Monday, June 5, 2023

CROW MARY, by author KATHLEEN GRISSOM (debuts June 6th!)

The New York Times bestselling author of the “touching” (The Boston Globe) book club classics The Kitchen House and the “emotionally rewarding” (BooklistGlory Over Everything returns with a sweeping saga inspired by the true story of Crow Mary—an indigenous woman torn between two worlds in 19th-century North America.

In 1872, sixteen-year-old Goes First, a Crow Native woman, marries Abe Farwell, a white fur trader. He gives her the name Mary, and they set off on the long trip to his trading post in the Cypress Hills of Saskatchewan, Canada. Along the way, she finds a fast friend in a M├ętis named Jeannie; makes a lifelong enemy in a wolfer named Stiller; and despite learning a dark secret of Farwell’s past, falls in love with her husband.

The winter trading season passes peacefully. Then, on the eve of their return to Montana, a group of drunken whiskey traders slaughters forty Nakota—despite Farwell’s efforts to stop them. Mary, hiding from the hail of bullets, sees the murderers, including Stiller, take five Nakota women back to their fort. She begs Farwell to save them, and when he refuses, Mary takes two guns, creeps into the fort, and saves the women from certain death. Thus, she sets off a whirlwind of colliding cultures that brings out the worst and best in the cast of unforgettable characters and pushes the love between Farwell and Crow Mary to the breaking point.

From an author with a “stirring and uplifting” (David R. Gillham, 
New York Times bestselling author) voice, Crow Mary sweeps across decades and the landscape of the upper West and Canada, showcasing the beauty of the natural world, while at the same time probing the intimacies of a marriage and one woman’s heart.

Reviews ~

“Grissom offers an ambitious account of bravery and initiative inspired by the true story of a Crow woman who married a white man in late-19th-century Montana…With a flashback-heavy narrative, Grissom effectively conveys how Mary’s Crow childhood stays with her over the course of her new life. This moving story of one woman’s grit, survival, and resilience will keep readers turning the pages.”—Publishers Weekly

“Kathleen Grissom is a tremendously gifted storyteller. Here she combines intensive research and her own superb novelistic skills, to unveil one of our nation’s darkest eras. In the process she brings back to life her narrator, the real Crow Mary—a native American woman who with love, wit and pure strength of character, not only survives these seemingly impossible times, but prevails against all odds. A riveting tale, beautifully told.”

Jim Fergus, author of The Vengeance of Mothers

"My favorite novels shine a light on women that history books have forgotten. Over twenty years ago, Kathleen Grissom heard about an incredible woman named Goes First, and 
Crow Mary is worth the wait. While reading Crow Mary, I couldn’t help but think of My Antonia by Willa Cather, and the debt we owe to the women who came before us."

—Janet Skeslien Charles, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Library 

Crow Mary left me breathless. Kathleen Grissom has the gift of waking up the past with fever, illuminating an aspect of American history that few know. Each page engulfed me in a world of conflict, love, and heartache. Tender, compelling, and a profoundly educational and satisfying read. The strength and sheer bravery of Crow Mary will stay with me for a long time."

—Sadeqa Johnson, international bestselling author of The Yellow Wife and The House of Eve

“Kudos to Grissom for weaving truth into masterful storytelling about Crow Mary’s epic journey. The result presents the fragile legacy of an emancipated woman determined to make her own destiny. Prepare to marvel at the strength and wisdom of Crow Mary. She is a heroine for all times.”

—Leah Weiss, bestselling author of If the Creek Don't Rise and All the Little Hopes

Author interview with Kathleen ~ 

If I had to spend a week on a deserted island, I would need… A friend, books, and all the chocolate available.

What was the original title of this book?

Of my three books, this was the only one that kept its original title.

Where do you get your ideas, or what inspired this book’s plot?

I was inspired when I went to visit Fort Walsh in Canada. There was a young docent who told us her name was Crow Mary and that she had been only 16 years old and newly married when she traveled to the Cypress Hills with her new husband. A chill went through my body and I knew I was going to write her story. (See author's notes below.)


Do you have a manuscript(s) in your drawer? If so, will it ever see the light of day?

I do have a special journal about how I began to write, but I doubt it will ever become a book.


If you have written more than one book, which story would you choose to live?

There isn’t one of my stories that I would want to participate in. The times I wrote about were rough.


Do you have a go-to first reader after you feel your manuscript is ready?

I have five early readers and they each bring something to the table. I count on each person’s input.


How do you market your work?

I mostly speak to book clubs. Word of mouth is hard to beat.  


Finish this sentence: “If I could write about anything, it would be…?”

I’m very lucky in that I’ve been given inspiration and then I’ve just followed the lead. I believe that my writing is a spiritual gift and I just need to follow through and do the best job that I can.


What was some unique research you had to do for a book?

For Crow Mary, I had to do my very best to understand a foreign culture. The language, the food, the spiritual practices, and the many important nuances unique to that culture – all were a challenge. What saved me were the many wonderful Crow elders who were so generous with their help and guidance. 


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

My best advice is to just do the research and then write the book. Walk the walk.

How this story came to be (taken from the author's notes at the back of the book):

Kathleen was the perfect author to take this on, writing Crow Mary's story with extensive research and care, creating another "must-read" for historical fiction lovers!  Jill

To connect with Kathleen ~ 

Facebook: /KathleenGrissomAuthor

Instagram: @kathleengrissom

Twitter: @KGrissomAuthor