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Author Interview: ‘Out Front the Following Sea’ by Leah Angstman

About the Book:

Out Front the Following Sea is a historical epic of one woman’s survival in a time when the wilderness is still wild, heresy is publicly punishable, and being independent is worse than scorned–it is a death sentence. At the onset of King William’s War between French and English settlers in 1689 New England, Ruth Miner is accused of witchcraft for the murder of her parents and must flee the brutality of her town. She stows away on the ship of the only other person who knows her innocence: an audacious sailor–Owen–bound to her by years of attraction, friendship, and shared secrets. But when Owen’s French ancestry finds him at odds with a violent English commander, the turmoil becomes life-or-death for the sailor, the headstrong Ruth, and the cast of Quakers, Pequot Indians, soldiers, highwaymen, and townsfolk dragged into the fray. Now Ruth must choose between sending Owen to the gallows or keeping her own neck from the noose.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Reviews:

“From the squalor, prejudice, and violence of 17th-century America, Leah Angstman has summoned to life the most extraordinary young woman. Ruth Miner insists on surviving, building a life, and being true to her odd independent self, despite the whole world seeing her as worthless filth. Angstman creates a hypnotically real and brutal world and then manages to infuse it with humor and beauty and a moving tale of love. The reader will follow Ruth Miner anywhere, and be the richer for it.” —Heather O’Neill, author of The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, and Daydreams of Angels

“Lapidary in its research and lively in its voice, Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman is a rollicking story, racing along with wind in its sails. Though her tale unfolds hundreds of years in America’s past, Ruth Miner is the kind of high-spirited heroine whose high adventures haul you in and hold you fast.” —Kathleen Rooney, author of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk and Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey

“Rich in deeply researched detail, and peopled by complex characters, Out Front the Following Sea is a fascinating story that is bound to entrance readers of historical fiction.” —Kathleen Grissom, author of The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything

“Out Front the Following Sea is a fascinating book, the kind of historical novel that evokes its time and place so vividly that the effect is just shy of hallucinogenic. I enjoyed it immensely.” —Scott Phillips, author of The Ice Harvest, The Walkaway, Cottonwood, Hop Alley, The Adjustment, and Rake

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you into writing?

It never seems like there’s much about me to tell, but I can start by stating the obvious: I’m the founder and editor-in-chief of Alternating Current Press and The Coil magazine and the author of Out Front the Following Sea, my debut novel of a brutal seventeenth-century set against the backdrop of King William’s War. I love Broadway musicals, Bruce Springsteen, my German Shepherd, quirky and terrifying history stories, living-history war reenactments, myth-busting, watching old episodes of Unsolved Mysteries, and making elaborate spreadsheets that I’ll end up only using once.

The initial thing that got me into writing was the shocking death of my best friend in high school, followed by the zine culture that surrounded the punk scene I was part of. Copying and pasting together zines and chapbooks was all the rage in my teen years, most of which were inspired by revolutionary calls to action from a bunch of pre-adults who had big dreams about changing the world, but didn’t have a clue how actually to do it. When I lost my best friend, I turned insufferable to the human world, and the only thing that could tolerate me was a notebook and pen.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

My favorite time to write is the very early morning, usually around 5 a.m. I’m most alive between 3 and 7 a.m., cup of coffee, huge picture window watching magnificent Colorado sunrises peeking over the Rockies. The house is quiet with no one else awake yet, not even the dog. That’s my time. Once we hit 8 or 9 a.m., the whole world seems to want a piece of me, and my personal creative time is over—time to be creative for everyone else.

My place is all over the place. I bounce between three couches, a standing desk, the kitchen table, two sitting desks, my outside patio table, pacing around the house, snuggled with my dog on the floor. I can never sit still for too long.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

