November 25th, 2013
Whether the object of your affection is Christian, Jewish, Muslim–or none of the above–The Cairo Codex is the perfect holiday gift. This riveting historical novel explores the world of Egypt in the year 2 and modern times. The codex discovered by anthropologist Justine Jenner is found to be the diary of Mary of Nazareth, mother of Jesus. The compelling first-person account sets forth the illuminating struggles and strengths of women through the ages and answers haunting questions: Why did the flight into Egypt really happen? Who was Mary and how did she become literate? If she was the primary teacher of her remarkable son, how did she teach reflection and social values? What would current day Christians and Muslim do to keep such a diary from coming to light? Discover these answers and more in this provocative new novel. Linda Lambert
November 22nd, 2013
In the fall of 1959, I was an officer in the Young Democrats and a student at Pittsburg State College in Kansas, when the radiant, youthful man sprinted down the stairs of a small plane at the local airport. The crowd split in half as John F. Kennedy moved confidently into our midst, his eyes scanning the crowd, resting momentarily on each student and local politician. As our eyes met, I felt the heat of recognition. He spoke for less than five minutes, answered a few questions, turned—then he was gone.
Those mesmerizing moments were a turning point in my life. Since I had marched in a campaign for a Democratic governor when I was in the third grade, I can’t say it was the moment I became politically conscious, but it was the instant in which I felt and deeply understood the role of government in a great nation and my responsibility to it. His confidence was contagious, his vision compelling. I, with others, watched as his vision manifested itself in the Peace Corps, the space program (with a moon landing in 1969), a nuclear test ban treaty, an end to segregation in interstate travel and federal housing (by executive order), creating the Medal of Freedom, and bringing the arts into the White House. In October 1962, the world watched breathlessly as he avoided a nuclear tragedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis. His actions captured the essence of his vision and set forth the path ahead. –then he was gone.
With Kennedy’s assassination, on this day 50 years ago, a great sadness appended itself to my being. I felt the fragility of life and history, the naïveté of “happily ever after.”
November 18th, 2013
I remember arriving home in the early nineties in California after living in Cairo for two years. It is very expensive and complicated in the U.S: utility deposits, insurance, relationships. The most difficult part was moving from the unfamiliar, the exotic, to the familiar, the mundane. In Cairo, the air bristled with sensuality, tension, unknown dangers. In a foreign culture, one’s identity is as one would wish it.
Coming home was culture shock in reverse. I was depressed—and stayed that way for the better part of a year. Until I returned to Cairo the next spring.
Returning home from Taos this fall has some of the same elements. I realize this time that an essential part of the intrigue of another culture is history. Ten thousand years of history in Egypt, 500 years of history in Taos.
No doubt, this is why I enjoy writing historical fiction so much…it anchors me in the ethereal, the unfamiliar, creating the necessity of building new theories from history. Placing my characters in context.
Yet, as I write this post, I am staring up into our redwood forest here in The Sea Ranch. Thousands of years of natural history. A blend all worlds. Snap out of it, Linda.
October 29th, 2013
Having now written three historical novels—the third in manuscript form: A Rapture of Ravens: Awakening in Taos—readers pose the inevitably question: What part is fact? What part fiction? Mailer calls this finely blended potion, “Faction,” composed of “fact” and “fiction.” As he phrased it: that “hybrid of documented fact and novelistic elaboration.”
It puzzles me as well. Let me just say that I know the difference–most of the time. (My husband, Morgan, playfully accuses me of not being sure where that line is.) In each of the novels….here is what is true, or true as commonly believed and practiced:
• the history and historical characters
• religious beliefs, rituals, and institutions
• political themes and issues
• cuisine, arts, and entertainment
• geography, locales, plants, animals
• climate, including many extremes
• many of the current characters—and those I clarify in author’s notes
For instance: In The Cairo Codex, the crypt under St. Sergius Church was once a cave and considered a stopping place for the Holy Family, or believed so by many…but whether there was a codex hidden in those ancient walls…ummmmm.
October 20th, 2013
So–who is Susan? Susan McDuffie, like me, comes from Scottish roots and loves, and writes, historical fiction. Her historical mystery, A Mass for the Dead, introduced the Scottish sleuth Muirteach MacPhee. Muirteach continued his investigations in The Faerie Hills, designated the best NM Historical Novel in 2011. Her current novel is A Study of Murder.
I will be discussing my new novel, The Cairo Codex, as well as the third novel in the Justine Trilogy: A Rapture of Ravens: Awakening in Taos.
Susan and I will engage in an interactive event at Collected Works, in Santa Fe, NM, at 6:00, Thursday, October 24. If you are within driving distance, join us!
PS. For you passionate readers out there, also check out my new quiz on Goodreads.
October 13th, 2013
On September 19, The Friends of D.H. Lawrence is hosting a book fair at the Mabel Dodge Luhan house here in Taos. In preparation, I have summarized the relationship among the novels in The Justine Trilogy.
The Cairo Codex explores the bold themes of dominant human desires, fundamentalism, sexual awakening, feminism, and the pressures that lead to revolution. Egypt is a powder keg ripe for revolution, sparked by a discovery so shocking that religious and political forces converge to prevent its revelation.
