It’s great to be back at the Bingergread Cottage. Many thanks for inviting me!
This week I’m celebrating the anniversary of my second novel Revolution Day, which was published by Crooked Cat this time last year. In honour of that, the e-book is reduced to 99p/99c until 17 July! (And of course, as it happens, my other novel, Zeus of Ithome, all of yours, and other Crooked Cat books are also on offer in the Crooked Cat Summer Sale, ending 10 July!)
It seemed appropriate to commemorate my novel’s birthday because anniversaries play a big part in the story. The title itself, Revolution Day, refers to the annual celebration of the events which, somewhat fortuitously, brought President Carlos Almanzor to power in a fictional Latin American country. The novel begins on the thirty-seventh of these occasions, as the ageing Carlos walks out onto his balcony to give his time-honoured speech to the crowd.
And I don’t think I’m giving too much away if I say that it ends twelve months later, on the thirty-eighth. During that intervening year, Vice-President Manuel Jimenez has been orchestrating a complex plot against Carlos. Not by force – he lacks a military power base – but through intrigue, manipulating the perceptions of the President and those around him to undermine his position and drive a wedge between him and the Army. As Manuel makes his move, people close to Carlos will find themselves unwitting participants in his plans – including his estranged wife Juanita, who is writing a memoir of their marriage and his regime, charting its descent from idealism into autocracy and repression. As to whether Manuel succeeds, I’m saying nothing – you’ll have to read the novel to find out!
I’ll end this post with an excerpt touching upon yet another anniversary. Juanita has been under house arrest ever since a disastrous personal and political split with Carlos years ago. The anniversary of her incarceration has become something of a focus for groups opposed to the regime, with protestors picking a new location for a rally each year to keep police guessing. Here, Manuel (in his capacity as Minister of Information) watches foreign news footage of the latest protest ….
An introductory voice-over from the anchorman in the studio came to an end, and the camera focused upon the reporter, an earnest-looking middle-aged woman with something of the look of a university professor about her. She wasted few words in adding to the anchorman’s description of the situation before poking her microphone under the nose of one of the protestors.
“This is Miguel. He has been participating in these annual demonstrations for eight years. Miguel, tell us why you choose this day each year to protest against the government.”
Miguel was a short, bearded man of about thirty-five wearing a blue T-shirt printed with the Freedom and Democracy Party logo. While the reporter had been speaking he had evidently been struggling to contain his excitement, and now the words flooded out of him.
“Today is the seventeenth anniversary of the day when Juanita Martinez was imprisoned in her home for daring to challenge the power of her husband, Carlos Almanzor, the dictator of this country,” he shouted, as if he needed to reach the TV audience through the sheer power of his voice. The reporter discreetly moved the microphone a little further away.
“We are here to ask the government to respect her human rights and release her from this cruel, unjust punishment,” Miguel continued. “Juanita’s suffering is also a symbol to us of the Government’s denial of a voice to its people. Our President pretended to love democracy once, as he pretended to love his wife, then he discarded them both when they no longer served his purposes.”
“Tell us why Juanita Martinez is so important to you. Was she not once part of President Almanzor’s government herself?”
“Yes, she was, but she used her position for good. She built schools and hospitals, and she supported women and minorities, unlike the others, who just took advantage of their power to enrich themselves and run the country for their own benefit. She did not like what they were doing, so she decided to take a stand against the regime and campaign for democracy.”
Manuel snorted. He was beginning to dislike this little man intensely. How irritating it was that selective memory was gradually turning Juanita into some kind of saint, forgetting her calculating seduction of Carlos, the expensive clothes she continued to wear at state expense while others were struggling to eat, the collective responsibility she shared for everything the Revolutionary Council had done while she was on it. Still, there was some satisfaction in the fact that she would see none of this. There would be no coverage of the event on state TV, and her house had no satellite TV or internet access.
The reporter continued to give Miguel his head. “Why do you think the President continues to keep her imprisoned after all these years?”
“Because he knows that the people love her and he is afraid that if he lets her out she will join the fight for democracy, and that with Juanita involved the movement for change will become too strong for him to resist. But we say this to the President…” – at this point, he looked directly at the camera and spoke what appeared to be a scripted line – “President Almanzor, it is time for you to step down. Allow the people to choose who they will be ruled by, and release your wife from her cruel and undeserved imprisonment.”
Many thanks once again for hosting me, Ailsa!
Revolution Day page on my website: http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/#!revday/cwpf
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/timtaylornovels