The majority of my ideas are accidents. They come from some random sidebar tidbit that I happen to see or hear during research for something else. A lot of times I get curious about something I see in my Smithsonian or The Journal of the American Revolution email newsletters, or hear as an aside to some other story in an audiobook. I tend to be a Wikipedia rabbitholer and will click excessive links until I end up entirely somewhere else, arriving at some other conclusion, drinking the shrinking potion, following white rabbits. I cling to tidbits. I find something tiny, quirky, obscure that sparks my attention, and I stretch it into a whole story, a whole world.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I’ve done both. For longer stories (novels, novellas), I usually have an idea of beginning, middle, end, and then I let the research I find fill in the rest of the surrounding conflicts. For one novel I’m writing, I discovered through real-life letters that there is a terrible drought going on during the timeline of the book, so that real-life historical drought became a central conflict to the story that I hadn’t initially planned on. Usually, I can only fully visualize very short things—like snippets of flash—while longer works unfold slowly sentence by sentence or chapter by chapter. I do take long pauses, though, sometimes weeks or months, in between “scenes” to assess what I think the next scene or conflict should be before I start writing it. That helps me keep a tidy word count and plot goal per chapter.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

All of my writing is historical, though highly literary and uncommercial. Generally historical fiction, but I also write historical nonfiction and historical poetry, as well. I was raised a history nerd by a biography-devouring father, but I knew that scholarly nonfiction was never going to be my calling—I loved poetry too much. I loved heady language and the sound of purple prose and the songs found in colorful details. I wanted to tell stories, not just narratives. But I have no interest in contemporary themes, so my stories had to be historical, or they’d end up on the cutting-room floor.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

After watching Dune, I’ll go with Timothée Chalamet to play Owen, but he’ll have to beef up a little bit. Owen is pretty tough, even if he is French (zing!). I’ll stick with my dream gal of Sophia Lillis to play Ruth. Sam has to be rather imposing, so maybe Tom Hardy? Gerard Butler? Jeremy Renner? Chris Evans?—of course, if Sam is too handsome, then we might end up with an entirely different story on our hands, so maybe not Chris Evans. For Askook, I’d go with Tatanka Means, and for Machk, I’d love David Midthunder, but my only golden rule would be: All the Pequot have to be portrayed by actual Native American actors. I’d be pretty heartsick if someone whitewashed the Native characters, who are so crucial to the story and whom we’ve already whitewashed enough in this country.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I read constantly. I have stacks and stacks of documents and books to get through, and I buy every book that looks good, even if I never end up reading it for lack of time. I’m also a huge audiobook junkie, and I get through an average audiobook in two days while walking my dog.

My favorite authors are Jack London, James Clavell, Elizabeth George Speare, Michael Chabon, Heather O’Neill, Kaitlyn Greenidge, Alexander Chee, Kathleen Rooney, oh my goodness, the list is endless.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

On audiobook, I just finished Ashes of Glory: Richmond at War by Ernest B. Furgurson, which was a pretty solid read, and started Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon by Suzanne M. Desan, part of the Great Courses series. In print, I just finished Shaindel Beers’ Secure Your Own Mask, which is a great collection of poetry, and picked up The Predatory Animal Ball by Jennifer Fliss, an advance reader copy I received in the mail this morning. My Kindle is currently in the middle of The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray; she’s always an enjoyable read.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Oooooh, this answer fluctuates by the day. Today it’s My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier because I recently picked it up again, so it’s fresh in my mind, and I’d forgotten how tremendous it truly was. Brutal and raw, it’s an excellent look through a young boy’s eyes at the gray-area conflicts of the American Revolution. It’s been a favorite for my whole life, and when I was a kid, it was the first time I really learned what a Tory was and that there were as many conflicts between sectors of Americans themselves as there were between Americans and British. I always loved how it didn’t shy away from anything ugly—from the “n” word to graphic death scenes, it’s been on every banned-book list since 1974.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Besides “don’t,” lol? I’d say my best advice is to ignore people who say “write what you know,” and instead, you should write what you want to know. Write what intrigues you and will make you dig deeper to research it. In this way, you can teach others while continuing to learn new things yourself. My other piece of advice is simply: take your time. A good book takes years to write, not days.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

My website is at leahangstman.com, and you can find me as @leahangstman on Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, Patreon, Medium, Ello, and Pinterest, and as @authorleahangstman on Facebook.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorleahangstman

Twitter: @leahangstman

Instagram: ww.instagram.com/leahangstman

Pinterest: www.pinterest.co.uk/leahangstman

Patreon: www.patreon.com/leahangstman

Medium: www.medium.com/@LeahAngstman

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/2980625.Leah_Angstman

About the Author:

Leah Angstman is a historian and transplanted Michigander living in Boulder. OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, her debut novel of King William’s War in 17th-century New England, is forthcoming from Regal House in January 2022. Her writing has been a finalist for the Saluda River Prize, Cowles Book Prize, Able Muse Book Award, Bevel Summers Fiction Prize, and Chaucer Book Award, and has appeared in Publishers Weekly, L.A. Review of Books, Nashville Review, Slice, and elsewhere. She serves as editor-in-chief for Alternating Current and The Coil magazine and copyeditor for Underscore News, which has included editing partnerships with ProPublica. She is an appointed vice chair of a Colorado historical commission and liaison to a Colorado historic preservation committee.

