Colin Sargent, Ph.D. is a novelist, playwright, and author of three books of poetry. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he has been awarded the Maine individual artist fellowship in literature, a Stonecoast MFA in creative writing, and a Ph.D. in creative writing from Lancaster University in the UK. His screenplay Montebello Ice is under option at Gideon Films. The Portland, Maine resident is founding editor and publisher of award-winning Portland Magazine as well as a board member of the literacy organization Maine Reads. Museum of Human Beings is his first novel. According to Publishers Weekly, “Playwright Sargent’s debut novel is a stylish look at the fate of Sacagawea’s baby son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau… An impressively rounded portrait of the laid-back, introspective, nomadic Baptiste, this novel will satisfy fans of American history.”

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“Sacagawea’s Son,” Maine Sunday Telegram, Audience Section, Books: December 21

By Meredith Goad

Take a closer look at the golden dollar coin that bears the image of Sacagawea, the Shoshone Indian guide who led explorers Merriweather Lewis and William Clark across the early 19th-century American wilderness. Strapped to her back is her infant son, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau.

Ever wonder what became of that baby boy?

That’s the premise of Colin Sargent’s new work of historical fiction, “Museum of Human Beings” (McBooks Press Inc., $23.95). Sargent, a 54-year-old poet, playwright and publisher of Portland Magazine, researched the facts of Jean-Baptiste’s life to create a portrait of what life was like for Sacagawea’s son during and after the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Sacagawea’s son initially ended up in Europe, a traveling curiosity who was put on display for scientists and dignitaries. He was highly intelligent, speaking several languages fluently and performing at times as a concert musician. Eventually, he came back to the New World, where he became a trapper, guide-interpreter and miner, rubbing elbows with the likes of Kit Carson and James Bridger.

“Museum of Human Beings” has received good reviews nationally, and has attracted interest from the American Indian community. Last week, Sargent traveled to Washington, D.C., to do a reading at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

On his Web site, www.museumof, Sargent has posted video of a friend, author Jaed Coffin, acting out a more modern interpretation of Charbonneau.

Sargent lives in Portland with his wife, Dr. Nancy Sargent, who has a dental practice in Falmouth Foreside. His son, Colin S. Sargent, is a doctoral candidate at Northeastern University.

We spoke with Sargent at his Portland Magazine office on Congress Street. Here is an edited version of the conversation:

Q: Was it difficult to switch to fiction after working on the magazine for so many years?

A: The Internet has been very helpful, because arcane journal entries, where someone might surface in a voting record or a birth and death record or an education record, now make people sort of appear on the Internet like a message on an eight ball. Library collections and their archives are more available. And so there are all these individual points, kind of like stars.

What I like about fiction is the human projection, where someone would look at these disassociated stars in the sky. Someone writing fiction might say hey, that looks like the Big Dipper. I just live for the Big Dipper. I respect the facts, and it’s an interesting process going from fact through the imagination so that the fiction rings true.

Q: Was the German prince who took Jean-Baptiste around Europe really such a nasty character in real life?

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