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July 21st, 2010
The Hohokam Indians and CAPTIVE SPIRIT with Liz Fichera

My guest today is fellow Carina Press author Liz Fichera. She’s here to talk about her wonderful historical romance, Captive Spirit and the inspiration behind her story. Don’t forget to check out her trailer and comment to enter the draw to win a copy of Captive Spirit!

Inspiration can come from the strangest places.

I forget where I was when I learned about the Hohokam Indians but I most definitely remembered the history behind Phoenix’s original inhabitants. It stuck in my brain like a seed. And it’s also what inspired me to write my historical romance novel, CAPTIVE SPIRIT.

Captive SpiritYou see, around 300 BC, people from the ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures traveled north to settle in the desert valleys formed by the slow moving Gila and Salt Rivers in what is now known as Arizona in the American Southwest. They existed peacefully as farmers and master canal builders until around 1500 AD when their population vanished for reasons unknown. The Pima Indians called these people Hohokam, “Those Who Have Gone.”

Now, that just begs for a story.

Why would a thriving population in the rugged Sonoran Desert—with upwards of around 50,000 people at its peak—all of a sudden vanish into thin air? Why would people abandon masterfully built canals, some reaching 10 miles long and still in existence today, and plentiful crops like cotton, corn, beans, and squash? The Hohokam Indians abandoned their pithouses, their ball courts, their ceremonial burial grounds, their whole lives. Why?

There are some cool photos in the CAPTIVE SPIRIT book trailer on my web site, particularly of ancient petroglyphs, some of which were taken minutes from my home in Phoenix. Maybe the Hohokam were trying to leave us a message? It still intrigues me that they once existed in the spot where my neighborhood now sits.

Of course, there are all sorts of theories why the Hohokam Indians vanished—famine, war, internal strife, drought, disease, floods, climatic changes, migration with other tribes—but no one can say with certainty what happened. One thing is certain: The mystery continues, teasing storytellers like me.

CAPTIVE SPIRIT contains all of the things I love to write about—Native American characters, legends, epic themes, suspense and, of course, a love story. Here’s a short tease:

Sonoran Desert. Dawn of the sixteenth century.

Aiyana isn’t like the other girls of the White Ant Clan. Instead of keeping house, she longs to compete on the Ball Court with her best friend Honovi and the other boys. Instead of marriage, she daydreams of traveling beyond the mountains that surround her small village. Only Honovi knows and shares her forbidden wish, though Aiyana doesn’t realize her friend has a secret wish of his own…

When Aiyana’s father arranges her marriage to a man she hardly knows, she takes the advice of a tribal elder: Run! In fleeing, she falls into the hands of Spanish raiders and finds herself being taken over the mountains against her will. Now Aiyana’s on a quest to return to the very place she once dreamed of escaping. And she’ll do whatever it takes to survive and find her way back to the people she loves.

* To read the first chapter of CAPTIVE SPIRIT, click here.
* To see more photos of the Sonoran Desert and Hohokam petroglyphs, check out the CAPTIVE SPIRIT book trailer and don’t forget to crank the music.

About Liz:

Liz Fichera is an author from the American Southwest by way of Chicago. She likes to write stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things, oftentimes against the backdrop of Native American legends. When she’s not plotting her next novel, you can find her on Facebook or her blog, discussing writing, books, hunks du jour, LOST reruns or the best brands of chocolate. Her debut historical romance novel CAPTIVE SPIRIT is available from Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and wherever digital books are sold. Please visit her web site because it can get real lonely in the desert: http://www.lizfichera.com/.

Anyone who leaves a comment or asks a question today will be entered to win one free digital copy of CAPTIVE SPIRIT. The winner will be announced tomorrow.

32 comments to “The Hohokam Indians and CAPTIVE SPIRIT with Liz Fichera”

  1. This sounds so good! I love the tantalising mystery of a vanished people!

  2. Hi David!

    The Hohokam are so very intriguing. I can’t for the life of me understand why there aren’t shelves of books with them as characters. Why up and vanish? And we’ll never know for sure! If only we could time travel back in time! :-)

  3. Hi Liz.

    Well, it sounds as if you have travelled back in time, and I look forward to following your journey when I read CAPTIVE SPIRIT. :)

  4. How fascinating this story sounds. I am 1/4 Native American and the history of different tribes has always had a pull for me. Can’t wait to read this book!

  5. David,

    I wish I could travel back in time! Until I build my time machine, I’m very fortunate to have a couple of really cool Native American museums in Phoenix, one of which is the Phoenix Heard Museum. It’s an unbelievable place and, I’m told, has one of the world’s most comprehensive Native American collections.

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Liz Fichera, Shelley Munro. Shelley Munro said: New Blog Post The Hohokam Indians and CAPTIVE SPIRIT with Liz Fichera http://ow.ly/18e6UP […]

  7. Hi Joanne!

    I’ve always been fascinated by Native American legends, which is really weird since I’m a city girl–originally from Chicago. :-) Do you know which tribe your ancestors come from?

  8. I’ve always wondered the same thing too, Liz.

    Very cool take on a historical mystery. My favorite kind of historical romance too. :)

  9. Hi Amy,

    Glad I’m not alone in my thinking! And, who knows? Maybe we were there (or somewhere) in a past life? I’m not sure we can chalk everything up to deja vu.

