This was first published spring 2012 and since then my admiration for Sarah Black as a writer has grown stronger. Her characterizations are multidimensional and come fully alive before your eyes, complete with a authentic back story and dialog that fits in their mouths like water in a river. It flows and carries with it the regional characters that the earth has endowed it with. As I said, I can always pick out a Sarah Black character or dialog.
Tomorrow The General and the Horse-Lord will be released by Dreamspinner Press and Sarah Black will be here with a guest post to mark the occasion. Scattered Thoughts will mark the occasion too by giving away a copy of this book, courtesy of Dreamspinner Press to the lucky person chosen at the end of the day from those who comment on her guest blog. It’s a fascinating look at one manner in which the author gets to know her characters, don’t miss it.
May 12, 2012
Today I thought I would start a new feature called Author Spotlight, highlighting authors who books I love and often recommend. Today the spotlight falls on Sarah Black. Just her name on a cover is enough for me to buy it, She has over 42 books to her name. I aim to read them all. My hope is that this will get you to pick one up as well.
Here is her bio from her website Sarah Black Writes:
“Sarah Black is a fiction writer living in beautiful Boise, Idaho, the jewel of the American West. Sarah is a family nurse practitioner and works in a medical clinic that takes care of homeless folks (they have lots of great stories). Raised a Navy brat, she’s lived all over the country. She and her son James recently moved to Boise from the Navajo reservation in Arizona. When she isn’t writing, she’s doing something with wool. She learned weaving out on the reservation and now has her eye on an antique circular sock knitting machine.”
The author’s love and knowledge of her subjects permeates each story she writes. Whether they feature a former Navajo Marine heading into the desert or a wildlife photographer capturing the photo of the year in a river in Alaska, the authenticity her background brings to each story is unquestionable and the realistic characterizations and locations is never in doubt. I could pick up one of her stories and know it is hers without ever glancing at the cover, her voice is that unique.
Sarah Black’s stories have often informed and educated me. In Anagama Fires I learned just enough about raku pottery and the intricacies of glazes to fire my own curiousity, sending me off into the realms of research and adult education classes on pottery nearby. As a former Park Naturalist I am familiar with wildlife photography, yet she made it fresh once more with Sockeye Love, especially in the scene captured in the title. It had me laughing in joy and the delights that nature continues to surprise me with. The author’s own military background as well as her family’s shines forth in her characters with their own Marine backstories. In Border Roads 4 members from a platoon return home from Iraq and try to reintegrate in the society they left behind. These veterans are scarred physically and emotionally, holding onto the brotherhood formed in war to help see them through the trenches and ambushes of life back at home. One character is so physically disfigured he hides behind a kerchief, ashamed of how he looks and feeds. Black’s background as a clinic nurse brings this character close to our heart, helps us understand some of the mental and physical challenges he is going through, gives us a man in pain, instead of a victim. I always thought it was a shame this book was narrowed down to m/m fiction as that covered only two of the men from the platoon, the other two were heterosexual. I think it is possible that the inclusion of m/f content hurt this book and caused it to have a lower following than her other books. Either way, this is an incredible book of injured veterans returning home, an issue that will be with us for some time to come. A hard, painful must read.
The only time Sarah Black has lost me so far is in Slackline. Slacklining is a practice in which a 1 inch nylon rope is strung between two anchor points. The rope is not tightly strung as in tightroping but looser so it has a degree of play so the rope becomes dynamic (in some cases stretching and bouncing to allow stunts and tricks). In other words, slack not tight. The main character injures himself when attempting to cross the sea of Hoy off the coast of the Orkney Islands in Scotland on a slackline. He was by himself, no backup, no one knew he was there, he was trespassing and didn’t take into account the high winds off the sea and up the cliffs. I started off thinking what an idiot and unfortunately that impression never left me. I will give Sarah Black credit in that the character knew he was flouting slackling rules as well as the local laws, but such stupendous stupidity (especially as a Park Naturalist who has seen people do incredibly insane things in nature) left me with no connection to this character and therefore to the story. But one out of all I have read? I would love to have those odds at the track.
And finally when Sarah Black gives you a character that combines her love of the Navajo people and the military, then you have characters that will stay with you long after the book has ended. Lorenzo Maryboy, Navajo, former Marine and cartoonist (Marathon Cowboys) or Code Talker Logan Kee of Murder at Black Dog Springs still linger on, in my heart and thoughts. Give them a chance to introduce themselves to you. I know you will love them. I know you will love Sarah Black.
You can find her at her website: Sarah Black Writes She has free reads there for the taking.
She also has stories at Goodreads M/M Romance Group. Find it here!