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Author Interview: ‘The Predatory Animal Ball’ by Jennifer Fliss

About the Book:

In a society where predators are always the ones doing the celebrating, Jennifer Fliss’s debut collection of short stories, THE PREDATORY ANIMAL BALL, crashes the party. These stories are about the people left in the predators’ wake, and the large and small ways in which their grief and fear manifest. Predators appear in the places we least expect it, and this collection turns the previously accepted hierarchies upside down in a series of flash fiction that are often absurd, but always cutting.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I got into writing as a way to process my childhood experiences. I lived in a home filled with abuse and neglect, and I felt so lonely, both during my childhood and in my young adulthood. As a twenty-something year old, trying to figure out my life (and in the aftermath of my father’s death), I began to write fictionalized versions of my experience. They were close to the truth, but I wasn’t yet comfortable with writing it all out so plainly. After doing this, I realized I loved writing, creating. So, I then moved on to writing all kinds of short stories and my fiction took off. My mother says I wrote stories as a kid; I don’t remember that. But I did create worlds: drafting maps of made-up towns that covered the floors of my living room, creating entire school rosters of made-up people, etc. It was elaborate, and not something I told people until recently. I know that was storytelling in a way and certainly must have had an impact on my writing later.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I wish I could say I write in the early hours at a desk by a window looking out into a wood, but I just write when I feel inspired. This is, fortunately, often enough for good output, but I don’t have a writing routine. I do my best writing on my laptop in bed or in a cozy chair. Ideally, it’s raining out and I have the window open, a mocha beside me and the cat — always the cat — in my lap.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

They truly come from all over. Quite a few are sourced from my dreams, which are vivid — often wretched and terrifying, but interesting. I find inspiration almost everywhere. Back of a cereal box, an advertisement on the subway, an overheard snippet of conversation, the tilt of a crow’s neck.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I let the story carry me. My work generally starts with a word, idea, or sentence. I put that down and then see what happens. If my brain and fingers can see a path, it just flies out. If it’s harder, sometimes I close the file. I may or may not return to it. Hence I have a zillion partially-done stories and ideas. 

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

My writing is literary fiction. I love ghost stories, mysteries, and thrillers. I am a big fan of when these three genres merge, as in Carmen Maria Machado or Helen Oyeyemi’s work. I’ve always been drawn to the dark: ghosts, haunted houses, abandoned places. I am a sucker for setting. Give me any of the aforementioned settings and it almost doesn’t matter what the story is. I love to immerse myself in place. 

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Melissa McCarthy. She’s an incredible actress. She is hilarious, yes, but she can also hit so many layers of humanity. I think she would service many of my protagonists well, who are often women in dire but absurd situations. As for the supporting characters? I don’t know. Maybe it’s Melissa McCarthys all the way down.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I read lots. I used to read more before smart phones! (I really hate that invention.) But I read about a book or so a week. I’m always on the hunt for mysteries that are well written and not formulaic. I utilize my library a LOT. I’m the one with an entire shelf labeled with my name in the holds section. I don’t have one or two favorite authors per se, but there are authors whom I’ll always read a new book of theirs: Yoko Ogawa, Dara Horn, Samantha Irby, Kiese Laymon, Karen Russell. Of late, I’m excited about Morgan Jerkins, T Kira Madden, VE Schwab, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Deesha Philyaw, and Diane Cook. I could go on and on actually. I’m certain I’ve missed some names here.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia. It was recommended by a great writer peer, Dana Diehl. It’s magic realism written mostly in triptychs using different narrators. The entire novel uses really unusual narration and style. I love fabulism and magic realism. I love unique styles of writing. Reading it is fun and makes you realize that writing is truly an art (even when it’s straight prose). Writing in an experimental/hybrid style is a great way to expose the absurdities of the world we live in and the possibilities are endless because your imagination is the limit. 

