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Tessa Bridal and Bert Black read from new fiction

River of Painted Birds by Tessa Bridal

Married at fifteen, “in loneliness and lust,” as she herself puts it, Isabel Keating kills her abusive husband six years later and is forced to flee 18th century Ireland disguised as a man. She boards theBonaventure, a ship bound for America, only to discover once she is on the high seas that thanks to her ignorance of geography and the captain’s greed, she is not on her way north to Boston, as she had intended, but south to the Spanish colonies.

Thanks to the ship’s owner, Garzón Moreau, who is also on board, she learns of the perils and rewards of continuing south to the small coastal city of Montevideo and uses her small stock of money to invest in Garzon’s export ventures. Like Isabel, he, too, is something of an outcast, albeit a wealthy one, thanks to his ability at evading the Spanish Crown’s import and export regulations and to his skills as a smuggler. They both have strong reasons to resist a relationship that goes any deeper. Garzon is half Indian and well aware that the Catholic Church forbids mixed marriages. And Isabel is a fugitive with a troubling secret.

They join forces with an unconventional priest whose determination to save the native people from slavery impels him to leave the safety of his mission near Montevideo to establish a new one inland, on territory controlled by Garzón. Built on the shifting sands of personal and political power struggles, this partnership provides them with freedom from close scrutiny from the Crown and the Church, while forcing them and the Indians who join them on their new venture to make choices that will affect not only their own lives, but the future of the Spanish colony itself.

About the Author

Tessa Bridal was born and raised in Uruguay. After moving to Washington, DC with her mother and sister, she began writing as a means of dealing with the psychological impacts of immigration and displacement. She eventually moved to London and completed a three-year course in theatre arts, with a focus on acting and directing.

She later married and moved to Minnesota, where her two daughters, Anna and Kate, were born. Bridal went on to develop a career using theatre in museums—an educational and interpretive technique she was instrumental in developing and for which she became widely recognized in the museum field. While at the Science Museum of Minnesota, she was awarded the American Alliance of Museums’ Excellence in Practice Award, which recognizes an individual who demonstrates exemplary service to the public through the practice of education in museums..

Her first novel The Tree of Red Stars won the Milkweed Prize for Fiction, the Friends of American Writers Fiction Prize, and was translated into several languages. River of Painted Birds (Río de los pájaros pintados) is her second novel and will be released both in English and Spanish.

Impeachment Day by Bert Black

With intelligence and keenly honed suspense, Impeachment Day takes dead aim at the Tea Party and the ongoing Republican faith in a bombs-away foreign policy and the tooth-and-claw free-market philosophy of Ayn Rand. A must-read for all thinking Americans.

Bert Black has created a real-time thriller akin to the Sum of All Fears. Impeachment day should find its way onto the shelves of all those who love this genre - call it a thriller, action, or just plain old great! --David Parker

If you think America's political warfare has sunk to an all-time low, fast forward with novelist Bert Black and see what happens when fed-up voters choose a third party New American Progressive as President. Sally Macalester wins the popular vote, but not a majority in the Electoral College. So under the Twelfth Amendment the House of Representatives gets to choose, and that's when things get really strange.

A clear majority of House members are Republican, but each state gets only one vote for President, and that forces a compromise on Macalaster. The Senate, also controlled by Republicans, picks the Vice President, and there it's only one vote per Senator. Of course they don't pick the Progressive candidate, and the Tea Party of the GOP immediately tries to impeach Macalester to put their guy in the White House.

The impeachment effort goes nowhere until terrorists simultaneously bomb eight major shopping malls across the country. Though they have no evidence, the Tea Party types are certain Iran is responsible and want to launch an immediate nuclear attack. When Macalester refuses, everyone in the GOP thinks they finally can make her impeachment stick.

She needs to uncover the truth fast, but the director of the CIA is a right wing hack she has to keep as a part of the compromise that got her elected. She reluctantly turns to the Marine Corps Commandant, her one-time college sweetheart. His quest for the truth takes him to the remotest parts of the Middle East to the remotest parts of Idaho, then back to Washington for a desperate finale.

Deftly written with a keen and intelligent plot, and published in the midst of the beginnings of the 2014 Presidential Campaign, Impeachment Day is a timely newcomer to the genre of political suspense thrillers.

Bert Black is a Minneapolis lawyer who served in the Marine Corps in the Viet Nam war. Following a peripatetic path to writing, Black began writing stories in 2002 based on several of his cases. He later met a fellow lawyer who was a died-in-the-wool devotee of Ayn Rand and her book Atlas Shrugged. He vowed to one day write an anti-Rand, anti-Tea Party novel. Impeachment Day is the result.

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