Fiction Rooted in Dreams By Tashia Hart

Previous cohort member of All My Relations Arts Native Authors Program, Tashia Hart shares her personal experience in the program and what she’s currently working on. 

Fiction Rooted in Dreams
By Tashia Hart

Ma’iingan illustration by Tashia Hart, inking by Jonathan Thunder.

All my fiction is rooted in dreams. In 2018, I had enough of them to get started writing Gidjie and the Wolves. During the creation of that book, I collected dreams for two years and in 2020, just at a time when I was ready to figure out what my next book was going to be, I was approached by Diane Wilson to join the All My Relations Arts’ Native Authors Program.

I was excited; I had never been part of a writing group. I thought, what an amazing opportunity, to be a part of an all Native, all Minnesota author group. I was thankful and eager to grow in community while developing the tools in my writer’s toolbox.

For the first round of critiques, I submitted my dream journal for feedback. It was mostly a lot of weird, kind of disturbing pieces. After that submission, I realized I had the makings for not one but two books; one was an upbeat story about a new couple camping in the wilderness, and the other was weird, dark and had mysteries and spirits.

I thought about what kind of writing I wanted to bring to that group over the next year; ultimately, what did I want to subject them to? Our group was all women, and most were older than me. I decided I wanted to share with those women a story of joy and love.

It made sense at the time for me to explore the realm of love through the character Winnow in Native Love Jams, as Winnow was the main character in my first book, Girl Unreserved, which is a fictionalized retelling of my own coming of age tale.

In Girl Unreserved, Winnow struggled with understanding what healthy love looks and feels like. I thought out of all the characters I had in my arsenal, Winnow deserved a real shot at love and a happy ending; for so many years, I was Winnow, trying to understand the workings of healthy love.

I was not familiar with writing in the romance genre, so I had to do a lot of research. I decided for that first book in the series I was starting, the Real Native Romance series, the most authentic story I could tell would include the things I had experience with: food sovereignty, foraging, food trucks, cooking and rez life.

The authors program essentially helped shape my trajectory as an author. I’m not sure I would have ever written a romantic comedy. I recently adapted Native Love Jams into a screenplay that is in the works to be a film; and I’m now working on the next book in the Real Native Romance series. This new story has the dream seeds from the other half of my journal I submitted at the start of the Native Author Program. This time around, I have the confidence to explore even more of my inner realms; this new work is a paranormal sci-fi romantic comedy about a bead artist from Red Lake. I look forward to sharing this work and want to say chi-miigwech to NACDI, All My Relations Arts, Diane Wilson, my fellow writers and everyone who had a hand in making the program a possibility and a success!


About Tashia: 
Tashia Hart is a writer and artist from the Red Lake Nation of Anishinnabe in northern Minnesota. Her literary works include the contemporary romance Native Love Jams; The Good Berry Cookbook: Harvesting and Cooking Wild Rice and Other Wild Foods; the middle-grade illustrated book Gidjie and the Wolves; and Girl Unreserved, a fictionalized retelling of her own coming of age tale. Tashia’s illustration work includes 3 books in the Minnesota Native American Lives series; as an assistant illustrator of Gaa-pi-izhiwebak; and illustrator/penciller for Gidjie and the Wolves. Her short works include recipes, essays, poetry, and short stories. Tashia is also a jewelry maker working in beads and birch bark and some metal work in the past. She lives in Duluth, MN with her husband, son, and a turtle.

Tashia Hart, photo by Jonathan Thunder.


Are you an emerging writer, author or poet? Stay tuned for our summer open call for cohort members for the next Native Authors Program initiative. 

All My Relations Arts’ Native Authors Program is proudly funded this year by the Jerome Foundation.