Author Andrew Joyce is here today and we’re chatting about his historical fiction, Yellow Hair.
Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups (as-yet unpublished), and his latest novel, Yellow Hair. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, Mick Reilly.
Please tell us about your current release.
Through no fault of his own, a young man is thrust into a new culture just at the time that culture is undergoing massive changes. It is losing its identity, its lands, and its dignity. He not only adapts, he perseveres and, over time, becomes a leader—and on occasion, the hand of vengeance against those who would destroy his adopted people.
Yellow Hair documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage written about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in this fact-based tale of fiction were real people and I use their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.
What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration for the book came to me when I was reading a short article and it made reference to the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862. It also mentioned that the outcome involved the largest mass execution in the history of the United States. That piqued my interest.
When I started my research into the incident, one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was documenting the entire history of the Sioux, who are also known as the Dakota, vis-à-vis the relationship between them and the United States.
Excerpt from Yellow Hair:
On a gray and overcast December morning in 1862, the scaffold stood high. Thirty-eight nooses hung from its crossbeams. The mechanism for springing the thirty-eight trap doors had been tested and retested until it worked perfectly. At exactly noon, a signal was given, a lever pulled, and the largest mass execution to ever take place in the United States of America became part of our history.
What exciting story are you working on next?
A novel about three generations of Irish, whose patriarch immigrates to America in 1840.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
One morning, about six years ago, I went crazy. I got out of bed, went downstairs, and threw my TV out the window. Then I sat down at the computer and wrote my first short story. And just for the hell of it, I threw it up on a writing site. A few months later, I was informed that it had been selected for publication in an anthology of the best short stories of 2011. I even got paid for it. I’ve been writing ever since.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t know if I’d call it full-time (I’m rather indolent), but writing is what puts bread on the table and beer in the fridge. I have no other job.
I prefer to write in the early morning hours when things are quiet. I usually get up around 2:00 a.m. and go to work. The commute is not long . . . only a few steps to my computer.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know how to type. I hunt and peck with two fingers. I’ve written almost one million words that way.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I never thought about it. I kind of figured I’d worry about that when I grew up—and I’m still waiting.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I would just like to thank you for having me over. It’s been a real pleasure.