Born and raised in Kentucky, TODD PACK is a former journalist now working in media relations. He lives outside Nashville, Tenn., with his wife and children.
What's the story behind your latest book (THE STORIES OF JENNY WILEY)?
Jenny Wiley is a sort of legendary figure in Kentucky. In the 1780s, she lived on what was then the frontier of Virginia, near the present-day town of Bland. One afternoon, while her husband was away, a group of Native Americans attacked her home, killed her children and took her prisoner. They carried her hundreds of miles across rough terrain to a camp in present-day Eastern Kentucky. Several months later, she escaped. I think everyone in that corner of the state knows the story, or a story, about Jenny Wiley. If nothing else, people know her as the namesake of a Kentucky state. Several years ago, I found out that I’m distantly related to her. I wanted to know more about her, but there are so many versions of the story that it was hard separating fact from fiction. I thought, if I’m struggling with this, I’ll bet other people are, too, so I thought I’d pull my research together into a book. The book is basically a guide to the stories of Jenny Wiley. A lot of the material I found when researching her life was undocumented, which was really frustrating, so I documented everything. I tell readers exactly where to find the information. I also tried to put Jenny’s story into context. The attack on her family didn’t happen in a vacuum. So, I talk about the conflict at the time between the former Europeans and the Native Americans. A lot of the stories I read lauded the “Indian fighters” for fending off the vicious “savages,” but I think the book shows there were atrocities committed by both sites, and I think that helps explain what happened to Jenny’s family.
Describe your desk
My desk is messy. When I'm working on a project, the notes and reference material just pile up. Now that The Stories of Jenny Wiley is finished, I'm tidying up some, but my desk's natural state is messy.
Jenny Wiley was living in 1780s Virginia when a band of Native Americans attacked her frontier home, killed her children and took her captive, dragging her across rugged mountains and swift-running rivers to present-day Kentucky. THE STORIES OF JENNY WILEY unravels the history behind her legend and looks at the storytellers who honored her memory and carried her story into the 21st century.