Thursday, April 21, 2022

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Marie Sontag!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Marie Sontag!

LM: Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your most recent release Yosemite Trail Discovered. What was your inspiration for the story? 

Marie: As a resident of California for over 58 years, I never heard the story of how non-Native Americans first entered Yosemite. The more I researched, the more I realized this "'clash of cultures" story needed to be told. 

LM: You had a full career as a middle-school teacher. Was it a natural progression to become an author of YA fiction? What can you tell us about your journey to publication? 

Marie: I always had a hard time going to sleep at night, and as a little girl, I’d make up stories in my head to pass the time. I started writing them down in junior high, but never thought of writing as a career. While teaching social studies and language arts in middle school, I couldn’t find adventurous historical fiction to help my students relate to the time periods we studied in class, so I began to create and share them with my students. When publishers bought the books, it moved me into a fun and challenging career as I retired from teaching. 

LM: What is your favorite aspect of writing? 

Marie: My favorite aspect of writing is sharing the adventurous stories in my head with young readers and getting them excited about history. 

LM: What do you do to prepare for writing? 

Marie: Since I write historical fiction, I do a lot of research. I also visit places I write about, if possible. I continually attend writer’s conferences and read books about writing to improve my craft. 

Photo: Pixabay/David Mark
LM: Yosemite Trail Discovered is part of a series. Did you intend to create a series when you wrote the first book California Trail Discovered? Are there more books coming? 

Marie: I initially envisioned the Whitcomb Discovery Series as only one book, but as I wrote it, I saw it would be too long, so I made it into two books. In the first book, the main character, Daniel, is thirteen. In book two, almost three years have elapsed and Daniel finds himself in the California gold fields. Book one is for middle grade readers, while book two is more for young adult readers. Friendships Daniel has in book one blossom into romance in book two. At this point, I only envision this as a two-book series. 

LM: You’ve accomplished quite a lot. What is one thing you wish you could do? 

Marie: I wish I was still young enough to teach in the classroom, but time moves on! I am so thankful for the young, dedicated teachers who give their all for today’s students. 

LM: What is your next project? 

Photo: Pixabay/Sasin Tipchai
Marie: I’m finalizing edits for a book coming out in August 2022, Underground Scouts. This YA historical novel tells the story of six teen Boy Scouts and Girl Guides who joined forces with the Polish underground army in 1944 to oust the Germans from Warsaw during WWII. In the future, I hope to write a book about a Spanish character who later became a Mexican citizen, then joined forces with the Texans when they fought for independence from Mexico. My research question I hope to answer is, “Why did this character (Lorenzo de Zavala, first vice-president of the Republic of Texas) change his allegiance from one country to another within a span of sixteen years, all before the age of thirty-six? 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

Marie: I love connecting with readers. Here are some of my social media links: 
Google Scholar:

About Yosemite Trail Discovered

Join sixteen-year-old Daniel Whitcomb as he juggles a growing relationship with Virginia Reed, one of the survivors of the Donner Party, helps his Miwok friend learn how to read and write, and manages the account ledgers for his guardian, Jim Savage at his trading posts in the California gold fields. Is Jim correct when he says, You can't possess what you can't protect? Does that justify fighting the Yosemites after they attack Jim's posts, or the Mariposa Battalion's entrance into Yosemite to rout out the Ahwahneechee? And will Daniel ever make it back to Illinois to solve the mystery of his parents' deaths? 

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