C.M. Mayo and Her Readers, Connecting to History

C.M. Mayo does such a great job of setting up her guest essay that I’m just going to step back, invite you to read an excerpt from The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, and let her have at it…

My novel is based on the true, strange, and heart-breaking story of, as the title says, “The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire.” If you’ve never heard of Mexico’s little half-American prince, not to worry: even many beautifully educated Mexicans have not.

Mexico’s 19th-century history is, to make an understatement, labyrinthically labyrinthical. (I like to say, if you’ve heard of Santa Anna and you know that Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day, you’re doing OK.) Many Mexicans would prefer not to dwell on the Second Empire of Maximilian, a period also known as the French Intervention. Royalty, foreign invasion: not an appetizing combination for many.

Furthermore, when I came upon the story of Mexico’s last prince, and began to read more deeply, I soon realized that the little that had been published about him was riddled with errors and a mystifying vagueness. And so began my plunge into nearly a decade of research in archives from Mexico to Vienna to Texas and Washington, D.C.

The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire came out in hardcover last year; this May 5th marks the publication of the paperback edition (and yes, a Spanish version comes out this fall). One of the most surprising and delightful things about traveling around the U.S. and Mexico promoting it has been hearing the stories other people tell me about their connections to this time.


29 April 2010 | guest authors |

Christopher Farnsworth’s Procession of the Damned


When I read an advance copy of Blood Oath last Christmas, I described it on Twitter as being like “Robert Ludlum’s Hellboy,” which I’m here to tell you is a damned awesome thing to be like. (In a nutshell: America has a superspy, and he’s a vampire… and he’s stuck with a partner.) I especially dug how Christopher Farnsworth loaded up on backstory, dropping hints about how America’s vampire defender had shaped the nation’s history behind the scenes…and when I found out where he got the inspiration for this story, I realized that we had a mutual fondness for one of the truly great eccentrics of American literature, an author who created for himself one of the most distinctive voices of the 20th century.

“A procession of the damned. By the damned, I mean the excluded… We shall have a procession of data that science has excluded.”

I was 11 years old when I read those words for the first time. They were the opening lines of The Book of the Damned, quoted by Daniel Cohen. I was already a regular visitor to the 130 section of my public library. But that was when I first learned about Charles Hoy Fort.

No joke: he changed my life. And he continues to change it. Blood Oath, my first novel, is going to be published on May 18. It’s about a vampire who works for the President of the United States. It’s a combination of the spy thriller and the horror story, and includes many of the anomalous chunks that don’t fit in the regular American history books.

It wouldn’t exist without Fort.


28 April 2010 | guest authors |

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