Clarissa Martinez, a biracial young woman, has lived in seven different countries by the time she turns twenty. She thinks it’s time to settle in a place she could call home. But where?
She joins a quest for the provenance of stolen illuminated manuscripts, a medieval art form that languished with the fifteenth century invention of the printing press. For her, these ancient manuscripts elicit cherished memories of children’s picture books her mother read to her, nourishing a passion for art.
Though immersed in art, she’s naïve about life. She’s disheartened and disillusioned by the machinations the quest reveals of an esoteric, sometimes unscrupulous art world. What compels individuals to steal artworks, and conquerors to plunder them from the vanquished? Why do collectors buy artworks for hundreds of millions of dollars? Who decides the value of an art piece and how?
And she wonders—will this quest reward her with a sense of belonging, a sense of home?
8 QUESTIONS WITH Evy Journey
What makes your book different from other fiction on art, artists, and art heists?
Few novels focus on illuminated manuscripts, especially stolen ones. This story is inspired by real events and goes deeper into motives other than financial gain for art thievery. It gives a glimpse into an esoteric art world, and of medieval manuscripts as precursors to today’s picture books.
Your book is set mainly in the Bay Area, but also includes scenes in Paris. Have you ever been to these places?
I’ve lived in different cities in California including the SF Bay Area and stayed for two to six months in Paris across several years. I presume to know these places fairly well.
How did you do research for your book?
I wrote a paper on illuminated manuscripts decades ago. But recent research usually uncovers previously unknown facts, and the scope of this book goes beyond manuscripts, so I read more books and articles and watched relevant documentaries. I also surveyed my email list to learn what and how many readers know or have read about illuminated manuscripts.
What is your next project?
How about a novel on Edouard Manet (“father” of modern art, Le Dejeuner Sur L’herbe) and Berthe Morisot, one of very few female Impressionist painters? Were they more than friends, or was he just a mentor/painter to her student/muse? She eventually married his brother. If I find enough intrigue in what’s been written about them, I’ll be sorely tempted.
What genre do you write and why?
The freedom self-publishing gives me is that I can mix genres—a little mystery, a little romance, women’s issues, family life—all in one novel. So I say I write literary because it can accommodate all those, and it lets you probe into the inner lives of characters. Lately, I’ve woven well-researched real events into my fiction that I hope would raise a question or two in readers’ minds.
What is the last great book you’ve read?
It’s still Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, which I read in 2015. I’ve read a number of good books since, including Doerr’s latest, but this to me is still tops.
Which authors inspired you to write?
Austen and Dostoevsky—writers from my youth whose books I’ve read several times. Ms. Austen might be an obvious inspiration. Dostoevsky nurtures my characters’ existential angst, as well as mine.
Any encounters with celebrities?
I talked (kind of) to Francis Ford Coppola, dapper in a light brown linen suit, sitting by himself outside a café next to the short-stay apartment we were renting in Paris. I wrote about the encounter on my author website.
Teensy excerpts: “Polite in that guarded celebrity way, he doesn’t encourage much interaction, but doesn’t shrink from it, either.
Hero-worship shining in my eyes, I say, “I think you’re the best director America has seen in a while. I love your movies, especially Apocalypse Now.”
He smiles patiently, mumbles something nice and inconsequential. After a few more inane remarks, we realize we must leave him in peace so he can enjoy pretending he’s like everyone else who visits Paris.”
Find The Golden Manuscripts: A NOVEL at Amazon.
Evy Journey writes. Stories and blog posts. Novels that tend to cross genres. She’s also a wannabe artist, and a flâneuse.
Evy studied psychology (M.A., University of Hawaii; Ph.D. University of Illinois). So her fiction spins tales about nuanced characters dealing with contemporary life issues and problems. She believes in love and its many faces.
Her one ungranted wish: To live in Paris where art is everywhere and people have honed aimless roaming to an art form. She has visited and stayed a few months at a time.
© 2014-2023- Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.