A Tour of Oltramari, Part One My author says that Oltramari is an imaginary town on the northern coast of Sicily near Palermo. Imaginary? Don’t listen to her. All my mysteries take place in and around Oltramari, Sicily, a city you won’t find on any map. My ancestors settled here centuries ago, so I know all about Oltramari and I’m going to take you on a tour. At first, I’ll do the talking. You can ask questions later. Whatever you do, don’t click. Sit down if you’re tired. That’s right, on … [Read more...] about A Tour of Oltramari, Part One
The heart of story In another life and far away, I studied at the Art Students League in New York and attended the annual lectures of John Howard Sanden—he’s the artist who recently completed the portraits of Laura and George W. Bush. Invariably, his lecture started with a demonstration, usually an alla prima painting of the sitter’s head in three-quarter view. Afterward, he took questions. One time, someone asked him, how do you begin a portrait? He smiled and said it depended. Sometimes he … [Read more...] about Where Does a Story Begin
Excerpt from Death In Bagheria, a work in progress Thursday, March 23, 1871 Yawning and yanking his great bulk out of the chair, Colonna greeted the pair and gestured for them to sit. “What happened to you?” He smiled at her, winking in Captain Badali’s direction. Ignoring the inspector’s attempt at camaraderie, Badali stood silent. “After months of deliberation, Sister Genoveffa has concluded that her mother was murdered. She asked me to investigate. Gave me her mother’s journal penned … [Read more...] about Such a Shrew
The other day I was in a meeting and the speaker asked us, What’s your main character’s central conflict and tell me in twenty words or less. Since it’s central, it is an inner conflict that’s present every time the character thinks, acts, speaks is present in my head as I write, consciously or not moves the main story line So I’ve been pondering that question for the past four days and have an answer—at least for today. (It’ll probably change tomorrow.) But the point of this … [Read more...] about What’s Your Character’s Central Conflict?
Long before they were books, the Serafina Florio mystery series began as two paintings. In 1997 I was commissioned by the American Jewish Committee to paint a diptych of the Lower East Side. The client told me I had free rein as long as my work reflected all ethnic groups that settled in the area from 1882 to 1925. So how do you stuff the richness of that neighborhood onto a canvas? Before I picked up a brush, I spent three months walking the streets of lower Manhattan, sketching in … [Read more...] about Inspiration and the Lower East Side