"Lively, inventive, authentic, and wise" are a few of the words used to describe Jane's presentations around the world from Sorrento, Italy to Moro, Oregon.  Whether part of a book signing or a fundraiser for various museums and causes close to Jane's heart, retreats or commencement addresses, Jane engages audiences to consider the power of their own stories.  "Until we find the meaning of the stories of our lives we're destined to wander in the wilderness even though we're in the Promised Land," she notes.  With humor she helps groups find the insights that bring wisdom and joy to their lives. 

Blending her mental health background with years working on an Oregon Indian reservation with twenty-six years carving a life on a remote ranch, Jane finds a way for participants to experience the lessons of her historical characters and allow them to step from one generation to our own to bring healing and hope through the power of the written and spoken word.

Jane says,"If you'd like more information about me, please come visit my website at and click on my blog. My dog also has a blog and you can find out what it's like to be Bodacious Bo, too. A monthly newsletter called Story Sparks is my way of sharing books about authors I enjoy as well as commenting on life and love. You'll find out more about me than you probably ever wanted to know!"

In your research for The Memory Weaver did you come across any surprised you? Made you look at the situation differently?

I had heard about this tragedy since first coming to Oregon many years ago. It changed the way the territory saw itself, changed relationships between settlers and Indian people. What I had not known was that Eliza, who was 10 at the time of the tragedy, was the only one who knew the language of the captors and I thought that would have been a great weight for a 10 year old to carry for 47 days as a hostage after witnessing so many deaths. She had the weight of hoping she expressed what her captors wanted and also feeling responsible for her fellow captives.

What was your favorite scene in The Memory Weaver?

My favorite scene is when Eliza Spalding Warren goes back to the mission where she grew up and she is wrapped again in the arms of the people she had held so dear. Forgiving others – and ourselves – is always very moving for me.

Which was the most fun to write? Any of the scenes with Rachel, the step-mom in them! She was quite a kick from all I could find out about her and a terrible cook so that fit with my own, ah, limited kitchen skills.

Which was the hardest to write? The hardest were the scenes where Eliza as a young mother “disappears” to those traumatic times. Why? Because I didn’t want to dwell on the tragedy but needed to let the reader see why her adult life was so troubled by a past memory. I also didn’t want to leave her there for long and I didn’t want her to mess up her present life because an old memory held her hostage. I felt very protective of her.

Desk Picture -- occasionally my office is neat and tidy. My husband made the desk for me 30 years ago. Bo and Caesar hang out with me when I write.
I liked the way you set up the novel. One story line you told through letters and diary entries; the other you wrote in first person? What made you mix it up like that? It did make the story more intimate.

I’m glad you liked that! It made my life a little more complicated because I had the memories of Eliza, her mother, her father and how they wove together to contend with. But I wanted a way to engage readers with the experiences of those who were not present at the tragedy but whose lives changed dramatically because of it. And I knew that Eliza, the mother, dying when her daughter was young, left a huge hole in Eliza’s life. I wanted her to “have memories” of her mother as a young wife and mother and that could only happen with a diary left behind.

How did you feel about the Eliza being forced by her father to attend the murder trial of the Indians accused of the crimes at Waiilatpu 1847?

 That was so interesting to me and it was another detail I hadn’t been aware of until I started researching. I think her father felt that since she had been the interpreter that she’d be the perfect witness. I think he was clueless about how re-visiting the horror would affect her, a then twelve-year old child.

Why do you think he did this? I think he wanted His memories to be the ones people accepted as fact and Eliza would be the person who would authenticate that. But she didn’t testify and there was a note that her father commented that “she spoke too kindly about the Indians.” That also told me about her own ambivalence as a captive and affirmed what often happens in the Stockholm Syndrome, where captives become attached to their captors in unexpected ways because they are so dependent upon them for survival.

I’d never heard about this family and their tragedy. When did you first become aware of this and how did it affect your life?
Whitman Mission -- This is the site of the Whitman tragedy that affected the Spalding family and so many others, the subject of The Memory Weaver.

