Sacajawea’s Ghost Interview

La Mesa, California: Sacajawea’s Ghost Interview

  1. The premise for Sacajawea’s Ghost is a universally occurring technical glitch. Is such a thing really possible?
    • The universality part comes from the fact that cheap, programmable microprocessors are used in all manner of entertainment devices, appliances, and even medical instruments. Anything that may be considered ‘smart’ in any sense has one of those things embedded in it. Engineers use one tool, the microprocessor, and program it with different software for different applications. The hardware is cheap because the same device is built in huge numbers, yet it can be economically applied in any number of small volume applications.
    • Hardware designers, therefore, have to build in a lot of features that simply aren’t needed is some applications. For example, ‘INSTANT ON’ can be crucial to the success of one product, yet be totally unused in another.
    • The opportunity for a glitch comes in the way software engineers handle unused features. If ignored, as opposed to deactivated, something unexpected could activate an unused function. In Sacajawea’s Ghost, that is exactly what happens.
    • The answer to the question, then, is yes, such a thing is possible. In fact, it may be reasonably possible. Of course when these things do happen, the result is usually insignificant, if even noticed. When the result is noticeable, then there can be a story. Sacajawea’s Ghost is one such story.
  2. Sacajawea’s Ghost has many different themes running through it. Young love is one of those.
    • It certainly is. When first love is puppy love, it is all about innocence, wonder, and never before experienced emotions. In Sacajawea’s Ghost, as so often happens in life, the boy is absolutely clueless. He doesn’t have any idea about what is happening to him, or why. All he knows is that he likes it, and so he goes along for the ride. Girls are much more mature, and sophisticated at the same age, but even they too don’t really know what’s going on.
    • The setting and a few of the details are different, but otherwise Ryan and Lauren are going through what I went through at that age. Painful memories softened by time.
  3. Another theme seems to be the unwarranted jumping to conclusions.
    • Yes it is. All through the history of mankind, people’s reactions to the unknown have been remarkably similar. As the legendary Merlin is reported to have said, “If a technology is sufficiently advanced, it appears to be magic.” In a religious context, magic becomes spiritual. Such a sequence seems innate to humans. If a culture is spiritually biased to start with, such a conclusion from an unexpected event is perfectly natural. This is the basis for the Indian’s reaction to what spontaneously occurs in their homes.
    • Of course, those who have historically exploited that reaction, such as the church, itinerant preachers and tribal chieftains, are the ones who know better. They question what is going on. They also use it for their own personal gain. It has always been so, and is what happens in this story.
  4. Manipulation of an individual, or group, is yet another theme in the story.
    • It is. Sacajawea’s Ghost features manipulation in several contexts, starting with the intuitive way a young girl can control a young boy. Music has manipulation is another way, ranging from the traditional chants and rhythms from a primitive culture, to organized religion, to modern jazz. Speech is yet another way, from newspaper ads, to YouTube videos, to spellbinding orators. All of that is a part of the story.
    • A key part of the story is also the discussion of examples of such manipulation, and examples of how it is done. Hopefully the reader will learn a valuable lesson, or at least become aware of how the world works as it swirls around him.
  5. All of this is pretty heavy stuff for a young adult reader.
    • Life’s lessons are pretty heavy stuff particularly when are learned the hard way. Some lessons have to be learned the hard way. The painful way. Otherwise, any lesson loses its feeling of importance. Once a few lessons are absorbed the hard way, it gets easier to learn, accept, and appreciate the lessons taught by mentors, writers, and teachers.
    • Each of us had had a lesson taught to them that opened their eyes to the ways of the world. My first was when a buddy’s father spent one night a week all summer teaching us about poker. He took all out money. Kept it too. But in so doing he showed the way people cheat, how to spot it, and even how to do some of it. Now I don’t play poker for money, but I do apply the first principle; ‘Look around the table and spot the sucker. If you can’t, it’s you.’
    • In Sacajawea’s Ghost a goal is to introduce the reader to what’s going on around him, to him, and provide a little insight as to how it’s done. Hopefully some will get it and be a bit better off.
  6. All of that, the technology, love, magic, manipulation, that’s a lot to roll into one story.
    • Don’t forget government and the plight of the Indians.
    • The challenge to the storyteller is to combine such disparate things into a story that’s fun to read. Added to that, for the young Adult audience, is to keep it simple. Stories like Sacajawea’s Ghost are what make writing so much fun.


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