Bluewood interviews Dan Strawn, author of Isaac's Gun - An American Tale

Bluewood Publishing: Hi there, welcome to Bluewood. Tell us a little about yourself. What part of the world do you live in? Tell us about your background?

Dan: I Live in Vancouver, Washington with my wife, Sandi.
I came her from the Bay Area in Northern California after retiring from both business and education careers.
When I arrived in Vancouver, I took up creative writing, which was quite a shift from business writing.
In addition to writing, I also volunteer with the Nez Perce National Historic Park. I do interpretations of Nez Perce culture and history at park sites and schools. On occasion, I teach about the Nez Perce and related courses in the Mature learning division of Clark Community College in Vancouver.
In 2008, I took students to eastern Oregon and Idaho, where the experienced first hand the sites we discussed in class.

Bluewood: Who are your favorite authors?

Dan: Oh boy! There are so many. Pat Conroy, John Steinbeck, Amy Tan, Jeff Shirra, Barbara Kingsolver, Mark Twain, Larry McMurtry—those are the names that come to mind.

Bluewood: What is your genre and what attracts you to that genre, and what made you want to write it?

Dan: American historical fiction. I write it because I feel the sense of how historical events on the grand scale impact the common people. Their stories are the ones I like to tell.

Bluewood: The question you are probably always asked – how long have you been writing?

Dan: All my life in one form or another. But I only had time for fiction after I retired. Before I retired, I dabbled in poetry, taught business writing in the California Community College system, and, of course, used business writing in my management career at Pacific Telephone.

Bluewood: Does the way you personally look at life reflect in your writing style?

Dan: Yes, of course. I'm an optimist and like to tell stories where personal growth triumphs over adversity. I believe whatever philosophical undertones a writer wishes to deliver, he/she will fail if the reading audience is not entertained. I strive to write stories that intrigue readers.

Bluewood: What concept or situation about your book makes it so unique?

Dan: Four concepts: (1) It looks at war and how it impacts common people in different historical times (1877 and 1942), (2) it shows how people with character repel society's prejudices, (3) it shows how people depend on one another, and (4) it accomplishes all these while weaving an intriguing story about love and families during wartime.

Bluewood: Tell us about Isaac's Gun. What was your inspiration for this book?

Dan: The inspiration came from a need to tell about a time I'd lived through. Lots of war stories talk about warriors and battles. I felt a need to describe what happens at home, away from the battles to both wounded warriors and noncombatants. I also wanted to write a story in the first person, present tense. Why? Because doing so is challenging for a writer, which is precisely why most writers don't take it on. So far, reader response with this format has been favorable. I learned a ton about the writing craft with “Isaac's Gun—An American Tale.”

Bluewood: What is your favorite scene from the book and why?

Dan: Isaac is telling his granddaughter, Sherrill, and her beau, Martin, about lying helpless while his adversary, a Nez Perce warrior prayed. Isaac relates his discovery years later that he saw the same vision as the praying warrior. Until that revelation, Isaac says, he thought his vision was a hallucination brought on by his pain. The reality of that shared moment, the warrior calling up a vision for both the warrior and the helpless Isaac to see, brings Isaac, Sherrill, and Martin closer together. Their closeness is punctuated by the appearance of a flying fortress appearing on the horizon and flying over their heads, which brought them all back to the current reality of war they also share.
It is my favorite scene because it moved me when I wrote it, and readers say they were also moved by it. A poet friend of mine even called it poetry—coming from him, a high compliment.

Bluewood: Have you written other books?

Dan: Yes. “Lame Bird's Legacy”—a novel of the 1877 Nez Perce War that uses some of the same characters as “Isaac's Gun—An American Tale”; “A Body of Work”—a collection of my shorter works (short stories, essays, memoirs, and poems); “Breakfast At Blair's”—a short murder mystery played out in the middle of Nevada on America's loneliest highway; and “Black Wolf's Return”—a work in progress that follows four centuries of wolves and Nez Perce Indians in the struggles to occupy their historic place in eastern Oregon. This story also uses some of the same charactrs as “Lame Bird's Legacy” and “Isaac's Gun—An American Tale.”

Bluewood: If you could tell us one thing about the Historical Fiction genre that makes your mind spin with ideas, what would that be?

Dan: How events of the past shape not only our present, but our future.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Dan!