Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to a wonderful man by the name of Otis Ritch. Otis is a Choctaw Indian and author of Where Eagles Soar. Good morning, Otis, I’m so pleased you've been able to join us here on The Perfect Plot.
Please tell us about Where Eagles Soar.
OTIS: Where Eagles Soar is the first book in the SkyHawk series of spiritual adventure novels. In this book a young Choctaw Indian man, wanting to rest and regenerate after a three year job that was exhausting mentally and physically, goes to the mountains in Sedona Arizona to rest and relax. But instead of getting to rest he has to rescue a young Apache Indian Princess from a kidnapper and then he has to track down and catch a mountain lion that was killing people. The story ends up being somewhat of a love story and he also gains the perfection he had been training for all his life.
It sounds like an exciting story with not only suspense, but also romance. What inspired you to write it, Otis?
OTIS: There have been thousands of things written about American Indian culture, ceremonies, traditions, etc., yet there has been virtually nothing written about American Indian Spiritual philosophy. I thought it was time that the world knew something about the spiritual philosophy American Indians practice in their daily lives. In this SkyHawk series I have inserted the most comprehensive and profound American Indian spiritual philosophy that has ever been written. I put it in the form of grandfather teachings and the thoughts work into the story.
And as I've read Where Eagles Soar, I can say that I found these grandfather teachings both inspirational and uplifting.
As the first book in the series, how many books will the series encompass?
OTIS: I have completed nine books in this series and the series is finished. There is another story that I have been thinking about writing that would be a spin-off of this series. If I write it, I will wait until some other projects are finished first. I am a little over half way done with the writing of a science fiction novel at this time.
You mentioned earlier that Where Eagles Soar is a spiritual adventure and romance. What attracted you to this genre?
OTIS: American Indians are always a good subject to write about and they make interesting characters to read about. I like adventure stories and I think all books that are written about people should have a little romance in them.
I totally agree. Where would we be without romance?
Do you have a favourite character and if so, why?
OTIS: In the books I have written I think I like Johnny SkyHawk the best of all the characters I have used. I think the reason is that the training and living the life to gain perfection is something that I like and I try to follow a path of truth, beauty, and goodness which I write about in this series. When a person can become a perfected mortal of the realm—an Impeccable Warrior, they can do much good for people and for the world.
There was a medicine man in Oklahoma who was an Impeccable Warrior. His brother was shot in the stomach and was in the hospital in critical condition. He went into the room and stayed about thirty minutes and when he came out his brother was completely healed and didn’t even have a scar. The doctors were amazed and wanted to know what he had done. He wouldn’t tell them anything and finally the doctors got the police involved. They put him in jail and he never would tell them anything. They finally turned him loose. He lived a full life and did a lot of good for his people and finally decided to continue his universe career and laid his body down and went to the Mansion Worlds. His brother is the medicine man now and is doing a lot of good for the people. Most American Indians try to walk a path following the leading of the Great Spirit in their everyday life.
A fascinating story, Otis, about the mysteries we come across, and also how intolerant society can be sometimes when we don't understand a situation. Perhaps Where Eagles Soar will help in that regard.
The book is set in the mountains around Sedona, Arizona and your knowledge of the area is evident in your writing. Can you tell us how you acquired your knowledge?
OTIS: I grew up in the desert southwest in the Casa Grande valley in Arizona. I lived in Arizona for a lot of my life and got to know the state fairly well. I took a trip to Sedona, Arizona before I wrote the book. I stayed a few days to refresh my memory of the country. Sedona is what I call high desert country. There are mountains there but the vegetation is still a mix between the desert and mountain country. In the next book in the series, Spirit Of The Wolf, the setting is in and around Stigler Oklahoma. I was born in Stigler and know the country there fairly well.
Arizona is such a beautiful place. I’ve always thought that one of the advantages of writing a book is that it gives one an excuse to travel in order to do the research.
Your main character, Johnny SkyHawk is a Choctaw Indian. Can you tell us about your people, Otis?
OTIS: The Choctaws are one of the five Civilized tribes. I have never understood why they were designated like that but perhaps it is because they were civilized and had thriving communities when the white man came to America. Choctaws were living in houses and had farms and ranches as well as towns. The U.S. Government forced them to give up the most fertile land in America in Mississippi and forced marched them in the worst winter in recorded history to Oklahoma where the land is very poor and not good farmland at all. Half the ones forced on the march died along the way. Choctaws are an intelligent and peaceful people and are spiritual in nature. They are good farmers and ranchers and live close to nature. They do all they can to protect and nurture wild life.
One would hope that mankind learns from history. And all the more reason for you to have written the SkyHawk series, Otis.
I loved reading the teachings of Johnny SkyHawk’s grandfather. Were these the teachings you were taught as a child?
OTIS: Actually these are things I have learned through my life’s experiences. I like to meditate in a quiet setting and when I talk to the Great Spirit thoughts like these come into my mind.
What do you hope your readers take away with them after reading your stories?
