Meet Mandy Clark from Laura L. Drumb’s From Now Until Forever

The book From Now Until Forever is set in 1853 Indian Territory and tells the story of eighteen year old Mandy Clark who is captured by the Kiowa warrior Ken-ai-te and taken to his village to live. This exciting and fast-paced novel was meticulously researched with the aid of a Kiowa Elder to ensure it is historically accurate. The spiritual and emotional journey Mandy makes as she learns how to adapt to being a Kiowa woman and ultimately discovers the destiny God has planned for her make this award-winning tale one women, men, and even teens can enjoy. It is the first of three in the Foreverseries.

Q: Mandy, thank you for meeting with us. How was it you came to live with the Kiowa?

A: Delighted to do so! I was captured by a warrior named Ken-ai-te—pronounced keen-uh-tay— so it was not an easy time at first. I was terrified and lonely but God was faithful to encourage me every step of the way with comfort through His Word, making my new life more bearable. 

Q: What kind of tasks did you have to learn how to do in the village?

A: A big one was how to utilize every single part of the buffalo killed in the hunts, for everything from tools to utensils to clothing, and of course for foods of all kinds. I was amazed at how even the tiniest bones counted and nothing was ever wasted. It all started with how to butcher the massive beast and then get all the parts back to the camp before it rotted in the sun or wild animals stole the meat. An older woman Sleeping Bird taught me, and although I was not very cooperative at first, I soon learned how to get it all done properly. I resented her at first but soon came to see her as a friend and later as a second mother to me as she taught me everything.

Q: What were some of the less pleasant tasks you were required to do?

A: The first thing was one of the worst, in part because I was exhausted that day and in part because I was so repulsed by the smell. And when I learned what I was handling, my stomach lurched! It was a “green goo” made from—are you ready for this?—buffalo brains and the liver! All mushed up together and then I had to put my hands in it!

Q: Oh my! That must have been awful! What was it used for?

A: It was used to soften the hides, so they could be turned into a pliable piece of buckskin that was almost like velvet cloth, to make it suitable to wear. The goo was worked into the hide over and over while it was drying in the sun. I am not sure whyit worked, only that it did. I loved wearing dresses made from it because they were somehow comfortable all the time, cool in the summer and warm in the winter. But it was back-breaking, smelly work all right.

Q: What are some of the foods you learned to fix?

A: And eat, don’t forget that! I quickly realized that if I wanted to survive, I would need to find some way to get all of it down and keep it down. The Kiowa loved it of course but it took me some time to get used to most of it, believe me! Let’s see, bread cooked on a rock instead of in an oven, for one. Then there was a dried buffalo jerky of sorts called pemmican, with all types of spices and berries chopped up and added to it. It would last a long time and could be eaten anytime we couldn’t light a campfire because of the weather, or for the men when on a hunt or in a war party. And a third one was a type of sausage made, of all things, from the buffalo intestines! The meat was chopped very fine and lots of other spices added in and then stuffed into the long string, with rawhide used to tie off sections for cutting it apart later. Then the whole thing was put into the coals of the fire to roast slowly. After I finally got up my courage to try it, I discovered it was rather tasty! Their foods were quite interesting, to say the least!

Q: You were given a Kiowa name, is that not right? What was it?

A: Yes, that is correct. Ken-ai-te gave me the name Prayer Woman, daw-t’sai-mahin Kiowa. And perhaps that was one of the reasons I chose to respond to my captivity with faith rather than with anger. Well, much of it at least! Such as every time when I begged to be released so I could go home, my captor’s response was that I would belong to him from now until forever. So as I shared my faith in Christ, I often used that same phrase to explain to him the concept of eternity. What started out as a negative ended up bringing freedom to us both!

Q: When did you realize you were falling in love with him? 

A: Well, it happened very slowly over a long period of time. It wasn’t just that one day I woke up and knew I loved him! Far from it, in fact. I didn’t want to be Kiowa, as God did not make me an Indian. And he didn’t want to love a white woman, either. I cannot explain further without telling part of the story that is best left for reading about it, but suffice it to say, God proved with how He brought us together that He has a sense of humor!

Q: Did you ever fear being killed while you were living with the Kiowa? 

A: Oh, definitely, quite often in fact. I hated living in a tipi with a man to whom I was not married and I was frightened of him for some time. There was also an evil warrior in the village whose name I am no longer permitted to say by Kiowa tradition who threatened me on numerous occasions with death or even worse, life as his slave. I knew he had some kind of blood vengeance against me and so was forced to trust my captor would keep me safe from his threats. And if someone could die of loneliness, I believe I would have done that if it hadn’t been for Sleeping Bird. Eventually I had other friends there but for a long time I was pretty miserable. 

Q: What was your favorite thing about living with the Kiowa?

A: Well, I would have to say of course, meeting and falling in love with Ken-ai-te! But besides him and Sleeping Bird whom I came to love very much as well, I would have to say getting to meet Chief Tohausan. He was quite a character and something he told me changed my heart radically. I can’t tell you what that was, you will have to read the book and find out for yourself! But it was profound in its implication on my faith and in my future with the Kiowa, even though he was not a Christian, and I’m grateful my Heavenly Father allowed me to hear it from this man. As I said, He has a sense of humor, all right, but most importantly I am grateful to have learned from my unusual experience with the Kiowa that no matter what happens God loves all of us, no matter the color of our skin. He is so good!

