‘Maud’s Line’ first novel by Verble

BY JAMI MURPHY
Former Reporter
11/19/2015 02:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Maud’s Line
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Margaret Verble LEE P. THOMAS/LEE THOMASP HOTOGRAPHY
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Cherokee Nation citizen Margaret Verble recently had her first book, “Maud’s Line,” published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The book is set in eastern Oklahoma, near Fort Gibson in Muskogee County, where Verble’s family is from.

“My whole family, other than my mother, was sitting down that whole section line (near Fort Gibson) and in Muskogee,” she said.

After her family moved from Oklahoma, she grew up near Nashville, Tennessee, went to college there and received two degrees, as well as a doctorate in the education field. She now lives in Lexington, running a business.

Verble said she always enjoyed writing and during the years had several academic articles published. She started writing fiction about 20 years ago.

“(I wrote) Just sort of in my basement simply just because I had a deep urge to do it. And I started doing it every day, and I’ve been doing it every day since. I was just compelled to do it,” she said.

“Maud’s Line” takes place during the late 1920s and features an 18-year-old female character named Maud, who lives with her father and brother on their original Cherokee allotment land.

For years, Verble tried to get another book she had written to get published with no luck. It was set in the same area of the country, but was a more Native American-oriented book.

“I have a real deep passion for that book and tried to get it published for years, but I really got some good advice. If you want to sell a book in New York you have to write it about a single character, particularly a first novel,” she said. “Well you know, that sort of goes against the whole Indian grain. So I had to pick a time period in the tribal history where it was really the low point and where there was a real denigration of the tribe.”

She said many people in the late 1920s had to fend for themselves.

“So that particular historical period then would be a good time to create a character who is a strong character, who is out fending for herself even though she is nestled down there in her family. She has a real individual consciousness as opposed to more of a tribal consciousness,” Verble said of Maud.

Verble began writing “Maud’s Line” in 2012.

“I wrote it very quickly, unusually quickly. I wrote it in about 14 months. Of course I was writing about things I was extremely familiar with,” she said. “Maud is fictional. Booker is fictional. But a lot of those characters, Maud’s aunts and uncles, you know those are my grandparents, my great aunts and uncles. People I’ve known all my life.”

Although the writing was done quickly, she aid it took time to get it published.

“You know you go through all sorts of editing processes after you finish it, and it takes a long time, particularly with this book. It’s with a major publisher. Takes a long time to get a book out,” she said.

With regards to selling a book that is based on Native American descent, Verble said it’s a difficult task in New York. “It’s hard to sell Indians in New York, and I hate to say that, but it’s the truth.”

Many people who write about Natives must decide, she said, whether they will write a book about “Indians” or one about “people as people who happen also to be Indians.”

“And that’s a real distinction. I chose to write about people who are people. You know, being Indian is not right at the top of their minds. You don’t go around every day thinking ‘I’m a Cherokee Indian,’” Verble said. “I think if you want to write a novel that you can get a really good publisher on that you really have to write about people who are people and have people problems and they may happen to be Indians.”

Amazon and retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target carry the book. For more information, visit http://www.margaretverble.com.

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