First, it's the first story I've written inspired by Spain. Not real Spain, mind you (I'm an SF writer, I couldn't just go and do something simple like that). No, my Spain is a twisted version of all that was wrong with the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Spain, extrapolated into the future. With mermaids. Because everything is better with mermaids. That mix was bad enough to justify some of the procrastinating.
Another problem was that the themes I was dealing with were way too big for the story: I was trying to talk about poverty and drought and hunger, oppression and sexism, a low-technological lifestyle and the elements of social oppression enforced from within a social group. I also didn't want to give anyone the wrong idea. In my experience, Americans are gloriously ignorant of anything Spanish and I didn't want anyone thinking modern Spain was remotely like the Spain in my story (this may sound exaggerated, but in high school a friend of mine went on an exchange program to the US--his American family taught him how to flush a toilet, just in case, and wondered aloud whether he went to school on a donkey).
I worried about this for a while. Then I stopped. I reasoned that my readers are surely smarter than that. ( :P )
Once I gave up and let the story be what it wanted to be, it came out more or less fine.
I wrote "Sins of the Father" while listening to three songs by Juan Manuel Serrat, but I took all the artistic licenses I could think of, so don't infer too much there, either.
The first song is "Pueblo Blanco". It's a sad song about one of those little villages where the sun beats down on cracked thirsty land and all the young men think only of escape. The second is "Nanas de Cebolla," a song adapted by Serrat based on the poem by the poet Miguel Hernandez. Miguel Hernandez was with the Rojos in the Spanish Civil War and imprisoned by the Nacionales. His wife wrote to him to tell him how she and their baby-son only ate bread and onion--so he answered with this poignant lullaby.
There's a third song by Serrat that inspired the festival scene in the story. It's called "Fiesta".
I thought you might be interested in reading translations of snippets of these songs. I've embeded the youtube videos for the songs in the original version.
Hanging from a cliff, sleeps my chalk-white town
Under a sky that, from never seeing the sea, forgot to cry
Through its streets of dust and stone not even the War passed, only forget
Walk slowly, bordering the old lamb-road where not even a flower grows, nor a Shepard passes.
From sowing to harvest, one lives in the tavern
The old women murmur their stories in the doorways
and girls knit lace, looking through the holes for that young man
that they forged in their minds at night
The girls dream of him and he dreams of going away
and the old men dream of dying under the sun
open-mouthed like lizards, half hidden under a straw hat.
Run away tender people, because this land is sick
Don't expect from tomorrow what it didn't give you yesterday
Take your mule, your woman and your instruments
Take the road of the Hebrew people
Maybe tomorrow fortune will smile
And if you must cry, it's best to do so near the sea.
Nanas de Cebolla
Onion is frost, closed and poor
Frost of your days and of my nights
Hunger and onion,
black ice and frost big and round
On hunger's crib my child lay
on onion blood he suckled
but your blood,
frosted with sugar, onion and hunger
A dark woman, silhouetted by the moon
pours herself thread by thread over the crib
Laugh child, I bring you the moon
when it's necessary
Glory to God in Heaven,
they picked up the trash from my street
which was dark yesterday and today strung with lights
Let's climb the hill, because up there my street
is dressed of Fiesta
Today the noble and the villain
dance and hold hands without caring who is which
The sun catches them together
drowning in alcohol, hugging some girl.
For one night we forgot
That each person has a place
These are my own sucky translations, sorry! I hope I've encouraged you to go look up the original songs. They're exhilarating, poetic and tacky. And yes, that defines Spain just fine.