I began writing Desert Prophets many years ago and outlined it as a screenplay. As I continued tinkering, I changed it to a book.
Desert Prophets is a genre hybrid combining the
historical family saga and picaresque novel.
According to author Bill Smith, "The family saga is a genre of literature which chronicles the lives and doings of a family or a number of related or interconnected families over a period of time… this is often a thematic device used to portray particular historical events, changes of social circumstances, or the ebb and flow of fortunes from a multitude of perspectives." According to the online encyclopedia, Wiki, "An essential element of historical fiction is that it is set in the past and pays attention to the manners, social conditions and other details of the period depicted.” Picaresque novels combine comedy with satire and include a roguish hero surviving by his wits while navigating a corrupt society.
Historical Family Saga Novels:
Roots by Alex Haley
War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk
Chesapeake by James A. Michener
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Don Quixote by Cervantes
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Desert Prophets is the story of two fictional families and their experiences over one hundred years. Readers have asked me why I chose the genre “historical fiction" along with "family saga." The genre hybrid evolved. As I began placing the characters into various scenes, history unfolded. It would have been impossible for me to write about people born in the early 1900s and their life journey without including accurate historical details. Therefore, the story took much longer to write because I had to get the historical facts right. In the early twentieth century, the Cisco brothers from Iowa and the Amos family from Missouri had completely different experiences, although they were confronted with the same historical events. Therefore, geographical uniqueness and folkways also contributed to the story. For example, both families experienced the Farm Crisis of the 1920s, but how they were impacted locally and how the families adjusted was dramatically different. It is the convergence of the families that creates the story and draws readers in. In Desert Prophets, families are comprised of friends and non-biologically related people, as that is historically accurate. Although Americans have a nostalgic longing for the nuclear family, it was prevalent for just twenty-five years, from post-WW2 until the early 1970s when societal “rules” changed and blended families again became the norm. Before that era, and throughout history, families have always been blended due to the unexpected and early death of parents and young children. Desert Prophets presents a multi-generational, dynamic view of the Cisco and Amos families, how they approached life, solved problems, and how they interacted. The characters are complex, ornery, creative, energetic, resourceful, and eccentric. At times, the story is unpleasant and downright heartbreaking. Sometimes, the characters and situations are slapstick humorous. That’s how families are… we don’t always like them but all of the people we encounter in life contribute to what WE become. I hope you enjoy my story… their story, Desert Prophets.