The Inquisition in Mexico- Marcia Fine

If, like me, you tend to have issues with religion in general a, you don’t have to look much past the Spanish Inquisition for a pretty good historical reason. When we think of them (and, as Monty Python reminded us, “NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!”) we think of Renaissance and Reformation Europe. In fact, the Inquisition was particularly active in the New World: they were present in Mexico, Colombia and Peru. That leads us to this week’s interview with Arizona author Marcia Fine and her award-nominated novel,“Hidden Ones- a Veil of Mystery.”

AMarcia Fine has written seven novels, including THE BLIND EYE—A Sephardic Journey, historical fiction chosen by the state library of Arizona for ONEBOOKAZ 2015. PAPER CHILDREN—An Immigrant’s Legacy has been a finalist for three national prizes. PARIS LAMB, her sixth novel, deals with anti-Semitism in the 1950s. She has also written the only satirical series about Scottsdale.

Her novel, HIDDEN ONES released in 2017, examines conversos in Mexico during the Inquisition. It has won First Prizes in the categories of Historical Fiction and Multicultural as well as Honorable Mention from AZ Authors. Marcia has a BA from Florida State University and a Masters from Arizona State University.

In a nutshell, what’s the story of Hidden Ones?

HIDDEN ONES—A Veil of Memories is a true story about a grandmother arrested during the Inquisition in Mexico. She and her family must survive under harsh circumstances that take them into the Southwest Territories as they flee north. Who would turn in their abuela?

What is it about that time period you found so fascinating?

Clara Crespin is the matriarch of a large family of conversos, people who were forcibly converted to Catholicism. She is accused of Judaizing, which means she lights candles on the Sabbath, prepares foods in a special way and hides prayer books. Women were the keepers of the faith during the 17th century when the novel takes place and long before that because they taught the Law of Moses to their children. They are breaking the rules and it is punishable by death.

Celendaria, her granddaughter, feels the impact of her grandmother being imprisoned. The whole family is at risk. She is learning about their secretive lives as a mate is chosen for her. Franciso, a bail bondsman who brings prisoners from small town jails to the Inquisition Palace in Mexico City, causes consternation because he is not a scholar.

The book opens in 1649 with the aftermath of an auto-de-fé, known as An Act of Faith, a three day spectacle put on by the Church and civil authorities. It is well-documented that 40,000 people attended in Mexico City. They exhumed bodies and paraded them through town, marched the accused through the streets and burned people alive. The actual Inquisitor, Dr. Juan Saenz de Mañzoca, who presided over the auto-de-fé is a real person.

That paints a pretty dramatic picture. What was your favorite scene to write?

I’m very visual so I write in scenes. One of my favorites is when Celendaria, the granddaughter, learns a secret when she observes her friend Mariel at the mikvah, a ritual bath for cleansing that women share before the Sabbath. It is later reinforced when she spies on Mariel with a priest behind the confessional.

It’s important to mention that these people lived duplicitous lives. They were Jews inside their homes observing traditions and rituals from the past while they were Catholics who attended Mass when they went outside.

Where can people learn more about you and your other books?

On Amazon:

On Barnes and Noble:       

Website: www.marciafine.com   

On Facebook they can friend me at Marcia Fine Author. I also have a site, A Sephardic Journey that is of interest to people who have converso backgrounds. My other novels are addressed as: PAPER CHILDREN and PARIS LAMB. I am part of the Linked In community and share articles on that site.

Marcia Fine | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/marcia.fine

A Sephardic Journey – Home | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/asephardicjourney/

https://www.facebook.com/PaperChildren

Subscribe to my monthly newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Acre’s Bastard.  Each month you’ll receive links to interviews with great authors, news about upcoming events and previews of my work in progress, Acre’s Orphans. Look in the bottom left of the page for the sign-up sheet. No spam, just once a month updates and a chance to learn about great new Historical Fiction from around the world.

Samurai Fantasy from J.N. de Bedout

One of my favorite subjects in historical films and books is the Samurai/Shogunate period in Japan.  While I can binge watch Yojimbo, Throne of Blood, and 7 Samurai over and over, there are precious few Western novels written about that time. When I came across this history/fantasy series, The Legend of Sithalkaan, I knew I had to talk to the author, J.N. de Bedout.