I also just finished a graphic work called Seek You by Kristen Radtke. The subtitle is “A Journey Through American Loneliness,” but I think most people in the world can relate to it. It was so poignant and timely. It’s amazing what people can do with fewer words and visual elements. Highly recommend!

9: What is your favourite book and why?

I don’t have a favorite book and I don’t reread books. There are just too many good books to read. I only have so many years in my life! But E.L. Konisburg’s From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was probably the most influential book on me. It’s a middle grade book about siblings whose parents are divorcing, so the kids go off to live in a museum in New York for a while. The setting was such a huge part of that book that I’ve never forgotten the images in my head — that stayed with me as a writer and impacted how I write setting and probably is connected to why I love setting so much. It was an escape for these children, and I was reading it at a time when I desperately could’ve used such an escape. It was literal escape coinciding with the escape that good literature can provide. 

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Writing is a compulsion for so many of us. I don’t know many — maybe any that I know of — of folks who think about doing it or not. You just…do it. One is a writer if you write. It doesn’t necessitate a list of publication credits. For someone who wants to publish their writing, there are myriad paths. My suggestion is to start reading literary journals (most are online now) and get a feel for where their own writing might fit. There are journals that skew straight narrative, some love pop culture, some like a good ghost story, or experimental styles. Figure out where your writing fits and then click “submit!” Rejections are part of the game; you have to expect them. Even the very best writers get turned down. But as you move on, keep writing, learning, and submitting, then you should have success with publishing. As a writer, be open to learning. If you submit and get rejected over and over, it could be that your work isn’t a good fit, but it also could mean you could stand to learn a few things. Don’t get cocky. There’s always more to learn, more that can enhance your work. And of course, the best teacher is to read, read, read. 

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

Twitter. Hands down. At first, I didn’t get it. But it’s been integral for learning about other writers, editors, journals, and opportunities. Just be sure to mute or block liberally and cultivate your own feed. Twitter is my only public social media account and it works for me. I’d love to see y’all there!

Twitter: @writesforlife

About the Author:

Jennifer Fliss has been nominated several times for both the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net, and her work has been selected for the 2019 Best Small Fictions anthology. Her stories and essays have appeared in print and online at The Citron Review, F(r)iction,, Jellyfish Review, Necessary Fiction, PANK, The Rumpus, The Washington Post, and elsewhere. She was a 2018/2019 Pen Parentis Fellow, a recipient of the 2019 Artist Trust GAP award, and is currently working on her first (and second) novel.

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Series Book Blitz: ‘Rivers Trilogy’ by Joan Schweighardt

Series Title: Rivers Trilogy

Book 1: Before We Died

Book 2: Gifts for the Dead

Book 3: River Aria

Author: Joan Schweighardt

Publisher: Five Directions Press

Genre: Fiction

About the Book:

Two young men battle corruption, the forces of nature, and their own weaknesses (including the issue of their love for the same woman) in the deepest part of the Brazilian jungle. In 1908 two Irish American brothers leave their jobs on the docks of Hoboken, NJ to make their fortune tapping rubber trees in the South American rainforest. They expect to encounter floods, snakes, malaria, extreme hunger and unfriendly competitors, but nothing prepares them for the psychological hurdles that will befall them. BEFORE WE DIED, the first in a three-book “rivers” series, is a literary adventure novel set against the background of the South American rubber boom, a fascinating but little known historical moment.

About the Book:

Jack Hopper is holding tight to his secret, though it gets heavier by the day. Nora Sweeny is tired of suffering losses and ready to improvise. Their relationship, based on Jack’s lies and Nora’s pragmatism, builds against a background that includes World War I (as experienced from the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey) and escalates when Jack and Nora travel together to the rainforests of South America seeking closure for a life-shattering event that occurred years earlier. Equal parts romance, adventure, and psychological suspense tale, Gifts for the Dead shines a floodlight on the characters’ deepest yearnings and greatest fears.

