Wednesday, September 7, 2022
Sunday, January 31, 2021
Thursday, December 10, 2020
This year has changed all of our routines and for me, that meant missing out on some opportunities to connect with writers and readers in person. Thank goodness for Zoom and Google Meet, where I was able to make those connections online.
Here are two events in which I participated. If you didn't get the opportunity to attend, this is what you missed:
December 9, 2 pm: Zoom Presentation with al-Andalus Authors John D. Cressler, Joan Cook, David Penny.
October 6, 12 - 2 pm: Zoom Presentation with authors of We All Fall Down anthology through Historical Novel Society, NYC Chapter.
I suspect covid-19 will be with us far longer than anyone anticipates, but at least, we can still be connected online.
Sunday, March 22, 2020
|Outskirts of Bab al-Mahruq cemetery, Fez, Morocco|
|Ibn al-Khatib's monument at Loja|
Sunday, March 15, 2020
Ibn al-Khatib overcomes his first great adversity
|The Nasrid council chamber|
Ibn al-Khatib's family
Little is known of her except the sons she provided her husband and her likely date of death. Since his contrivance to marry into the families of Granada's ruling elite had failed, we can assume Iqbal did not number among their ranks. The union must have occurred at least by the autumn of 1342, because on July 22 of the following year, Iqbal gave birth to Ibn al-Khatib's first son, Abd Allah. Two other boys followed, Muhammad and Ali. Records of their names survive because of their circumcisions, an important ritual for medieval Muslim boys, which took place on November 8, 1348. No doubt, Ibn al-Khatib would have made certain each of his sons pursued the same scholarly path he had taken.
Ibn al-Khatib's evolving role at court
|Alhambra Palace's southern gate|
The arrival of the Black Death
The Muslims of Granada must have heard of these incidents of the Black Death, but what did they think of them? They were familiar with earlier instances of plague. By March and April, there were also deaths in places where seaborne trade occurred with Morocco. It seemed the Moorish people would be resigned to their fates if the Black Death encroached on them because of their religious beliefs, which included the following about plague, "It is a punishment that Allah sends upon whoever he wills, but Allah has made it a mercy for the believers. Any servant who resides in a land afflicted by plague, remaining patient and hoping for reward from Allah, knowing that nothing will befall him but what Allah has decreed, he will be given the reward of a martyr.”
The summer of 1348 showed the Muslims of Spain were as unprepared as anyone else for the horrific toll the epidemic took. The Black Death arrived on the eastern coast of the Iberian peninsula at the town of Almería. There, a native of the town and another disciple of Ibn al-Jayyab, called Ibn Khatima, observed the first deaths and wrote about the occurrence in a treatise, which also survives in Spain's Escorial library. Ten years younger than Ibn al-Khatib, Ibn Khatima had been born in 1324 at Almería, where he practiced as a medical doctor. He indicated that on May 30, 1348, the Black Death claimed victims in a poor section of his birthplace. Eventually in his city alone, at least 70 persons died daily. At the time, the kingdom of Granada's inhabitants numbered 1.5 million.
In his subsequent treatise, Ibn Khatima wrote about the causes and symptoms of the plague. He also proposed some methods of treatment. Like many of their medieval counterparts, Islamic doctors believed in the theory of humors that could alter a person's physical condition. Ibn Khatima described the Black Death origins as "a consequence of a corruption of the humor or cardiac temperament, caused by the air alteration from its natural and innate state to heat and humidity...."
Sunday, March 8, 2020
|The Islamic citadel at Loja|
|Granada's Alhambra Palace|
|17th-century depiction of the Battle of Salado|
Sunday, March 1, 2020
I've always been intrigued by the Black Death. Not merely because my interests tend to border on the macabre, but because I'm fascinated by the human will. That resolute determination to ensure survive at all costs, even when it seems hopeless. Those who faced such a harrowing time as during the plague must have thought the world was at its end. How could they not while whole families died off and European towns lost so much of their populations?
When I first discussed the idea of writing about the plague, those who knew about the period responded almost universally, "What? Why would you want to write about something so horrifying?" But I knew within the truly terrible, dark moments of human history, there were always people whose actions provided a beacon of hope.
How the authors became involved
I also knew I couldn't do justice to the breadth and scale with which the Black Death impacted Europe. A single story from me would not do. So naturally, I sought other authors who might be interested in a partnership, a collection of short stories. And I'm so grateful to the authors who accepted and contributed their brilliant tales to the anthology. I'd met and admired David, Laura and Melodie through the Historical Novel Society. Jessica and I both write about Spain in the Middle Ages. I knew of Jean through her excellent Troubadours series and I had read Kristin's The Pursuit of the Unicorn. Katherine and Deborah are also well-known for their 17th century novels.With enthusiasm, each of them plunged into their stories. As I secretly hoped, common themes began to emerge, no matter how different each of our contributions ultimately would be. Among the themes, hope, love, and importantly, life after death.
Working together as a team
At the outset, assembling a team of authors for a project like this can seem daunting. Unless, you already know you're dealing with professionals focused on the success of the story. For anyone else who is considering working with others on any collection of stories, I heartily recommend it and hope you'll be as fortunate to form connections with a talented group of writers. Teamwork has made this project so worthwhile and it's been an excellent opportunity to learn more about other unique skill sets each author brought to the anthology.
Kristin, Melodie, David, Katherine, Jessica, Laura, Deborah, Jean, here's to us! Like you, I look forward to the success of our great work.
About We All Fall Down - Stories of Plague and Resilience
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Thursday, February 20, 2020
From authors David Blixt, Jean Gill, Kristin Gleeson, J.K. Knauss, Laura Morelli, Katherine Pym, Deborah Swift, Melodie Winawer & Lisa J. Yarde
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