Book Launch October 25, 2014!
PEYOTE FIRE NAMED A FINALIST IN THE WRITERS’ LEAGUE OF TEXAS MANUSCRIPT COMPETITION, MAY 31, 2014! WOOT! WOOT!
Peyote Fire is the eagerly awaited new novel by Mary S. Black about the first peyote shaman in central North America. The protagonist, Deer Cloud, is painting stories of the gods in a rock shelter high above the river. His grandfather Panther Claw consecrated the alcove for Deer Cloud when he was a boy. The two spent many years tracing designs on the ground to arrive at the best composition to honor the gods and preserve their greatness for generations to come. When Panther Claw dies, however, Deer Cloud’s life takes a dramatic turn.
He is urged to walk the shaman path himself. He must become friends with hallucinogenic spirit herbs, and visit the terrifying wolf shrines. When he grows too strong, his enemy engineers his downfall with a dramatic challenge to call the buffalo to the people.
The book is set about 4000 years ago in the area of the confluence of the Pecos River and the Rio Grande,
bounded on the east by the Devil’s River. This region is known for more 300 painted rock shelters and a famous bison jump site. Some of these places can be visited by the public today.
By using archeological reports and treatises written about the people of the Archaic Lower Pecos as a factual base for the story, I have tried to make descriptions of everyday life as accurate as possible, given what we know.
But we do not fully know the people’s understanding of that world. As a stand-in for their undoubtedly rich religious and philosophical life, I am relying upon ethnographies of the Huichol people of Mexico, whom some suspect may be distantly related. I’ve stripped out agricultural references in the Huichol mythologies, and other modern strains, such as cultural changes brought on by contact with the Spanish, in order to seek an Archaic core.
From these core beliefs and descriptions of Huichol ceremonies, I have constructed a fictional world view that pervades the Rain Bringers’ lives. This world view brings meaning to their lives and explains the natural phenomena that surrounded them. I’ve also tried to imagine the stories embodied in the rock art, and the rituals, songs, and legends that are lost.
I completed the first draft in a cabin on the edge of a canyon near Langtry, Texas, within view of the Bonfire Shelter bison jump site. I am currently working on revisions, and hope to have it ready for agents by June 2014. Deer Cloud is getting stronger, and soon he will emerge!