  10. I seriously had chills while I read your post. I’m desperate to read this book. This is a story worth telling, for sure!

  11. Hi Liz,
    Wow that’s really interesting about the Hohokam Indians. I’ve personally always been fascinated by any type of legend, but particularly the Native American ones. There is still just so much mystery surrounding certain tribes and since many of them were the first to settle in this land and still have descendants here, I find it very fascinating. I will definitely be checking out Captive Spirit. I don’t think I have read too many Indian novels. The cover is absolutely beautiful!!!

  12. Hi Miranda!

    And thank you so much! I must say, I had as much fun writing this book as I did doing the research. So much so, that I can’t get these characters and the Hohokam out of my head. I hope to start a sequel, after I finish up the edits on another book that I’m finishing up.

  13. Hi Yadira,

    I think Native American legends are fascinating–and not just those of the Hohokam. In Arizona, there are tons of tribes with lots of rich culture and history–Apache, Pima, Gila, Anasazi, Hopi. It’s always a pleasure to read their legends and stories. Lots of history. I’m particularly partial to their legends involving animals and space. Cool stuff!

  14. Liz,

    In all your research, what has intrigued you the most about the Hohokam?

    Did you learn anything that totally amazed you?

  15. This looks like a wonderful story set in a fascinating era of history! I’m looking forward to reading it. :)

  16. Hi Liz,

    I’m very much looking forward to reading this book. Would love to win a copy of course! I live in southern Utah and am utterly fascinated by the ancient cultures that lived and also “vanished” (who knows what really happened, right?) here. I don’t know much about the Hohokam, so your book intrigues me even more.

    And I agree, the cover is gorgeous!

  17. Hi Maria,

    Thanks for finding me here! :-) The most intriguing thing, besides the fact that the Hohokam vanished from the desert, is how advanced they were for the times. They were farmers and master canal builders–and we’re talking the middle of the freaking desert in the 1500’s! Yet they made the desert bloom and built canals to move the water (what little there is in the desert) to their crops. That’s pretty innovative, considering the place and time and what you have to work with in some of the most rugged and isolated terrain you’ll ever see. As I said in the post, some of their canals are still around today, 500+ years later.

  18. Hi Madeleine,

    By the way, you have the prettiest name ever! I had always wished my Mom had named me that. Thanks for giving my book a chance–I appreciate it! :-)

  19. Hi Jesi!

    Utah has such rich culture too–so many stories there! Thanks so much about the cover. The Carina Press artists are wonderful. They pegged Aiyana perfectly on the cover. I feel very lucky. The first time I saw it, I cried.

  20. Oh wow this sounds fasinating, i love history, but i get bored of reading the same ‘regency england’ type books all the time. i don’t know much about history in the US (or anywhere but England) but i think it could be as interesting as history here.


  21. Hi Hollie!

    I love historical regencies as much as the next person, but I must tell you that there are no ballgowns or rakes in Captive Spirit. :-) The book trailer will give you a more accurate feel of the setting. Thanks so much for giving it a try!

  22. I think it’s so great that you were able to sell a story that’s off the beaten track for romance right now. Good luck with it!

  23. Hi Heather,

    Thank you! That’s one of the cool things about Carina Press, I think. They are less about trends and more about stories, regardless of genre.

  24. Thanks for visiting today, Liz. I wondered how long it took you to research your book? and will you write more about the Hohokam? Do you have a sequel in store for us?

  25. Hi Shelley!

    Thanks so much for having me! Between researching and writing, it took me about a year to write Captive Spirit, at least to the point where I felt confident about submitting it to a publisher. I’ve outlined a sequel and hope to have it written by the Fall.

  26. Very interesting blog post. Loved reading about the new book. I love Native American novels, they are so good.

    My half brother is Half native American and his ex-wife’s name is Aiyana. When I met her it was the first time I had ever heard that name before, so seeing it in this blog post was so cool.

  27. Hi Mary!

    Thank you! I think Aiyana is a beautiful name too. It means “Eternal Blossom.” I chose every name in the book based on its Native American meaning. I got lucky with Aiyana–not only is it a beautiful name, but I loved what it meant!

  28. Captive Spirit sounds amazing, Liz, and what a gorgeous cover!

  29. Hi Helen and thanks! Glad you like the cover!

  30. **Announcement**

    Thanks everyone for commenting on this post. I really appreciated the enthusiasm, comments, and questions. To choose the winner, I use a cool little tool over at random.org. I assign every comment a number and then put the numbers in the random.org gizmo tool.

    And the winner is…

    The winner of CAPTIVE SPIRIT is Mary.

    *and the crowd goes wild*

    Mary, please contact me through my web site at http://www.lizfichera.com and I will be honored to email you a digital copy of CAPTIVE SPIRIT.

    Thanks, everyone! And thank you Shelley for hosting me! :-)

  31. This story sounds great Im part native and love reading stories about them .There was a small tribe near where Im from that faded out and not much at all is known about them because they had no written language or history. That kind of thing fasinates me I want to know who they were what they did Im always searching for info.

  32. Hi Wanda,

    A great place to start, particularly if you’re seeking information about a tribe within the United States, is at the Phoenix Heard Museum. You can contact them online. They have one of the most comprehensive collections that I’ve seen. It might be a good place to start! :-)

    I share your love and fascination about Native cultures. Thanks for commenting!