Monday, February 5, 2018

Vera & Tolliver 3: The Blasphemers

Annamaria on Monday


Tomorrow--February 6th--is the official launch date of the next in my Africa series.

In the third year of their story, Vera and Tolliver focus on Tolliver's withdrawal from the police force and on finding a site for their future home and farm.  Both goals are fraught with complications.  As they travel up country to look at land sites, they find themselves embroiled in two intertwined issues.  The Protectorate's Administration is in the process of moving thousands of Maasai off land they have occupied for at least a millennium.  Meanwhile, two missionaries are trying to prevent a Maasai ceremony involving female circumcision.  When the enkamuritani - the woman who performs the operation - is found murdered, the crime threatens to upset the peaceful resettlement of the tribe.  The local Assistant Superintendent of Police calls on Tolliver - who is still officially in service - to solve the crime.

Many if you already know that this series is based on the Ten Commandments, the third of which is "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain."  The form of blasphemy that I chose to write about is one that relates very strongly to the times  in which we live: people using their religion as an excuse to commit crimes, sometimes atrocities in the name of God.  A photo I saw on Facebook inspired this point of view.  During the USA's national uproar over gay marriage, one of the my friends posted a picture of a storefront, I think it was in Alabama.  The shop's entire front window was covered with a huge sign that said, "JESUS HATES GAYS."  With seventeen years of Catholic school training, I know a great deal about what Jesus said and didn't say.  And I am certain that he never said, "I hate homosexuals."  In fact, I am also certain that Jesus never said he hated anyone.  His message was the antithesis of hate.  Those who believe that Jesus was the son of God should know that putting words in their Lord's mouth is blasphemy.


Each of the stories in this series involves the sin of the Commandment, but also another sin, one that I have the audacity to say should have its own Commandment.  In the previous book, Idol of Mombasa, the sin that needs a Commandment is slavery.  In The Blasphemers, it is the subjugation of women.

But do not fear, though many of my teachers and my own mother tried to get me to enter the convent, I am no preacher.  The story, the characters, and what they think and feel tell the tale.



Though tomorrow is the official release date for The Blasphemers, the party to launch it was held at the great Mysterious Bookshop in New York on January 9th.  This minor snafu happened because of technical issues that the delayed the general realease date.  Therefore, my stalwart friends who came to Mysterious for the launch had the opportunity to get a hardcover copy a month in advance of the general public.  The evening was a success d'esteem. The turnout was SRO, and the books sold out, with buyers to spare.

For the nosh, I brought a platter of three English Cheeses
and crackers, proving my claim to nerdhood.

The Blasphemers is dedicated to the memory of my brother.
His wife and granddaughter traveled from Knoxville,
Tennessee for the occasion.

And I had the great pleasure of sharing the date with Sujata, as she recounted here a few weeks ago.  I wish I had a picture of the two of us from that night that I might share.  I asked my friends to send theirs if that had one.  I received only a single shot.  In it, I look as if I'm contemplating suicide, and Sujata looks as if she's seen a cockroach.  I will spare us both the embarrassment of posting that picture here.

Me without the frown.

Sujata, with her publishing team, looking like
her beautiful self.

READ THIS BOOK!
We really had a good time together.  We presented with a conversation about the surprising ways in which our two stories mirror one another.  But since the shared themes are the oppression of women and the evils of empire, it's no surprise that that one photo of us did not come with big grins on our faces.

Here is photographic evidence of the real mood of the evening. 

And my happy crowd waiting for our pizzas afterwards.

It has become traditional on the launch of a book for us MIE authors to post the stops on a book tour.  I am not doing that here because I am postponing such a tour until the dangers of ice storms and concomitant travel miseries are over for this year.  I am instead taking myself to Africa, on a trip that has been a year in the planning.  On the day this blog goes up, by the time my friends on the East Coast are beginning their day, I will be heading for a train to Rome airport and a flight to Kenya via Doha.  At 00:30 on the release date New York time, I will be landing in Nairobi. After a week there, I am on to Tanzania to visit Sister Mary and the Maasai girls at Emusoi and to spend time at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge.  After which, it is on to Johannesburg via Dar es Salam.  I finish the month with a visit with Michael Sears and a fabulous opportunity to experience his Africa with him.

All of which will be a book tour of sorts.  Call it research.

I know.  It's a tough job.  But we writers are devoted to do whatever it takes for our art.

Depending on the vagaries of wifi availability, I promise to share it all with you, sooner or later.

17 comments:

  1. Congratulations, sis! Three down, seven to go ... though these days there’s the risk of some attempting to legislate a few of those commandments out of existence before you get to them. :(

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    1. Thank you, Bro. If The Commandments were being promulgated today, that skeeffo in the White House would be calling it fake news and trying to fire Moses.

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    1. Thank you, I am working as fast as I can. I know you know the feeling!

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  3. Glad to see you are sacrificing yourself for your work by doing all this traveling. (joke) Have a fun! Smooth travels!

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    1. We all make sacrifices for our work, Triss. Right now I’m on a train headed to the Rome airport, and it’s behind schedule. I am trying not to obsess about missing my plane.

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  4. IT was so great to celebrate with you, kicking off on release night in NY!

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    1. S, Widows went right to the top of my TBR pile. I wish we could do a repeat at Malice.

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  5. Wonderful news about the release, AmA, and I hope your travels are long and sufferably enjoyable!

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    1. Sorry for the delay in replying, but I spent all day yesterday on planes and all night last night too.
      So far so good. WiFi dicey. Hope to have a report for Monday.

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  6. Congratulations, AmA! Can't wait to see you when you hit the West Coast!

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    1. So looking forward to Left Coast Crime this year. Love the chance to share a panel with you.

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  7. Congratulations.... Isn't it amazing how folk pick and choose what they want to see in the bible. Like that bit right at the front- the bit about not killing- some can't even get that into their heads!
    Enjoy your travels.

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    1. Caro, You are di right. Once an Evangelical strung together sentences from the Old and New Testaments to make a specious point. I told him that if he could do such a thing so could I. And I did: “Judius went and hung himself. Go ye and do likewise.”

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  8. Sounds like so much fun. Best wishes with both books, and also with the trip.

    I think every Commandment is being broken by this gang in the big house.

    That cheese and crackers look scrumptious.

    And, where, pray tell, is that pizzeria in the photo?

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    1. Thank you, Kathy. The pizzeria is relatively new and on of my favorite AUTHENTIC Italian restaurants in NYC. On East 13th St between 3rd and 4th Avenues—Mandolino. Yum!

      I am in Nairobi and would love to have their food if ai could.

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  9. Oh, gosh, I have to plan a trip to Mandolino at some point after the spring thaw.

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