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I’m from Colombia, so English, technically, is not my first language. I work developing medical software and have been doing that for over thirteen years now. My academic background is in engineering, but with a minor in history. History has always fascinated me, and I hope that my books showcase that. But, you’ll notice that there is no literary background. Nor do any of my family members have literary backgrounds; they are all engineers. But, I was always a good storyteller. I could make up stories during long road trips and keep everybody entertained. Teachers often told me I had a future in writing. But it would be decades before I took the fateful plunge into publishing. Having an exciting tale to tell helped, too.
The series, “The Legend of Sithalkaan”, originally started as a single book. But it was too long to publish as one. Fortunately, there were natural breaks in the story that allowed me to snap it into four separate books, though they are parts of one continuous tale. Ideas for a future series are already marinating, so the literary adventure will continue after book 4 comes out. I had a lot of fun forging the twists and defining the characters.
One of the best things about writing is a Colombian, writing in English, can tell a story set in Ancient Japan. As a Canadian, living in the US and writing about the Crusades in the Middle East, I see nothing odd about that. Your series has a fascinating premise, and I know it’s fantasy based on historical reality, but help me out. What’s it about?
The book re-imagines certain events that transpired during the Sengoku Jidai period of Japanese history, wrapping them in a conspiracy that explains the subsequent two-hundred years of Tokugawa peace as well as certain war crimes that were alleged during WWII. First and foremost, book 1, “The Legend of Sithalkaan”, spans two key battles: the attack and destruction of the Warrior Monk stronghold on Mt. Hiei and the attack on the Warrior Monk fortress at Nagashima. History records both battles as being led, and won, by Oda Nobunaga. But the re-imagined tale offers a different explanation for those two events. It also transplants a modern scourge, religious extremism, into a fictitious Warrior Monk sect and elevates them from the nuisance these groups were historically to an existential threat.
The tale follows a young, ambitious musketeer that is conscripted to guide three priests into the war-torn interior. They seek a rumored demonic relic on orders from the Vatican. During their journey, they encounter a resurgent fanatical sect that seeks to destroy the samurai order by unleashing dark powers concealed in that same relic. The far-reaching mythology surrounding the relic is introduced; its tentacles reach as far as Kaffa (on the Crimean Peninsula), Imperial China, the Mongolian steppes, and Japan. The warped and virulent tenets of the ancient and assumed-to-be-defunct fanatical, and heretical, faith are also introduced.
The second book, Tears of the Kensei, introduces new champions, deepens the mythology and expands the campaign, and the third book, Master of Heaven, concludes the main story arc with an epic clash to define the fate of Japan, the world, and the heavens. The fourth and final book in the series will be out late 2018 or early 2019. I can summarize the four books, in order, in this simplest of fashions: the legend, first contact, final showdown, and the revelation. On top of that, the tale is also one of self-discovery for the protagonist; his past is murky, and his journey will lead to an unexpected destiny by the end of the third book.
What is it about that time period that motivated you to write the stories?
The tale is set during the waning years of Sengoku Jidai period of Japanese history, (approximately 1460-1600 for us Westerners,  give or take) and as such, it is chaotic. Think of it as the equivalent of the Thirty Years War in Europe. When people imagine the samurai, they have an ideal of noble warriors following the Bushido. But in reality, the foundations of that discipline were often ignored during the Sengoku period; instead, it was refined and perfected into what is known today during the peaceful years of the later Tokugawa dynasty where warfare was near non-existent. Furthermore, if you read about Oda Nobunaga’s early struggles, you’ll find that much of his early conflicts were with rebellious Warrior Monk sects rather than other samurai clans. It’s also quite interesting that Oda Nobunaga, probably one of the most renowned samurai ever, was a pioneer in gun tactics.
For example, he was the first to invent the tactic of rotating fire. The period also gave us such notables as Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin, who clashed in numerous battles but only faced each other in battle once; during the 4th battle of Kawanakajima, Uesugi Kenshin burst into Takeda’s command tent but only had time for a single strike, which Takeda deflected with his war fan. Add to that the Portuguese arriving and injecting guns and Christianity into the mix. That confluence makes for a great setting for the books. Faiths collide. Technology transforms battlefields. Honor means little to all but a few stalwarts.
That same chaos allowed Oda Nobunaga’s successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, to become de facto Shogun even though he served as a sandal bearer in his early career. And, it empowers the main protagonist, a simple commoner, to rise in rank and pursue his dreams of becoming a samurai.
Without giving away spoilers, what was your favorite scene to write?
It’s difficult to pick just one. The battle scenes in “The Legend of Sithalkaan” were certainly fun to write. The law of the gun versus the way of the sword. Samurai versus Warrior Monk. Sieges. Standoffs. Escapes. Topics also include the afterlife and immortality. There’s another scene where the protagonists learn of the ghastly practices of their new enemies. The scenes in the fortress of Futoge were interesting, too, borrowing from several European Black Death architectures. But I think the scene where they enter the labyrinth has to be my favorite. It’s a climactic moment in book 1 where the protagonists learn a terrible truth about the relic. It is dark and perilous and shrouded in mystery. Plus, they face a threat none of them anticipated even though it’s forewarned in the iconography on the central crypt. It also occurs at the pinnacle of a pitched battle, so much of the fighting leads up to this moment.
Inspiration for the use of the labyrinth, as well as the name of the fanatical clan of Warrior Monks originated with the Greek tale of the Minotaur. The symbolism of the labyrinth was appealing. Beyond the obvious benefits such an enigmatic structure offers, it helped to portray the long foresight of those who built it. Plus, its very existence ends up being exposed as a travesty born from poor coordination and ignorance.
To learn more about the series:
Amazon:
Amazon UK:
Amazon Series page:
Amazon UK Series page:
Amazon Author page:
Goodreads:
Twitter:
Facebook:
Web:
Any reviews or comments are most appreciated.
Subscribe to my monthly newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Acre’s Bastard.  Each month you’ll receive links to interviews with great authors, news about upcoming events and previews of my work in progress, Acre’s Orphans. Look in the bottom left of the page for the sign-up sheet. No spam, just once a month updates and a chance to learn about great new Historical Fiction from around the world.

