One of the best part of the internet in general and the Prehistoric Fiction Writers group in particular is getting to meet other writers and enjoy their views. Here’s Kaye George, author of Death in the Time of Ice as well as other books, including the mystery Fat Cat at Large. Welcome, Kaye!
My own misfits and heroes
The fact that Kathleen Rollins has two groups of strangers meet in her A MEETING OF CLANS is so exciting. What must it have been like to venture to another continent with only the most primitive technology (although, to them, it was the latest and greatest)! And to think you are alone on a continent, then discover you’re not. Great stuff.
I’m also fascinated with what life was life long ago. A group I’ve always loved to study is the Neanderthals. The first images of them so maligned the whole people that I like to try to help overcome that. When I decided to write about Neanderthal characters, the complete mapping of their genome, plus much more research that is being announced almost weekly, fell right into my lap, and totally in step with my project. It seemed like I had to do it!
I love knowing that, at one time, there were different kinds of people on this planet. Homo neanderthalensis, Homo sapiens, and Denisovans, all at once.  Until scientists decided they didn’t really exist, we had the Hobbit people, too. There are also the Cro-Magnon (I know, the term is out of favor, but they weren’t actually just like us).
Neanderthals are my main characters. Being primarily a mystery writer, “my” Neanderthals have to be involved in a mysterious murder. It’s been such fun to do research for this writing. Another love of mine is the megafauna that existed in North America before 10,000 BCE. What could I do? I brought the Neanderthals over to North America before the last Ice Age and wrote what I call alternate history. (Although just because Neanderthal artifacts and remains haven’t been discovered here doesn’t mean they weren’t here, right?)
The best thing about writing about Neanderthals is that there are conflicting theories about many of their characteristics and abilities. I figure I can pick and choose whatever suits me best.
However, I do try to stick with generally accepted theories. (Except for putting them in N. America.) Take speech . More and more it’s thought that they could talk, although there are holdouts against fluent speech similar to ours. My solution was to give them speech, but to reserve it for special occasions, “pronouncements” by the leader, mostly.
Was I telepathic, having the women be hunters? Some support that idea , some don’t .
Okay, I know no one says they were telepathic, except William Shatner . But that was my way of getting around the speech controversy, which was more controversial when I began writing Death in the Time of Ice. It’s also my way of filling up their brains, which were larger than ours. (I read this while writing the book, but it’s apparently no longer true. Still, there’s room for telepathy in the Aborigine brain.)
There are a few misfits in this Neanderthal tribe. Twin girls, abandoned by a starving tribe (most likely) were taken in as small children. One of them, Enga Dancing Flower, turns out to be a hero (or heroine if you prefer). Another misfit is a Cro-Magnon (or modern human) that the tribe also takes in. He is an adult who has been cast from his tribe, but no one knows much about him, because there’s a severe language/telepathy barrier. I won’t reveal whether he turns out to be a hero or not. That would ruin the mystery!
Kaye George, national bestselling and multiple-award-winning mystery writer, writes several series: Imogene Duckworthy, Cressa Carraway (Barking Rain Press), People of the Wind (Untreed Reads), and, as Janet Cantrell, Fat Cat (Berkley Prime Crime cozies). Her short stories appear in anthologies and magazines as well as her own collection, A Patchwork of Stories. Her reviews run in Suspense Magazine. She lives in Knoxville, TN.
Links to the books: