Wichita, Wichita. Which sounds a lot like Witika, Witika.
Speaking at a conference of independent booksellers today in Wichita, Kansas, courtesy of Viking, I explored the idea of nonfiction vs. fiction and shared just a few of the amazing facts people will find when they read The Orphanmaster.
Fact: the Orphanmaster was a real function, whose purpose was to protect the interests of children whose parents had been lost at sea, died of disease or killed by indians. And there were a lot of them.
Fact: Records show a man named Antony Angola, an African giant, was convicted of murder and saved miraculously from certain death when the ropes to hang him broke.
Fact: Dutch women enjoyed more freedom than anywhere else in the world, whether it came to inheriting property, representing themselves in court, or having egalitarian marriages. Many were she-merchants.
Fact: A sport called Pulling the Goose involved riding your horse pell mell towards a line from which was suspended a bird greased with bear fat, by its feet, the aim being to grab the bird by the neck as you went by…
As I wrote the book, the relationships became more important — Blandine, spunky, beautiful, moral, intelligent, and Drummond, the sensitive stud. It became a romance wrapped around a murder mystery, with the two central characters falling in love as they raced to capture the first serial killer in America.
But I never mentioned the world Witika. I wonder why not. Too scary?