Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My pseudonym is Belle Ami and Belle’s 50 years young.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m a born and raised Californian, and live in Calabasas, California at present.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I grew up in sunny California. I’m the eldest child of European born parents and have two brothers and a sister. I attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, however, I had to drop out before graduating. My majors were Art History and English Literature. I’m married for more years than I count, and we have a thirty-year-old daughter, Natasha, and a twenty-one-year-old son, Ben. My husband has two children, that I adore, from a previous marriage and six grandchildren. I’m an animal lover, and we have quite a few pets. I’ll name them in order of size, LOL. A gelding named Prince and a mare named Cindy Crawford, a pit bull named Coco Chanel, a long haired white Chihuahua named Pebbles, and last, but not least, my studly little alpha Chihuahua named Giorgio Armani.
Although, my kids are grown they insist on hanging around, so I’m busy not only with my writing but still being a mom. You know the adage “writer’s write” and that’s my mantra. I write every day, seven days a week. Sometimes it’s not a lot, but every day come rain or shine I write.
I’m a gourmet cook. I don’t cook every day anymore, however, I do put together a tasty meal at least twice a week. Cooking is very therapeutic, I love to chop, and I take great pleasure in whipping up something that receives squeals of delight.
I’m also a classical pianist, which is also very therapeutic and informs my writing.
Because I need those endorphins highly stimulated to write, I adhere to a strict workout schedule that includes spinning, weight training, and boxing (I adore boxing). I wish I would have started boxing in my youth. There’s nothing like beating the hell out of a bag.
Okay, enough of me.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My latest romance/suspense/thriller/paranormal novel, The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci, published on June 1st and I’m thrilled with the response it’s getting. It’s the first book in my new Out of Time series.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the blurb:
In the spirit of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown comes a suspense thriller that unravels an unforgettable mystery . . .The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci by Belle Ami.
Will her visions lead her to the truth?
Art historian Angela Renatus is haunted by dreams of Leonardo da Vinci and a mysterious painting of Giuliano Medici and his mistress Fioretta Gorini. A painting that, as far as the world knows, doesn’t exist. Compelled by her visions, Angela is determined to find out the truth.
When Angela is contacted by art detective Alex Caine, she’s shocked to learn that he too is seeking the same painting. Alex’s client, a wealthy German financier, is determined to clear the name of his late uncle, Gerard Jaeger, an art historian, who went missing in Florence, during World War II. In letters written before his disappearance, the historian describes his love affair with a beautiful young Italian woman named Sophia Caro, and the discovery of an extraordinary painting by the great master himself-a painting depicting Giuliano and Fioretta.
Angela and Alex journey to Florence in search of the priceless treasure. Is it a lost da Vinci, potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars, or a wild goose-chase that will only lead to a dead end? But someone else is searching for the elusive painting-Alberto Scordato is a powerful man in the art world and a sociopath who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even murder. Scordato knows something about Angela that even she doesn’t know, something that could threaten both Angela and Alex’s lives, forcing them into the crosshairs of fate.
Presently, I’m finishing the third novel in my Tip of the Spear Series, which is titled Ransom. Nearly, finished, yay! The first book in this series, Escape is a Finalist for the RONE Award, which will be awarded in October at the InD’Scribe conference. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Once Ransom is with my publisher and editor for editing, I’ll begin my second novel in my Out of Time series. My star characters are an art detective and a psychic art historian, who work together to find and return stolen and missing art. Angela’s psychic ability transports us to other eras and the possibilities are endless. I’ve been ruminating on Picasso or Rembrandt, but who knows. I have a lot of research to do before I decide.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve written all ofmy life; however, I published my first book in 2010. It’s the story of my mother’s survival of the Holocaust. It’s titled In the Face of Evil and it was a Finalist for the National Jewish Book Awards. I wish I would have tried to write while I was raising my kids, but, alas, I didn’t. Big regret for me.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
For me, personally, I didn’t consider myself a writer until I published. Most of my friends and acquaintances were not very supportive in the beginning. Everyone says they want to write a book, however, few do it and even fewer are good at it. Most people just shook their heads and poohpoohed my efforts. It’s been quite a surprise to them that I’ve achieved success and that I’m writing my eighth book. I’m a storyteller, however, I didn’t have the technical skills or the expertise at first. It’s been a long process, but I’ve learned so much. Every book I write is better than the last one, and that’s what really matters to me.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
As I said my mother was the inspiration for my first book. She’s the reason I’m writing. Even though countless writers had approached her to write the story of her amazing survival of the Holocaust, she refused saying only my daughter can write this story. I hadn’t even considered it up until the day I decided to write it. It took two years, and tons of bumps in the road. I knew nothing about self-publishing and it was an arduous journey. I’m planning on rewriting and editing it this year and bringing out a new version before the year is up.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci, great title isn’t it? My personal assistant and I have a remarkable relationship. We’re completely attuned to each other. She’s very supportive in countless ways, as my editor, and guide through the publishing morass. Together we came up with the title The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci. My other book titles have been collaborations between my editor at my publishing houses and me.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I definitely have a style of writing. Readers are always commenting that they feel like they are living the novel. My sense of place and descriptions are detailed, which gives reality to my books. I do a ton of research on every novel I write. Writing in the romance suspense thriller genres is a challenge. Thrillers are a challenge, they are impossible to write completely by the seat of your pants. You need timing and pacing, and you need to plot. Fortunately, for me I have an inane sense of timing. I naturally create cliff-hangers that beg the reader to turn the page and find out what’s going to happen next.