Crisosto Apache is originally from Mescalero, New Mexico, on the Mescalero Apache reservation, and currently lives in the Denver area with their spouse. They are Mescalero Apache, Chiricahua Apache, and Diné (Navajo) of the Salt Clan, born for the Towering House Clan. They hold an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and are an Assistant Professor of English. Crisosto’s debut collection is GENESIS (Lost Alphabet). Their second collection is Ghostword (Gnashing Teeth Publications). They are also the Associate Editor of The Offing Magazine, and their profile can be seen on the website at crisostoapache.com.
Ghostword is my second poetry book from Gnashing Teeth Publications, released in November 2022. Ghostword was inspired by the modernist Japanese writer Akutagawa Ryunosuke’s book, A Fool’s Life (Eridonos Publishers). A Fool’s Life was the last book Ryunosuke wrote before he committed suicide. The publication contains fifty-three entries, with which my book loosely conversates. Though Ryunosuke’s book emphasizes a kind of erasure, my book seeks the opposite, a search for belonging & validation.
Crisosto Apache draws powerfully on his Mescalero Apache language and culture and, guided along the way by touchstone sparks from the Japanese writer Akutagawa Ryunosuke, creates a singular journey out of “emotional burial and systemic abuse.” Where Akutagawa encounters erasure, “Gazing up at them everything was forgotten,” in Crisosto Apache’s hands, everything is remembered and confronted, and, though filled with ash, these poems are testament to struggle, survival, and, x, the mysterious light of existence. — Arthur Sze, author of The Glass Constellation
A powerful personal journey of reflection and response. In lyric vignettes inspired by Akutagawa Ryunosuke’s A Fool’s Life, Crisosto Apache creates an original portrait of a mythic and myth-making protagonist confronting the memories, language, and figures that haunt and inhabit his Ghostword – a stunning collection. – Chip Livingston, author of Crow-Blue, Crow-Black, and Museum of False Starts
Do you write in more than one genre? Poetry is the genre where I have more publications. Though I have written a few reviews and personal entries from my blog, that is not to say I will experiment with other forms. Right now, I am testing my narrative skills and slowly adding content for a memoir. The memoir will focus on my challenges as a gay Native American individual overcoming a binary colonial existence, as well as my perseverance. This approach in a narrative topic is one where I emphasize soul searching through past written journals and voice recordings. I also use sketches from old notebooks to spark a larger conversation about the memory of my life’s journey. Vaguely expressing some of these concepts through my poetry, where I want to explore moments more specifically and with reverence. Much of the writing I do always have something to do with my identity as a Native American or Indigenous person, a person impacted by colonialism, intergenerational transmission of historical trauma, binary implications and marginalization, assimilation & acculturation, prejudice as part of the 2S-LGBTQI+ identity, and so much more. My work seeks to place perspective and self-determination upon many intersectional aspects of my identity. Exploration of many of these concepts will always be an ongoing challenge. One I hope to resolve within my spirit as a creative person.
Tell us about your writing process: Writing starts at a moment of discovery and connection to what ideas come my way. I am always jotting down ideas or concepts for my writing. I keep those ramblings in an organized folder system on my computer, where each folder is categorized with the theme or concept in mind. Periodically I go through these folders in no order and begin to expand on the various concept and themes. I will also try to find reading material that will help me expand my thought process and conceptual content for each of the folders.
What are you currently working on? Having a writing project lined up is a good thing. Perspective projects give me something to look forward to. I am finishing up my third manuscript, called isness. The concept behind this manuscript is poems that represent the “meaningfulness” of the poem in a state of presence or moments. What the poem is “about” in a state of existence as it “exists” without retribution or containment. The work in isness at times feels complicated because of how poetry or art is defined by “others.” What I choose to exemplify in this manuscript is a concept where the poem is a poem that is about what the poem is about in a state of “meaningfulness,” presence, or moment.
How long did it take you to write your first book? The composition of my first book GENESIS (Lost Alphabet, 2018), took about one year and a half to complete as a viable manuscript. The rest of the time, until its publication, was focused on revision. The revision of the first book is still happening. Once my contract runs out, I want to find another publisher to relaunch a revised version. There is so much I learned during the process of my first book. This brings me to the publication of my second book Ghostword (Gnashing Teeth Publication, 2022). The concept for this book has had a long journey which I explain in depth in the Preface of the book.
