Sunday, January 22, 2012

SHOWCASING and AUTHOR INTERVIEW: "Calico" by Allison Bruning

by Allison Bruning


"A man whose heart appears pure shall deceive you. The power he holds over you leads you to evil. You shall denounce the ways of Our Grandmother. Another man comes, whose pure heart beats for you alone, and who has a pure spirit devoted to Our Grandmother. He shall defeat the evil and sets you free." A prophecy has been cast against her. In a harsh world deep within the western frontier of Ohio and Kentucky, Calico Marie Turner must learn to survive among the Shawnee and the trust the one man who hates her the most, Chief Little Owl Quick as the Wind. 


“Calico” by Allison Bruning has 4  reviews on GoodReads. Find it here - 




Q: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

A: I developed my love of writing in Kindergarten. One day I had brought a tiny book home that we had made in school.  My grandmother had recognized my love for writing and decided to foster that love. She bought writing and art supplies then asked me to write her a story. For years I would write her a story then I would read it to her. By the time I was in High School I had made my own books. In college, a few professors had noticed my potential to make it in the literary world and urged me to seek publication.

Q: What inspired you to write your first book?

A:  I have a background in cultural anthropology with an emphasis on Native American cultures. I had heard the familiar stories of how horrible the Shawnee people were in the 18th and 19th century. When the book “Follow the River” came out followed by a movie on TV there was great commotion about how wonderful the girl had ran away from the Shawnee. During this time I had come across reports that stated many of the women who had been rescued from the Shawnee would run back to the Shawnee. It made me think, if the Shawnee people were so horrible to their women captives then why would these women return to them?  As I researched I learned not all the white women had been captured by the Shawnee. Some of the women were daughters of the French Fur trappers. I also learned the Shawnee people honoured women more than men. If any person harmed a woman they would receive double the punishment for whatever the crime was. I began to dig even deeper then realized the mainstream portrait of the Shawnee people is not an accurate picture at all!  That got me thinking. Calico became the daughter of a French fur trapper who was friends with the Shawnee people. Her life would paint a different, more realistic picture of these wonderful people.

Q: How many books have you written? Which one did you enjoy writing the most?

A: I have several books I have written but the only one in print at the moment is Calico. Calico is book one of the “Children of the Shawnee” series. I am working on that series as well as another one called “Heritage.” I enjoy working on both series.

Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

A: The research for Calico had been the most challenging. History is often written with a bias towards the author’s own culture. This is especially true of documentation created during times of war. Most of the research written on the Shawnee was written by white males and during a time when they were at war with the Shawnee. When I was researching I had to use my background in cultural anthropology to dissect every document that came my way. I asked myself, who wrote this and why. I had to ask myself, why did the person do what they did? When you are researching any historical document you have to take into consideration there are different cultural and religious beliefs that stir a person to do whatever they have done. The greatest asset I had to my research was a cultural anthropological report that was done with the Shawnee. I also had access to many Native Americans who felt they could trust me enough to share some of their cultural secrets. Despite our modern era, a lot of natives still do not trust white people. So it was an honour that they have trusted me. I take that honour seriously.

Q: Who are your favourite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

A: Right now, I’m into Christopher Paolini’s series. I love the way he can make you feel as if you are actually there. His descriptions are wonderful. I love the way the book flows with multiple characters.

Q: Do you ever experience writer's block and how do you deal with it?

A: Sometimes. I usually put my writing aside and spend time doing something else. I have found I have days when the story just won’t stop until I write it down and then it’s time for a break. Sometimes, I’ll leave a book then work on another. Right now, I’m balancing two different series from two different times in history. When my mind can’t think about the 18th century, I take a break and write about my other series that takes place in 1905 Ohio.

Q: What would your ideal career be, if you couldn't be an author?

A: There’s nothing else I would rather do.

Q: If you were to do your career as an author again, what would you do differently, and why?

A: I would have learned more about the publishing world before I sent Calico out to publishers. I was suckered into a subsidy based publishing house my first time around with Calico. I lost $3,000 before I learned it was scheme. Then I jumped into Tate Publishing only to lose $80 and learn it too was a scheme. Finally, I found Page Turners, a traditional royalty based publishing house out of Evansville, Indiana.

Q: What do you like to do when you're not writing?

A: I love to attend different cultural events, travel, go camping, be outdoors, spend time with my hubby, photography, and restore my 1882 Victorian home.

Q: What are your current projects and can you share a little about it with us?

A: I’m currently working on Rose, which is book two of the “Children of the Shawnee” series. Rose takes place just after Pierre has returned Rose to France. In book two, Pierre will make a brief appearance. You learn more about Pierre’s life in France. You will meet his French wife and children. You’ll learn why Pierre, although a French duke, has olive skin and raven black hair. You’ll also be introduced to a new character, Thomas. Anna had mentioned him in book one. You will recall Alexander had found her Celtic wedding band on Anna’s dresser and Anna had asked him to find her.  In book one, Alexander had also hinted to the reader of Pierre’s marriage to Christine while he was married to Creek. The reader also was introduced to a character by the name of Melinda in book one. She only appeared in one chapter when Calico was ill with childbed fever. Melinda had told Calico, Rose was engaged to her brother. Calico had recognized her. In Rose, you will meet Melinda and her family. You’ll learn more about the connections between her family and Calico’s.
There are tiny details in all my books that have significance in later books.

Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?

A: Never pay a publisher or an agent.


The Executive Director of the Kentucky Young Writers Connection, a non-profit agency of writers who promote young authors throughout the state of Kentucky, Allison originally hails from Marion, Ohio. Her father, Roland Irving Bruning, was the son of German immigrants who came to the United States at the turn of the 20th century. Her mother's family had been in the United States since the 17th century. Allison is a member of the Daughter of American Revolution, tracing her linage to Rueben Messenger of Connecticut. She enjoys family stories, history and genealogy. Her educational background includes a BA in Theatre Arts with a minor in Anthropology and a Texas Elementary Teaching certificate. Both acquired at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. She received National Honor Society memberships in both Theatre Arts and Communication. Allison was also honored her sophomore year with admission into the All American Scholars register. She holds graduate hours in Cultural Anthropology and Education. In 2007 she was named Who's Who Among America's Educators. She is also the recipient of the Girl Scout Silver and Gold Awards.

Allison lives with her husband in an 1882 Victorian home located in Carrollton, Kentucky. She is renovating it then plans to turn it into a Bed and Breakfast.  Her first novel, Calico, is published through Page Turners from Evansville, Indiana. Calico is book one from the series, Children of the Shawnee. She is currently working on the sequel, Rose.  She is also working on another series, Heritage, which traces the life of her great great grandmother at the turn of the 20th century in Ohio. Allison's interest includes Ohio Valley history, anthropology, travel, culture, history, camping, hiking, backpacking, farm life, and genealogy. Her genres include historical fiction, paranormal, romance, and suspense.




Tammy Ruggles said...

Great interview! I'm always interested in hearing how writers get their start and their path to publication.

Allison Bruning said...

Thanks Tammy