About the Book:

It’s 1928 and Estela Euquério Hopper, an ambitious young woman from an impoverished area of Brazil, has landed a job at the NY Metropolitan Opera House, though only to work in the sewing room. Her good fortune is due in part to a unique and rigorous education provided to her (and a handful of other “river brats”) by a renowned educator and operatic vocal instructor from Portugal. The other part is due to the fact that her father is American. She hopes to make it from the Met sewing room to the Met stage, but there are three huge obstacles standing in her way: her father, her cousin (who has been kept in the dark regarding his own parentage), and the wild, anything goes, often violent temperament of New York City herself.

Add to Goodreads:

Before We Died

Gifts for the Dead

River Aria

Purchase Links for all 3 books:

Amazon – UK / US

Links to posts on Reading Nook:

Author Interview for Before We Died

Book Blitz for Gifts for the Dead

Excerpt from River Aria:

Context: 1928. Manhattan. Estela, who grew up in Manaus, Brazil, a city that rose to splendor during the rubber boom only to fall into decay when the boom ended abruptly and all the rubber barons fled, has arrived in New York—a feat made possible for a mixed-blood girl in those times only because her father is American. Estela, the narrator of River Aria, is to work at the Metropolitan Opera House, albeit in the sewing room. Her first viewing of the grand structure leads her to recall how—thanks to a twist of fate—she came to study opera in the first place, in the vestibule of the Teatro Amazonas, the great opera house built by the rubber barons back in Manaus.

******

We were river brats back then, all of us. We could pull hooks from piranhas blindfolded. Our skinny brown arms could bail water out of boats, and out of the shacks we lived in when they had to, night and day. We ran off to the jungle on school days whenever we heard the call—all of us, leaving our teacher with not the least idea how to punish us. We knew what vines contained fresh water, and we carried knives to cut them. We weren’t afraid to eat termites when we couldn’t find fruit. We wore our only shoes only on Sundays, when we raced one another up the hill to what used to be the rich people’s province and prayed at Igreja de São Sebastião for protection for our manioc gardens and good health.

But when Carlito Camilo first saw us, scurrying over the docks like rodents, he didn’t see river brats at all. Carlito Camilo saw what no one else could have possibly seen: the world’s next generation of elite performers. He gathered us around him at once, and while he fed us the colorful candies—Wine Gums, he called them, though they contained no wine at all—he carried in his pockets at all times, he told us he could teach us music, and more. He could teach us languages, poetry, myths and legends from parts of the world we had never even heard of. As he had already amassed as much wealth as he thought he would need to last as long as he thought he should be allowed to live, he wanted no payment either—which was excellent, because none of our families could have given him a single centavo. I was the first of a dozen or so river brats to commit myself to his program. I was nine then, almost ten.

Were it not for Carlito Camilo, I would not know the difference between an aria and a soup spoon, nor would I care. I’d be sitting down at the docks with Mamãe, content as a bôto, singing river stories and repairing nets, or I’d be up at the restaurant with Tia Louisa, serving cachaça to men who never tired of trying to look down my dress when I bent over their table. I would still believe our bumba meu boi, an elaborate, loudly sung, foot-stomping performance that told the story of the life and death of an ox, was the highest form of entertainment ever conceived. But the truth is, I first went to Carlito Camilo not because I ached to learn but because I heard he would be giving his lessons in the lobby (the city commissioners would not allow even the great Senhor Camilo to instruct in the theatre proper) of the Teatro Amazonas. And I wanted to see the inside of the Teatro Amazonas, badly, even if it was only the entrance. 

The Teatro Amazonas had been at the heart of my fantasies since I was very small. At night, when I turned into a beautiful princess like the ones in the stories Mamãe sometimes told me, it was in the Teatro Amazonas that my prince and I danced. When I was Iara, the half-fish river creature, it was to the Teatro Amazonas that I dragged my scaly tailfin seeking the prince whose kiss would render me human at last.

I pulled open the heavy doors and entered the lobby of the Teatro Amazonas on the day and time Carlito Camilo had scheduled for me. He was there, sitting on a marble bench against the wall all alone. His sour look turned at once into a smile and he got up to greet me, but when he saw that my eyes were all for the marble floors, the crystal chandeliers, the frescoes and statues, the ornate carvings on the ceiling, he sat down again.

Carlito Camilo waited patiently, perhaps for a full five minutes, to have my attention. Then he asked me to sing for him.

