The Friends of SaddleBrooke Libraries (FSL) lecture will feature local historical fiction author Venetia Lewis in the DesertView Theater at 4 p.m. on Thursday, February 15. Lewis’ presentation is focused on her book, “Changing Woman, A Novel of the Camp Grant Massacre”. This lecture is free for members of Friends of SaddleBrooke Libraries and $5 for non-members to attend.
In 1871, Valeria Obregón and her ambitious husband, Raúl, arrive in the raw frontier town of Tucson in the Arizona territory hoping to find prosperity. Changing Woman, an Apache spirit who represents the natural order of the world and its cycle of birth, death and rebirth, welcomes Nest Feather, a twelve-year-old Apache girl, into womanhood in Aravaipa Canyon.
Mexican and Anglo settlers have pushed the Apaches from their lands, and the Apaches carry out raids against them. In turn, the settlers, angered by the failure of the U.S. government and the military to protect them, respond with a murderous raid on an Apache encampment under the protection of the U.S. military at Camp Grant, kidnapping Nest Feather and other Apache children.
In Tucson, while Valeria finds fulfillment in her work as a seamstress, Raúl struggles to hide from her his role in the bloody attack, and Nest Feather, adopted by a Mexican couple there, tries to hold on to her Apache heritage in a culture that rejects her very being. Against the backdrop of the massacre trial, Valeria and Nest Feather’s lives intersect in the church, as Valeria seeks spiritual guidance for the decision she must make and Nest Feather prepares for a Christian baptism.
Venetia Hobson Lewis always envisioned herself as an author, composer and actress/singer. She has accomplished the first and the third of these visions. A graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, her hometown, she worked briefly with such stars as Carol Lawrence, Arte Johnson, and playwright, Alfred Uhry. Returning to Southern Methodist University for a semester of law school after several years of working in stock brokerages, Venetia moved to Los Angeles, sang with the Los Angeles Master Chorale for two years and became a corporate paralegal at a major motion picture studio for nearly 18 years.
More recently, two of her western short stories were honored with awards. Two of her stories are published in “Monsoon Madness”, an anthology available on Amazon. “Changing Woman, A Novel of the Camp Grant Massacre” was published by Bison Books, a division of University of Nebraska Press and released on Thursday, June 1, 2023. The novel was named a finalist in the Best Book Award at the 20th annual American Book Fest, was long-listed for the 2023 Goethe Book Award for Late Historical Fiction and is currently a semi-finalist for the 2023 Laramie Book Award for Americana Fiction to be awarded in 2024. Venetia is currently writing another historical fiction novel set in Arizona and a non-fiction biography of an Arizona pioneer.