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1973. Art historian Fabiola Bennett sees herself as a prudently observant deer who becomes a daring and even mischievous lioness if the situation calls for it. And that’s exactly what’s required when greedy criminals steal, forge, and tamper with treasured artwork. When the crooks add murder to their list of crimes, the chaos is complete.
A mysterious note is delivered anonymously at the door of the National Gallery in London, and the director immediately calls Fabiola’s office in Oslo and pleads with her to come without delay. The message is confusing, but it seems one of her favorite eighteenth-century portraits is in trouble.
Fabiola hops on the first plane and meets up with her vibrant side-kick Pippa Yates and the ever-loyal Detective Inspector Cary Green from New Scotland Yard. But she is not naïve enough to think untangling the purpose and meaning of the mysterious note will be as simple as a walk in Hyde Park. These things never are.
1750. Newly married Robert and Frances Andrews, members of the landed gentry of Suffolk, England, hire young and talented Thomas Gainsborough to paint their wedding portrait. Their desire is a lovely conversation piece showing their wealth and class, an artwork to remember them by for generations to come.
Little do they know the gifted artist portrays their personalities exactly how he perceives them, and the artistic symbolism is not as flattering as they’d hoped for. Even the looming clouds in the distance promise a troublesome future.
This is the first book in a new dual timeline series by Heidi Eljarbo—an intriguing spin-off from the much-loved Soli Hansen Mysteries.
Fans of Lucinda Riley, Rhys Bowen, Kathleen McGurl, Kate Morton, and Katherine Neville will love this cozy historical art mystery, which takes the readers back to the nostalgia of the groovy seventies and the classical Georgian era of the eighteenth century.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions.
How did you become an author?
By choice. Writing stories was a dream I’d had growing up. I wrote snippets here and there and even submitted a book to different publishers when I was young. But it was not until several years later that my husband encouraged me to write. I studied, learned, and wrote whenever I could. My first book was published by a US publisher, but since then I’ve chosen to self-publish.
Tell us about your writing process.
I like starting my writing early in the morning. I have some breakfast and some baking chocolate as I write (I know…but I really like the Norwegian baking chocolate), and I write until the early afternoon when my dog insists it’s time for a walk in the woods. I keep a pen and paper close by wherever I am. Who knows when a wonderful sentence pops up in my head or a character tells me a new twist to a story? I am also known for having way too many pens in my purse, and I sometimes write in the dark in bed so as not to wake up my husband.
How would you persuade readers to buy your book(s)?
Oh, that’s a difficult question, I’m not very good at that. But other than advertising, I try to write interesting snippets on social media where I add information about my writing. I have a newsletter connected to my website (please join!), and I connect with other authors to swap newsletters, write reviews, and we encourage each other’s work. Most important is to write even more books.
What is your all-time favourite book? What makes it special?
When I read Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, I thought it was the most intriguing and thrilling book I’d ever read. Mr. Follett is a master storyteller and makes every page interesting. You root for the good people, and wish he’d kill off the very worst ones, although you know that without both good and bad there’d be little tension in the story.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve been reading a sweet Regency romance lately called Havencross by Julie Daines. Next, I’ll start The Silk Code by Deborah Swift.
Which author(s) (past or present) would you invite to dinner?
Late Norwegian author Vera Henriksen. I’ve read her books and found out she had been in the resistance during WWII. Her son gave me her memoirs to use in my writing and they’ve been of great interest to me. Also, I’ve been to an evening with Ken Follett and Dan Brown in Oslo before, and even though I was able to ask them a few personal questions, I’d like to have them give me some pointers on storytelling.
What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or passions?
I’m outside a lot in any kind of weather. I like to spend time with my family, walk the dog, and hike with the dog and my husband. Inside, I enjoy studying art history, photography, watercolor painting, and going to the movies.
How important is it to have your historical facts right and are there any instances when you would bend history to fit your story?
Is it fake or is it true? I believe historical fiction should be based on actual events and set in a time where the characters live the life of that era. The accuracy is up to the author, but with proper research it’s possible to paint a picture of a setting where the reader can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel the time and place of the story. Authenticity is in the details, and anachronism in historical fiction can simply tell the reader that the author didn’t do enough research. It would not be right if my characters in The London Forgery had a cell phone in their pockets, or if they listened to music that had not yet been recorded. That said, in my novel Catching a Witch I make a twist in history but explain what and why in the author’s note.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Find out what your favorite genre is. Read books in that genre. Write to practice. Plot your story or just start writing and see where it takes you. When you finally finish a story, have someone (not you mother) read it. If you want to have it published, learn all you can about the trade then choose if you want to try to be traditionally published or independently. From there on there are many things to think about, but most of all—if this is your dream, never give up. Every author has experienced rejection and lack of courage. Just continue.
What are your future plans as an author?
I have finished another book, a historical pre-Christmas novel that will hit the shelves around October this year. It still needs a little work, but it’s a sweet and hauntingly romantic tale from Sweden in 1810. Join my newsletter on my website or follow me on social media to get all the news on that. I’ve also started the next installment in the Fabiola Bennett Mysteries.