Big-ass plans for 2018

Anyone who knows me, knows I hate New Years Eve. Always have. The week between Christmas and New Years is traditionally a time of self-flagellating reflection, semi-soul-numbing-regrets and non-clinical depression. That generally comes complete with a lot of whining and binge-eating the remaining butter tarts. With the Duchess working retail, and my customers inconsiderately on vacation, I have too much time to think about stuff. Nothing good happens when Wayne starts a sentence with, “I’ve been thinking.”

This year is (slightly, ever-so-slightly) different.

By the way, this is not a request for “attaboy” Facebook messages or offers of assistance or your therapists’ contact information. I go through this every year and come out the other side. It’s just a way of setting up what I have to say next.

As I look forward to 2018, there are three things to look forward to.

  1. In May, the release of “The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.” Co-written with my boss and friend, Kevin Eikenberry, this is a very real book from a real publisher and the hope is that it will kick-start the whole “paying the rent” thing. It’s available for Pre-Order now. Just saying.
  2. This summer will see the release of “Acre’s Orphans”, the second story in the Lucca series. I’m guessing August?  I had hoped to have it out by now, but hubris is a terrible thing. “How hard could it be to do a world-class business book AND the next novel in the same year?” I can now answer that: way more than I thought. For those of you awaiting the next adventure. It’s coming. By the way, I killed off someone major in Chapter 15. Can’t wait to hear the complaining…..
  3. After 17 years in Chicago, the Duchess and I are planning to leave Chicago for Las Vegas. Now, I’m well aware that if you want to hear God laugh, tell Her your plans, and nothing is set in stone. Still, that’s the plan. No more frigid winters (it’s -5 Fahrenheit this Boxing Day morning as Iwrite this. I think it was either Mark Twain or Simone de Beauvoir who famously said, “F#@*! this”.) And it’s time to start the next chapter of our lives. Of course, if anyone wants to buy a few copies of my books to help fund the move, we’d appreciate it. While I love Chicago,  and Her Serene Highness will be staying behind, it’s either move or be murdered in my sleep by a woman raised in Miami and still pining for  Los Angeles after all these years. I’m already packing boxes.

You never really know what a year holds, but I am excited for the challenges I know I (and we as a family) will face.

My own self-absorbed whinging aside, I wish for you an exciting 2018 of chasing your dreams and fighting the weasels to at least a draw.

A Jack London-Harry Houdini Love Triangle: Rebecca Rosenberg

If you’ve read The Count of the Sahara, you know my fascination with real-life characters who behave in ways so crazy you’d think someone was making it up. So when I found Rebecca Rosenberg’s book, “The Secret Life of Mrs. London” I was intrigued. I mean, the wife of the world’s best-selling novelist (Jack London) having an affair with Harry Freakin’ Houdini? And it really happened? I had to learn more.

