Synopsis of In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael McLellan:
Henry was born into slavery; his young life spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he’s alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.
Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory
where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion.
Henry finds himself caught in the middle.
Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history.
Genre: Historical Fiction
About the Author
Michael’s love of books began with Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle when he was seven-years-old. Later influenced by the works of John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Stephen King, and Cormac McCarthy, Michael developed his style of storytelling. A self-proclaimed blue-collar writer, he draws on his experiences and observations to bring relevant and compelling topics to life.
Michael lives in Northern California, and when he’s not writing, he can usually be found wandering around the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges.
His body of work includes the 2014 novel After and Again, the 2015 novel American Flowers, and the shorts Joe Price and Anywhere But Here.
Author’s Website: http://michaelamclellan.com/
Publisher: Sweet Candy Press http://www.sweetcandydistro.com/sweet-candy-press-books.html
The author is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Enter below:
Excerpt from In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree:
“Of course it’s murder, you pampered little pup,” Picton hissed, his face only inches from John’s. “You’re even more naive than I first thought you to be. Did you really believe the seventy of us were going to roam the countryside engaging Indian war parties? Frank Picton’s seventy defeats five thousand bloodthirsty braves! How poetic. You are right about one thing: we’re not fighting a war, we are inciting one. Tell me something; do you have the slightest notion of how many Washington fortunes are invested in the western expansion?
In railroads and gold mines, and telegraphs, and cattle, and other ventures beyond counting?…No? Of course you don’t. We are going to finish what Colonel Chivington so ungracefully began. After we resupply we’re riding north into Sioux country to inflame the filthy savages even further. Then, soon, perhaps by this fall, when the heathens have lashed out sufficiently against more innocents, the public outrage will be such that they will be unable to decry the army for finally crushing the red vermin once and for all.”
He sighed and released John’s arm.
“The Indian and the white man will never be able to coexist. It’s been proven, time and again. Treaties fail and only delay the inevitable outcome. This land is ours now. It was ordained by God. Mark my words, John, ten years from now the Indian warrior will be nothing more than a fireside story told to frighten disobedient children.”
Praise for In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree
“The book uniquely conveys a story about the time in history; and at the same time, it feels like it is of the time in history. Imbued with plain, straightforward language, the writing cuts to the bones of the plot. It is a pleasure to read clean prose such as McLellan’s.” – Sarah Margolis Pearce, author of The Promise of Fate
“The author sends out a strong reminder of our past. “ – Chitra Iyer
Interview with Michael:
1) Who are your literary influences or inspiration?
I feel I’ve been influenced in one way or another by every book I’ve ever read. As far as individual authors go, I’d have to lead off with Beverly Cleary because her books are wholly responsible for my love of reading. John Steinbeck and Harper Lee would be up there for both writing books I’ve read so many times that I’ve worn several copies out. Stephen King has an incredible knack for writing characters with amazing depth. Cormac McCarthy, Shirley Jackson, Dee Brown, Daniel Woodrell, and Larry McMurtry are a few more.
2) What does your writing space look like?… like do you have a crazy mess of a desk full of notes and post its? Or is it a quaint chair at a coffee shop?
(Laugh) my writing space looks like an HP laptop and whatever chair I decide to sit in. My favorite spot is a well-broken-in armchair in my front room that looks out at our fruit trees.
3) Where do your ideas come from for stories/books?
Mostly from whatever is in the forefront of my mind at the time. Writing fiction has become my way of examining and understanding (and sometimes coping or escaping) events in my life or the world around me. My mom suffered Alzheimer’s the last few years of her life. It was an extremely difficult time for our family. I wrote the short, Of Things Forgotten during that period. My new novel, In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, although technically historical fiction, is inspired by the very current issues of racial and gender inequality and man’s seemingly insatiable penchant for greed, control, and violence.
This can seem like a lot of negative subject matter, but light so often comes from the darkness, and people’s strength through great adversity can be truly uplifting.
4) What’s the hardest part of writing or publishing?
Definitely everything that comes after the book is written. The actual writing part is easy compared to what comes next. The whole publishing process from the editing to the marketing and promo is a great deal of work, and it requires a completely different skill-set than writing. I’m lucky enough to have a really great publisher in Sweet Candy Press, so my current novel’s release has been worlds easier than my previously self-published releases.
5) What writing mistakes do you find yourself making most often?
I habitually forget to close quotations and spend hours looking for all the missed ones once a story is complete.
6) How would you like your books to change the world?
I’ve written contemporary adult fiction, young adult, post-apocalyptic, and historical fiction, There has been one common underlying theme in nearly all of my stories: how human beings treat each other. Hopefully, somewhere along the line I’ve inspired someone to give the matter some consideration.
7) If a movie was made of your book, who would the stars be?
I love film. Always have. It would be a dream come true to have one of my books adapted for the big screen. If In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree was made into a movie, this would be an awesome cast:
Henry: John Boyega
Clara: Hailee Steinfeld
Standing Elk: Steve Reevis, or maybe Rodney A. Grant
Picton: Gary Oldman
Ben Campbell: Domhall Gleeson
Eliza: Amandla Stenberg
Emmet Dawson: Hugo Weaving