Weaving Fact and Fiction ~Paty Jager

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Putting together historical facts with the fictional people I’ve produced in my head is harder than just whipping out a completely plausible story.

The “Spirit Trilogy” as I call my books – Spirit of the Mountain, Spirit of the Lake, and Spirit of the Sky – came to me as an idea about Native American spirits. They are complete figments of my imagination but I was interested in incorporating this idea into a tribe I grew up hearing about and admired from the history I’d read about them. So I placed my spirits in the Nez Perce (Nimiipuu as they call themselves) band that summered and wintered in the county where I grew up.

They were a peaceful group who had welcomed Lewis and Clark and the Whitemen who straggled in and eventually began to take over the areas the Nez Perce had called home for centuries.  Reading all the books I could find that were written from both sides, I tried to envision what life was like for the Nez Perce and to write a story as historically accurate about their life as I could and all the while weaving in the spirit element I’d manufactured.

The first book, Spirit of the Mountain, took a lot of digging into information on Nez Perce websites, books, and contacting members of the tribe to make sure the information I wanted to use in my books was factual and didn’t go against their beliefs.  In the first book, I only had to stay true to their way of life.

Spirit of the Lake, again, dealt with their beliefs and how they tried to live with the Whiteman to avoid being put on a reservation. I used information from Nez Perce websites, visited the Spaulding mission, and my contacts with the tribe to ensure I kept true to the facts and let my imagination go wild with the paranormal aspect of this book.

The last book was the hardest. Spirit of the Sky dealt with the nontreaty Nez Perce fleeing to freedom. The band I’d showcased in the two previous books were part of the nontreaty bands who hadn’t signed the treaty that took away all the places they lived throughout the year.   They tried to live with the Whitemen who steadily flowed into their valley, but the Whites wanted the Nez Perce gone and the Army came in to make them move.

The nontreaty bands had finally agreed to move to the reservation when some hot-headed young warriors decided to take revenge. This one act was the catalyst that put the nontreaties on the run. They knew that after the killing it was unlikely the Army would keep their promises.

And that began the four month, 1400 mile pursuit by the Army. Spirit of the Sky, begins two weeks into the pursuit and follows the horrors and triumphs of the Lake Nimiipuu band. Using books written by both sides, I made a time line and highlighted the things I found significant at each clash between the groups. I used this as my plot line and interspersed the meetings between a cavalry officer and the Nez Perce Spirit into this plot line using the factual information to springboard their interactions. The hardest part was keeping each side’s POV focused on their situation, thoughts, and feelings.

I was a month late getting the story to my editor due to the time it took to weave the fact with the fiction and make it all feel real.

Blurb for Spirit of the Sky

To save her from oppression, he must save her whole tribe. To give her his heart, he must desert his career…

When the US Army forces the Nimiipuu from their land, Sa-qan, the eagle spirit entrusted with watching over her tribe, steps in to save her mortal niece. Challenging the restrictions of the spirit world, Sa-qan assumes human form and finds an unexpected ally in a handsome cavalry officer.

Certain she is a captive, Lt. Wade Watts, a Civil War veteran, tries to help the blonde woman he finds sheltering a Nez Perce child. While her intelligent eyes reveal she understands his language, she refuses his help. But when Wade is wounded, it is the beautiful Sa-qan who tends him. Wade wishes to stop the killing—Sa-qan will do anything to save her people.

Can their differences save her tribe? Or will their love spell the end of the Nimiipuu?


She smiled and his heart leapt into his throat. He thought her beautiful from the first moment he saw her standing in the river fiercely protecting the child, but watching her tense face relax and smile, he was smitten. A light and pleasing calm washed over him for the first time in a very long time. He could only bask in the moment briefly. They were enemies.

“I am from the sky, and I watch over the Nimiipuu.” She nodded her head and flashed him with yet another smile. “You may call me Angel.”

“Only if you call me Wade.”

She nodded. “Let me check your wounds. You have moved around.”

“Why are you taking such good care of me when your warriors left me for dead?”

Her sunshine gaze peered straight into his eyes. “You saved my niece at the village and the wounded from the Bannock scout. You do not have the thirst to kill like the other soldiers.” She bowed her head and removed the blood encrusted bandage from his shoulder. “The Nimiipuu need you.”

