Friday, March 23, 2018

The Perils of Podcasting

As I promised back in February 2017, when I welcomed Claudia H. Long as our newest member of Five Directions Press, our group has just published the third in her Tendrils of the Inquisition series, Chains of Silver. So it seemed like the right time to interview her for New Books in Historical Fiction. That, through no fault of NBHF’s or mine (four nor’easters in a row, with accompanying power and Internet outages, bear most of the responsibility), I have so far managed exactly one interview this year just added to the pleasure of the interview.

Alas, my older cat—often featured on this blog and currently shedding like a maniac due to the shifting weather patterns—enlivened the interview not only with his usual yowls announcing his imminent arrival but also by hacking into the microphone throughout one entire answer. Then, when he calmed down after a return downstairs and yet another series of announcement yowls, he expressed his bliss by purring steadily. So I got to spend half of Saturday trying to follow opaque online instructions for Audacity until I finally figured out how to silence the hacking sounds and at least three-quarters of the meows. The joys of podcasting and pet ownership, amplified on this occasion by the knowledge that the cat could just as easily have stayed in Sir Percy’s office.

And no, if you’ve ever lived with a cat, especially a Siamese cat, the solution is not to shut him out. First off, I have a loft office without a door, and second, if I did have a door, I know better than to shut it with the cat on the other side. Announcement yowls don’t begin to match dismayed rejection yowls in volume or intensity.

But yowling animal aside, the interview went well, Claudia was wonderful, and most of the distractions have since been scrubbed from the file. Meanwhile, I have (fingers crossed) another interview tomorrow, a third in early April, and a fourth scheduled for the first or second week in May. Surely by then the nor’easters will have stopped.

So listen to the interview, and if you hear a stray yowl or an odd hum, don’t worry: that’s just purring. Meanwhile, please like the NB Historical Fiction, NB Literature, NB Fantasy, and New Books Network pages on Facebook, together with the pages for any other channels that appeal to you, and share our posts when they go up. (If you’d like my author page, that would help too.) The change in Facebook algorithms has made it more difficult to get the word out even to people who want to receive it, and the ongoing scandals are likely only to make the situation worse. We are not Russian bots, and we don’t collect or save your data; on the contrary, we provide a genuinely free public education service. So please let your friends know that we exist. The more listeners we have, the better our chances of attracting funding that will keep the network on the air.

As always, the rest of this post comes from New Books in Historical Fiction.

From the fifteenth through the early eighteenth centuries, the Catholic authorities in Spain and its colonies, including Mexico, took a hard line against the Jewish community. Those who would not convert were banished or killed; officially the community did not exist. But in fact, many conversos, as these forced Christians were called, continued to practice their ancient faith in secret. This historical tension between past and prudence forms the background of Claudia H. Long’s Tendrils of the Inquisition series, especially the most recent novel, Chains of Silver (Five Directions Press, 2018).

Marcela Leon belongs to one such Crypto-Jewish family. At fourteen, she sees her parents and grandfather dragged off to face the last gasp of the Inquisition in Mexico. Her relatives survive, but at great cost to their dignity and their fortune. To protect Marcela, her family sends her first to a nearby hacienda, then north into exile, where she becomes the housekeeper to a Catholic priest who sympathizes with her plight but is determined to force her into compliance, including what he perceives as her religious deviance. Through his efforts and those of her wealthy uncle, who lives in the same town, Marcela adjusts to her new situation—until a series of crises force her to reconsider both her heritage and the source of her mother’s strength.

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