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

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Janet Squires and the Old West (Arizona Edition)

One of the most mythologized/lied about/ accurately reported periods in history is the opening of the American West. So much that’s true is fascinating and so much of what is “known” is uhhhhhhh utter nonsense. That said, it’s ripe for good historical fiction. That’s where Janet Squires comes in.

Janet Squires looking incredibly Western-ish.
Janet Squires looking incredibly Western-ish.

She began her career writing short stories and nonfiction articles for national periodicals. However, my work as a Library Media Specialist for a school district inspired me to shift by attention to children’s books. Her first picture book, The Gingerbread Cowboy, is the Arizona Governor’s 2007 first grade book. A special edition of 100,000 copies was printed and distributed to every first grade student in the state.

Since then she’s broadened her focus and now writes fiction and nonfiction for both children and adults, which brings us to her novel, “Desperate Straits”  She teaches writing workshops, volunteers for literacy events at libraries and schools, tend a large organic garden. In whatever time she has left, she likes to saddle up and ride, or hike with her dog.

Okay, so in a nutshell, what’s “Desperate Straits” about?

Irish immigrant Sarah Ryan’s hope for a new life in the Arizona Territory is shattered in an instant by gunfire. Suddenly, she has to rebuild an uncertain future with her orphaned nephew, Will, and take on the challenges of a cattle ranch. Just when order returns, veteran lawman, L.T. McAllister rides in. He’s a dangerous man determined to do what’s right regardless of the personal cost. L.T. believes himself ready for anything until he meets Sarah. Her ideas about the man he’s become soon pit his lifetime of duty against desire.

Desperate Straits is her first novel about the settling of Arizona
Desperate Straits is her first novel about the settling of Arizona

L.T.’s and Sarah’s loyalty to Will catapults them into a life for which neither one is prepared. When L.T. and Sarah stand between one man and his obsession with the Lost Adam’s Gold,  they trigger a firestorm of retaliation. Kidnapping and murder escalates into a battle for justice… and their lives.

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

The American frontier has always been a passion for me. I grew up listening to tales of how my Irish/Cherokee ancestors pioneered their way West as ranchers, miners, and lawmen. Later, research into my family history uncovered personal accounts of life in the eighteen hundreds — Kentucky during the civil war — wagon trains from Texas — lives that inspired me with examples of fortitude, courage, and humor. Frontier life is personal for me.

One of my fondest childhood memories is waking in a creaky old iron bed to the sound of my Dad chopping wood so Grandma could cook breakfast on the wood burning stove she used til the day she died. I’m a daughter of the West… it’s the place where I’m at home.

Without giving away spoilers, what’s your favorite scene in the book?

Oh, wow…this is a tough question. Certainly, one of my favorite events is Sarah’s arrival in the Arizona Territory from Ireland. She defends herself against a shotgun wielding ranch hand with nothing but a broom, teaches herself to ride astride, and confronts the challenge of befriending her newly orphaned nephew. Each trial speaks to Sarah’s strength of character, courage, quick wits, and sense of humor. A quick poll of some of the men who’ve read my book puts L.T.’s action scenes at the top of their favorites list.

Men, what’re you gonna do with them? Where can people learn more about you and your work?

People can learn more about me and my books through these Social Media Outlets —

Website: http://www.janetsquiresbooks.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janetsquiresbooks?ref=hl

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Janet-Squires/e/B001IGQIQK/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1445792569&sr=8-1

Blog: All About the Books with Janet Squires: http://janetsquires.blogspot.com/

Twitter: Janet Squires Author@Janet Squires

I’m also on GoodReads and Riffle.