Interview with D.A. Galloway, Author of Burning Ground

21 Sep 2021

If you were in an elevator with a stranger and had one minute or less to describe Burning Ground before the doors opened, what description would you give?

As part of a spiritual journey, a young man travels back in time from 1971 to 1871. He awakens in the Yellowstone wilderness and joins a group exploring and mapping the region before it was a park. His six-week journey is marred by a horrific tragedy in a geyser basin and a grizzly bear attack. When he falls in love with a Crow woman, he is faced with an agonizing decision. Does he stay in the previous century with the woman he loves or go back to the future? This story was inspired by actual events!  

What part of Burning Ground was the hardest to write?

It was a challenge to find the best way to develop the relationship between Graham (the protagonist) and Makawee (the young Crow woman). It was a multi-faceted issue. Graham is a white man, so he is ignorant about Crow culture. He is from the twentieth century, when societal norms are dramatically different. Yet, he is like any young man who would be physically attracted to Makawee. I wanted the intimate scenes to reflect the passion and sensuality that emerges, while not crossing over into graphic erotica. I re-wrote one of these scenes at least six times to get that balance right! 

What part was the easiest?

Two sections of the story were straightforward because they are largely autobiographical. I worked on a fruit farm in Pennsylvania. It is where I met Redfield, the Crow Indian whom I came to admire. (The book is dedicated to his memory). Also, the contemporary scenes in Yellowstone were based on my experience working in the park in the 1970’s as a scenic cruise operator giving tours on the lake.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

The Girl with Seven Names: Escape from North Korea by Hyeonseo Lee

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Thunder in the Mountains: Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War by Daniel J. Sharfstein

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

I read a variety of genres. However, I especially love to read real-life stories or autobiographies about explorers or adventurers. Although I write historical fiction, I’m inspired by people who overcame their own fears and/or faced incredible hardships to achieve a goal or survive. The will to persevere is an inherent trait of my protagonist, even though he is inherently flawed.

Two of my favorites in the “Expeditions & Discoveries” or “Mountaineering” genres include:

  • Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
  • Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Never leave anything. Always go toward something better.”  

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading Burning Ground, what would it be?

I’m going to cheat and cite two things:

  • Don’t let your past determine your future.
  • Love can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

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