While researching about Marie Dorion, an Indian woman who came west with 60 men as part of the Astoria expedition, the first large expedition west after Lewis and Clark returned, I came across this “fact” that the first books printed west of the Rocky Mountains were a Nez Perce primer and the second book was a Nez Perce translation of the book of Matthew. Eliza Spalding was said to have been the linguist who transcribed those books and they were printed on a printing press sent from a mission in Hawaii to the Spalding mission in 1838. I wanted to know a little more about the Spaldings and this historical fact of publishing. We visited the Nez Perce National Park in Lapwai, ID and then visited the Whitman Historic Site where the tragedy happened and the event that closed all the missions in the West at that time. I never forgot the feelings I had at both those sites. Great love and peacefulness at the Spalding Mission site. (I had the same feeling last Sunday afternoon when I was there to speak at the Nez Perce National Park); and a feeling of great loss at the Whitman site. When I realized these families were intertwined I wanted to explore it further, especially what happened afterwards.  Some stories never let us go.

I read in an interview that you and your husband own a small plane. What have you loved about traveling in this small plane? Any things you’ve experienced in the plane you would have otherwise experienced?
my dear husband and me at the dedication of Marie Dorion marker, a courageous woman of the 19th century. It was researching her story that led me to The Memory Weaver.
It’s been my experience in my own life and as a therapist that our memories are often not the way something really happened. If we witness a tragic event or if something terrible happens, we often wish we could go back and do something different that might have changed the outcome but that’s often based on faulty expectations or even the facts of the event. I think that’s a part of the human condition, to “want to do better.” But when we are in the midst of extreme stress (which can be different for different people) our systems shut down and we go on survival mode.

Our fingers and toes get cold and don’t work as well because all the blood flow goes to our head to try to keep us thinking and acting to protect. Some of us can react to save both ourselves and others; and some of us are immobilized. Both are normal responses but those of us who are immobilized often later judge ourselves harshly. As for both Eliza’s dealing with survivor guilt, I think the daughter’s life is evidence of that, how she judged herself as not having done all she could for the hostages, especially Lorinda Bewely and the way her need for control played out in her adult life. I felt the mother also faced great trauma as her sister missionary, Narcissa Whitman, had lost her child to a drowning and then Narcissa and her husband had been murdered, along with so many others.

Eliza still had her daughter and family and a tribe that had protected them. I suspect she felt guilt at not being able to care for some of the hostages upon their return. And I think her very illness was related to the conflict she must have had between trusting in a loving God and at the same time having to trust that the tragedy and all that followed (loss of the mission, Henry’s volatile behavior, her illness, Eliza’s PTSD, etc) was also in God’s hands.

Those involved with treating PTSD also work to keep the victims in the present moment, and bring memories here rather than having the people disappear into the tragedy. In the present, others can walk beside them and help them create new stories, new memories that can nourish and transform. I saw Timothy doing that for Eliza; and Eliza the mom’s brother in many ways, helping her through a difficult time.

In growing up, what were three important values you learned that stuck with you and shaped your life?
Jane says titled photo"Child Alive"I hope it's how I will always see life- happy 6 yr old

1)“Caring for others is a form of worship. Caring for the least of these, is a living prayer.” My mother was a nurse; my dad a farmer who served on many community projects and boards. When I was 16, I spent two weeks in Chicago working and living in an inner city with our church youth group. His allowing me to go severed a relationship he’d had with a friend whom he had not known was racist.

2)  ”Give your employer a good days work for your wages”(my father’s advice that probably added to my overachiever tendency!) and all work is worthy, no one is better than or less than.

3) “If you do your best, that’s all that matters; not the outcome.” 
That gave me permission to risk and fail and start again.

There are so many types of weather which is your favorite? Which to you try to avoid? 
Neighborhood mailboxes - this one winter I could have done without! So looking forward to the sandy beaches after this one!

My favorite weather is warm, sunny, on a sandy beach. My husband and I try to go to Cabo San Jose every January for a few weeks to get away from….snow, slush, tire chains, scraping windows of ice; cold!

Some of my best life-lessons have been learned in the harsher winter weather, though: driving through snow drifts, praying I’d get home safely; having to decide whether to walk down an icy hill a mile or more or turn around and drive back 7 miles to the nearest neighbor on that same icy road. Still, time on the beach, reading, drinking iced tea and chatting with my husband of 39 years is one of the best weather memories I have!

Have you seen any good movies lately and/or read a book you just couldn’t stop thinking about? Please share!

 All the Light You Cannot See was for me an amazing book. I tried to tell my husband why I was crying or why I stayed up until 3:00am to read it and I really struggled through my tears. It’s about the futility of war, yes, but more, about the power of the human spirit to rise above the darkness, to “do the right thing” even in a time of great challenge or turmoil. It’s about miracles that still happen. I believed this story, I imagined it was true even though it was fiction. It touched my heart. I’ll read it again soon. As for movies: I confess we don’t see many movies.

