To manage my sensory processing disorder, I have a few tricks to quiet my distracting senses while I write. One is to light a scented candle which corresponds to the character narrating the scene I am writing. Nartan Sagebrush’s candle scent is “Tobacco” while Olive Muegge’s scent is “Orange Clove”. Another trick is to play the couple’s song on repeat while writing. It drowns out the birds outside my kitchen window and helps my mind focus on the core issues of the story. The core issue of Dance to a Wylder Beat is the need for community. Nartan’s secret Shamanic dancing and Olive’s paranormal secret keep them on the outskirts of Wylder society. In line with their desires, their song is “Stolen Dance” by Milky Chance.
Listen to this haunting song here – https://youtu.be/k750IIdKq08
In the late 1870s, the Arapaho nation’s way of life was being destroyed by the Us Government. Their nomadic existence was at odds with the settlements, like Wylder, popping up along the railway line. The Arapaho followed the migratory herds with small bands creating circles of teepees for a season before packing their travois and heading to the next place. The US Government turned tribes against each other and in 1871, the Shoshone and Arapaho battles destroyed the Antelope Band which broke my heart. This conflict is the catalyst for Nartan and his brother, Ikshu to set up their homestead at the edge of Wylder.
“I hope they didn’t get your mind
Your heart is too strong anyway
We need to fetch back the time
They have stolen from us.” –Stolen Dance, Lyrics – Clemens Rehbein
Away on a vision quest, Nartan missed the chance to defend his band. Ikshu, labeled too effeminate to be a brave, was with the women, elderly, and children when the attack happened. His PTSD gives him night terrors and selective mutism. Despite being a Shamanic apprentice and destined for mystic greatness in his tribe, Nartan becomes a humble leather tanner and protector of Ikshu’s fragile state. What he refuses to give up is the support of his spirit team. The six spirits answer his calls when he dances in secret. His ceremonial herbs, dance steps to create the sacred geometry of his people in the dirt, and incantation (the same incantation I use in my energetic healing practice) are offerings to the spirit realm. Such practices are against the law on the reservations which is a second reason why Nartan left. While I would argue Nartan is never stoned, the unbelievers contribute his visions to the ceremonial herbs – which were most likely sage, tobacco, and sagebrush in 1878.
“You’ve never danced like this before
We don’t talk about it
Dancin’ on, doin’ the boogie all night long
Stoned in paradise
Shouldn’t talk about it” –Stolen Dance, Lyrics – Clemens Rehbein
What about Olive? While she doesn’t dance, this song has a ring of truth for her story as well. Olive is a guttersnipe. These were orphaned kids who rode the railways to find their adventure. Olive migrated from “Mexico to Montana” with the native tribes who would protect her. She learned many skills – such as the basics of leather tanning – from the gentle souls who helped her along the way. Unfortunately, her paranormal secret has kept her from assimilating into the settler towns of the Wild West. Yes, Olive is too wild for the Wild West and tired of wandering alone.
“I want you by my side
So that I never feel alone again” –Stolen Dance, Lyrics – Clemens Rehbein
When a medicine man on the Wind River Reservation suggests answering Nartan’s telegraph ad for a wife, Olive dares to dream of living in a house with a soft bed and a roof over her head. Could she keep her secret, learn to be a settler wife, and have a family of her own? She has nothing to lose.
“Coldest winter for me
No sun is shining anymore
The only thing I feel is pain
Caused by absence of you” –Stolen Dance, Lyrics – Clemens Rehbein
Will they put aside their differences to create a family nestled in the community of Wylder or will Nartan reject Olive out of the desire to hide his spiritual past? Find out in Dance to a Wylder Beat, eBook on pre-order for $0.99 ($3.99 on NOOK) until 7/16/2021. The official release date is 7/21/2021.
Nartan Sagebrush’s name may mean “to dance” in Arapaho, but he dances in secret. Forced to abandon his Shamanic apprenticeship, he is overwhelmed with homesteader life, and even his spirit guides are at their wit’s end. Nartan takes fate into his own hands. Instead of divine intervention, a wife will help with his responsibilities and in assimilating into the Wylder community.
Olive Muegge answers Nartan’s “wife wanted” advertisement. Wildly independent she has secretly dreamed of a family to call her own. The secret she carries inside makes her an outcast and her wild ways don’t fit the quiet wife Nartan thinks he desires. Despite their differences, they are drawn to each other but a mistake may drive them apart. Will Nartan embrace his Shamanic past to save them both or will he choose to rid himself of Olive forever?
(Originally Posted on Wylder West Blog)