◊ Elaborate on the cultural and historical threads woven into Gathering the Indigo Maidens
◊ Musings on Historical fiction.
◊ Promoting the pan-Hispanic world.
◊ Encounters with people and places.
It took me over a dozen years to write Gathering the Indigo Maidens , but only twelve minutes to tell all my friends about its upcoming launch in September. After the congratulations and felicidades and mazel tovs were said, everyone asked: “Am I in it?”
This is a work of fiction, granted some chapters are historical fiction, but ultimately it is a product of my imagination. Besides, aren’t all our friends so uniquely complex that a novel wouldn’t do them justice?
The next question I heard was: “What is the meaning of indigo maidens?”
There are several levels to the meaning of indigo maiden in this novel. On a literal level, I am referring to the indigo plant and its connection to three characters in the novel. Cholita, who is the 17th century fictitious servant to the historical artist, Isabel Santiago. This maiden was gathering the indigo plants needed for pigment production when a tragedy occurred. The second indigo maiden is 18th century Mexican publisher, María de Rivera Calderón y Benavides, whose life was dedicated to the printed word and to the use of ink in the printing process. The third indigo maiden is 19th century Early California activist, Modesta Ávila, whose protest sign against the railroad was written in indigo ink. She was sentenced to San Quentin State Prison, where she perished. Since we know so little about the contributions of these women, I am illustrating that although many facets of their lives have faded through the centuries, their indelible indigo properties remain.
The figurative meaning of indigo maidens alludes to a sense of sadness, a blue funk, of some of the characters; but more importantly, to their perseverance. These enduring indigo-like qualities lead them to a place of wholeness and hope.