This episode features an conversation I had recently with Carol Birch. Birch is skilled at crafting fiction around historical fact, especially when there’s not enough factual information available. That was the case with her latest book, Orphans of the Carnival.
The novel looks at the life of Julia Pastrana. Born in Mexico in the 1930s, she could sing and dance, was fluent in three languages, and was billed as the Ugliest Woman in the World. It’s fiction based on fact, and against a backdrop of carnivals and freak shows, the story is stranger than fiction.