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.
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 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.
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