Belle Ami - Time Travel Romance Mystery
Belle Ami is a #1 Amazon Bestselling author of romantic suspense, romantic thrillers and international mystery with a time-travel twist. Belle is also a Readers Favorite Book Award Finalist for her time Travel Romance THE GIRL WHO KNEW DA VINCI. (Book 1 Out of Time Series). As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about this book.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci is about.
A 500-hundred-year old missing painting. Three past lives. 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, Gerhard 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 Leonardo da Vinci—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.
What inspired you to write about a missing Leonardo Da Vinci painting?
My major in college was art-history and I have never lost my love for art. The actual seeds to this story took root when I was in my early 20s. I wrote a screen treatment for a movie about a young woman who discovers herself in a Renaissance painting and awakens visions of her past life. I couldn’t get this story out of my mind and I was completely swept away with the desire to write this book. I love the Renaissance, and Leonardo da Vinci was the obvious choice for me to begin the series.
Tell us more about Angela Renatus. What makes her tick?
My heroine Angela Renatus is 27 years old. Her last name is specific and meaningful to the story. Renatus means “born again” in Latin. Her name is prophetic. It is a window into why her world is crumbling around her. The curtain that separates us from our past lives and our memories of those lives is coming down. Angela past lives, influence her present.
Her past lives are haunting her in dreams, in visions, and as ghosts that are taking over her life. They want something from her, and they won’t rest until the truth is known and justice is served.
In this life, Angela’s mother died giving birth to her, and in a prior life, Angela died giving birth to her son, Giulio Medici, who is destined to become Pope Clement VII. Angela is beautiful and bears a striking resemblance to her past incarnation Sophia Caro. Sophia worked at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and fled during the Nazi evacuation.
Blessed with dark, wavy hair and chocolate-brown eyes she does her best to appear academic and ordinary. She’s a recent Ph.D. in art history, specializing in the Italian Renaissance and particularly in Leonardo da Vinci, and is doing her internship at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles when the story begins.
When she meets art detective Alex Caine, they are unmistakably drawn to one another. Alex feels the same overwhelming attraction to Angela. As well as a burning desire to protect her. Alex hires Angela to be his expert on the case. A true skeptic, he is loath to believe in the paranormal events that begin to affect them.
Angela describes herself as a small-town girl from the Midwest. She grew up outside of Chicago, in Lake Bluff, a little town on the shore of Lake Michigan, near the Lake Bluff Naval Base, where her father worked. Without a maternal influence, Angela turned to books, especially art. Her best friends resided between the pages of history, art, and literary novels. She couldn’t wait to finish school and grow up and move away from Lake Bluff to discover everything that she had only about in books.
But her dream job at the Getty begins to fall apart. She suffers from strange dreams that deprive her of sleep, dreams that are beginning to rob her of her ability to concentrate at work. Her new boss, Alberto Scordato, the director of the Getty, begins to harass her with inappropriate comments and touching, making her job a living nightmare. On top of the stress of a sexual predator boss, she’s beginning to lose track of time—hours that slip away from her. Hours that she can’t remember.
The only way to reclaim her life is to find the painting, and the only way to find the painting is for Alex and her to join forces.
How much research did this book require from you to make the history part ring true?
I am a research fanatic. In preparation for this book I read dozens of books, academic, biographical, and fictional. I’m a stickler for authenticity. In summation, I read thousands of pages in my research. Sometimes, the academic work is grueling, but I believe the result is worth it.
How do you think dreams serve us in life? How do you use dreams in your books and why?
Much of what I write comes from my dreams. I’ve developed a skill of remembering my dreams, and since I’m always writing—my dreams are usually about my characters and scenes I’m working on in my current book. Angela’s dreams, visions, and newly awakened psychic abilites are instrumental throughout The Girl Who Knew da Vinci in transporting the reader to the past. They’re also the key to solving the mystery and finding the painting.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I’m a classical pianist and a gourmet cook. Both are pastimes that keep me sane. I’m also a workout freak (spinning, boxing, and weight training).
What was your greatest challenge when writing this book?
The greatest challenge was switching back and forth through time. It’s very difficult not to lose the reader. The transitions must be smooth and seamless. I also have three different love stories going on in this book, which made it difficult. I have Fioretta and Giuliano in 1475, Sophia and Gerhard in 1944, and Angela and Alex in the present. But, if the reviewers are to be believed, it seems I did a pretty good job.
Why do you enjoy writing time travel stories?
That’s easy. I love history and I love art. Traveling back in time is something I wish I could do. Plus, I get the added fun of creating a thriller, a mystery, and a suspense novel all in one book. Time travel allows me to explore the passion I feel for a blending of these genres.
How do you force yourself to finish what you’re doing before starting the next project when the new idea is nagging at you?
I refuse to think about anything but the book I’m working on. I let the new ideas foment in my subconscious. I stay focused on the present book—there will be plenty of time to dream and envision the next book.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
In writing this kind of novel, you must plot. However, I plot loosely. Things change constantly when I’m writing, new ideas surface, and I allow myself to be open and listen to the voices in my head. So, I describe myself as a plotter/panster.
Talk to us a bit about your writing habits. Do you write early in the morning, or through the night? Pen or laptop?
I don’t keep to a firm schedule. Some mornings I write, some evenings I write. The only thing that is certain—I write every day. Sometimes, between editing and writing I can put in ten to twelve hours in a single day. I write on a laptop, but when I research I hand-write my notes.
What are you working on right now?
My next book in this series, The Girl Who Loved Caravaggio, just went up for pre-sale on Amazon and will release on June 1st. I’m very excited about this book. My current work in progress is the third book in this series, which will be titled The Girl Who Adored Rembrandt. I’m about half-way done with it. I did so much research for this book that I think I am Rembrandt. LOL
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I’m always offering giveaways and contests and insider tidbits about my books for my subscribers. You can also find me at the usual suspects.