Getting into the head of a character. Villains are sometimes the most fun (maybe says something about me). In Soul of Toledo, my historical fiction, Marcos Garcia de Mora who instigated a rogue inquisition in fifteenth century Toledo Spain 30 years before the Spanish Inquisition was difficult, because I try to stay neutral. It's hard to be even-handed with a guy like that, because when things go badly for him, it cheers up my day. In my offbeat crime novel, The Gentle Bomber's Melody, two unique characters entered my head unbidden and began to come alive. Living in those strange minds, trying to do them justice, even with their warped senses of reality, was a fun challenge.
What are you working on next?
A novel about a Mexican farm worker coming face-to-face with the 1960s moral revolution in the US. Arriving with his own questions and skepticism about the religion of his youth, he's confronted with a much wider set of challenges and temptations. He's faced with a number of dilemmas, for example, should he cross picket lines to work or return to Mexico and abandon his efforts to improve his family's livelihood.
What's the story behind your latest book?
When I visited Toledo (with my wife and cat), I learned of the marvelous synergy at one time between Christians, Muslims and Jews. But I also knew of the later Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion from Spain of Muslims and Jews. I became curious, and then I stumbled upon Netanyahu's book, The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain, which told the detailed story of the events leading up to the Inquisition. Thirty years before the Inquisition, madmen were given control of Toledo and tortured converts to force confessions of blasphemy. The character of Viçente, the Christian son of Jews (fictional) demanded to enter my story, and then it began. His enemies were obvious--the men who inflicted the rogue inquisition before the Inquisition. Viçente needed a woman to love, and Francesca was born.
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