BOOK TOUR GUEST POST: Artists and Thieves by Linda Schroeder
Artists & Thieves
by Linda Schroeder
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.
USING REAL DETAILS IN AN IMAGINED SETTING
by Linda Schroeder
Writers ﬁll their ﬁctional world with details from their real world. That’s why we
believe their stories. I think this weaving together of the real and the imagined makes for
In Artists & Thieves, I consciously placed the character Angelo in Monterey’s
Cannery Row because it is a well known place. But the restaurant I invented for him is
straight out of my head. I called the restaurant Sardines because Cannery Row used to
be a cannery row, think John Steinbeck, not a tourist destination. And the main ﬁsh
packed in those old canneries were sardines. A reader doesn’t need to know that but it
helps with the pun:
“Sardines was packed. Angelo nudged his way into the bar area of the
performance space, reassured a little by the odd mixture of elegance and crap which its
owner, Max, had assembled. The metal and brick walls were bleak, the lighting
I don’t always consciously use details from a real place in a scene.
The other day I had lunch at a restaurant which is built around an old trout ﬁshing
lake. It has ﬁsh water spouts on the eaves, fountains spraying cones of water in the
middle, and ducks. There is a long path which winds down from the parking lot. The
path is cool even on the hottest day because bamboo lines both sides of it, thick
bamboo, almost three inches in diameter.
As I walked down the path the other day I thought, Wait a minute. I know this
place. Well, of course, I know it, I’ve been here dozens of times. No, that wasn’t what I
felt. I knew the path from somewhere else. Then I realized that I had used this path as a
setting in Artists & Thieves. It popped into my head as I was writing a key scene
towards the end of the novel. The memory of this real place unconsciously provided the
perfect setting of a chapter.
The chapter is titled The Bamboo Grove. The main character, Mai, is in the
hospital with her grandfather who has been shot. I’ll just pull a few sentences here as
“Mai walked outside to the coffee stand. Came back in with coffee. Walked
outside for a mufﬁn. Came back in. Sat. Picked up a magazine. Couldn’t read. Couldn’t
sit. Paced. Sat. Outside, wisps of fog ﬂowed in currents of evening air. Mai wandered
away from the hospital down a path to a grove of bamboo which screened the cement
parking structure. The thick bamboo stalks offered a sturdy comfort. . . .The gently
curving path wandered through the bamboo. She walked slowly, feeling hopeful. . . .
Along with the rustle of the bamboo leaves, the bowl’s song played in her head. . . . ”
Since I study Chinese brush painting, I know that bamboo is a symbol in Chinese
thought for resilience. It survives the snow of winter, bends without breaking, and
remains green in the heat of summer. That image was perfect for this crucial moment in
the story when Mai needs to pull herself together and ﬁnd the person who shot her
grandfather. Even if you as a reader do not share the knowledge of the symbol, bamboo
works throughout the chapter.
Sometimes I deliberately choose certain places for my characters to be,
sometimes the details of a place pop unexpectedly into my head as I write. Both ways
help create a good story. Artists & Thieves won the 2011 San Diego Book Awards in the
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.