone else—is to me the essence of sisterhood, whether you’re related to that person or not. It’s a real gift, and if it disappears it’s worth crossing the wilderness to get back."
Monday, October 13 @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview with Martha Conway and a chance to win Thieving Forest! http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/
Tuesday, October 14 @ Writer with Dogs
Martha Conway shares a little about how important a dog can be to writing research today at Writer with Dogs.
Wednesday, October 15 @ All Things Audry
What is a Quest Novel? Stop by for author Martha Conway’s thoughts on this exciting genre. http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com
Thursday, October 16 @ Book Talk
Looking for something new to read? How about a historical novel set in the rough and wild frontier of Ohio in the early 1800s--Thieving Forest by Martha Conway. http://www.barbarabarthbookblog.blogspot.com/
Friday, October 17 @ Deal Sharing Aunt
Big families…what is that they share, what makes them unique? Learn more about family from Martha Conway and enter to win her novel Thieving Forest. http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/
Sunday, October 19 @ Writer Unboxed
Martha Conway will be sharing why she thinks we should embracing heroines, instead of heroes, especially in historical novels. Stop by and tell us your favorite heroine. http://writerunboxed.com
Tuesday, October 21 @ Katherine Hajer
When you’re caught up in the magical world of a book do you ever wonder what DIDN’T make it into the final draft? Martha Conway, author of Thieving Forest, tells about the painful decisions that have to be made.
Wednesday, October 22 @ Caroline Clemmons
What do you know about Native American families? Martha Conway, author of Thieving Forest, shares a few things you never would have guessed. http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com
Thursday, October 23 @ Renee’s Pages
Need some tips on researching historical fiction?Ask Martha Conway, author of Thieving Forest, set in the Ohio frontier during the early 1800s. http://www.reneespages.blogspot.com/
Friday, October 24 @ A Writer’s Devotion
Learn more about author Martha Conway in today’s interview. http://www.awritersdevotion.blogspot.com/
Monday, October 27 @ Katherine Hajer
The Headless Horseman isn’t the only scary thing in the forest this Halloween. Read a review of Thieving Forest and find out what else lurks there. http://www.katherine-hajer.com/
Wednesday, October 29 @ Words by Webb
Get a quick peek at author Martha Conway with a 5Ws interview. http://jodiwebb.com/
Monday, November 3 @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
Stop by to learn more about author Martha Conway and her latest historical novel Thieving Forest.
Thursday, November 6 @ Escaping Reality Within Pages
Win a copy of Thieving Forest, the story of seventeen year old Susanna trying to save her sisters in frontier America, and learn from author Martha Conway what was truth and what was fiction. http://escapingrealitywithinpages.blogspot.com/
Monday, November 10 @ Vickie S. Miller
Stop by for a visit from Martha Conway, author of 12 Bliss Street and Thieving Forest. http://www.vickiesmiller.com/
Tuesday, November 11 @ The Lit Ladies
Stop by for an interview with author Martha Conway and a chance to win her latest novelThieving Forest.