Monday, April 16, 2007

Kachina Dolls

I’ve just turned in the third book in the Dolls To Die For series. That fulfills my contract obligations. My agent and I have been in communication with Berkley (my publisher) about another book in the series. I wanted to write about Kachina dolls. My Berkley editor rejected my concept idea. According to her, Native American doesn’t sell. Tony Hillerman is the only author to have made it. No Native American for me.

I lived in the Phoenix area for eighteen months and fell in love with the colorful Indian lure of the desert. Every weekend I traveled to see ruins of past civilizations that entranced me, captivated my imagination like little else has.

So to say that I was disappointed in my publisher’s decision is a huge understatement.

Kachinas (also called Katchinas) are Hopi holy spirits that live on the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona. They can be spirits of animals, deities, or deceased members of the Pueblo, and they act as messengers between spiritual domains and mortals. These supernatural beings visit Hopi villagers beginning at winter solstice and ending mid-July. Their most important role is to bring rain for spring crops.

For six months male members perform masked dances, impersonating Kachina spirits. They give cottonwood dolls to the children and teach them about the hundred of Kachina spirits through oral tradition. When the dancers are in costume, they become that spirit.

The Heard museum in Phoenix has the largest, most wonderful display of Kachina dolls in the world. If you get a chance, stop in. The Hopis have resisted pressure to produce the dolls commercially, so the souvenirs found in tourist gift shops are cheap reproductions.
A fake - a few bucks
The real thing - thousands of dollars
The Hopi culture - priceless


Anonymous said...

Have you thought about finding another editor for this?


Linda O. Johnston said...

I empathize. Sometimes some of the most intriguing ideas to us don't strike the right chord with an editor. Other times, though, we're in sync. I hope the next idea you pitch is in the latter category!

Anonymous said...

Please write the book! Editors aren't ALWAYS right and your fans will read whatever you write :)


Deb Baker said...

Shelly and LindaBabe, thanks for the cheerleading. But my editor represents my publishing house. If she says no, it's no. When I'm world famous, then she'll have to publish it. (grin)

Camille Minichino said...

I'm just starting ALL DOLLED UP ... (late coming to it) and loving it!
I love the opening quotes from the book. Each one is worth a blog, a book, a long discussion. I'll bet if you start your next book with that idea, no editor will be able to resist!