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.
Could you please tell us a little about your book?
Artists & Thieves won the San Diego Book Awards in the action/suspense category. It is an art mystery. A priceless Chinese bronze bowl is looted from a dig by smugglers and sold to an art collector in Monterey, California. Mai Ling is an artist who works undercover for Interpol recovering stolen art. She discovers that this bowl belonged to her ancestor in China and her grandfather is duty bound to return it to China. So she is on a quest to get the bowl, not for Interpol but for her grandfather. Four other thieves are also after the same bowl.
In the last year have you learned or improved on any skills?
I belong to a critique group led by the writer Carolyn Wheat. She shepherded me through Artists & Thieves. I’m currently working with her on another art mystery about a forged Goya painting and I am learning to write dialogue with different “voices” to distinguish characters one from the other by what words they choose and what kind of sentences they use.
Is there an author that inspired you to write?
I was an English major in college and was inspired by many, essayists, poets, and novelists. Currently I am amazed at Michael Chabon. He writes in several genres, always with characters that catch me off guard. His The Final Solution is a short, elegant Sherlock Holmes tale, and his The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is both a “standard” detective novel and very far out. And I like that he wrote his first novel as a college degree requirement.
What do you feel sets this book apart from others in the same genre?
Artists & Thieves is not a “large world” story. There is no threat to national security, there are no automatic weapons, there are not eleven bodies by page ten. Unlike Daniel Silva’s The Rembrandt Affair or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, there is no worldwide conspiracy. It is a very personal quest on the part of the heroine to redeem the disgrace suffered by an ancestor centuries ago. The action is confined to a small town setting. It has some elements of a “Cozy” mystery. Its theme is that art connects us in a positive way to the past.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from life so far?
I’ve learned that life is very short, no matter how long we live. And acquiring things of great value does not make us smarter at living a good life.
What is your favorite past-time?
I am learning Chinese brush painting. It is a celebration of nature and vitality in small things like flowers and birds and in the power of water and mountains. Humans fit into the landscape as a small part of a bigger world. They are not depicted as the magnificent creatures of Western art. So it is a different way to approach the visual world and to record something that is valuable. It requires the same dedication as writing does. It is also a personal expression within conventional rules, like writing.
Winner of the 2011 San Diego Book Awards, Action/Suspense category
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.