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Category: Writing

Musings and practical advice about writing

Tiger Temple Caves in Krabi, Thailand

Tiger Temple Caves in Krabi, Thailand

This is one of my favorite photos of a trip to Tiger Temple Caves in Krabi, Thailand, simply because this monk is so into his work! And what a great space to work in… This trip to Thailand and Nepal inspired two books: Down and Out in Kathmandu and Notes of a Naive Traveler. Here’s a short excerpt from my travelogue about this cave complex: January 10, 2000: Krabi We also visited the interesting Tiger Temple Caves. It’s a series…

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When Fiction is Perceived as Fact: Rituals of the Dead

When Fiction is Perceived as Fact: Rituals of the Dead

My latest novel, Rituals of the Dead, came to be because I wanted to write a mystery about an Asmat bis pole. Considering the Asmat live in the Indonesian province of Papua, the setting for my historical mystery was easily decided. The premise was simple: my protagonist – an art history student in present-day Amsterdam – would investigate an event that took place in Papua, before the Dutch government ceded their control to the newly-formed nation of Indonesia in 1963….

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World War II and Looted Art – inspirations for The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery

World War II and Looted Art – inspirations for The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery

The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery is a dual timeline thriller set in WWII and present-day Amsterdam. The plot and several characters were inspired by university lectures and archival research I conducted while studying art history and museum studies at the University of Amsterdam. To learn more about Amsterdam’s turbulent World War II history, read my article “Amsterdam: the Perfect Setting for an Art Mystery“. To learn more about the artists who inspired the portrait from which this novel takes…

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Why drafting a new mystery is akin to a Choose Your Own Adventure novel

Why drafting a new mystery is akin to a Choose Your Own Adventure novel

Writing the first draft of a new mystery always reminds me of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. This is a time of discovery, when I let my imagination go and try to envision multiple versions and outcomes of the same scene. Much in the same way the wonderful Choose Your Own Adventure series of young adult books by R. A. Montgomery, allows readers to determine the characters’ destiny by deciding what happens at the end of each chapter. When…

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Yesterday Uncovered – 1940s with Jennifer S Alderson & The Lover’s Portrait

Yesterday Uncovered – 1940s with Jennifer S Alderson & The Lover’s Portrait

I am thrilled to be participating in Pauline Barclay’s new blog feature – Yesterday Uncovered! Pauline is an accomplished author and the founder of the Chill with a Book Awards. Her latest feature will shine a spotlight on a different decade every month this year. This month, readers can learn more about the inspiration and background research needed to write The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery. Here’s a teaser: What inspired you to write about the 1940s? While studying art…

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Exploring the Locations used in Rituals of the Dead

Exploring the Locations used in Rituals of the Dead

My latest art-related mystery, Rituals of the Dead, is set in Papua and the Netherlands – two nations on opposite sides of the globe yet connected by a colonial past.   Dutch New Guinea Dutch New Guinea – as the Papua Province of Indonesia was known until 1963 – was considered to be one of the last truly wild frontiers. The seemingly impenetrable interior and extreme weather, combined with rumors of headhunting and a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, enticed many explorers wishing…

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Rituals of the Dead featured Women Writers, Women’s Books website

Rituals of the Dead featured Women Writers, Women’s Books website

I am deeply honored to see my article, ‘When Fiction is Perceived as Fact’ on Women Writers, Women’s Books website! This short piece provides insight into the inspirations for my latest novel, in particular Michael Rockefeller’s role in its inception.   When Fiction is Perceived as Fact “My latest novel, Rituals of the Dead, came to be because I wanted to write a mystery about an Asmat bis pole. Considering the Asmat live in the Indonesian province of Papua, the…

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The Colonial Origins of Ethnographic Museums and Rituals of the Dead

The Colonial Origins of Ethnographic Museums and Rituals of the Dead

Since finishing Rituals of the Dead, I have noticed an influx in news reports about the restitution of ethnic artifacts – a topic central to my latest mystery. So we are clear, I am not referring to antiquities such as the Parthenon Marbles (or Elgin Marbles, depending on your nationality). I’m talking about shrunken heads, painted shields, feathered headdresses, carved ancestor sculptures, ritual masks, and the like. The same objects currently filling western museums dedicated to anthropology and ethnography. At…

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Mission Museum Steyl

Mission Museum Steyl

At the southernmost tip of the Netherlands is a hidden jewel unknown to most tourists and locals – the Monastery village of Steyl. It is situated on a bend in the Maas River, across the water from Germany and close to the Belgian border.   Steyl Mission Congregation The village was founded in 1875 by Father Arnold Janssen as the home for his newly established Steyl Mission Congregation. The brothers and sisters of this Catholic organization built their own self-sufficient…

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Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery Excerpt – Visit to Mission Museum Steyl

Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery Excerpt – Visit to Mission Museum Steyl

Here is a short excerpt of my latest novel, Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery (Book Three in the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series). In this passage, Zelda and her friend Friedrich are visiting the Mission Museum in Steyl for the first time. Here are their impressions of this impressive collection. If you want to read my article about my own visit to this fascinating museum, click here.   Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery Excerpt Zelda followed…

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