What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? Writing front the perspective of the opposite sex sometimes is a challenge, as well as writing in another persona. There are instances in my writing where I do write in other personas. In my book Ghostword there are several poems where I try to utilize the persona of my mother. Over the years, she and I had many conversations and exchanged stories, so I was able, through these stories, to get a good sense of her perspective. My poem “11. Dawn” is an example where I use my mother’s persona. The story is about a moment when I was a child when she and my father were seeking legal custody of me and my younger brother. I was about ten years old, and my brother was about eight. At the time, I did not know she would sleep in her car across the street where my father was renting a house in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was not an easy time for either of my parents because they both were from different reservations. My father was a member of the Navajo Nation on a small checkerboard section called Tó hajiileehé (trans., where the water comes from), and my mother was from the Mescalero Apache Tribe, both located in New Mexico. Eventually, my father agrees to have my brother, and I live with my mother on the Mescalero Apache Reservation. The day we arrive at my mother’s reservation was so vivid. The look on the mother’s face when she saw the both of us enter the playground where she worked. She was employed with the tribal children’s daycare at the time.
Another poem where I use my mother’s persona is “4. Saltwell”. This is a poem about my mother as a child. She lived with her mother on a remote part of the reservation called Whitetail, which was very far from the main tribal community and main road. Whitetail was the area on the reservation where the Chiricahua Apache settled once they were released as prisoners of war in 1886 from St. Augustine, Florida. Many of the Apache band remained in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and the remaining member moved to Whitetail on the Mescalero Apache Reservation. As a child, my mother sometimes was left alone at her mother’s house in Whitetail. She would hitch a ride to the main road and head towards an area of the reservation called Salt Well, where her grandparents lived. She often stayed with her grandparents in Salt Well. This poem is about one moment when she traveled from Whitetail to Salt Well as a child. The journey took her all afternoon because the traffic was minimal that day from Whitetail. She eventually got a ride and arrived at her grandparent’s house at dusk. Experimenting with persona allows me to explore different situations and perspectives, adding a specific depth to the poem and or story. It takes me out of my head and voice, which is necessary to tell good stories.
What kind of research do you do? The research I do for my writing depends on the project. In my first book GENESIS (Lost Alphabet), the research investigated specific indigenous historical moments, such as in my poem, “K‘us tádini tsąąbi’ +2: [38 Necks +2]”. The poem is a list poem paying tribute to the 38 Dakota hanged by President Lincoln’s Executive Order on December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota. This event is still considered the largest mass hanging in American History. In GENESIS, the tread of the book focused on the nine months in utero in 1970-71, where I investigated current events of the time. What I found out was the expansion of space exploration, lunar launches, and nuclear/atomic testing, which became part of the thread of the book, along with what my mother was experiencing while carrying me for those nine months. In Ghostword (Gnashing Teeth Publishing), much of the research the book focused on was the modernist writer Ryayunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927) and his last manuscript, A Fools Life (Eridonos Press) and a few of his short stories. The last manuscript is integral to Ghostword because of the unfettered conversation I have with each of the fifty-three entries and the few selected stories. I had to do some background investigation about the concepts and references in each entry and try to pair the same concept for my conversation but interject my own experience of “belonging,” whereas Akautagawa’s voice in each entry focused on “erasure.” This manuscript took many years to complete through constant rewriting and revision. Each entry of my versions went through meticulous examinations to figure out how I was going to balance out a kind of likeness, which was more difficult than I anticipated. I am glad and relieved to know I am not struggling now to have this book exist for people to access in the world.
How do our readers contact you?
Email: email@example.com (serious inquiries only)
Publisher’s website: https://gnashingteethpublishing.com/books/ghostword/
Instagram: @ crisosto_apache
The heading is my life in a nutshell. It’s my birthday, so I’m taking a break from the usual routine to tell you a little bit about me and answer two questions posed by fellow authors—who tried to stump me—they failed.
If you don’t already know, I’m an enrolled descendant of the Karuk Tribe of California. Combining police, private investigator, and corporate experience, I have about forty years of investigative experience. Earning a BA – History from California State University – Hayward took me a dozen years of poor scholarship. Nearly four decades later, I returned to school at Las Positas College. I took a break to earn an MFA-Creative Writing Program from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, before finishing an AA in English from Las Positas.
I was fortunate to conduct and manage thousands of investigations throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. After forced retirement, I kept my investigative skills honed by volunteering as an investigator at the San Leandro, California, Police Department.
I want to begin with a shout-out to an incredible mentor, Ramona Ausubel. Ramona was one of my mentors at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is a fantastic author, and her latest novel THE LAST ANIMAL is the People Magazine Book of the Week. PRE-ORDER NOW!
Besides writing, my passion was long-distance motorcycle riding on my 2001 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic—my first scooter was a 1959 or 60 Honda 50 (I got stopped for drag racing on it). My sixty-year biker life ended last year when an accident left me with several broken bones—it wasn’t the first time.
