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Friday, 12 January 2018

Interview: Linda Ferreri

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It's my stop on the blog tour for The Matter of the Crown by Linda Ferreri and I'm pleased to be sharing an interview with the author herself!

Firstly, tell me a little about yourself and your background.
I am both an art historian and a lawyer, an American who lives as much as possible in Italy. My novels use all of that and more of me, thoroughly. I teach art law and lecture all around the world about important monuments and their histories.
How did you first become interested in writing?
When I was a child, I entertained myself by trying to write “books” and I relished in the stories my parents told me at bedtime, particularly my father. I was fascinated, actually, with the physical book itself. Folding paper and drawing pictures on the pages. Now, I know that my father’s grandmother told lots of stories to him and his siblings. I suppose it runs in the family. I studied languages in school, lots and lots of Latin, and then became a lawyer where each word counts. One client referred to me as a “wordsmith,” and I think that did it.
Tell me about The Matter of the Crown.
The Matter of the Crown is the second of two thrillers that I have written about the Crown of the Andes now owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. (The two novels do not have to be read in order, by the way.) 
The Matter of the Crown opens with a puzzle about the whereabouts of a single woman living in a small hill town in Le Marche, Italy, the magnificent territory that inspires all of my writing these days. Quickly, however, the story turns to the comings and goings of an American woman named Claire Bliss and the Crown of the Andes. 
The book is what one reviewer described as an “erudite thriller,” a description that I think fits. The reader goes, with the characters, back into the history of this amazing object made of Andean gold and emeralds, and forward again into its fictitious travels through the plot. Its history is critical to solving the crime involved. 
I can safely say that the story is neither crude nor gratuitously violent. But it grabs the reader and won’t let go, all the way to the exciting end.
What’s the best part of writing about crime?
The characters are deep and the plot is the ultimate satisfaction for the intelligent reader. I find that the brightest people I know enjoy mysterious fiction. They need it, I think, and so do I.
Why drew you to the thriller genre?
Two things in my life, actually, drew me to writing these thrillers. First, I love reading them, the good ones. Dorothy Sayers’ books lured me in decades ago. Second, however, I think it was my own career in the art world and the real mysteries that artworks carry around with them. They can’t talk, you know.
Did you undertake much research for the book?
For this particular novel, the research was not difficult because I have spent years researching the history of art and I know the Crown of the Andes exceptionally well through my own personal adventures with it over the course of 25 years. In fact, for future books, the research is just like being back in graduate school in art history. Fun for me!
How did you get inspiration?
The true story of the Crown of the Andes itself, to say nothing of the stories in these two novels, is exciting enough to provide me with stories to tell for years to come. I was inspired by some events in real life to write the first novel, One Sacred Crown, and then to carry the characters forward into The Matter of the Crown in a plot that begged me to be written. Its theft.

As a part-time professor of art law, I talk about art crimes all the time. These days, everybody reads about them in the newspaper and loves them. They have sizzle, I am sorry to say.
What’s your writing process like?
I jump onto my computer and go. I do not outline first. I start writing and my characters go where they want my fingers to take them. But at night, I often ponder what they will do next and how. Occasionally, they surprise me. I am quite fond of them now, a few of them, and I very much enjoy the time I spend with them. 
Our time together is almost always in the first half of the day because I am freshest then and so are they.
linda-ferreri, author

What’s the hardest thing about writing?
I worry a lot about whether my work is good enough. I don’t want to produce something that is superficial. That is I want it to fully satisfy and that means fully engage the reader and cause him or her to care about the hero and fully enjoy the way the story goes. As I show rather than describe, I worry that I have left something important out that I, the author, see in my characters but that I have forgotten to show the reader.
What do you love most about writing?
I adore the characters and their exciting adventures. Do I live vicariously through them? Sometimes. Have I been there myself? Oh yes, but I can’t tell it all in public.
Which authors inspire you?
Dorothy Sayers’ writing is wonderful. But I spent years in love with Thackery’s books. And Henry James and Jane Austen, the two great psychological writers.
What are you currently working on?
The book I am writing now is one of my all-time favourites, I have to say. Two of the characters from The Matter of the Crown are back, but the story is entirely different. It too was inspired by events and characters in my own life, rather unfortunate ones, but like the two books about the Crown of the Andes, it involves a spectacular work of art and more than one crime.
What are you reading at the moment?
A Margery Allingham mystery, one in the Campion series. Classics, all of them!
What’s your all-time favourite book?
That has changed from time to time. Like many people, Pride and Prejudice was right up there for a long time. And so was Portrait of a Lady.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I want to go right on producing novels because I enjoy doing it. But this particular book, The Matter of the Crown, absolutely belongs on the silver screen and I want to see it there. The story is so strong visually, so beautiful because of the Crown of the Andes itself and the hills of Le Marche, and so strong in characters and plot that it really must be seen. If I were a filmmaker, I would want it immediately. I think the world craves a juicy story that is not vulgar, and this is one.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I am an avid knitter and rose gardener and quite the traveller. I must add that I draw and paint quite a lot and have published several illustrated witty little iBooks. They really are pictures with words more than the other way around. Sometimes the urge is to draw things rather than put words to the thought.
The Matter of the Crown is available to buy now. For more about Linda and her work, you can visit her website.

Will you be reading the book? Have you been following the blog tour? Let me know in the comments below!

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