Neespaugot: Legend of the Indian's Coin by John MugglebeeNeespaugot: Legend of the Indian’s Coin by John Mugglebee

Publisher: Brandt Street Press (May 29, 2017)
Category: Historical Fiction, Native American Fiction, African American Fiction
Tour dates: Sept-Oct, 2017
ISBN: 978-0974260792
Available in Print & ebook, 378 pages

Melba Blue Jay, sixteen, scrambling up a snow-filled mountain path, her knife at a child’s throat. Archie Chung at the helm of the South Pacific Belle, foremast snapped like a toothpick, barreling toward a coral reef. Spindly Lydia Freeman, skin the color of dark ale, feeding tea made of birch bark to an Irish murderess. Zeke Roxxmott teetering at three hundred feet on the five-inch ledge of his penthouse, bent on a flawless destruction.

Adventurers, inextricably linked by a bloodline… and an Indian’s coin.

Where history and imagination meet!

John Mugglebee’s Neespaugot is based on the real-life exploits of his own ancestors.  A sweeping historical saga of his Native American, African American, Scots-Irish, Chinese, Russian Jewish family, it spans three centuries with adventures that keep you turning page after page.  You’ll fall in love with these characters, who stay with you long after you’ve put the book down.

Interview With John Mugglebee

TR: Hi John, welcome to Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus.  Please tell us something about the book that is not in the summary. (About the book, character you particularly enjoyed writing etc.)

JM: Neespaugot, the eponymous fictional city where the story takes place, is an Algonquian word meaning “two waters”, a reference to the city’s twin bays. Hoping to mirror that image, I had originally intended to develop twin themes as well: Transcendence, the idea of generational sacrifice for the benefit of future generations; and Preservation, the challenge of preserving the memory of those who had sacrificed themselves for the rights of others. In the end, my publisher and I decided that each theme would be better served by its own book.  So, while transcendence remains the theme of Neespaugot, a second volume, due out next year and titled The Onion Road Legacy, will be dedicated to the theme of preservation.

It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who has read the book that my favorite characters are women.  Melba Blue Jay, Lydia Freeman, Della Osborne and Ruth Roxxmott embody the nobility of spirit that I like to write about.  Steadfast, selfless and on their own, these strong women confront head-on the obstacles which threaten to severe any hope of transcendence.   

TR: How much time and effort went into your research for the book?

JM: Loads. The story spans 400 years of American history and required a good deal of preliminary reading and referencing to line up dates and events and recreate the sights and sounds of the different historical periods covered in the book.  It was actually a lot of fun to immerse myself in the mores and parlance of the racial and ethnic groups being described, from early colonial times through 19th Century Irish and Chinese immigration.

TR: What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?

JM: Well, this is like being asked to choose your favorite kid.  Nonetheless, I do have a tender spot for the scene in which a very pregnant Kate Coughlin crosses town on foot to deliver a stolen pound of meat to Lydia Freeman. The scene works as a slow motion video of the city: the opulent mansions on Pickworth Point Peninsula, the stretch of land separating the north and south bays; Grover Wharf bustling with ships and foul-mouthed sailors; the historic Sentinel Hill and its Revolutionary-period cannons trained on the Atlantic.  Also, I like the contrast between the nostalgic atmosphere and Kate’s cutthroat scheme to hoodwink Lydia Freeman.

TR: Tell us about your cover. Did you design it yourself?

JM: The cover, a rich tapestry of old photos, was the brilliant idea of my publisher Anita Kulina of Brandt Street Press.  My idea had been to display only the “Indian’s coin”, the artifact engraved with the seal of Massachusetts Bay Colony, which ties the story together and represents its overarching theme of transcendence.  Fortunately, Anita’s vision prevailed.  The snapshots speak volumes about the country’s history of race relations and immigration.  By the way, the seal actually did make it onto the cover – it is the “O” in title.  A final anecdote: when the cover design was finished, the publisher informed me that the hands cupping the photographs belonged to a woman of Italian descent, thus adding another layer to the ethnic tapestry that is Neespaugot.

TR: What kind of message do you try to instill in your writing?

JM: Tolerance, hope and the indomitable human spirit which, as I mentioned, is best typified by strong selfless women.

TR: I always enjoy looking at the names that authors choose to give their characters. Where do you derive the names of your characters? Are they based on real people you knew or now know in real life? How do you create names for your characters?

JM: Generally, I write out a character’s profile before affixing a name, then wait for inspiration while the personality develops.  However, such was not the case with many of Neespaugot’s 19th century characters, whose names I drew from a copy of my own genealogical tree.  The document, stretching back to 1794, was full of names belonging to ancestors I knew nothing about. It was highly rewarding for me to flesh out their respective personas and give them voices.

About John MugglebeeNeespaugot: Legend of the Indian's Coin by John Mugglebee

John Mugglebee is a racial and ethnic jigsaw puzzle. His heritage, in chronological order, includes Native American, African American, Scots-Irish, Chinese and Russian Jew. John has said there were two major factors that shaped him as a person and a writer. One was “Being colored but not knowing which color.”

The other was upheaval. Born in Massachusetts, at age eleven he was uprooted to Southern California in the midst of the ’60s race riots. Growing up, John was told family stories that had been passed down for generations.  Neespaugot is loosely based on those stories.

He currently lives in the South of France, where he heads a language laboratory for French Civil Aviation. John graduated from Dartmouth and earned a master’s in creative writing from Colorado State University. His previous novel, Renaissance in Provence, was published in 2004.


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This giveaway is for the choice of a print or ebook copy of the book.  Print is open to the U.S. only and ebook is open worldwide.  This giveaway ends on October 31, 2017 at midnight pacific time.  Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.

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Neespaugot: Legend of the Indian's Coin by John Mugglebee