Shelley Riley asks: What inspired you first to start telling tall tales? I’m not one of those who has been writing all their life. I was about to turn sixty-seven when the most incredible place I ever worked, PALM, was bought out, and the layoffs began. I ran security and investigations and got advance notice of pending layoffs. Near the end, my name came through.
Feeling strong and unprepared to retire, I began an unsuccessful job search. I learned all about age discrimination. I had sworn never to enter a Senior Center until a writing class was offered. I falsely believed it would help my stellar resume, so I signed up.
To my surprise, it was a fiction writing class. Amazingly, I fell in love with writing and gave up looking for any other type of work. I have two stand-alone novels, and Book One in the New Liberty – A Hector Miguel Navarro series comes out in a few weeks.
Michael A. Black asks: Your writing of dialogue in your books is fresh and realistic, yet it also moves the story along. What tips would you give to other writers for writing convincing and authentic dialogue? I learned early on that I had to leave out the normal jibber-jabber that occurs in our everyday conversations. However, dialogue has to seem natural and to the point, adding to the plot and character development. When I began writing, I included a lot of unnecessary chit-chat. With rewriting and the help of Critters, I started writing more explicit dialogue—there has to be a reason. I ask myself: Why am I writing this? I cut, reevaluate, and rewrite if the conversation is unclear or without purpose. Occasionally, the dialogue seems to wander. When this happens, I’m laying the groundwork for a future event or character development of someone not in the conversation.
I try to add a touch of humor at least once in each chapter, helping humanize my characters.
May will be busy as New Liberty is released, and I will be doing readings and book signings. I hope you can join me at one or more events.
1. 5/9/2023 – New Liberty release – available for pre-order
2. 5/10/2023 – I will moderate the Upstate South Carolin Sisters-in-Crime Mystery Book Club. Michael A. Black with be discussing Chimes at Midnight.
3. 5/13/2023 – Las Positas College Literary Festival – Book signing with local and indigenous authors. Tommy Orange is the keynote speaker. It’s FREE!
4. 5/18/2023 – Barnes & Noble, El Cerrito, 6:00 – 7:330 – Book signing with Lisa Towles
5. 5/20/2023 – NorCal Spring Author Showcase, Orinda Books, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. – I will read and sign
6. 5/272023 Barnes & Noble, Dublin – 1:00 – 3:00 Book signing.
7. 5/28/2023 – Barnes & Nobel, Walnut Creek – 2:00 – 4:00 p.m Book signing
You can find me at:
California Writers Club – Mt. Diablo
Crime Writers of Color
Sisters-in-Crime – NorCal
Sisters-in-Crime – Colorado
Sisters-in-Crime – Coastal Cruisers
Mystery Writers of America – NorCal
If you can, pop over to Lois Winston’s blog. Her guest today has the initials: GDC.
Links for my books:
The Mona Lisa Sisters
Robbers and Cops
New Liberty -Book 1 in the Hector Miguel Navarro Series
Not long ago, Vicki published the tips below in the Public Safety Writers Association’s newsletter. She previously posted the tips on her blog (https://vweisfeld.com). The purpose is to help all of us in “reader relations.” I can’t think of a better way to start the new than by sharing her words.
Readers may be quite willing to help an author but may not know how or may need to be reminded (possibly more than once). You can use these tips in your own promotion—take copies to readings, put them in your own blog or newsletter, etc., etc.—or, if you’re a reader who wants to give a boost to your favorites.
I developed this list around the time my mystery/thriller, Architect of Courage (reviews are great, btw) was published. But I saw it could be a generic product others could use—just a small Thank You for all the support the writing community has given me.
I hope you find it useful—reprint it freely! And customize it with a picture of you or your book (instead of the blue box), and links to your content in #s 8, 9, and 10.
Friends and family members can be incredibly patient when they ask an author solicitous and innocent-sounding questions—like “How’s the book coming?”—and are met with blank looks, or, worse, groans and sighs.
Most authors today—OK, James Patterson’s an exception, and so’s JK Rowling—find that reaching “The End” is just the beginning of their work. Now they have to let the world know about it.
If you have a sense of how much time and effort authors invest in their books, maybe you’ve wondered “What can I do? How can I help?” Yes, indeed, there are things you can do that will help! And, whatever you find time to do, you can be sure it will be greatly appreciated!
Ten ways you can help promote an author or book you admire:
1. Buy your friends’ books. They may have written it with readers like you in mind.
2. Don’t be too quick to pass around a book; instead, encourage others to buy it. Amazon (or book stores), and the author’s publisher keep most of the price of the book. If a book sells for $16, the author receives $2 to $4.