BTW the title of this post was originally “A Harry Houdini/Jack London Love Triangle With Rebecca Rosenburg,” but I realized that probably read wrong and would probably upset Mr. Rosenberg. Punctuation and grammar matter, people.

So Rebecca, what’s your deal?

I live on our lavender farm in Sonoma, California, which Jack London named Valley of the Moon, and wrote his books. My first book was Lavender Fields of America, a non-fiction coffee table book. Recently, our farm was destroyed in the Sonoma/Santa Rosa fires, but we are rebuilding and replanting as we speak! I am fascinated with remarkable people who lived before us and their improbably, fantastical stories. That’s why I write biographic historical fiction.

Oh my gosh. I have nothing clever to say to that except I’m so sorry. Tell us about your book…

Jack and Charmian London

The novel starts in San Francisco, 1915, just as America teeters on the brink of world war. Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, struggle under the strains of marital discord, brought on by infidelity, a lost baby, their dream home destroyed by fire. (There’s a creepy coincidence don’t you think?)  Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband. But Jack doesn’t see it that way. Until, Charmian is pulled from the audience at a magic show of the beguiling escape artist, Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own troubled marriage. And suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her, entranced by his sexual magnetism, and drawn into his mysterious undercover world, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape

I share your fascination with this period of time. What makes it so intriguing?

The Houdinis and the Londons…. probably an awkward evening.

I wanted to write about Jack London, the most popular, highest paid author of the early 1900’s, who wrote 50 novels in 20 years with the help of his muse, editor and typist, Charmian London. The couple was as unconventional, free-loving, and bohemian as they were adventurous, building a ketch and sailing around the world in 1907, encountering the Lepers of Molokai, cannibals and headhunters. They created a utopic 1400 acre Beauty Ranch in Glen Ellen, California, complete with pig palace, one-hundred thousand tree eucalyptus grove, prize winning Shire horses. All the while entertaining guests as diverse as Socialist cronies, Mother Jones, Upton Sinclair, Clarence Darrow, to famed botanist, Luther Burbank, to Ed Morell, the prisoner who inspired The Star Gazer.

But, when I discovered the little known fact that Charmian had an affair with Houdini, I knew the story had to begin there. Houdini was the most famous magician of his era, but his mystery only starts there. Houdini traveled Europe performing for the Tzar of Russia and the German Chancellor, and reportedly spied for our government.

Nothing could hold Houdini- no safe, no jail cell, no chains or locks… yet he wrote Charmian:

“I now understand how kings give up their kingdom for a woman. I love you.” Houdini wrote her passionate letters until the end of his life.

What was your favorite scene to write?

It was fascinating to depict Houdini’s iconic illusions and escapes, and include the Londons in them. But perhaps, I love how the novel starts with Jack and Charmian boxing! They loved to box, and it is symbolic of their relationship and how it binds them, yet tears them apart.

Where can people learn more?

I would really appreciate readers to review the novel on Goodreads!

http://www.rebecca-rosenberg.com/

https://www.amazon.com/author/rebeccarosenberg

https://www.facebook.com/rebeccarosenbergnovels/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35655162-the-secret-life-of-mrs-london

Subscribe to my monthly newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Acre’s Bastard.  Each month you’ll receive links to interviews with great authors, news about upcoming events and previews of my work in progress, Acre’s Orphans. Look in the bottom left of the page for the sign-up sheet. No spam, just once a month updates and a chance to learn about great new Historical Fiction from around the world. Everyone who signs up before January 1 enters to win!

The Long-Distance Leader is completely, utterly, finally complete and available for pre-sale.

Readers of this blog probably don’t think about my non-fiction work very much, but let’s face it–Lucca, Byron and their colleagues don’t pay the bills. My newest book, co-written with my boss, friend and colleague Kevin Eikenberry is now available for pre-orders.

The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership will be released June 5, from Berrett-Koehler.

Looks good, doesn’t it? It is. If you lead remote project teams, or have people working from home and you’re struggling to be the leader you want to be, this book is for you.

If you’re unfamiliar with my non-fiction work, check out my Amazon Author Page for more details.

Renaissance Music and Romance with Karen Bedore

I first became aware of Karen Bedore’s work earlier this year, when her novel “The Bard” beat “Acre’s Bastard” to make the short list of the Illinois Library Association’s annual “Soon to be Famous Author” competition. When we finally met at a library author event, I swallowed my petty spite and hateful envy enough to chat with her, and learn she has a new book out. That would be, “Another Lifetime.”