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My books are not about me or anyone I know so far, except of course my first book. Politics and world events inform my writing quite a bit. I’m a news aficionado, whether it be art news or political news. Much of what I read or see on television influences my writing. Ideas for books just pop into my head both awake and asleep. The difference is I act upon my visions and cultivate them until they become a fully realized book.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I’ve travelled the world, so I have a wealth of knowledge about places, but I still must rely on research. Being a gourmet cook has been helpful, you will always be eating some spectacular meal in my books or going to some amazing restaurant. One reviewer recently wrote my books inspired her to pack her bags and travel. One of my books ended on Varadero Beach, Cuba, and I’d never been to Cuba. Now I know that it’s a place I must visit. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in the world with sugar white sand and swaying palms. Simply breath-taking. I loved writing about it. Most of The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci takes place in Florence, Italy, which I’ve been to, but I still needed to do tons of research. I think I read twenty or more books for this one. Since several of my characters lived during the Renaissance, I had to make sure that what I wrote was correct. I took some poetic license, but everything I supposed in the novel falls within the realm of possibility.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Georgia Woods designed Escape and Vengeance and Fiona Jayde designed The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci is pure entertainment. Romance and thrills are a great escape, and it’s nice to learn something in the process. Escape and Vengeance are about a deep cover Mossad agent who is dedicated to keeping the world safe and his family safe. Escape takes place mostly in Iran, try doing research on that. It was daunting. It deals with real issues, the nuclearization of the Islamic Republic of Iran. My predictions in the book have mostly come to pass, which is very frightening. We live in a dangerous world, and Iran is one of the most dangerous theocracies inhabiting it.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I’m a big fan of Jojo Moyes, I love her writing style. Daniel Silva is my hero for thrillers. Sara Gruen one of the best literary storytellers out there, and Hannah Kristen who just blows me away. Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale is one of my favourite books I’ve ever read. I recently read a book my Susan B. James a new author. Time and Forever and her sequel Maybe This Time are enchanting reads about romance and time travel. She takes you back to sixties London and for me that’s a sweet spot.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My critique group members have been an endless source of support and encouragement. We meet every three weeks and they keep me in line when I go too far in pushing the envelope. They have made me a better writer and much happier author.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I’m a full-time writer, so, yes, this is my career.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not a word. I love The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci and I am proud of every word. I just want people to understand that I am a romance writer who writes thrillers. So, there is a balance between the romance and the thrills. If you don’t like romance, please don’t read my books.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned a lot about Leonardo da Vinci. Part of the reason I write is to learn about different places, different cultures, food, attire, and history.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I truly believe that The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci will be made into a film. It is so cinematic, which is exactly my style of writing. My books are completely visual. Jonathan Rhys Meyers or Henry Cavill would make a perfect Alex. As for Angela, Jenn Proske totally nails the look of my bookish PhD art historian.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Keep writing but don’t expect to be successful at it or make a lot of money. The fact is few do. You write because you must, because it fulfils you.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I so appreciate your support and reviews. Author’s live by those reviews, and considering the pleasure most of us get when we read, taking a few minutes to post your review isn’t much to ask. I, by the way, review every book I read.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading Mona Lisa’s Secret by Joey Peruggia. It’s a thriller with a touch of romance. Fun read.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first adult book I read was The Life of Luther Burbank a botanist. God knows how that happened, not exactly the stuff of dreams. I’ve always been a book addict. By the time I was ten or twelve I’d read all of Shakespeare, all of Dickens, all of Ian Fleming, all of Ayn Rand, and a ton of classics including Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Maupassant, Thomas Hardy, to name a few, and my favourite author of all Ernest Hemingway. I could go on forever. I haven’t even touched on my favourite historical fiction authors or their books, or the American authors I love like Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Thomas Wolfe, etc. or the South Americans (Gabriel Garcia Marquez), or the biographies that I love to read. I read everything, including cookbooks.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I love to laugh, so finding the funny in something is common for me. Apparently, I also love to cry, because I cry on cue at movies and while reading. It doesn’t take much to make me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d love to eat pasta with Leonardo da Vinci and sip wine with Ernest Hemingway at sunset in Africa. Well da Vinci is easy, he’s the greatest mind to have ever lived. He could do anything and everything. I think we’d have a marvellous time together. Hemingway, when he wasn’t drunk, because I’d want him to be my critique partner. LOL
Hemingway wrote: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Playing piano, cooking, and working out. I also love to ski and hike. I’ve done the Kalalau trail in Kawaii, the Inca trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, and climbed El Capitan at Yosemite to name a few.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I love Game of Thrones, The Affair, Strikeback, and I’m obsessed with Benedict Cumberbatch’s new show Patrick Melrose.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I love Italian, Mexican, French, Indian, Moroccan, to tell the truth I haven’t met a cuisine I didn’t like. My favourite colours are green, blue, and coral. I’m a huge country music fan and, of course, being a pianist, I love classical music. But I love most genres of music, just some more than others. When I’m not writing I’m never without my music playing.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
That day will never come. I’ll die writing.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
With my loved ones of course.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She loved passionately andlived fully.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
My website, which was created by my brilliant PA Joanna D’Angelo is: https://www.belleamiauthor.com/
I post my blog and my reviews there, also on Goodreads. I’d love your followers to subscribe to my newsletter, which has grown to become a lovely community. Thank you Fiona for the opportunity to interview with you.