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Interview: Linda Schroeder, Author of Artists & Thieves

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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, Ms. Schroeder has also published a college text.

Linda Schroeder’s early interest in English expanded to include language disorders which lead her to begin a second career as an audiologist and aural rehabilitation therapist working with deaf and hard-of-hearing children and adults.

Currently, Ms. Schroeder 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. At the present time, Linda Schroeder 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.

Readers can learn more about Ms. Schroeder and her work by visiting her website.  

Could you please tell us a bit about your book? The story? The characters?

Artists & Thieves won the San Diego Book Awards in the action/suspense category. It is an art mystery–the characters all want the same art object. And where there is art, there are thieves. The heroine, Mai Ling, is both. Artist by day, thief by night, she recovers stolen art for Interpol. In this story, she must steal a looted Chinese bronze bowl from a Monterey art collector in order to return it to China–a duty passed to her grandfather by the ancestor who failed to protect the bowl from thieves. Mai is helped by the flamboyant, arrogant, emotional artist, Angelo. She is hindered by Hunter who wants the bowl for cash and by the professional looters who originally dug up the bowl and now, because of its enormous value, want it back. I tried to write as if I were splashing paint on canvas, moving very fast so that colors, characters, and events fly at the reader.

How did you come up with the title and how much say did you have on the cover design?

Deciding on a title wasn’t easy. I had about ten possible titles. The first one was Camera Obscura because the art object is a bronze bowl which depicts a camera obscura but I abandoned that one because there is a British music group with that name. Finally I chose Artists & Thieves simply because the characters are artists and thieves.

For the cover, my publisher, Jerry Simmons, referred me to Jackie Meyer. She is in New York and works with all the big presses. She had me send her the manuscript, the back cover blurb, all my research, and copies of covers I liked. She then designed four covers for me and I picked the one I liked best. She was incredible.

Do you have a favorite line or excerpt that you would like to share from your book?

Here is a short paragraph from the climax:

Mai darted across the deserted street outside Toni’s studio. The fog still hung above the sea. In it the moon was a fuzzy presence, its diffused light casting no shadows. A foghorn blasted harsh warnings. Haloed lights on a freighter, like tiny lanterns on bamboo poles, bobbed on the sea. Just north, up the steep hill, the deserted Cliff House restaurant loomed, a fortress above the sea. Beyond that, cloistered in a small canyon, the ruins of the former Sutro Baths sulked at sea level. On the hills beyond the ruins, pines and cypress. Mai needed to get to those trees and the safety of her house.

What are some of your favorite ways to promote your work?

My favorite is an author talk or reading. I love to present the process of writing and let readers know how different the final product is from the initial drafts and loose plot and character arcs.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

It varies. I like to create the scenes on the computer and rewrite with a pencil on the printout. Sometimes I write just for a half hour when I have no idea where to go with the plot; sometimes if things are really starting to come together, I write for four hours. My writing group meets on Saturdays so I blitz on Thursdays and Fridays trying to get a scene polished for the group.

What are some ways that you like to relax?

Usually I relax by doing something physical, walking, yoga, yard work. The Pacific is twenty minutes away, as are the museums, gardens, and zoo of Balboa Park. I do Chinese brush painting but it is not relaxing. It is concentrated effort just like writing is.

What author/s do you think are overlooked in the writing/reading world today?

Kipling, Twain, Melville come to mind first. One writer that nobody I know has read is Richard Henry Dana. His Two Years Before The Mast gives such insight into the Boston to California ocean voyage, commerce in the early 1800s, and the courage of mariners that I measure California history as “before” or “after” Dana. But sadly, only a few old salts I’ve met from the San Diego Maritime Museum know the book.

What author would you most like to meet and why?

I like to talk with Jasper Fforde. If his conversation is as layered as his plots, he’d be fascinating.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to share with readers?

I am working on two more novels, a second Mai Ling adventure involving the Diamond Sutra, and an art forgery story about a Francisco Goya painting.

What is something about yourself that would come as a surprise to many people?

Most people who know my sense of humor would be surprised to know that I am basically shy, actually moving towards reclusive. I always liked that J.D. Salinger hardly ever interacted with anyone.

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  • carol

    Glad to see she’s working on a second Mai Ling story. I enjoyed this first one.