Turns out that when she’s not writing, she teaches middle-school music. You’ll see she has her denial firmly in hand…

So let’s learn about Karen Bedore…

On a typical day, one could find Karen in the throngs of adolescent wonderment, trying to create harmonious music-making to these next-generation superstars. From the first squeaks of “Hot Cross Buns” to the lavish lyrical sounds of “Danny Boy,” there is much magic that occurs within the four walls of the band room.

After being fueled by many cups of coffee to sustain the never-ending insanity of middle school energy, she arrives home to the role of wife (to a wonderful husband) and mother (of an amazing little boy), cherishing every moment (okay, perhaps not the whining…).

However…

Secretly (well, not so secret any more), she is an undercover author, who laces up her trainers for a run to build endurance–not just for running–but to escape from this world to an alternate one, where history and romance meet, fueled by suspense–and of course–wonderful music.

Well, if the whole “secret identify” thing works for you and helps you deal with the most evil of Nature’s creations- tweens- God love ya. What’s your latest book about?

Twenty-two-year-old Aria Carucci was getting nowhere with her research of the obscure fifteenth-century artist Enzo Benenati.  A recent discovery of one of his works was a monumental breakthrough, but the accompanying sketch of a woman who could be her twin left her completely stunned. She vows to discover who this woman was, but nothing can prepare her for the path her research takes—back in time to 1459 Florence.  Frightened but thrilled, she must adapt to a time not her own.   Thrown together by chance, Aria and Enzo fall in love, only to be at the mercy of the hands of fate.      

You’re the second author in a row here who’s tackled the Renaissance as their theme. What is it about that time period that’s so interesting to you? 

I have always been fascinated by the early Renaissance period, ever since I can remember. The humanism movement—especially in Italy—has transformed the visual and musical art world, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without that ingenuity. I have family roots in Italy as well, and am in love with the language and culture.  If I were a character, I would be Aria. Many people who have read the book have noticed that I pretty much inserted myself into the book.

The arrogance of some authors (completely disregards his own work where he is Byron, Willie, Lucca, and probably the snarky old guy in most of the short stories). Without giving away spoilers, what’s your favorite scene in the book?

Ooh, this is hard! I would have to say the first kiss. –dreamy sigh-

I think those middle-schoolers are rubbing off on you, but what the heck. Where can we learn more about your work (including the one that beat mine out… not that I’m bitter or anything)?

My website: http://karenbedore.wordpress.com

Twitter: @Lady_Alcinia

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebardtrilogy/

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/ybmhdld6

Subscribe to my monthly newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Acre’s Bastard.  Each month you’ll receive links to interviews with great authors, news about upcoming events and previews of my work in progress, Acre’s Orphans. Look in the bottom left of the page for the sign-up sheet. No spam, just once a month updates and a chance to learn about great new Historical Fiction from around the world. Everyone who signs up before January 1 enters to win!

Join me Nov 25th at Centuries and Sleuths in Forest Park to Support Small Businesses

i will be one of over a dozen authors signing and (and if there’s any justice in the universe) selling books at Centuries and Sleuths, on Saturday, November 25 from 1-3 PM.

As part of “Small Business Saturday,” Augie Alesky (blessings upon him for supporting local authors) will throw the doors open to some of Chicago’s best independent authors. Pop on by and say hello.  If you’re looking for great personalized gifts for the readers in your life, there’s no better way to pick up something unique and appreciated.

Centuries and Sleuths is located at 7419 Madison St, Forest Park, Illinois. Lots of parking downtown.

Just a heads up, the Elgin Literary Festival is coming, too.  See you January 27.

Subscribe to my monthly newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Acre’s Bastard.  Each month you’ll receive links to interviews with great authors, news about upcoming events and previews of my work in progress, Acre’s Orphans. Look in the bottom left of the page for the sign-up sheet. No spam, just once a month updates and a chance to learn about great new Historical Fiction from around the world. Everyone who signs up before January 1 enters to win!

The Lucknow Mutiny with Jocelyn Cullity

Read to the bottom of the page for a special offer!

I have always been fascinated by India… maybe because it is literally as different a culture from ours as possible yet there’s always been cultural cross-over. The British Raj has given us some of the most famous historical fiction ever (you’re a good man, Gunga Din) and yet we in the West have seldom heard the story from the Indians’ perspective. That’s where Jocelyn Cullity and “Amah and the Silk-Winged Pigeons” come in.

