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Question Woman & Howling Sky Discussion Guide
Question Woman & Howling Sky by G. Miki Hayden
Paperback: 238 pages
Publisher: Portals Publishing (December 22, 2015)
After the U.S. is ravaged by ecological disasters, Maya Roberts, a young herbalist, must travel in the hazardous high desert to find healing plants for her community, which has been stricken by some new, fatal illness. There, she encounters a remarkably peculiar Navajo named Howling Sky, who is able to trigger rare phenomena—impossible occurrences. But is Howling Sky a man—or a ghost? Can Maya come to terms with the dangers implicit in a despoiled earth, restore her loved ones to health, and acknowledge her destiny as a shaman’s apprentice? Can she discover love?
Readers are invited to travel to what’s left of the West, to the Islands of California, where a cure for the new disease has been reported. Maya, now Question Woman, mentored by Howling Sky, must resolve her past in the house where she once lived and must deal with obstacles that threaten her return to the people who need her, and where her loyalties lie.
Hayden’s Navajo research provides an authentic cultural background in regard to the shamanistic details; her startling imagination supplies the rest.
Question Woman & Howling Sky is internationally available as Kindle and trade paperback through Amazon and will be available as an audio book in 2016.
G. Miki Hayden is an award-winning novelist – her books and short stories have been nominated for an Agatha, an Anthony, and a Macavity, winning the Macavity, and on The New York Times Summer Reading List.
A one-time history major at the University of Miami, G. Miki Hayden didn’t find writing about the future in Question Woman & Howling Sky too vast a stretch. As for the Navajo aspect of the novel, she’s also a researcher and has published short stories and novels about Japanese, Polynesian, Ashanti, Muskoki, Cherokee, Moslem, Jewish, Buddhist, and diverse other protagonists—yes including a previous foray into writing about a Navajo shaman for a story published in an award-winning anthology.
Taking on the past, the future, and alternate history in her own mystery, fantasy, science fiction, and romance novels and stories, Miki more or less fearlessly teaches such in terms of a complete range of periods and genres at Writer’s Digest University where she has taught since the year 2000. At the same time, having been a business journalist for many years, Miki also took the nonfiction route and produced two writing instructionals, one presenting the ins and outs of the mystery genre, and the other a comprehensive style and composition book.
Miki currently lives in New York City where she pursues a range of spiritual and literary interests.
QUESTION WOMAN & HOWLING SKY
1. Does the United States have a potential for severe ecological disasters? What weather extremes in our own time might foretell possible future environmental disturbances?
2. Could people adapt and survive under extreme weather conditions? What adaptations might they might be able to undertake?
3. Might unforeseen health consequences occur as a result of such climate and geographical changes, the depletion of the ozone layer? Might people rely on old-time methods of healing themselves and others? What status would a healer have in such a society?
4. Should such changes come about, will the survivors live in a world where people form cooperative communities and new forms of government? Will the criminal element be a threat to stability?
5. Could someone, such as a shaman, live on such a different plane of reality alongside the rest of us that he would be impervious to what we see as natural law? Could he resist the forces of nature, manipulate the forces of nature, and overcome the supposed natural limits of supply?
6. Does a spirituality exist that goes in a different direction from the ones we’re more familiar with? Does the spiritual realm contain dimensions we’re ordinarily unaware of?
7. Can dreams explore or reflect an area of reality we’re ordinarily unaware of? Can dreams be a way information is transmitted to us? Have you yourself had dreams that seemed to be reality?
8. Do aspects of nature that we’re familiar with, such as the wind, have a will of their own? Are they part of the spiritual world, operated by spiritual entities? Can they be understood (outside of scientific explanations), even as we understand other people?
9. Might the spiritual practices of other cultures, cultures we’re not very familiar with, such as the Navajo culture, have a validity that extends even to affecting the external world?
10. What is Maya’s—Questions Woman’s—aim in the various parts of the novel? Does her aim change? Does she accomplish her aim or aims?
11. What is Howling Sky’s main aim? Does he accomplish his aim?
12. The Navajo way of living is depicted as realistically as possible, the effect of the earth changes aside. What in their culture seems the most different than ours? Could the Navajo possibly survive under such extreme climate conditions? Does their way of life lend itself to adaptation, or become a barrier to it?
13. Can healing be accomplished through ceremonies? Where does the healing power come from, in your opinion?
14. Wild or feral children such as Romulus and Remus (the founders of Rome), suckled by a she-wolf, and others are part of both myth and recent documented history: listverse.com/2008/03/07/10-modern-cases-of-feral-children/ . How might such children adapt to society? To what extent could they become socialized?
15. Imagine various offshoot communities in different locations where strong governmental bodies don’t exist. What sorts of reference points might arise for them? For instance, might religious cults spring up? What about a community of scientists or other knowledge bases?
16. Does Howling Sky’s spirituality seem to be deeply Navajo? Does it have elements of anything more familiar to you?
17. Does looking into the past help or hurt us in moving forward in life? Should painful memories be probed—or avoided?
18. Might a person’s behavior actually be different from his inner being or is the outer persona a direct reflection of the inner self?
19. Does QUESTION WOMAN & HOWLING SKY have an overall message, or is it just pure entertainment? Is the message dark, or is it one of hope?
20. Can humanity go forward regardless of circumstances? Would you want to live in such a vastly changed world? Could you adapt? What character traits would be needed to adapt to such a different life than our own?
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