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!

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