Thanks for visiting with us today, Mandy!

About the Author

Laura L. Drumb lives in the Tulsa (OK) area with her husband of almost 47 years. They have two grown daughters and seven delightful grandchildren ranging in age from 14 to 8. With a passion born out of a father who ensured that even as a child she would recognize the value of learning about other cultures and peoples around the world, she has continued that commitment by traveling with her family for most of her adult life and now writing Christian historical fiction. In addition, she is active in her church, reads voraciously, does scrapbooking to preserve her memories of a long life well lived, shares better health and wellness through a natural approach with Plexus, and tries always to remember where she put her keys!

www.amazon.com/dp/B0722N1HKD

www.facebook.com/lauraldrumb

Interview with Alice from Stephanie Marie Thornton’s American Princess

Elise Cooper: Do you like the nickname “The Other Washington Monument?”

Alice Roosevelt Longworth:I actually can’t recall who first dubbed me with that particular moniker—some newspaperman or other—but I’ve rather grown to revel in the title. After all, I’ve personally known every president back to McKinley and an invitation to my salons was considered mandatory for entrance into Washington society. A fossil of my age might as well be a monument to something!

EC: How would you describe yourself?

ARL: In one word, a gadfly. Someone has to make people question themselves—especially those politicians on Capitol Hill—and I supposed it might as well be me. 

EC: How would you describe your dad?

ARL:Theodore Roosevelt was the greatest man I ever knew. While far from perfect, he advocated living a strenuous life for himself, his children, and his country. It’s because of him that I wrung every last experience from my long life. 

EC: Did you sometimes feel like an orphan in your own family?

ARL: Certainly, when I was young I often felt somewhat removed, somehow “other.” After all, I was the only child of my father’s first wife—who died after my birth—and a constant reminder to my father of the love he’d lost. My stepmother did her best to raise me, but I didn’t make her job an easy one!

EC: Did you resent being sent as a young child to be raised by your aunt?

ARL: Never! I loved Auntie Bye with all my heart—she was often the one person in the family who really seemed to understand me. And once I was older, I understood my father’s need to recover from the grief that came from losing his beloved wife and his own mother on the same tragic day. 

EC: Were you constantly looking for your father’s approval and attention?

ARL:Always! Who wouldn’t want the undivided attention of Theodore Roosevelt? 

EC: How would you describe the relationship with your dad?

ARL:My father was larger than life and I sought to emulate him in everything I did. Unfortunately, that meant we were often at loggerheads—we’d have gotten along swimmingly had I been a boy, but smoking, shooting guns, and gambling were hardly considered proper behaviors for the well-bred daughter my father expected. However, all that changed with the 1912 election, when my father realized what an asset I was to his campaign. 

EC: Did you always enjoy confronting society’s norms by smoking, shooting a gun, driving a car…?

ARL:Of course! Who wouldn’t enjoy doing all that? 

EC: Do you agree with this quote, “A Roosevelt is never defeated, not in the polls, and not on the battlefield”?

ARL:The stark reality is that sometimes we do lose a battle—be it in war or the polls—but the important thing is to never give up. My father once said, “The credit belongs to the man who is in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again and again…and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” I agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly—my father never gave up in anything and neither did I. 

EC: How would describe your relationship with your husband Nick?

ARL:Ah, Nick, my darling little lamb. Nick was both my greatest friend and my greatest enemy throughout our marriage. I think we both challenged each other (and maybe made the other person crawl through hell on more than one occasion), but we emerged stronger on the other side for it. 

EC: Were you angry at your husband for not supporting your dad in the 1912 election?

ARL:Not especially, since I knew what a difficult place my family had put him in, what with forcing Nick to choose between his friend and home state supporter in President Taft versus my father. In fact, my father essentially commanded Nick to support Taft so he could save face in Ohio. That said, I was certainly upset with some of Nick’s extracurricular activities during the election!

EC: Was getting the Pekingese puppy Manchu the best gift ever given to you?

ARL:I certainly received many fabulous gifts over the years—my Cuban pearls and the gold filigreed fingernail sheaths from Empress Dowager Cixi rank right up there—but Manchu was by far my favorite! 

EC: Why did you like the saying, “If you can’t say something good about someone sit right here by me?”

ARL:While I’d never take aim at an innocent lamb, I certainly didn’t mind taking potshots at the powerful denizens of Washington. (Who, let’s face it, often deserved it.) Take my cousins Franklin and Eleanor as an example—Eleanor started the Roosevelt family feud with the Teapot Dome stunt she pulled while my brother Ted was running for New York’s governor and Franklin (whom I referred to as Feather Duster) grew power-hungry when he ran for an unprecedented third and then fourth term as president. If someone wanted to sit next to me and dish about them, who was I to argue? 

EC: What are your hopes and dreams?

ARL:I had so many over the years: that my father would return to the White House, that I would find love, and that my daughter and granddaughter would live happy lives. I suppose my greatest dream was to wrest every experience from this life, and I think I accomplished that with gusto. 

THANK YOU!!

Stephanie Marie Thornton is a high school history teacher and lives in Alaska with her husband and daughter. She has written many historical novels about strong women after becoming  obsessed with women from history since she was twelve.

photo by Katherine Schmeling Photography