Jocelyn Cullity’s Amah & the Silk-Winged Pigeons is based on ten years of research. She was awarded The New England Writer’s Fellowship from A Room of Her Own Foundation in the United States, and a Writers’ Reserve Grant from the Ontario Arts Council in Canada. Her short stories and essays have been published in American, Canadian, and Indian journals and anthologies; her award-winning documentary film about women and social change in China, Going to the Sea, aired on television and in festivals in Canada, the United States, and in Europe.

Jocelyn has a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Florida State University and is currently the Director of Creative Writing in the BFA Program at Truman State University. She lives in Columbia, Missouri with her husband, the film scholar Prakash Younger, and their two daughters.

What’s the story of Amah about?

Amah and the Silk-Winged Pigeons is about the women (who do not find sufficient space or voice in many of our history textbooks) who valiantly resisted English rule in 1857 India — in a famous event that some English called “the Great Mutiny” and what some Indians call “India’s First War of Independence.”

As a Canadian living in the US, I find one of the great ironies is that one person’s “freedom fighter” is another person’s “godless rebel.” What is it about this particular story you found so fascinating?

19th century Lucknow was gorgeous, opulent, and cosmopolitan — European travelers to the city regularly would say they were in “luck. now.” when they reached the city. The English had already taken over other parts of India and in 1856, they deposed Lucknow’s King and began to take over the city. What followed was a famous uprising in which the Indians in the city — led by women — attempted to oust the English.

My mother’s English family lived in India for five generations and my great-great-great aunt was in the city of Lucknow during the resistance to English rule there. When I was a teenager, I transcribed her diary and the event stuck with me! I went on to look at Indian women’s perspectives on the tragedy that happened there. That’s when I found out that it was Indian women who planned and led the resistance — women we know too little about — and I knew then that the story I wanted to tell was theirs.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

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My favorite scene in the book is when Amah, who tells the story, must fight off an English soldier over a very hot and difficult afternoon.
Where can we learn more about your book?
Subscribe to my monthly newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Acre’s Bastard.  Each month you’ll receive links to interviews with great authors, news about upcoming events and previews of my work in progress, Acre’s Orphans. Look in the bottom left of the page for the sign-up sheet. No spam, just once a month updates and a chance to learn about great new Historical Fiction from around the world. Everyone who signs up before January 1 enters to win!

Reformation, Faith and Heresy with C.L.R Peterson

By now, it’s abundantly clear from Acre’s Bastard that I have a complicated relationship with organized religion. Still, any student of history knows that little else has moved the levers of power in every corner of the world like faith and people’s reactions to it. Case in point:  CLR Peterson’s new novel about the Renaissance, the Reformation and the line between conscience and heresy. “Lucia’s Renaissance” comes from the author’s own academic interest in the topic. Here’s what she has to say:

What’s your deal?

CLR Peterson is the author of Lucia’s Renaissance

Renaissance history came to life for me during a semester of study in Italy. Then Martin Luther’s bold stand against the Roman Church and its pleasure-loving Pope Leo, a classic David-versus-Goliath battle, hooked me on the Reformation. I’ve pursued my passion for the Renaissance/Reformation era ever since, earning a PhD in Early Modern European History at Stanford University. Research for my debut novel, Lucia’s Renaissance, included reading heresy trial transcripts in Venice’s State Archives.

 

 

Geeky but cool. What’s Lucia’s Renaissance about?

Heresy is fatal in late sixteenth-century Italy, so only a suicidal zealot would so much as whisper the name of Martin Luther. But after Luther’s ideas ignite a young girl’s faith, she can’t set them aside, even when faced by plague, death, and the Inquisition.

What is it about that time period that is so fascinating to you?

For years, I’ve been intrigued by the relationship between the Italian Renaissance, with its vitality, creativity, and focus on humanity, and the religious Reformation sparked by Luther.

While reading heresy trial records from this era, I found a microcosm of this Renaissance/Reformation tension. A bare-bones portrait emerged of a Renaissance-educated Italian physician so devoted to Martin Luther’s ideas that for years he smuggled the reformer’s writings into Italian lands, leading to three trials before the Roman Church’s Inquisition. My novel fills out his family’s story (using literary license when necessary) from the viewpoint of the physician’s daughter, Lucia.

