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How the American West Grabbed Hold of Her Heart and Never Let Go

Welcome to the 2024 Women Honoring the West Series!

My special guest today is a friend from Women Writing the West and Western Writers of America. What I love about this lady is she’s dedicated, spunky, and hardworking. She’s an award-winning author of historical fiction.

Let’s meet this month’s Woman Honoring the West, Pamela Nowak.

The call of the historic West has spoken to me since my childhood. Listening closely, I could hear the voices of those who lived before me. At times, I’ve wondered if I was born in the wrong era.

Yet, I know that’s not it. I have no desire to give up my modern comforts despite the fact that I can see what came before in my imagination. Maybe, that strong pull is tied to being able to uncover and convey what others experienced.

While my stories are strongly researched (and perhaps that’s part of the method for hearing the call), the something that connects with me deep down inside comes from more than just the research.

Long ago, my mom fostered my imagination through books and play. I learned to immerse myself in the times and places where those thoughts led me. And for me…it was the American West, its land and its people, and the experiences it offered in the century and a half before I came to be.

It’s tough to define why it is the West that calls to me in these ways.  I don’t feel these same tugs in the East or in other countries. Though my imagination is always active, there’s just something about the West.

I think it’s place itself and the interplay between place and experiences.

As a child, I could wander through tall grasses in a vacant lot and feel what it might have been to see an endless prairie swaying in the wind. One moment, I could feel the lifeblood of that prairie and its role in native cultures and the next I could feel the fear of a child lost from a wagon train.

I love visiting ghost towns and imagining the life they once held. There are nineteenth century buildings remaining in towns and cities of the West that let one shut out modern buildings and concrete sidewalks to imagine what was.  On a lakeshore, I can shut my eyes and hear the same sounds that echoed there before the West was settled.

The stories of the people build on top of those places. I am captivated by the hows and the whys of life here.  I love stories of those with the closest connections to Western lands and how they endured as their cultures changed but I also love to imagine what those coming to the West encountered and how they responded (especially the women, some who came with no clue about what they would be experiencing). 

I love to explore the ways in which they dealt with place and to uncover how they dealt with the limits of their times. I love to put myself into experiences and find ways to share them with readers so we can all feel both difficult and how full of harmony the past was.

Those voices, those experiences, those places…that is the call the West holds for me.

What’s next?

Pam’s next novel follows the lives of the Lakota Fool Soldiers, rescuers of the Lake Shetek captives in Never Let Go. Tentatively titled A Strong Heart, the story has especially strong connections to Dakota Territory and the experiences of the Lakota who lived there in times of immense changes during the nineteenth century.

Find out more about Pamela and her award-winning books HERE.

What a gal! Thanks for taking the time to learn about Pamela and her story. If you have a question or comment, go ahead and drop them in the comments. She’d love to hear from you!

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  1. I love this! Interesting how Pam’s connection with the Wild West grew in her mind. Looking forward to your next book. I really enjoyed her book NEVER LET GO. Very detailed.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Natalie, I agree. Thanks for taking the time to read Pam’s story!