No matter where in Italy the author finds herself, there is inspiration for more writing. It’s in the air. Like many places, it should be approached from the sea rather than from the air as we modern travelers take it. In a gigantic country, approach seems to come from land. But Italy offers every kind of welcome to the navigator. The water alone, with its varied colors in the ranges of green to deep blue, sets the mind afire with ideas of who and what swim there. What gods and goddesses watch us? More ancient Greek ruins are to be found in Italy than in Greece. The perfume of nature awakens the mind as the lemons of Sorrento hang in gigantic clusters from the trees from which they were once plucked by women only, wearing gloves, packed like truffles, one at a time. Every little town, it seems, has a beautiful theater in which the glorious sounds of Italian opera have been sung for centuries. We wonder what lies beyond those gigantic heavy doors as we walk in every street in urban Italy. Every spot sparks the writer’s imagination. We come ashore and wander inland, among the mysteries of the past and the future.
Like “made in Italy” the term “set in Italy” has a magical effect. Indeed, this novel is set in Italy, except for the parts set in Philadelphia and a few scenes in New York City. That Italy business is real magic because Italy seems to be at the very top of everyone’s bucket list world-wide. That is just as it should be. Italy is luscious, delicious, elegant, everything wonderful-ous.
The set in Italy is a small hill town in the Macerata Province of Le Marche. The hills of Le Marche are, to me, even more beautiful than those in Tuscany. Their colors keep changing as the seasons do and the farmers seed their crops that go from green to yellow to beigh back to green. The rose colors of all the fruits are everywhere.
The medieval hill towns of Le Marche are beloved by tourists who have walked them or cycled their environs. Castello Piceno in the book is a fictitious name but it could be any one of several of the beautiful hill towns in Macerata. The bricks of the buildings there are pink and buff colored and that orange color of Tuscany is turned into a soft color in Le Marche. This is the home of verdicchio, a crisp white wine that is made near Jesi and Matellica. Olive trees are everywhere, alone and in groves. Pecorino is the cheese made from the sheep who graze the hillsides. All of them have a central piazza with a Bar Centrale where Baldo, our beloved police chief, takes his coffee and broods.
So off we go, to Le Marche, tomorrow. More from there soon.
Mary Magdalene’s “portrait” is on the cover of this book. That is, a painting of Mary Magdalene by Carlo Crivelli. As with paintings of the 15th century and earlier, even later for that matter, she stands there with all of her attributes so that she can be readily identified. Beautiful, long flowing hair, a vessel of prescious ointment, etc. The crime against her was caused by a pope’s message that caused confusion of Mary Magdalene with the sinful Mary of Bethany. It’s been “undone” officially, but how does that ever really happen?
This is only one of so many paintings of one of the great woman of history, one of the many important women in the Bible who have become icons. It hangs by itself in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I am reminded to mention her, yet again, as Easter was the moment of highest drama in her part of the New Testament. She, like th Mona LIsa, has been written about, talked about, redrawn over and over again. We don’t know Mary Magdalene, but we do know her.
I find it interesting that she is blond. Carlo Crivelli’s beauties are always blonds. He was Venetian…were they all blond there in the 15th century? Worthy of contemplation.
Here on Good Friday, Passover, the aftermath of the awful fire at Notre Dame during Holy Week… I am reminded of just how much of the most beautiful art in this world has been an offering to God. Art of every medium, really. Architecture, music, dance, and all the rest. Here we have a magnificent of painting of the great player in the Easter drama, Mary Magdalene. The representation of her by Carlo Crivelli is nothing short of heavenly. Many people could ot read in the centuries when stained glass, mosaics and paintings told the Bible’s stories to them. Think, for example, of the great Cathedral of Monreale in Palermo, Sicily, and what an astonishing offering to God that building is. It goes on and on. We have so much for which to be thankful.
Cultural heritage has been my whole life, so the fire at Notre Dame in Paris, yesterday, was a personal blow here. But we are all taking heart in the assurance that it will be rebuilt and knowing that it, like many other great monuments, has seen dark times before and survived them. I find great comfort in listening to the recordings—aplenty—of magnificent musical compositions being played on the Great Organ of Notre Dame, my favorite being the famous Widor toccata from his 5th Symphony. May that great, great voice sing again for all the world!
