Peace Corps Writers
Talking with Lucia St. Clair Robson (page 3)
 Talking with
Lucia St. Clair Robson
page 1
page 2
page 3

You appear to always have a female as the lead character. You are obviously doing this on purpose. Why?
Well, that is not entirely correct. My third book, Light A Distant Fire, has a male protagonist, Osceola, war leader of the Seminoles. The "co-star" of Ghost Warrior, about the Apaches Wars is a guy named Rafe. Shadow Patriots features a Quaker named Robert Townsend.
     I don’t set out to choose women protagonists, but, as I pointed out, I like to write about people who do the unexpected. The one common factor with all my female characters is that they bucked the social restrictions of their time.
Some practical questions for other Peace Corps writers. How did you get your first novel published?
I ran into an editor at a convention and told him the story of Cynthia Ann Parker and the Comanches and he encouraged me to take a shot at it, so I did. I sent the first 80 pages to Ballantine Books and they gave me a contract. The finished manuscript was 996 manuscript pages and I was holding down a full-time library job while I wrote that novel.
What kind of convention was that?
   The Baltimore Science Fiction Convention in 1979. A great gathering. Always fun. I read a lot of science fiction for escape before I started escaping into the past on a daily basis.
Do you write full time now or are you still a librarian?

I’ve been writing full time (If you don’t count the goofing-off hours) since I quite my day job in 1982.
You mentioned science fiction . . . have you written science fiction novels?
I’ve never written science fiction, but until his death, I lived with the science fiction writer Brian Daley (author of the first three Han Solo novels and the NPR serializations of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as numerous books of his own). Brian and I did a lot of cross-pollenization. (For more about him, go to
     Oh, and my book about feudal Japan, Tokaido Road, received a lengthy review in a magazine called NIEKAS: Science Fiction and Fantasy.
     Brian also talked me into writing a couple episodes for the 1980s Science Fiction animated series, Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. I hear they’re now coming out on DVD.
Of course, you must have a website.
Yes, with more information than anyone needs to know is at
What do you like the best about being a novelist?
Being my own boss. Working at home. Hearing from readers. Feeling that I’ve produced something that will be around after I’m gone.
What are you working on now (or day-dreaming about writing)?
I’m halfway through a novel set during the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1917. I’m calling it Last Train from Cuernavaca.
Lucia, give us an example of something that you wrote that you find particularly good.
I wouldn’t characterize anything I write as particularly good. But here’s a descriptive passage from Chapter Eight, p.73 of Shadow Patriots:

The American encampment sprawled across a wind-swept hillside bounded on three sides by two creeks and a bend of the Schuylkill River. Hundreds of women and children shared the soldiers’ huts, or they would when there were huts to share . . ..
     The engineers had marked out the arrangement of huts by companies, battalions, and brigades, but their efforts looked more like wreckage than construction. The temporary quarters of dugouts, leantos, and tents were hard to distinguish from the heaps of rubbish. No one had completed the first log hut, and the soldiers dragged the timbers across the survey lines, churning the ground to icy mud. The engineers swore at the soldiers and the soldiers swore back . . .. Kate smelled a lot of odors, but not the aroma of meat cooking.

Thank you, Lucia.
Thank you, John.
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