 For 30 years we lived 50 miles from the nearest theater and even though we have television, there’s something about seeing a film on the big screen that makes it more memorable to me. I’d say the last “big screen” film I thought was brilliantly written and captured the power of the human spirit to give and to receive was The King’s Speech.

What is a special quality, talent and/or event you have experienced that would surprise people?
Bo in the Car -- my dog does love to go with me to book events. Here we're unloading for a book fair. He looks a bit forlorn, doesn't he?

 I’m a private pilot. But right now, I’m also afraid of flying! Please explain. I once thought I should take one of those classes for people afraid of flying but thought if the other students found out I was a pilot they might lynch me! It’s because I had an accident while learning to fly and then I had to work through a great deal of “bad memory” to gain enough confidence to fly again and get my license. A year later, when I had 100 hours in, my husband and I were in our small plane with friends (she was 7.5 months pregnant) and we hit a clear air wind shear and crashed missing three homes on the ground, and electrical wires etc. We all survived. The pregnant mom has no memory of the accident! Isn’t that great! Memory is really a form of protection. She went into labor but they were able to stop it and she delivered full term one of the happiest births of my experience! Her husband had no injuries. My husband had a broken hip, two broken ankles, sprained wrists and many cuts to his face etc. I shattered my right foot and left arm and we had months of healing with pins to hold my arm and foot together. So I have not piloted again though I have been on commercial airliners since then, just not in a small plane. One day I’ll do that…but for now, I’ll let someone else pilot! And we remain the closest of friends with those who shared the trauma.

If you had all the time in the world (and just as much money); to do anything you wanted, what would you do?
This Batwa woman of Burundi is holding her identity card. I love how happy she looks. Because of the work of First Presbyterian Church of Bend and African Road, we were able to purchase identity cards for 600 + adults, acquire birth certificates for their children and now these people can work, they can marry, their children can access health care, etc. These are some of the people that if I had all the money and time (a question asked by TBCN) I'd spend my efforts making their lives better through developing a Story Center for indigenous people to be remembered and to transform their memories into hopeful futures.
I’d go back to Burundi and work with the Batwa people there, an indigenous people very marginalized and at risk of extinction. And then I’d develop a Story Center for indigenous people around the world, working with people on the reservations, reserves, urban centers, to find ways for Indian people to tell their stories through music, art, drama, dance, and writing their stories and for those stories to be remembered. Stories heal us and for many indigenous people, there is a cultural trauma that is in the memory. I’d love for story (as in parables, as well) to be incorporated into the lives of those who faced and continue to face marginalization.

If you could interview or hang out with someone for 48 hours who would you pick and why?

Ok, I’m assuming living people, right? So, Anne Lamott. She’s a public woman, writer of faith who has found a way to both challenge, be respectful of and entertain people. She’s well-read and quick and direct while allowing herself to be vulnerable which takes us as readers toward our own vulnerability. And I just bet she’d be a lot of fun. I think we all learn best when we feel safe, respected and have fun and she suggests to me that she’s amazingly adept at all three.

JANE, ANY FINAL COMMENTS FOR READERS? I have the best readers in the world! You write amazing things to me and you share stories of how my stories have empowered you and how you’ve been changing the world, one word at a time. I feel honored to be a part of your busy lives. The words “to read” come from a Norse word that translates as “to unveil a mystery.” I think when we read, we’re unveiling the mystery of the author but also of ourselves. E.L. Forester once wrote “give me me in a story and you’ll have a reader for life.” I hope I give you a bit of yourselves, your courage and compassion and I hope that way I’ll have you as readers for life. Thank you, dear reader, for making room in your heart for all the stories, mine included. 

Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. Thank you for the pictures and for sharing your heart and stories with us.

I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN starting the 20th of SEPT at Looking forward reading the participation between you and readers! It’s always so much fun! 

REMINDER - Everyone has to be a member of TBCN in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows. The last day to enter this drawing is the last day of the month.

Nora :o)

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
Book Fun Magazine
The Book Club Network Blog

Interview Sponsored by: Revell Publishers 


  1. This post was very informative with lots of great, interesting information. Thanks.
    Susan in NC

  2. Great photos! Thank You!

  3. I have read most of your books. Some of them I read over and over and every time I do I find more little nuggets tucked away. I feel like a kindred spirit when I read your books. I have a great desire to read about this time period and I love books about strong women.