What’s your favorite scene or event  in the book?

When Lucia unlocks a hidden drawer in her father’s desk, she makes a shocking discovery: a book by Martin Luther, the arch-heretic her priest railed against. Questions flood her mind. Why was the book placed in the drawer? Does her father, a strict follower of the Church’s rules, know about the book? Could he be a heretic?

Lucia must decide whether to report her find to the priest, lock the book away and pretend she never saw it, confront her father, or read the book and make her own judgment.

Where can people learn more about you and Lucia’s Renaissance?

My website: clrpeterson.com

My book’s Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/ B076GKJY2V

My book’s Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/ book/show/36339179-lucia-s- renaissance?from_search=true

What if Guy Fawkes Won? Spec Fiction From Tony Morgan

One of the most vivid travel memories I have is flying into London on a November night and as we came low over England, small towns were blasting fireworks, so there were little starbursts all over the ground. Those demonstrations, of course, were in memory of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. As this plaque shows, it failed and the consequences weren’t great for Guy. But the story lives on. One author has asked the question: what if the plot to blow up Parliament had succeeded? The answer is a pair of novels: “Remember, Remember,The Sixth of November,” and “1617.”

Tony Morgan has taken the famous story of November 5th and created  his own world, playing my favorite writing game; “what if?” What if D-Day had failed? What if Columbus hadn’t made it back to Spain? What if my mother had married any of the three (THREE!) guys who proposed to her before she accepted my father? Actually, I try not to dwell on that one for all kinds of reasons. The point is, it’s a fascinating game.

What’s the Tony Morgan story?

Tony Morgan lives in Yorkshire in the UK, close to the birthplace of Guy Fawkes. His books have been described as a perfect read for lovers of the works of C.J. Sansom and S. J. Parris and anyone interested in how historic events have shaped our own times. Profits from both his books in 2017 are being donated to York Teaching Hospital Charity’s dementia appeal.

In a nutshell,what are the stories about?

In my first novel “Remember, Remember the 6th of November” I retell the story of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. It’s a pivotal moment in British history, celebrated annually on November 5th with bonfires and fireworks. Given few people know the details behind this, I’ve focused on the real-life events but couldn’t stop myself from including a few twists along the way.

In my new release “1617” I’ve inserted the twists from the start. An alternate history develops, where the Gunpowder Plotters have succeeded in blowing up Parliament and killing King James I. The story centres on the early years of the reign of his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, as she attempts to set the country on a different path towards religious tolerance. Of course, not everyone is supportive. Far from it, extremists and foreign agents wish to foil her plans. Closer to home, Elizabeth’s opponents plan to stop her ending the “plantation” of Ireland. With all this happening, can the young queen survive?

What is it about that time period or character that intrigued you and motivated you to write about it?

The first book is set in a world with fascinating, if alarming, parallels with modern times – terrorists on the streets of London, religious unrest, government surveillance and conflict with Europe. The history of the Gunpowder Plot is compelling, from the motivations of the Catholic conspirators, to the intrigue, betrayals, torture and so on.

In both books, it’s the people of the era which fascinate me most. Every Gunpowder Plotter was a man with a family, wives, children, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters; as were those on the opposite side of the divide. In “1617”, how could Elizabeth face a world where her father and brothers had been murdered and she was likely next in line? How would the zealots on all sides react to talk of religious tolerance? What would be the impact in Ireland, in America and beyond be from these changes to history? Attempting to begin to answer these questions was motivation enough for me. I’m hoping readers will also develop their own thoughts and threads.

Without giving away the good bits, what are your favorite scenes?

In “Remember, Remember the 6th of November” it’s a secret discussion between spymaster general Robert Cecil and one of the plotters. There’s a significant reveal so I won’t spoil it but Cecil is my favourite character in the book. He’s a man with a ruthless controlling streak but he also has humour and understanding too.

In “1617” I enjoyed the interplay between the protagonist Sir Everard Digby and his Welsh friend and real-life navy captain and explorer Thomas Button. My favourite scene though is where the deadly French spy Linda Blanchet exploits the lecherous French ambassador in London in an attempt to cover her tracks.

Now let’s get shamelessly mercenary. Where can people find you and your books?

Remember, Remember the 6th of November is available in Paperback and Kindle ebook formats –

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LICIBOK

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01LICIBOK

1617 is available as a Kindle ebook –

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075C3WY9P

UK – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075C3WY9P