Today I’m happy to welcome Linda Schroeder, author of Artists & Thieves, to my notebook to share a bit of her thoughts on the supernatural. I’ll be posting my thoughts on the books, which I enjoyed, later this week.

A TOUCH OF THE SUPERNATURAL

In San Diego, we have a clairvoyant in Little Italy, Tarot card readers in Balboa Park, and ghosts in the Whaley House in Old Town. And my mother always swore that the poltergeist who lived in her house hid her car keys on a daily basis and threw away her electric bill just when she needed to pay it.

Me? I’m skeptical.

But sometimes the supernatural is just what a plot needs.

My book, Artists & Thieves, is an art mystery involving a Chinese bronze bowl used by an ancient oracle to predict the future. The bowl is stolen from the oracle and lies buried for centuries until looters dig it up. Enter present day greed. The desire to possess the bowl motivates both the good guys and the bad guys in my story. As the bowl changes hands from one character to another, the plot moves speedily to an attempted murder and theft but nothing supernatural appears.

But wait. The bowl is an art piece with a mysterious past. I couldn’t let an opportunity go by without using the bowl to evoke deep feelings about the past from the three primary characters. I am a “blank page” writer. I don’t have a detailed outline when I sit down to write. I have a blank computer screen and a vague idea of what events need to happen to move the plot along.

So I started a scene to give the characters time to remember the past. Mai, the heroine, and her grandfather, and their friend Angelo are sitting on the floor in an elegant Pebble Beach house in front of a fire with the oracle’s bowl on the low coffee table between them. They believe the bowl is an ancient water mirror. They fill it with water and, in turn, look into the bowl. They see their reflections in the water and that evokes deep sadness. Each composes a poem.

I thought it was a charming scene.

But when I took the scene to my critique group, Carolyn Wheat, the writer who leads the group, said something akin to “So?” Charming doesn’t turn the plot. Poetry doesn’t send the characters in a different direction. Sitting in front of a fire doesn’t propel the action forward.

Back to the blank page. I deleted the poems. I added different poems. I dumped the water out of the bowl. I put the water back in the bowl. I changed the order of who looks into the water. Nothing worked.

Enter the blank pager’s muse—sudden inspiration. Enter the supernatural. The bowl became magical: “Again Mai felt a sharp shock of electricity when her fingers touched the bowl and her grandfather’s hands visibly jerked as he clasped the bowl. . . . Red flames flickered momentarily on the surface of the water, then moved deep inside the bowl. . . .The water increased its spin, wildly swirled for several seconds until it became a vortex beating violently against the sides of the bowl.”

Whoa. Where did that come from? My muse was on a roll. The oracle’s bowl became an oracle. It predicted danger. Something had to be done. The plot zipped on.

In response to this new scene, Carolyn said something about not usually letting the supernatural pop up late in a mystery novel, but since I’d been heading towards the weird with this bowl all along I should keep the scene.

My mother’s poltergeist applauded.

About the Author:

Linda Schroeder divides her time between the bright sun of California and the high mountains of Colorado. She has a Master’s degree in English and one in Communicative Disorders/Audiology. In addition to her novel, Artists & Thieves, she has published a college text.

Her early interest in English expanded to include language disorders and she began a second career as an audiologist and aural rehabilitation therapist working with deaf and hard-of-hearing children and adults.

Currently, she studies and practices Chinese brush painting, celebrating the vitality and energy of nature. She follows art and art theft blogs and writes her own blog about art and sometimes includes reviews of novels. She is working on two more novels, a second Mai Ling novel about the Diamond Sutra, and a Sammy Chan art mystery about the forgery of a Goya painting.

You can visit her website at www.artistsandthieves.com.

Artists and Thieves Cover About the Book:

Winner of the 2011 San Diego Book Awards, Action/Suspense category

Where there is art, there are thieves.

Mai Ling is both. Artist by day, thief by night, she recovers stolen art for Interpol. It’s a business, not a passion, until her beloved grandfather reveals a family secret that is also a destiny. He is duty-bound to return to China an especially precious bowl which belonged to his ancestor. Mai must steal it for him.
But Mai Ling is not the only one after the bowl. Four others plan to extract the bowl from a private California art collection. The rival thieves grasp and then lose the bowl until finally Mai is faced with the ultimate dilemma: save the bowl or save herself. Her duty to her grandfather gives her only one choice.
Set against the vibrant backdrop of the Monterey Peninsula and peopled with quirky characters, this stylish art caper entertains on every page.

Amazon | IndieBound | Book Depository

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