3. Remember, books make great gifts! Maybe a friend or family member needs a thank-you or has a special day coming up.
4. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of book marketing. So, tell people about a book you’ve loved. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. Marketers say it takes 13 to 15 repetitions before a message “sticks.”
5. What you say about the book in an Amazon or Barnes & Noble review will influence other would-be purchasers. No need for cringy flashbacks to high school book reports. Just say the two or three things you’d tell a good friend who asked, “Read any good books lately?” Reviews are vital to a book’s success.
6. Share a few words about what you’re reading on social media—GoodReads, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
7. If you enjoyed a book, your book club might too! Many authors are willing to participate in book club discussions in person or by Zoom, etc. People who’ve read my book have invited me to their book clubs, and it’s a fun change-of-pace for me.
8. You can “follow” your favorite authors on Amazon. Search for one of their books, click on the author’s name, and if they have an author page, it will come up with a big “follow” button.
9. If your author has a newsletter, sign up! Author newsletters often include interviews, reviews, and favorites.
10. An author’s blog and website are other ways to keep track of new releases and to learn more about the authors you like to read. Remember, they create them for you.
Many thanks, and happy reading!
Vicki blogs at www.vweisfeld.com
Brian Lush is a music journalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is the founder of Rockwired.com and was the founding editor of Rockwired Magazine, which ran from 2012 through 2017. An enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe in Southeastern South Dakota, he studied Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He received his B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico.
Yankton Sioux writer Brian Lush spins a grim tale of war, occupation, and oppression in his debut novel Roger’s War – a gritty, dystopian coming-of-age story with a Native perspective.
With a war between Russia and Ukraine and a lull in a global pandemic, who wants to get lost in a tale of a world gone mad? It wasn’t exactly the kind of territory that writer Brian Lush wanted to mine in what would become his first novel, Roger’s War.
“This was where the muse led me,” says Lush. “The roots of his dystopian coming-of-age story stemmed from the nightmarish events of the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shootings and the belief by some that teachers should be armed. “It was pretty wild to imagine high school teachers being armed and yielding that kind of control over kids. Children! Back then, I thought I had at least a short story on my hands. However, life got in the way, and I had other commitments, and the story never saw the light of day. The idea was in the back of my head and then snowballed. The pandemic, and then this little story I had in my head about the abuse of power became this huge novel on how one young boy survives.”
Roger’s War is a tense and frantic narrative that illustrates the life of a young man coming of age in a frightfully repressed society. The country once known as the United States of America has descended into a second civil war. Emerging from the devastation is a rogue nation called Heartland – a totalitarian theocracy under the rule of a maniacal, self-proclaimed prophet known simply as Father and his lethal military. Plucked from the ashes of a war-torn America is a half-Native/half-black fourteen-year-old named Roger Bretagne.
After losing his family to Heartland’s devastating blitzkrieg, Roger is rounded up and matriculated into this stark, repressed, and dangerous new world. His new parents are powerful predators, the quiet country town he lives in is an oppressive hamlet gripped by fear, and his school – under the control of the beastly schoolmaster Brother Isaac – emphasizes brutal indoctrination. Somehow, sanity must prevail. In cautiously navigating the rocky road of this toxic milieu, Roger finds love, allies, and a burgeoning resistance movement hellbent on destroying Heartland and building a glorious future. Whatever that entails.
Roger is not a first when it comes to first-person narratives in worlds gone mad, but his half-Sioux/half-black lineage is a definite first in Native American fiction. Roger is a character that was very unexpected to me. There were a lot of surprises in the writing of this book, but the character of Roger felt like a revelation. While I took great pains to create a character and not put myself or anyone I loved in a fascist society, I feel like I ended up putting myself there. Roger was more than just a window into this world. We share the same heritage. It feels like I’ve got skin in the game.
Roger’s War is available on Kindle and paperback through Amazon.com.
Phone: (505) 239-2666
Public Safety Writers Association members can submit their work to an annual contest. The winners are revealed at the annual conference. This year’s winners were announced on July 17, 2022. I was delighted to learn that the poem I had submitted, “Sand Creek,” was awarded second place.
The First People trusted you
to protect, and
to feed our people.
You betrayed The People.
You stole the food the Great White Father sent
to nourish The People,
our children, our future.
You betrayed The People.
Instead, you raped our women
beheaded our children.
You failed the Great White Father.
You betrayed The People.
Your soldiers murdered The People.
You murdered The People.
You failed the Great White Father.
You betrayed The People.
We died for your sins,
When you murdered the people.
You failed the Great White Father.
You betrayed The People.
To learn more about the Public Safety Writers Association, visit https://policewriter.com