Today we're talking with Ron Fritsch, author of Promised Valley Conspiracy
FQ: Coming in on the third novel of this series, I found it extremely helpful to see the spoiler in the back of the book. Did you have reservations in providing this to your readership? If so, what were they?
RF: No. After I published the first book in the series, Promised Valley Rebellion, I realized I needed to provide a character list for two reasons. First, I have an abundant number of characters populating a four-book prehistoric epic. Second, they share the names, as our ancestors did, of natural objects—such as Rose Leaf, Morning Sun, Blue Sky, Gentle Brook, Spring Rain, Green Field, and Wandering Star—or attributes—such as Fair Judge, Many Numbers, Long Arm, Lightning Spear, Dancing Song, War Cloud, and True Hunter. I understand why a reader might find it difficult to keep track of such a cast. So I've included character lists at the end of each novel, clearly (I hope) explaining that reading the lists in the second, third, and fourth books will give away what happened in the previous novels. I believe in accommodating the reader. If someone wishes to read the upcoming and last fourth novel, perhaps only in order to decide whether to read the first three, I should make it easy for the reader to do that.
FQ: It’s no secret that fiction authors aspire to achieve reality. When I first read men would ‘go with’ men and women with women I was surprised to see how natural the premise flowed within the story line. What compelled you to write this into prehistoric beginnings?
RF: From what I've read concerning prehistory and sexuality, I can't help but imagine some peoples in the past recognized same-sex relationships were equal in value to those of the opposite-sex variety—to both the individuals and their people. I chose to imagine at some time and place in prehistory discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was off the table. And then I could include gay and lesbian characters in societies that put them to good use. Not having children of their own to raise, they had the time to listen to, remember, and retell their people's stories. (Prehistoric peoples by definition had no written languages.) The gay and lesbian characters also had the time to hear their people’s quarrels and decide them, by telling the disputants how their quarrel should be resolved, in place of the king. These "tellers" are what we’d call "priests" or "judges." They also fought in the front lines in their wars in place of those who did have children to support.
FQ: If you were approached today and asked to re-write history, what would be the one event in your Promised Valley series you would like to see as reality today?
RF: While I'd certainly like to see the existence of LGBTQ persons and their place among their peoples treated as a fact and not as a highly contentious issue, I'd like to see one thing even more. It's the final word of the title of my fourth book in the series: Promised Valley Peace. When, as Blue Sky hopes, peoples "pay no further heed to meaningless distinctions between themselves and their neighbors, even those concerning their gods, but will live in respectful peace together."
FQ: If you had lived in Promised Valley times, what peoples would be your preference; the hill or valley and why?
RF: I couldn't choose between them. I admire the valley people (the farmers) for their willingness to embrace knowledge of the natural world and make full use of it, as in domesticating animals and plants. But I also have a place in my heart for the hill people (the hunters and gatherers) who take comfort in tradition and resent the need to bow down to the new.
FQ: It seems conflict, corruption, and brutality have been a mainstay and part of life; even in the beginnings of time. To quote a section: “The conspirators working for a new kingdom well knew they’d need to fight on two fronts, the first against Lightning Spear’s corruption, the second against Thunder Hunter’s—and now War Cloud’s—brutality.” Who is your favorite villain and why?
RF: Lightning Spear. His self-serving corruption, cynicism, and contempt for the people, his own included, are appalling. And yet his greatest joy is to sit in his tent, with his cup of the farmers' illegal wine in hand, and speak with the four leading conspirators, including his daughter and son, who wish nothing more than the end of his reign. That his four special guests very often disagree with him, in the privacy of his tent, about what he should do for the people doesn’t bother him. He sometimes even changes his mind after hearing what they have to say.
FQ: Do you ever plan to develop Promised Valley for the ‘big screen’?
RF: Yes. I intend to write screenplays for all four novels. I confess I wrote the books with as many cinematic scenes as I could fit into them. They include the battles, of course, but also the numerous crowd scenes, with thousands of people in view. The valley with its carpets of wheat and barley, the river running through them, the pastures where the horses frolic, the steep gorges, and the forested mountainsides should give the films the epic quality they deserve.
FQ: I have to say, I’ve become a fan and intend to go back and read your first two in the series. Given there is only one Promised Valley book remaining in the series, have you begun to cultivate what lays beyond the hill and valley peoples? If so, any possibility of sharing?
RF: My next novel might be a stand-alone courtroom drama. What appears to be a double homicide takes place in the 1950’s. A woman is on trial in the 1970’s for committing the crime. Notice which decade falls in between.
Many thanks, Feathered Quill, for asking me such interesting questions.