There's a tether from my heart to my family in Santa Fe. Buffeted by dry wind, hardened by the sun, brittle from snow, it endures.
Nourished by my dreams, fed from the font of shared memory, watered by laughter. It's a living thing.
As the daughter of a Spanish* Catholic and a Texan Baptist, I was introduced to both the self-flagellating Penitentes of New Mexico and the tent show holy-rollers of East Texas. In addition, my hometown of Santa Fe, the city of Holy Faith, is host to state politics and the attendant corruption, artists and their hangers-on, and a thriving tourist economy.
All of this went into my first book, The Sandoval Sisters' Secret of Old Blood . The issues confronted by three sisters are contemporary: racism, sexual and religious intolerance, and the power of superstition. Finally, it is a story of what constitutes a family, and the myths associated with the blood and bounds of loyalty.
A Short History of Names:
My grandmother was a Sandoval, and married a Gallegos. My mother married the O’Briant. My father was no sweetheart, but I’ve stubbornly clung to his name. Growing up in Santa Fe, both my brother and I got the shit kicked out of us for having an Anglo last name. Yet, my mother had proudly relinquished her own father’s Spanish surname because of the discrimination she experienced for being Mexican. For her, an Anglo last name was a step up. She had no idea her future children would experience reverse discrimination.
Hence, my cynical world view.
So, where did the Ramos come from? I borrowed it from the slender, bookish part of a widely-traveled lesbian couple who took an interest in me, or my mother*, and gave us a subscription to National Geographic when I was ten. Yes, the gesture and that magazine opened my mind to possibilities beyond the Santa Fe city limits, but I also wanted to proclaim my heritage, and not from the ground looking up, as I had once done with my childhood tormentors: “My mom is Spanish!”*
*Ms. O’Briant’s mother would like you to know she loves men. Always has. Always will.
*Read Mexican. Spanish was the historically correct term in use in Santa Fe back in my getting-beaten-up days. In my book, the characters are New Mexicans.
Movie, Play and Book Reviews:
When Alma flees with her young lover to Texas to escape an arranged marriage with a much older man, she sets in motion a drama that will put the sisters and their legacy at risk.
Pilar, a 14-year-old tomboy, is offered as a replacement bride, and what follows is a sensuous courtship and marriage clouded by the curses of her husband’s former lover, Consuelo. She will stop at nothing, even the use of black magic, in her effort to destroy the Sandoval family.
The Mexican-American war begins and the Americans invade Santa Fe. The sisters survive the hostilities from two important fronts-New Mexico and Texas. Their money and ancient knowledge offer some protection, but their lives are changed forever.
The Sandoval Sisters' Secret of Old Blood
Published excerpts from The Sandoval Sisters' Secret of Old Blood:
The Devil at the Dance, an excerpt from the original novel, appeared in La Herencia, vol. XXXV, Fall 2002, (Gran Via, Inc.), and was subsequently online at latinola.com.
Of Nuns and the Demimonde appeared in altered form on FriGG (summer, 2004).
The First White Woman appeared in The Copperfield Review, (Fall, 2004)..
The Sandoval Sisters' Secret of Old Blood
The Irish in me at Irish Writing
(Yeah, I'm Mexrish!)
Writers of the West
Southwest Gothic and Santa Fe
Historical Fiction Book Club
In NY for Awards
See if you can find me!
Anthologies and Print Journals:
Continuity, States of La Frontera, SDSU annual review, 2018
The Lessons, Entropy, Story in 100 words, 2018
Shattered Glass, Minerva Rising, 2018
Hero (fiction) and Equations in Dogtime (creative nonfiction) appeared in the Bacopa Literary Review, 2015
Crispy Feminist Flan Cake, Like a Girl: Perspectives on Feminine Identity, 2015
Her Life in Bed, appeared in Pilgrimage Journal. 2015, and on my blog. Link below.
Death & Taxes and . . .Worms in Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery (Arte Publico, 2009)
Lana Turner Slept Here in Latinos in Lotusland (Bilingual Press, 2008)
Chile Tales in What Wildness is This (University of Texas Press, 2007), reprinted in Pocho, 2013.
Inside Kuchow Nominated for Best Weird Fiction, Axolotl 2015
Links to short stories available online:
My work in Huffington Post: