The Simmons family saga
This is the fictional story set in Mendota, Minnesota of the Simmons family who are faced with the consequences of the Dakota Sioux Uprising of 1862 that swept across the state as well as the Civil War.
The father, Dan enlists in the 1st regiment of Minnesota volunteers as a teamster. His two sons, who are both underage join the 2nd Regiment. John, aged 16 becomes a bugler and William, aged 15 becomes a drummer. Their sister, Sara is left behind with their mother, Louise to fend for themselves. Dan is sent east to fight with the Army of the Potomac while his sons are sent to the western theater to serve in the army of the Cumberland. Back in Mendota, their neighbor and close friend, Colonel Henry Sibley is ordered to stay in the state to control the Indian uprising.
Dan will see action up through the battle of Antietam. He will later find himself in the hospital in Washington DC where he befriends a comrade also from the 1st Regiment. His sons barely miss the action at Shiloh but after, are engaged in all the major battles in the West. While they are passing through Louisville, William falls for a young woman, Mary who works as a hospital nurse. Back in Mendota, Sara befriends a young Chippewa native boy while her mother struggles with the breakup of her family. After Colonel Sibley defeats the Sioux, he is promoted to General and ordered to round up all the Dakota and push resettle them in the Dakotas.
This leads to the punitive expeditions that he and General Sully will command up until 1864. William is captured at the battle up Missionary Ridge and then sent to the prison camp at Belle Isle, VA. and then onto Andersonville. GA. John receives a 30 day furlough and returns to Mendota before he re-enlists. Louise and Sara wait for the war’s end so the family can be reunited, but events may not turn out as anticipated.
When and where do you prefer to write?
I prefer to write in my home office, but sometimes I’ll escape to the local library and find an empty study room to work in.
Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?
Yes. I like my writing environment to have no distractions.
If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
If he were still alive, I’d like to write with Sam Shepard. We did collaborate on a screenplay a few years back. He has since passed on.
Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’
or the ‘bad one’?
I’d like to be the devil’s advocate.
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
General William Tecumseh Sherman.
Where can I find you when you are reading?
Generally in my office, or on the toilet or bus, train, etc.
Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
In my yard, working on one of my old cars or digging in the garden.
What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
A sigh of relief.
How do you come up with a title for your book?
I try to make it direct and related to the historical aspect as possible.
How do you pick a cover for your book?
I choose from my collection of personal photographs of images I’ve taken or public domain images found on the internet
Thank you, Dane Pizzuti Krogman and The Coffee Pot Book Club
About the Author
Dane Pizzuti Krogman was educated in the fine arts at the University of Minnesota, receiving BFA and MFA degrees. He also specialized in Asian art history, with a concentration in textile and surface design. After graduation, he worked as a freelance designer creating fashion samples for women’s athletic wear. He eventually relocated to California and taught at Cal-Poly Pomona in the Environmental Design program then moved on to work as a pictorial artist for outdoor advertising. Moving back to the Twin Cities in 1981 he formed a scenic design company call Artdemo which in 10 years did over 1000 designs and productions for sets, props, and special effects for television commercials and feature films. In the early 90’s he relocated to Charleston, SC to work as a spec writer for feature film scripts. Six of his screenplays have won major writing awards and two of these have been optioned for production. During this time he also taught scene design at the College of Charleston. This position led to an adjunct teaching position at Virginia Commonwealth University where he taught art direction for filmmakers. In 1998 he took a full time teaching position at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where he taught art direction, life drawing, set construction, and Asian film studies, eventually becoming chairman of the department.
The common thread through all of this has been his passion for Japanese design, art, and fashion. He has lived in Kyoto, Japan for the past 20 summers studying Japanese kimono and obi design of the Heian and Edo periods. In 2002 he won the Grand Prize for the best graphic novel at the Hiroshima manga competition. His graphic Novel Skeleton boy was selected for inclusion into the Hiroshima peace memorial library in 2007.
He was most recently an adjunct faculty member in the Graduate Program in Digital Filmmaking at Stony Brook Southampton. He is also an award-winning screenwriter. His screenplay, The Schooner was produced as the Australian film, AUSTRALIA in 2008. He has other award-winning films that have been optioned for production or are in production.
As a Civil War historian he has worked as a technical advisor for the films, Dances with Wolfs, Gettysburg, and Glory. He currently has one Civil War novel in pre-publication; MENDOTA, AND THE RESTIVE RIVERS OF THE CIVIL AND INDIAN WARS 1861-65.
He also works part-time as a crew member on a Grand-Am Rolex series race team. The team won the national championship in 2008