80th Anniversary of the Spanish Civil War

Without realizing it, I took a big chance by placing the novellas that make up the Los Nefilim omnibus during the early days of the Second Spanish Republic. I assumed that most of my readers were passing familiar with that time period. I suppose there are days when ignorance is truly bliss.

Or maybe it's just karma that one unsteady beginning--a fledgling Republic finding its place in history after deposing its monarch--led me to my own shaky beginning. I had originally intended for the Los Nefilim series to take place during the Spanish Civil War, but the more I read about the conflict, the more I realized that I had to go backwards to the beginning of the Spanish Republic in order to understand the events preceding the actual war. It was sort of a reverse approach to research.

Due to the many different factions involved in the Spanish Civil War, I wanted to be clear about my characters' motivations, and the best way in which to do that was to comprehend what induced people to act. This research helped me to formulate some of my scenes in the novellas, especially those between Diago and Garcia in Without Light or Guide. Whereas Diago has socialist leanings (he doesn't deny Garcia's accusations), Garcia is strictly nationalistic in his loyalties. It's a pattern that plays out between them beautifully, and I probably wouldn't have conceived it without the research.

Like the civil war between the angels, the Spanish Civil War simply didn't happen. No war ever does.

With the Spanish Civil War, years of political strife led to a group of Spanish generals, under the leadership of General José Sanjurjo, to declare war by a prounciamiento (a declaration of opposition) against the democratically elected government of the Second Spanish Republic. On his way back to Spain from his exile in Portugal, Sanjurjo was killed in an airplane accident, and leadership of the coup and the Nationalists then shifted to General Francisco Franco Bahamonde, or as we know him: Franco. 

Prior to these events, different factions within the Second Republic were at one another's throats for years. Stochastic Terrorism is a phrase that has only recently come into play, although the philosophy behind Stochastic Terrorism has been around for a long time. Hitler used it with his Brownshirts, and Spanish politicians of the early twentieth century were also quite adept at inciting their followers through openly violent rhetoric in their speeches.

The upper-classes of Spain resented the workers' demands of fair pay and reasonable workdays. The people, on the other hand, had been long taken advantage of by the upper-classes. They sought better incomes and unions to represent their needs, and the politicians latched onto the national frustration, like leeches do. In order to solidify their backers, politicians promoted discord rather than harmony. They made promises they couldn't fulfill, which only increased everyone's disappointment with their respective situations. 

In order to deflect the public eye from their own shortcomings, the politicians managed to inflame people's passions to the point that churches were burned, and politicians and judges were shot in the streets.  The politicians eliminated their enemies through inflammatory rhetoric that begged for action while cushioning themselves from actual murder charges.

Because, gosh, who could have known someone would actually assassinate a person based on the rhetoric from a speech?

The entire period--from the beginning of the Spanish Republic until the war--was a jockeying for power by the old school politicians that believed in Church and king against the new democratic government, fighting for a government by and for the people. Caught in between these factions were the common folks like you and me, and those are the people I wanted to write about in Los Nefilim.

Oh, sure, there are angels and daimons and supernatural trysts. Still, I tried to interweave a few of the political viewpoints from the early Republic into Los Nefilim. I wanted to hook readers into the time period, because fiction can often serve as doorway into a deeper interest of history.

Anyway, 2016 is the 80th Anniversary of the Spanish Civil War, which began with a well-planned military uprising on July 17, 1936. Whether Los Nefilim piqued your interest in the Spanish Republic, or whether the anniversary moves you to open that door of curiosity, you may check out some of these titles to read more about the Spanish Civil War.

Beevor, Antony. The battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. New York: Penguin Publishing Group, 2006.

Brenan, Gerald. The Spanish labyrinth: an account of the social and political background of the Spanish Civil War. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Buckley, Henry. The life and death of the Spanish Republic: a witness to the Spanish Civil War. London: I.B. Tauris & Company, Limited, 2014. 

Orwell, George. Homage to Catalonia. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.

Preston, Paul. The Spanish Civil War: reaction, revolution, revenge. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007.

Preston, Paul. The Spanish Holocaust: inquisition and extermination in twentieth-century Spain. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.

Rhodes, Richard. Hell and good Company: the Spanish Civil War and the world it made. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2015.

Yglesias, Jose. The Franco years: the untold human story of life under Spanish fascism. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1977.