I am quite honored to have 20 bloggers so far keen to talk about this novel. They will start in late May and run through June, with one in November and a 1-hour radio podcast interview. This is exciting new. There is no way for readers to find self-published books without others talking about them, a lot. I don’t love talking about myself and so a blogger who is interested is a huge gift to me. And to their devoted followers and readers who depend upon their book recommendations. Hooray for them. And a big hooray for Partners in Crime Tours who are organizing the whole blog tour.
In Italy, I do a huge amount of my writing among my roses in Le Marche. I’m trying to add a photo of some of them in this blog post…we’ll see how that goes. I think it’s not going to work. That’s a pity.
Rose is not named Rose in this novel because of my roses. There’s another reason for her name. But it so happens that Rose is one of my favorite characters and her name calls up a bouquet of images. One blogger asked about Rose. I’ll leave the answer where it lies. Once you read the novel, we can discuss Rose!!
A rose garden is a rather unusual place in which to draw inspiration for a mystery or a thriller. You might say that. I could admit that. But there are the unexpected thorns…a little critter with a stinger…the unwelcome beetle in the center of the blossom. Little surprises, in other words. That works beautifully.
In the novel that I am sketching out now, there is a female lead character who bears the name of another of my favorite flowers. That Victorian habit of naming girls for flowers should come back.
I have written several books, and illustrated a few, that have nothing to do with art crime. Sometimes, I like them best. My first novella The King of UNINI (LuLu) is a sophisticated fairy tale set in Paris. It’s wonderful fun and just flies by like a bowl full of whipped cream. All women who work should read it. And then there are my illustrated iBooks like All Purpose Muses and Do You See the Bee? Love them all, because they are my babies!!
The book is now ready for presale on iBooks with the publication date being May 7. The Amazon paperback and the Kindle version will be the same. Hooray!
The publication date is almost definitely going to be May 7. Hooray! iBooks, Kindle and Amazon paperback.
Pre-ordering the book is possible so that it will appear magically.
When a very smart filmmaker turns this novel into a movie, the happiest person involved will be she who gets the role of Rose. Rose became my favorite character as I wrote the book, but I can’t explain why or how without spoiling the story for readers. So you have to trust me. My readers already know something about Claire and Baldo from my two previous novels, but Rose appears in A Cloud of Fraud, and she’s special. I see my characters as I write them. And I certainly do see Rose.
Closer and closer to actual release. So now, thoughts and opinions and aesthetics about the color of the font on the front cover. It’s black on the paperback but white works best and the digital version allows that.
More beta readers are reporting that they love the book. There’s some encouragement!
Goodness…what a chore this business of margins and dropped caps can be. I will never master it. But I grow fonder of the story every time I reread it and catch yet another typo.
There must be a very special place in heaven for paper book formatters. Whew! Ask me how I know. Anyway, like Brexit, one way or the other, this book will be out soon.
Authors who publish their own writing via the services available on the internet know very well how frustrating the formatting process can be. It’s a labor, but it’s a learning process too. A simultaneous release of a book, as I am doing for this novel, requires a separate format for each version. While I believe I know something about the English language and formatting that, I am no master of book formatting.
The cover of this book is a detail of the great Mary Magdaleme painted by Carlo Crivelli around 1480, around Ascoli Piceno in Italy. It hangs in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, one of the world’s greatest art museums. So special thanks to them, again.
Getting the cover right format-wise is part of the labor. This permits that font; that permits only other fonts. And so on. Then there is the business off getting the position of the letters in the right place on top of the image. On and on it goes. Thanks to Carlo Crivelli’s genius, the readers can just focus on that beauty and use the text over top of it as a source of mere information.
We are in Italy this week, in Le Marche, working on the book launch. It’s looking like June 1 will be the day. While here, however, we are turning all the wheels for yet another book. These magnificent hills are covered in green and early spring flowers that offer up ever more beautiful ideas.
In the great City Hall building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, a massive gorgeous building, the story begins.
The magnificent painting on this website is a detail of the gorgeous painting of Mary Magdalene by Carlo Crivelli in the Rijksmuseum. My tremendous thanks to them for the ability to use this image. It is a great museum and I hope that all readers will visit and stare for a very long time at this masterpiece.
Writing and polishing a novel is really a labor of love. So I am “in love” right about now, looking forward to releasing this novel ASAP!