OTIS: In the grandfather teachings is the formula to follow to become a perfected mortal of the realm. It is my hope that by reading my books that the readers will have the desire to start their own search for higher spiritual truths. It is time that the human race grow up and mature and start practicing love and harmony instead of greed and selfishness. It is my hope that my writings will inspire people to seek for a more harmonious life and seek out the Great Spirit to lead them into perfection.
Otis, you’re not only a writer but a master leather worker too. How did you learn your craft?
OTIS: I always liked to make things out of leather and as an adult I had an opportunity to work with a man in Austin, Texas many years ago that was a very good leather carver. While I was working there, I also had an opportunity to meet the x-head boot maker for one of the best boot companies in the country. This was when the custom boot craze was sweeping the country. He had his own shop when I met him and he taught me how to make boots. At the time, he had four years of orders to fill. I made cowboy boots for a number of years and I also carve pictures out of leather.
What do you have in store next for your readers?
OTIS: I’m in the process of writing a Si-Fi novel at this time and I am not sure what I will write after that. I have twenty two books completed at this time.
You’re a prolific writer, Otis.
What’s your writing process? Do you plan your manuscripts before you start writing or do you start writing and see where the story takes you?
OTIS: I generally will think about a story that would be good reading and then I decide how many chapters it will have and how many pages for the chapters and how many pages in the book. Then I sit down and start writing. I pretty much let the story take it’s own course. I enjoy writing the story because I am reading it for the first time as I am writing it. I am just like any reader—I want to see what is going to happen next.
Do you have a favorite place and time to write?
OTIS: Not really. I just write when I am relaxed and can be uninterrupted. It seems as if I have to do a lot of my writing five minutes at a time when I can grab a chance.
What do you find is the hardest part of writing?
OTIS: When I get into the story a way and hit a writer’s block where I don’t know what to say next. Or sometimes I get interrupted and have to put my writing aside for a while and when I can get back to it a few days later I can’t remember my train of thought and have to read everything and see if I can remember what I was thinking when I had to put it down.
I know the feeling. Life gets in the way!
Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart, and if so, why?
OTIS: Actually there are two characters I have written about that are my favorites. One is Johnny SkyHawk in my SkyHawk series because he was the character I used in portraying all the American Indian spiritual philosophy I wrote about in the grandfather teachings. The second was “Charlie” a character in my Chosen One Si-Fi series. The second book in that series is called Resplendently Alien, and Charlie was the main character.
How much research do you do for your books?
OTIS: I research locations if I don’t know much about them. Other than that I write about what I know or else I write stories that are entertaining and fast paced that I would like to read and think would appeal to others as well.
Do you have any words of advice for aspiring writers?
OTIS: Yes, be aware that writing is addictive—once you start you feel compelled to keep writing. Also as a first time author don’t set down to write a book—it is hard when you do that. It is much better when writing a book to sit down to write a sentence. Everyone can write a sentence. After you write the sentence it will soon become a paragraph and then before you know it you have completed a chapter and soon you have written a book.
Such good advice, Otis, because the thought of writing a book can be daunting.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
OTIS: Try to do some good for yourself and others while you are on this Earth. It is time for all mankind to learn to embrace love, harmony, and compassion. If life—intelligent life is to have any meaning and value it must be found on a spiritual path.
Wise words from a wise man.
Where can readers learn more about you and find your books on the web?
OTIS: I have all my books listed on the book list page of my website. These include the first five books in the SkyHawk series in paperback, and available for purchase on my website by pressing the Pay Pal button. www.soaringeagleenterprises.net
Also if you use the following Barnes & Noble link, you will find up to 22 books I have written.
One final thing I would like to leave with you is a Grandfather Blessing I wrote in one of my SkyHawk novels.
A SkyHawk Grandfather Blessing
May you always walk in beauty as you follow the leading of the Great Spirit as he ever leads you along the path to perfection.
May your days be filled with cloudless skies so you may enjoy the wonders of nature that the Great Spirit has spread before you.
May your nights be full of stars in the sky to bring wonders to your mind, love in your heart, and spiritual awareness to soothe your soul.
May your life be filled with joy and the abundant happiness that comes with the presence of the Great Spirit in your mind to give you comfort and lift your burdens.
May your mind be filled with gladness, your heart filled with joy, and your soul filled with peace as you walk with grace upon a path of truth, beauty, and goodness.
Otis Ritch 4-24-07
Thank you for being here with us today, Otis, and for sharing your words.
Where Eagles Soar
by Otis D. Ritch
Set in the mountain region outside Sedona, Arizona, Where Eagles Soar is a spiritual adventure and a romance. It’s the story of Johnny SkyHawk, a young Cocktaw Indian who, after his three year job contract ends, goes into the mountains to rest and renew himself spiritually.
His plan to do so is thwarted, however, when he finds himself embroiled in the plight of a young Apache girl and her abductor. And so the adventure begins as Johnny SkyHawk assists police, using his skills as a tracker. It is not long, however, before he is aware of yet another foe!
Throughout this exciting story, you will also hear the uplifting, wise words of Johnny SkyHawk’s grandfather, a medicine man, who taught Johnny the ways of the Great Spirit when he was young.
Truly an enjoyable read with lots of food for thought.