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Linda Acaster – Not Your Average Romance Writer!

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Linda Acaster - not your average romance writerLinda Acaster

I’m really delighted today to welcome Linda Acaster to my blog. I first met Linda when we both attended a social media marketing course in York, run by Anita Chapman. She’s an East Yorkshire lass, too, and I met her again when I began attending my local RNA chapter meetings, as Linda was a regular. (Oh, I miss those meetings! I wonder when we’ll be able to resume them?) Linda served her writing apprenticeship penning short stories, mainly for women’s magazines, selling over seventy before turning to novels. She joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association to gain a cheap critique, and won what was then the Netta Muskett Award at her second attempt with a sweet medieval romance. She was a reader for the New Writers’ Scheme for several years. Here’s Linda to explain why she’s not your average romance writer. 

Not your average Romance – or Romance Writer

History has always fascinated me; not the lives of the rich and famous, but the ‘how did they do that’ daily lives of ordinary people – not necessarily of the British Isles. Just as some very young children develop an obsessive focus on insects or dinosaurs, I had an obsessive focus on the peoples native to North America. As my interest matured, my mother would regale anyone who’d listen with the fact that she cut my first war bonnet from newspaper when I was four.

As to the seeding of this interest, I’d love to point to the influence of Westerns shown on television, but my family didn’t own one (yes, I am that old). By the time we did own a set and the choice of Sunday afternoon viewing was either a war film or a Western, I was asking the type of questions which leaves a parent wanting: Why do they race their horses round wagons waiting to be shot? Why are their faces always painted with two stripes down their cheeks? 

Evidently it wasn’t only my parents I cornered, for neighbours would gift me illustrated books bought at church bazaars. These became portals to a wholly different, colour-rich, world. There weren’t just the Sioux of the war (coup) bonnet or the Apache of the southern deserts depicted so often and so badly on television, there were hundreds of peoples, some with cultures and languages as different as British and Thai. 200 years on, the US Government still recognises over 500 separate Native American peoples within its borders. As many again fell to European illnesses to which there was no immunity or to what would now be referred to as genocide.

If some of the horrific history was daunting, the Romance of the nomadic life of the Northern Plains peoples, their horse herds, drum-singers, and buffalo (bison) hunt, never wavered. Over the years my collection of research books rose to more than 150. From these I learned, and practised, how to sew skins with an awl and sinew thread (no needle required), how to decorate them with dyed porcupine quills and beadwork, how to make moccasins – rawhide soles are notoriously difficult (large dog chews were often to be found soaking in the bath) – and that body paint and feathers weren’t ornamental, they gave a short history of the person in the same way a modern soldier’s uniform, insignia and medals do.

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The most interesting of the books came from late 19th and early 20th century ethnographers who ventured onto rather dire reservations to interview the old, many of whom had lived through or were a party to such battles as Custer’s Last Stand. Through native interpreters and the ubiquitous sign language which had been used for generations for inter-tribal trade, these authors painstakingly recorded the minutiae of a way of life that was fast receding into memory.

It was from these books I discovered accepted etiquette: a man and his mother-in-law never spoke directly, even if living in the same tipi, as well as courting and marriage customs. For the Apsaroke people, who I depict in Beneath The Shining Mountains, this extended to an annual Wife-Stealing festival, where previous lovers of recently married women attempted to lure them away from their new husbands, much to the amusement of watching villagers. A surprising number of women acceded, though it seems there were substantial enticements. Some, however, fought tooth and nail.

Linda Acaster - not your average romance writer

Beneath The Shining Mountains

‘Lover? I have no lover! I am chaste. There’s not a man alive who can entice me.’

Moon Hawk is playing a dangerous game. Her heart is set on Winter Man, but why would a man with so many lovers want to take a wife?

Challenging his virility captures Winter Man’s attention, but in a village of skin tipis where every word is overheard their escalating game of tease and spar soon spirals beyond control, threatening Moon Hawk and her family with ridicule and shame. From buffalo hunting to horse raiding, this is a story of honour among rival warrior societies, and one woman’s determination to wed the man of her dreams.

Beneath The Shining Mountains is free with KU or purchase from Amazon here.

Linda Acaster writes… all sorts: from a sweet Medieval Romance to a Western with a shotgun-toting school ma’am, Fantasy to Horror, to a writer’s How-to guide. Her latest fiction, the Torc of Moonlight trilogy, is a contemporary Gothic Romance with dual timelines set in her native Yorkshire. Where else? Yorkshire has more sacred waters than anywhere else in England. Never dropped a coin into a wishing well?

Find out more about Linda on her website.

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You can read an associated post on Native American decoration techniques on Linda’s blog here.

Images are copyright to Linda Acaster and show her own reproduction artefacts.




This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Linda Acaster

    Thank you, Sharon, for the invitation to chat. I have brought coffee so if anyone wants to ask a question I’ll be popping in and out today, hunting the biscuits. Or should that be pemmican cakes? LOL!

    1. sharon

      You’re welcome, Linda. It was lovely to have you here. Not your average blog post!

  2. Penny Grubb

    Fascinating account. It can make a real difference to a book when the background is thoroughly researched. I have read Beneath the Shining Mountains and was swept along by the story, but came out with a feeling of deeper understanding for a culture I had known very little about.

  3. Linda Acaster

    Thanks for dropping by, Penny, and for your thoughts. Glad you enjoyed the novel. I think this ‘deeper understanding for a culture’ is what motivates most Historical novelists. The eventual story, or stories, are first viewed as a vehicle to convey what it was like to live in the culture, rather than it be merely window-dressing to bolster the story. I also think this applies to any historical period, Dark Age to Regency, or even WW2.

  4. stuartaken

    I read ‘Beneath the Shining Mountain’ some time ago and remember being impressed with Linda’s profound depth of knowledge of the culture of the native Americans of the time. An intriguing romance, with much to offer readers who don’t normally read the genre, too. Thanks for sharing this with us, Sharon.

    1. Linda Acaster

      Good of you to call in and say so, Stuart. I’ve always felt that Romance wasn’t just a connection between two people, but with the landscape and the ethos – Romance with a capital R!

  5. Madeleine McDonald

    Fascinating details, Linda. The tragedy was that many of the European settlers who displaced the native North Americans were fleeing near-starvation, oppression and injustice in their own countries. They won because they had guns instead of arrows, and subsequently justified their invasion by denigrating and obliterating native culture..

    1. Linda Acaster

      Do we ever truly see a situation mirrored towards ourselves? I always think the tragedy was that, for the most part, native peoples considered if you weren’t a known enemy honour decreed that you should be treated as a friend – the exact opposite to European thinking. Thanks for leaving a comment, Madeleine.

  6. Madeleine McDonald

    Fascinating details, Linda. The tragedy was that many of the European settlers who displaced the native North Americans were fleeing near-starvation, oppression and injustice in their own countries. The won because they had guns instead of arrows, and subsequently justified their invasions by denigrating and belittling native cultures.

  7. April Taylor

    I love the etiquette things like not talking to the mother-in-law and the sewing info. Really fascinating stuff. Thank you for posting.

    1. Linda Acaster

      You’re welcome, April. As I mentioned at the top of the blog, what fascinated me was the ‘how did they?’ aspect …hunt bison with a bow and arrow? These animals stand nearly two metres at the shoulder, can run at 35mph and are surprisingly agile. …how was part of a bison skin transformed into a shield which could stop a musket ball? I think if a writer ever loses their inquisitive thought process, what is there to light the imagination?

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