Saturday, September 20, 2014

K.B. Laugheed, Author Appearance

When K.B. Laugheed spoke at the library the other night she talked about her novel, The Spirit Keeper, and how it got caught in the current state of the publishing world. The Spirit Keeper was Laugheed's thirteenth book, but her first one published. It was originally 750 pages. Penguin loved it, but they wanted it cut in half so it could be published in two parts. Laugheed's editor wanted her to edit it in November. With Thanksgiving holidays, Laugheed was given eighteen days to make all the changes they wanted in the 750 pages. Her editor was twenty-four-years-old, and didn't understand Indian captivity novels. She almost wanted to change the Indians into vampires. She did want to include a magic amulet. Laugheed had to convince her there shouldn't be a magic amulet.

The Spirit Keeper is historically accurate. It's not a teen novel, although some bookstores and libraries have categorized it that way only because Katie O'Toole was seventeen when savages removed her from her family.  It's not a romance. It's authentic and real, not a fantasy.

Laugheed's young editor left Penguin in March. The Spirit Keeper was released in September 2013,
but with no editor, it fell through the cracks. It wasn't submitted to any of the journals for reviews. Now, the publisher doesn't want to release part two of the book. Laugheed said there are really only five major publishers, but there are lots of ways to publish books now. She said she'd rather go with a small press than self-publish. And, she really does want to publish part two because the Katie O'Toole's story isn't complete without it. She said it might be tough, but it's her life mission to get the whole book out there.

The Spirit Keeper is the first book that K.B. Laugheed sold. It's an Indian captivity narrative. In 1747, Katie, a seventeen-year-old girl, was removed from her Lancaster County, Pennsylvania home by Indians. But, the book is about the differences in perspective. Everyone has a different take on the book.

Katie's narrative starts by saying she was the thirteenth child her mother conceived. At that time, only one fifth of all children conceived lived. Women were pregnant twenty-five to thirty-five times in their life. If a child made it to age ten, they usually lived because they had survived a number of diseases. Pregnancy and children shaped every aspect of women's lives. The view of children was different then. Women didn't get attached to children because they often lost them.

The Spirit Keeper is not a true story, but it is historically accurate. It's Katie O'Toole's account. K.B. Laugheed said she was captivated by native culture when she was seventeen. She lived in that world, and was compelled to write about it. She said maybe it was ancestral guilt since her great-grandparents were the first people in the part of Indiana she's from. They moved people out.

K.B. Laugheed concluded by reminding us that she wrote twelve books before this one was published. It takes time to learn the craft of writing.

If you would like to win an autographed copy of The Spirit Keeper, email me at Your subject heading should read "Win The Spirit Keeper." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end Thursday, Sept. 25 t 6 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

K.B. Laugheed's website is

The Spirit Keeper by K.B. Laugheed. Plume. 2013. ISBN 9780142180334 (paperback), 341p.


Kay said...

I always enjoy your blog, Lesa, but *loved* this one. Can't wait to read The Spirit Keeper, sounds amazing!

Lesa said...

Thank you, Kay. It's always nice to hear when a particular post touches someone. Thank you.