Two days after arriving in Cairo, Justine feels compelled to revisit an ancient crypt, once thought to have been the home of the Holy Family. While in the crypt, an earthquake nearly buries her and she unearths a centuries-old codex. In the wake of its stunning disclosures, political and religious violence rocks the region and the Muslim Brotherhood prepares to take over the country.
Etruscan Evenings is a provocative novel of romance, culture, and history: the resolution of the meaning and ultimate possession of the diary of the Virgin Mary; finding of letters from author D. H. Lawrence to Justine’s great grandmother, Isabella; and the discovery of a primeval Etruscan tomb revealing the origin, journeys, and identity of this astonishing civilization that pre-dated the Romans. Lawrence’s Etruscan Places informs the search to understand these ancient peoples and the politics surrounding their identity. Tensions arise when the Vatican tries to subvert discoveries related to Mary of Nazareth. Justine heads for Taos, New Mexico.
A Rapture of Ravens: Awakening in Taos. Justine comes to Taos seeking the essence of D.H. Lawrence and her own spirituality. She stumbles into the conflict and hunt for the migration patterns of the peoples from the northwest. Here, she finds the Red Willow people, archeologists, Lawrence aficionados, and artists who draw her into the riveting blend of cultures that is Taos. She mentors a troubled young Indian girl, finding a sense of wholeness in that relationship. Lawrence discoveries include the spirituality he found on Lobos Mountain, his lost will, and letters that more fully explain his mysterious journey. After her Egyptian lover, Amir, joins her at Christmas, he returns to Cairo to lead the revolution of January 2011. A tragedy on Bloody Wednesday in Egypt is so shocking that Justine is thrown into turmoil and peril.
October 10th, 2013
We may be here because of a book talk I did on The Cairo Codex at the wonderful Moby Dickens bookshop in Taos on Saturday, October 5. The crowd of friends was gratifying and the new owner, Jay Moore, is an enthusiastic and wise literary entrepreneur.
But that’s not the full reason we are here. On Sunday, the 13th, we will host an appreciation brunch for those archeologists, historians, poets, artists, writers, Taosenos, who have helped create the third novel in The Justine Trilogy, A Rapture of Ravens: Awakening in Taos.
But that may not the full reason we are here either. Our passions for Taos may well be a sense of place. Right now, from our north, clouds hover over Sacred Mountain, while lemon yellow leaves fly from cottonwoods in the foreground. To the south, snow salts the mountains severed by the Rio Grande while to the west, the sun slips out from under fluffy white clouds set into vivid blue skies. To the east, ominous storm clouds blanket the horizon. Magical.
October 4th, 2013
The air is dry now, the early October air singed with a fresh crispness, aspens hurry to turn gold. Signs of pueblos dot the countryside. Unexpected rains force flowers from the barren earth, while overpasses and cement walls north of Santa Fe blush with mosaics.
The drive from Albuquerque to Taos is full of memories. As we travel, I often ponder a writer’s memory and the relationship between memory and imagination. New Mexico conjures up memories of Pueblo bonfires licking the night air on St. Francis Day and Christmas eve, parades of Indians carrying an adorned Virgin Mary in gold —often thought of as Mother Earth. San Geronimo races, Turtle and Deer dances. Rebellions against the Spanish, invasion of the Anglos, Kit Carson, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo—ah, I’ve moved into borrowed memories, perhaps another word for research and yes, being a dedicated reader and student.
As for imagination, does it ever spring from a vacuum? From nothingness? Hardly. I believe in the collective unconscious carried by genetics. We all arrive on this earth with substantial prior learning. Early learning further occurs as the brain bursts forth in years 0-3. A two-year-old watches a hummingbird propel itself, the wings keeping it steady, holding it in place, so its beak can target an innocent blossom. Years later the experience becomes a metaphor, and Igor Sikorsky invents a helicopter. But I digress….
Why are we On the Road to Taos?
October 3rd, 2013
Before we got to Kingman, Arizona, the feeling returned. The feeling that we had entered someone else’s land. As the sensuous landscape unfolds, the light and the air become buoyant, the rock cliffs catch the sun. Signs are everywhere: this land belongs to the Native Americans, the ancients, the Anasazi, who have told me they originated here, not in far off Asia.
Where had I known this feeling before? In Egypt’s western desert? Where Timbuktu snuggles into the golden sand frosting the southern edge of the Sahara? Where receding snows reveal stones and tender grasses in the Yukon?
Between Flagstaff and Gallup, histories older than the Natives pepper the land, a meteor crater, the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. Perhaps all humans are strangers here.
Tonight we sit in an outdoor café in Albuquerque’s Old Town, sip our margaritas, and talk about our day….
Tomorrow, arriving in Taos
October 2nd, 2013
Yesterday a man walked into this hotel here in Flagstaff after having driven for three days to visit the Grand Canyon. Only to discover that it is closed. He was intensely angry. Understandable.
But who is the target of his anger? The Democrats who refuse to sacrifice theAffordable Health Care program (Obamacare) in response to Tea Party blackmail—or the Republicans who are holding the nation hostage? Probably depends on his personal politics.
More this evening on The Road to Taos….