Author Spotlight: Karen Kay

INSPIRATION for SHE STEALS MY BREATH, Book #1 of the Medicine Man Series

Well, the inspiration for this story started during an emotionally rough time in my life.  A family member was taken ill and I was, of course, quite upset and not knowing quite what to do.

Now this is a true story I’m telling you in this, my recounting of the inspiration behind SHE STEALS MY BREATH.  Because the Medicine Man series delves into the paranormal category — mostly because the American Indian medicine men often “lived” in the spiritual realm — these stories, while being solid Historical Romance, must — because of the character of the hero — be lived partly in the spiritual world, also. 

Now, I’m not talking about magic, particularly not about black magic.  What I’m saying here is that American Indian’s healing methods included prayers, rituals — such as the drum and particular songs given to them — usually by an animal, a closeness to the Creator and a knowledge of plants and herbs, as well as the medicine pipe to help him communicate to the Creator.

All medicine men and many of the scouts of the tribes could communicate with what I call in my book, Mind Speak.  Distance has no part in it, by the way.  There is on record an entire council of medicine men held in the not so long ago past, that decided on a course of action to take without a single word being spoken between them.

We all have this ability to speak to one another with our minds, I think.  I have personally experienced this with a Lakota friend and so I know it is real and it exists.

Anyway, this is a little backstory before I tell you about what inspired me to write this series on the medicine men.  As I said, I was going through a rough time because of a family member’s illness.

In my dreams — by the way dreams are important to the American Indian — but in my dreams, a medicine man came to me.  I call it a dream, but it was really in that state of mind one can get into when one is going to sleep, but isn’t quite asleep yet.  This medicine man was gentle and kind to me and encouraged me to write about the Medicine Men.

It was then when the story for book #1 in the Medicine Man series came into being.  The hero in the story is kind, yet strong and tough, but mostly, he is kind and considerate of the heroine and of others, and he is completely straightforward and honest.

My next inspiration came from a man by the name of John Trudell.  He is a Lakota man who was active in the American Indian Movement in the 1970’s.  Because of a tragedy in his life, he began to write poetry and eventually he set his poems to music and made albums.  One of his poems is “Takes My Breath.”  Oh, my goodness what an emotionally powerful poem/song.

And from there, the heroine came into being, met the hero of the story and away we went on an adventure into realm of Montana’s Little Big Horn Mountains (where the little people live, by the way).  Just ask a Crow Indian about the little people.


The characters in my stories take on a life of their own and they pretty much, once the story is started, live their own story.  Sometimes I get in the way because I don’t understand what or why they’re doing what they are doing and so I have to back up and try to understand why they’ve suddenly done something I didn’t expect.

I never try to change them.  It’s their story.  Sometimes I’ve had characters do things out of character for them and then they talk to me.  This particularly happened in the second book in the Medicine Man series, SHE CAPTURES MY HEART.  The hero in this story had to “school” me on the mores of a medicine man because I was thinking of having him do something he would never do.  But, I listened to him and wrote the scene the way he wanted it.  One time, long ago, in the story, THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF, I didn’t listen to my characters and the story stopped right then and there.

I had to back up and really listen to these people who were upset with me because I forced them NOT to do something that was right for them to do.  I realized I hadn’t properly set up the scene so that it could easily be seen it was right for them and then the story continued on just fine.  I think maybe this is when I began to really listen to my characters.

As far as setting up the scene and world-building, I am constantly reading historical accounts of people who lived during the time periods I’m writing about.  Some of the stories are incredibly paranormal, but are true.  And, although my writing is fictional, I do draw on these true accounts from the early 1800’s (and sometimes earlier), fictionalizing something that did take place.

In this modern age, it’s nice to go back to simpler times.  Although the American Indians at this time were people, just like all peoples, they had high standards for themselves most usually.  By this I mean they valued family and friends; they lived by a code of honor that would make the knights of old pale in comparison.  I love writing about these times and these people.


In writing this series, it is my intention to show the medicine men for the heroes they were.  They were in close communication with the Creator and prayed every day; they used their knowledge to help and to heal to the best they could those in need of their services; they learned about the body and how to set bones and such.  But, mostly they were men of honor and of integrity.  They married for life, they counselled the needy, they prayed for any war or raiding party for a safe return.  They lived by a code that by their own words was a very tough path to follow.  But, follow it they did because when they veered off the path, their medicine might fail them and then their power to help another dimmed.

But most of all the message I’m hoping the reader will come away with is the message of love and helpfulness and understanding.  These medicine men were often written about by people who didn’t understand them and so invented all manner of stories about them, much of those stories lies.

And, although evil shamans did exist at this time, such men were never looked upon by the people as medicine men.  A medicine man was a friend, a man who did his best to protect his people and who used his spiritual powers to bring about health in others if he could.

The medicine man in the tribe was loved and respected sometimes even more than the chief.  The evil shaman, by comparison was feared and despised by the people.  It’s my wish to bring back this more truthful image of the American Indian Medicine Man.

Karen Kay

February 2024 

Sign Up for Our Newsletter