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IR Approved Author Martin Elsant: “What motivates my writing, and what I believe motivates most authors, is the desire to make the world a better place, even if just a little bit.”

Acts of Faith received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Martin Elsant.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

The name of the book is Acts of Faith.  It was published on January 10, 2020.

What’s the book’s first line? 

Figueira is a lovely little harbor town about halfway up the Portuguese coast, a little north of Lisbon.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”. 

In Coimbra, in 1570, a man dares to challenge the powerful Portuguese Inquisition to save the father of the woman he loves.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event? 

When I was a teenager, I found a paperback edition of Cecil Roth’s History of the Marranos on a bookshelf in my parents’ home.  I was so taken by the story of Diego Lopes of Pinancos, who disappeared into thin air in front thousands of startled spectators as he was about to be burned at the stake at his auto da fe, that I never forgot it.

More than half a century later, I came across Miriam Bodian’s book, Dying in the Law of Moses.  She had done extensive research in the archives of the Portuguese Inquisition and had found the actual records of the trial of Diego Lopes of Pinhancos.  As I read Professor Bodian’s quotes and summaries from those four-hundred-year-old documents, I was surprised to learn that the part of the Inquisition’s record that was to describe Diego’s burning at the stake was missing.  I’m not a great believer in coincidences and I began to wonder if there could have been some kind of 16th century coverup of an episode that displeased or embarrassed the Holy Office in some way.

That prompted me to begin writing my story Acts of Faith.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? 

Acts of Faith is a story of a small group of ordinary people daring to challenge one of the most powerful and tyrannical institutions the world has ever seen and beating it.  I think that makes Acts of Faith a tale that conveys a message of particular relevance because, as John Gardner has written in The Art of Fiction:  Authoritarian ages…are forever watching from the wings, hoping to seize the stage again.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of? 

The main character’s first name is Aristides.  I chose that name because this fictional character’s heroism in the 16th century resembles that of a real 20th century hero named Aristides.

I think Shari Simpson explained this beautifully in her 5 star IndieReader review of Acts of Faith:  Elsant’s final touch of naming ACTS OF FAITH’s protagonist after Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a Portuguese consul during the second World War who defied his government to issue visas and passports to refugees fleeing Nazi Germany, adds a resonance that goes straight to the reader’s heart. Sousa Mendes was recognized by Israel as one of the Righteous Among the Nations, and Elsant’s fine story does him justice.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

I’ve read and listened to other authors answer that question and I always hear the same message.  Sometimes its more explicit and sometimes more subtle, but it’s almost always there.  What motivates my writing, and what I believe motivates most authors, is the desire to make the world a better place, even if just a little bit.