Do You Find Yourself Talking to the Dead? ~Tanya Hanson

Abraham Lincoln once asked: Do you ever find yourself talking to the dead? I do.”MarryingMinda Crop to Use


Well, I talk out loud in my characters’ voices all day long as well, and recently, I had a great time inside the head of 11-year old Feddie Harper. He’s the “star” of my middle grade story Black Dog, White Dog, (writing as Anya Novikov) from the wonderful My Dog Does Magic anthology, and he’s got some summer reading to do. Boring. Then…he actually finds himself enjoying a book on California history, most of all, our native tribe, the Chumash.

Black and white

So let me share the Legend of Hueneme today!

You’d never know it, but the word is pronounced “Wye-NEE-mee”

It’s actually the name of a beautiful Chumash princess…and the name of a peaceful, seaside Naval town on California’s central coast. The daughter of a great chief, Hueneme was not just lovely to behold but also kind, joyful and friendly. Everybody loved her. Birds would land on her finger and sing.

Many suitors longed to marry her, but she sent them away. At last she fell in love with a handsome visitor to her village. They were married, and their love story was legendary among the coastal tribes and those on the nearby islands.

But another woman wanted the husband and learned the black arts of witchcraft. She cast a spell upon Hueneme’s husband, and his love turned to hate. When he looked upon his wife, he saw not Hueneme but the witchy woman.

Indeed, the witch seduced him to leave with her to a faraway valley.

In grief, Hueneme returned to her home tribe. Her wise father told her to seek out her husband, for love cannot be destroyed by evil. She trusted her father, and searched for her man.

In a cursed valley of vile smells, Hueneme’s voice helped dispel the spell, and her husband followed her as she walked out of the miserable place. Partially unveiled by the curse, he realized he couldn’t live without her. However, the powerful curse hadn’t entirely departed from him.

In despair, Hueneme forgot her father’s words, that true love could not be killed by evil. Giving in to her hopelessness, she headed into the cold sea at today’s Mugu Rock. Filled with grief and regret, her husband followed her. And gods changed both of them to stones one can still see when the tide is just right.

Mugu Rock


Until missionaries came to the area, the Chumash Indians left bowls of food at Mugu Rock for Hueneme and her husband.

How about you? Are there any interesting legends or lore in your neighborhood?

My_Dog_Can_Do_Magic_Web (2) Blurb:

Feddie Harper is still mourning the loss of his black Lab when a lovely white dog magically appears next to him at the local horse rescue. Although his mom allows the dog to come home with them–just temporarily, the entire family soon realizes the pup’s life-saving specialty!

P.s. Black Dog, White Dog, is a story for all ages!



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28 thoughts on “Do You Find Yourself Talking to the Dead? ~Tanya Hanson”

    • Hi Janine, I too love local legends we find in our own backyards. I found an incredible book about them at a writers conference a few years ago. It’s been great fun to learn more.

  1. Hi Tanya! I have to wonder how these legends get started! Like in yours here–did someone see the stones one day at low tide and come up with the story? Or did the people actually live? The valley of vile smells? One can only imagine what must have been like! Sulfur perhaps?

    Thanks for an interesting post!

  2. Hi Kathryn, I imagine the origin was kind of like Greek myth…the culture needed to explain something natural so a story about it evolved. I have driven by Mugu Rock a billion times and don’t see any tall stones on the shore there, but maybe the tide has to be right…and there are no sulfur or noxious fumes anywhere that I know of LOL. Who knows. Fun to imagine, as Helene says in the book, all the possibilities!

  3. I love hearing about local legends. That to me is a fun thing to talk about. I haven’t heard that many from where I live now but there was a lot of them from where I grew up. Thanks for the great post.

    • Hi Quilt Lady, I’ve learned so much here at Petticoats and Pistols that I realized I need to find out more stuff about my own locale. I love how the ancients explained things we take for granted every day. I so appreciate you stopping by today.

  4. Hi Tanya, We drive by Mugu Rock every time we camp at the beach and I’ve never noticed any tall stones. I’ll be looking for them next time. I always get a kick out of the way visitors pronounce Hueneme. Even our GPS pronounces it Who-nemy. It always makes us laugh.


    • Hi Margaret, I know, I can’t see them either. Maybe they are worn away by now. I hear ya about the pronunciation. I was a college counselor for a while…I had to hold back a chuckle many times when I talked with admissions people from far-off colleges who had never heard the name and had to say it LOL. One thing I learned in return, though, is Chadron, in Nebraska, is pronounced SHADron, not Chad. So it was a two-way street LOL. Thanks for posting today. xo

  5. So many myths and legends out there… always great to learn about something new. Love the book’s cover!

    • Thanks, Colleen. It’s a wonderful cover designed by Livia Washburn! She found the amazing pic of the two dogs, too. My story’s quite short, just right for a kid. Or big kid LOL. Thanks for stopping by today.

  6. Hi Tanya!

    Thanks for introducing me to the legends behind the landmarks right here in my neighborhood. Port Hueneme & Point Magu are just up the road from us! Now…onto the magic dog. 😉

  7. Hi Sam, always so fun to find your comments. Miss you. I know, the more I learn about the Chumash, the more fascinated I become. Temescal means sweat lodge. I just loved finding that out. Hugs to you! xoxo

    • Hi Kay, I always love your insights into native American lore! I wonder if somehow, all of these legends do have a common “ancestor.” I love learning new things. Thanks for the post! xo

  8. Tanya,

    What a beautiful and tragic legend. I never realized Hueneme was the name of an American Indian maiden. The only thing I knew about the area was that’s where the Navy Seabees Museum is.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Kirsten, I knew Hueneme was a Chumash name but I didn’t know why. This was fun to research. I hope to ready more ideas on Feddie and Helene having adventures but learning their local heritage, too.I wish days had more than 24 hours in them, sigh. Thanks, my friend, for the post today!

    • hi Michelle, thanks for stopping in and commenting! I like the story because Mugu Rock is filmed so often in TV commercials and shows…it’s pretty recognizable.

  9. Tanya, I wrote a long comment and it got eaten when I submitted it. DARN IT! Anyhow, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your story BLACK DOG, WHITE DOG in MY DOG CAN DO MAGIC! I hope to see more of those characters in the future, and I really enjoyed learning about the Chumash.


    • Hi Cheryl, grrrr, that has happened to me way too often, too. Thanks for trying, though, I do have another idea brewing, so get ready LOL. Thanks for all your support…Feddie would still be living in my hard drive if it weren’t for you!

  10. Tanya, Thank you for sharing the info about Chumash and the story about Hueneme. I too enjoy reading about Indian lore. And my grandchildren will adore BLACK DOG, WHITE DOG, just as soon as I finish reading all the stories. Wishing you the best.

  11. Actually today I am in Ventura so Hueneme is the local legend. I imagine the evil smelling valley was the San Fernando Valley which used to be known in Indian lore as the valley of the Stinking Smoke.

  12. Hi Susan, I am so intrigued now…I knew about the smokey valley but the stinking part is definitely next on my to-be-learned list! Feddie has more stories to tell so…hmmm. Thanks for the great information. So happy you stopped by.

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