Stealing Back the Relics is a Dan Brown style art theft thriller, stealing wilfully from my intimate knowledge of the art world and academia. My day job is working in a university art gallery, so I know a thing or two about that rarefied scene. And as a speculative fiction writer, playing around with the supernatural is what comes as second nature.
Inspiration for Relics came from a frenetic three-week trip to Europe, immersing myself in art galleries, presenting at academic conferences and catching up with an art historian friend in Germany and a journalist friend in Paris. I was up cathedrals, down catacombs, and sketching in museums where I was drawn to the grotesque and beguiling reliquaries – ornate vessels that hold sacred pieces of saints.
The David Lodge style ‘campus novel’ twist in Relics came after a chance conversation with a friend’s husband. It turned out he was doing his third PhD. Now, still in recovery from finishing my own (first) doctorate (and not contemplating a second) this was struck me as so outrageous a passion that overnight it somehow merged in my writing subconscious with my European trip, and my newfound obsession with reliquaries. Relics and its characters emerged overnight. Of course, the female protagonist, the sassy Greek Australian journalist, may (or may not) be a self-portrait…or wish fulfilment!
The idea behind what became The Medusa Stone is what prompted the idea for the whole anthology.
I love cliff-hanging page-turning Indiana Jones types adventures and wanted to write one myself. But as my original idea is part of a series of novellas I’m writing that will ultimately form a mosaic novel, I wanted to write a shorter one for And Then…
The overarching story is:
A tale of Amazons and the Great Library of Alexandria in which a time-travelling archaeologist and a writer from the 21st century meet the great-great granddaughter of Alexander the Great and Queen Thalestris.
The Medusa Stone episode, which begins in Istanbul in 1928, follows the adventures of two women, an Australian aviator and a English traveller, who battle both ancient Romans and Nazis – with the help of the Amazons of Amsara.