Guest Post: Author Michael Lynes The Heretic's Daughter

 




Michael Lynes writes The Isaac Alvarez Mysteries under the pen name M Lynes. The first book in the series, Blood Libel, won a prize at the 2020 Emirates Literature Festival and was published in 2021. The second book, The Heretic’s Daughter, has just been published. He’s working on the third instalment which will be available in 2023.

The Book's Delight has read both of Michael's books and loved them for their dramatic sense of place and time. Not to be missed!

 

Why did you decide to write about late-medieval Andalusia? 

I’ve always been fascinated by periods of immense social and political change. And turn of the 16th century was an extremely turbulent time in Spain. I thought it was a very rich period to set a series of historical mysteries in. I was really drawn to the period after learning some of the human stories after a visit to Andalusia in 2013. I wanted to explore what that meant for a specific family, so I created the Alvarez family. Isaac, the father, is a lawyer working for King Ferdinand. He is forced to become an investigator to protect both his faith and his family. His daughter, Isabel, is conflicted by her father’s heresy. The first book, Blood Libel, tells the story of the Alvarez family’s fight for survival focusing very much on Isaac’s point of view. The second book, The Heretic’s Daughter, which was recently published, continues the story in Granada and focuses more on Isabel’s view of events.

Seville at night




 








Wasn’t this a very violent time? How do you capture the reader’s interest?

 Some of the characters are blood-thirsty and cruel but there are also acts of great kindness and sacrifice. The reader spends time with each member of the Alvarez family getting to know them as individuals and, I hope, empathising with their situation. Their moral dilemmas are set in far more dangerous times than our own, but I think their concerns are universal and have contemporary resonance.

 I tried hard not to make the two central antagonists in Blood Libel – Alonso and Torquemada - pantomime villains. I spent a lot of time in their heads looking at it from their point of view, which wasn’t always a comfortable place to be. They believed that the Inquisition’s mission was to save souls. They saw themselves as shepherds protecting their flock and ensuring that as many of them as possible would get to heaven. Were they misguided and did they do great damage to many families? Absolutely. By putting the Inquisition’s side of the story, I hope the reader will get a more nuanced, three-dimensional view. But I certainly don’t downplay how unjust and repugnant the Inquisition was.


La Giralda, the cathedral bell tower





 







What’s the biggest challenge in writing historical fiction, and what’s the best part?

If you write historical fiction then you do a lot of research. I’m still trying to persuade my wife that I desperately need to return to Andalusia to do some more ‘research’ into the wine and food of the region … But once you start writing you need to let a lot of the detail go. I found that very difficult in my early drafts where I was guilty of trying to show off how much I knew. Hopefully, I’m better at that now as otherwise it can become very boring for the reader. Now that I’ve got an established world and set of characters it is fun thinking about what they might do next. And I’m at the point where they surprise me, which makes writing really enjoyable. I think of the characters as just people who loved, laughed and worried in much the same way as we do. They just did it in a very different context, particularly religiously.


The Real Alcazar   The Royal Palace




 








What are you working on now?

 I’ve just completed The Heretic’s Daughter which I’m really excited about. I think the cover design by Jennie Rawlings, (http://www.serifim.com) is stunning. I’ll be particularly interested to hear from readers about how they feel about the ending of the book. There are a lot of changes in store for the Alvarez family. This book naturally leads on to the third instalment which I’m hoping to get started on very soon and publish in early 2023.

 If you would like to read Michael’s books, Blood Libel, will be on sale at .99 until May 10th, https://books2read.com/u/3yKAvB. The Heretic’s Daughter is now available, https://books2read.com/u/mKpnDE.

 You can find out more about him at, www.michaellynes.com , where you can sign up for his newsletter and receive a free short story. You can also write to him at, michael@michaellynes.com 

     La Giralda framed by the famous Seville oranges



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