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Deep in the mountain forests of Southern Appalachia lives a mysterious group of mixed race and unknown origins. While myths and folklore abound, they are labeled pejoratively with one word: Melungeons.
Fifteen-year-old Silas Vanover is thrilled at the chance to make a life for himself as a trader among the white settlers. But his optimism is crushed by his family’s horror stories of lynchings, excommunication, and worse. Determined to prove them wrong, Silas ventures down from his isolated colony to trade in the valley below, attempting to pass himself off as a member of an Indian tribe. There he meets Amadahy Kingfisher, a Cherokee girl who notices how out of place he is in town but still extends kindness and curiosity toward him. The two make a deal to befriend one another for their own protection among the hostile European frontiersmen, and their encounter makes Silas hopeful that his people’s haunted memories are scarred legends of the past.
But he is mistaken. After being wrongfully accused of a crime by the white settlers, a brutal raid on his people’s beloved mountain enclave destroys everything Silas holds dear. Now he must fight for his home, his identity, and his place among the people of East Tennessee, forming alliances with the white settlers and the remaining Cherokees of the area while trying to stay true to his own people. In the end, Silas must decide where his heart and loyalties lie as the white government sets into motion what will later be known as The Trail of Tears.
The Short Version: I am a writer of historical fiction (both YA and adult), but I also write some speculative fiction and fantasy.
The Long Version: I’ve loved to write and illustrate stories since I can remember. I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and also currently live there, but I was raised between small town Indiana and the mountains of East Tennessee. I have a Bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies and Chinese from Wittenberg University. During these years I dabbled in Chinese peacock and lion dancing, and my love of folk music and dance still exists today. I went on to receive a Master’s degree in Comparative and Public History from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and I was the first American student to join the program. That was a big order for me to take on, so most of my research focused on American traditions and local histories while incorporating the Asian elements I was so familiar with.
It was the springtime in Hong Kong that the urge to write a book truly struck me while doing genealogical research for my family. In a sudden burst of inspiration, I began my journey with The Moon-Eyed Ones and decided that once my degree was finished and I returned home to the United States, would I take my first steps into the process of becoming a published author.
I am inspired by many things, mainly the places I have visited in my life and my obsession with history, genealogy, folklore, and myth, all of which can be seen in my works. Though my biggest sources of inspiration are my East Asian and Melungeon heritage and what it is like to be at home in multiple cultures at once.
Need to get in touch? Feel free to shoot me a message. I usually respond within 24 hours.