Standing there in middle of the grand lobby of the Teatro Amazonas, I could not have said if I was asleep or awake. I was barefoot, and wearing a shapeless stained shirt that fell below my knees, beneath it only my underwear. Were you nervous? everyone would ask later. I had no answer. There was no room in the moment for contemplating the state of my nerves.

I sang a folk song my mother had taught me, about a child who disappears in the jungle and returns years later, a grown man with his arms laden with gold. He offers the gold to save his people from starvation, but it’s not enough for them. They want to know where he found such a hoard and if there was more. And they don’t believe him when he says there was no more and that he found it years earlier, when he first lost his way, and it had taken all this time to find his way home with it. So the men of the village leave their wives and children weeping and go off themselves to search for more gold, and not one of them ever returns. The song was a simple one, simple rhythms based on mostly whole notes.

Carlito Camilo watched me expressionlessly all the while I sang, and then for another moment afterwards. Finally he said, “That was a story I didn’t know, a good choice, garotinha. I think you must be a girl who sings all the time. Is that true?”

I shrugged. I didn’t sing all the time. Sometimes I slept and sometimes I ate, and I could not sing sleeping or eating. Nor did I sing in school, except to myself. But otherwise, yes. Who didn’t sing? We were all songbirds in Manaus. Even the gruffest old fisherman could be coaxed to sing a river song when we gathered together for festivals or late some nights, when Tia Louisa locked the restaurant’s front door and opened the one in the back.

“Now let me ask you,” he went on, “are you a smart girl who learns quickly?”

No one had ever asked the question before. I nodded.

Carlito Camilo got up slowly from his marble bench and approached me. “You have a good voice, but I want to ask you: what do you feel when you sing, garotinha?”

What kind of a question was that? I shook my head the other way. I didn’t know what he wanted from me.

He patted his chest with his fingertips, hard and fast. “In your heart, garotinha! In your heart! What do you feel in your heart?”

He wasn’t frightening me, but I could see he was looking for a specific answer, one I didn’t happen to have. Senhor Camilo was a short man, but I was a child, so he seemed enormous looming over me like that, his jowls aquiver. He bent over even more, until our faces were almost touching, though his was at a peculiar angle. Now he tapped my chest with his fingertips, lightly. Softly, slowly, as if each word was meant to survive all on its own, he asked, “Does your singing ever make you feel like you have a little red-throated hummingbird in here?”

Now I saw what he was driving at: the little tremble that happened sometimes when I sang very loud. All at once I was overwhelmed by the fanciful notion that Carlito Camilo was a king, and I was a princess, and that was why we were there in our castle, standing eye to eye, talking about my heart. Typical of all adults, he was trying to make me understand something I already knew!

“Sing for me again,” he said, straightening but not moving away. “Sing very loud.”

“What would you like?” I asked.

“A note. A single note. AHHHHHHH!”

I sang it: “AHHHHHHH!”

“Keep going, keep going,” he cried. “Louder, louder. Deeper, deeper, from the inside out.”

I sang louder. He shouted over me, “That’s good, that’s very good! Breathe, and keep going! Open your throat!”

I did what he asked.

“Now do you feel it?” He was bending over me again, shouting in my face. His breath smelled like the Wine Gums he kept in his pocket. “Do you feel the o pássaro in there?”

I nodded, my mouth still wide open; I was still singing. I didn’t want to stop. I was nearly screaming in his face. AHHHHHHHHH… I almost laughed, thinking of the look Mamãe would have given me if I sang in her face like that. But Carlito Camilo only watched me with wide round eyes and a slight smile on his plump jowly face. He straightened, slowly, the way older people sometimes do. I was still singing. AHHHHHHHH. His expression became stern and he gestured, one hand slicing over the top of the other. I stopped singing at once.

“Now, what do you feel, criança?” he shouted.

“Everything,” I shouted back at him. And I could see I’d made him very happy with my answer, so I threw my arms out and shouted it again. “EVERYTHING!”

About the Author:

Joan Schweighardt is the author of five novels, and more on the way. In addition to her own writing projects, she writes, ghostwrites, and edits for individuals and corporations.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.joanschweighardt.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/joanschweighardtwriter

Twitter: @joanschwei

Instagram: www.instagram.com/joanschweighardt

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