Friday, October 26, 2012

The Heart of a New Mexican Beats in Beverly Hills

New interview from the Beverly Hills Weekly (Oct. 25, 2012; edited for length):  

Sandra Ramos O’Briant’s debut novel, The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood, is a historical fiction novel set around three sisters during the Mexican -American War in Santa Fe, N.M.

“There’s all of this history behind {that war} and no one had written how the influx of men {soldiers} affected the women in New Mexico,” she said. “There’s a strong emphasis on sisterhood: the Sandoval sisters but also sisterhoods that form whenever women get together -- nuns, prostitutes in a brothels, and the women in the streets worried about their husbands, brothers, and sons thrown in jail by Americans.”

Alma runs off to Texas with her young lover to escape an arranged marriage with an older man. When she leaves, her younger sister Pilar takes her place at the altar. The Mexican-American War begins and Santa Fe is invaded. Oratoria, the eldest, was adopted into the family Sandoval at the age of 5. The story is told from each of the sisters’ point of view as they document events in diaries, as had been the practice of the Sandoval family for hundreds of years.

The story also touches on superstition and includes an element of witchcraft and voodoo. “When people don’t understand something or feel oppressed or are losing their land, livelihood and loved ones, they turn and pick a target,” she said.

Though this is O’Briant’s first novel, her short stories have been featured in various anthologies and journals. O’Briant’s book launch was on Oct. 7 at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena. She calls and skypes into book clubs across the country. For more information or to receive book discussion questions, you can e-mail her at

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