Her touch warmed his body, tingling the areas around his wounds. He glanced at her small, delicate hands hovering over his injuries. He shut his eyes, and then opened them. Her hands shimmered as if in a fog. His pain subsided, in fact, his body felt well rested.

A soft lyrical chant rose from her lips as she continued to hover her hands over his wounds. Her eyes remained closed, her light lashes resting on her sun-kissed cheeks. He’d never seen a woman as beautiful as this. He had to learn her true origins and return her to her family.

Buy Link:

Wild Rose Press




Wife, mother, grandmother, and the one who cleans pens and delivers the hay; award winning author Paty Jager and her husband currently ranch 350 acres when not dashing around visiting their children and grandchildren. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

She is a member of RWA, EPIC , and COWG. She’s had eleven books and a short story published so far and is venturing into the new world of self-publishing ebooks.

Her contemporary Western, Perfectly Good Nanny won the 2008 Eppie for Best Contemporary Romance and Spirit of the Mountain, a historical paranormal set among the Nez Perce, garnered 1st place in the paranormal category of the Lories Best Published Book Contest. Spirit of the Lake was a finalist in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.

You can learn more about her at her blog; www.patyjager.blogspot.com  her website; http://www.patyjager.net or on Facebook; http://www.facebook.com/#!/paty.jager and twitter;  @patyjag.


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22 thoughts on “Weaving Fact and Fiction ~Paty Jager”

  1. Your compelling series is so special and unique. Best wishes and continued success. This would be a series that is memorable.

  2. Kristen, Thank you. I hope you enjoy the series and leave a review.

    Annie, Thank you. The series is unique and while the readers love it I was lucky Wild Rose Press was willing to take a stab at publishing it.

    Elizabeth, Thank you. The cover artists at Wild Rose Press did a wonderful job on the covers and conveying the feelings of the books.

  3. I enjoyed learning about the background of this remarkable series. The books would cast a spell upon me and be captivating reading.

  4. Paty, it’s great to have you back. I absolutely love your book covers. Each one is more spectacular than the last. They’re simply breathtaking. I’m wishing you much success with them and also with your forage into e-publishing.

  5. Enjoyed reading the comments. I always thought it would be so exciting to be on the Lewis and Clarke Expedition discovering all the wonders of the West.
    Your book sounds really interesting and good.

  6. You do such a great job with your descriptions, Paty. I have your books but just need the time to be able to spend the quality time reading them. AH, the life of a writer!

    As always, best of luck with your stories.

  7. Hi Paty, always so good to have you visit here n Wildflower Junction. Indeed, your covers are stunning. As you know, I am very interested in the Nez Perce, and I love your books…terrific history and great stories and that fun touch of mystery. xoxox

  8. I so enjoy reading about the American Indians – they are a fascinating people and I appreciate all the research that must have went into your stories. What better way to learn than what sounds like a wonderful story. And I have to say I just love your covers!

  9. Hi Ellie, Thank you for you kind words!

    Hi Liz, Thank you. I hope you enjoy them.

    Linda, Thank you. I enjoy guesting on Petticoats and Pistols.

    Thanks Caroline!

    Hi Joye! I think I was born a century too late. I would have loved living in the mid-late 1800’s.

    Hi Paisley. I know what you mean. I have lots of books stacked and on my kindle that I want to read but finding the time when I need to keep writing is the hard part.

    Thanks Tanya. Some day we’re going to have to meet and visit about the Nez Perce.

    Catslady, Thank you. My goal with the books were to make learning about the Nez Perce enjoyable and entertaining. I really like these covers too!

  10. I think the hardest part about writing historical is holding back…as I research one little item in my time period/setting/etc, I’ll come across about 5 more little tidbits about the time period that I find fascinating. And, I want to include them ALL in my book. But, I have to remind myself that not everyone is as fascinated with these tidbits as I am…and that I have to tell a story first (not write a history book). The tidbits that are relevant to my storyline are really the only ones I need to include…. But, it’s difficult.

  11. Congratulations on finishing your Nez Perce trilogy. It sounds like a well done blending of historical fact and the spirit world. I think the story of the Nez Perce is one of the saddest of the native tribes. They did everything right and were good friends to the white man. Chief Joseph was an honorable and wise man and deserved much better than he was given.

    I look forward to reading them.

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