Trish Esden is visiting Ascroft, eh? today to tell us about The Art of the Decoy, her first novel in the Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery series.
Welcome, Trish. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
THE ART OF THE DECOY is my debut mystery and is the first book in the Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery series. The second book in the series—A WEALTH OF DECEPTION—will be coming out in spring of 2023.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
I’ve been an antique dealer since my teens, so that inspired the Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery series along with my love for reading and watching mysteries on TV. THE ART OF THE DECOY itself was inspired by the setting of the novel which is on the border of Vermont and Quebec, a place where French Canadian culture and history has deep roots. It also was inspired by a nonfiction book, PRICELESS, by Robert K. Wittman who went undercover as part of the FBI’s Art Crime Team to rescue the world’s stolen treasures.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
At the beginning of the novel there is a quote from the main character, Edie Brown, about the world of art and antiques. She says: “And to us dealers in the art and antiques trade, it really all comes down to the cash. Well, that, plus the love of history. And the hunt. And the desire for beautiful things.” The relationship between people—particularly collectors and dealers—and antiques and art is a subject that has always fascinated me. Why do people covet and collect? Why are they drawn to keep certain items and throw out others? I suspect these questions filter into the series in several ways—not just focusing on art and antiques, but also on relationships people choose to hold on to and others they freely leave behind.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
I come up with a story idea or seed, then I ask myself what sort of characters would find the situation the most challenging. I love—and in some cases despise—my reoccurring main cast of characters. However, my some of my favourites are background characters. I enjoy creating rich backstories for them and giving them quirks that feel real. In THE ART OF THE DECOY, Claude Bouchard and Bucky Sanders are at the top of my list. They are both old-timers who have a lot more to them than it might appear at first glance.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
Setting is easy for me. I’m a very visual writer. As I write, I ‘see’ the setting in fine detail. Being specific about those little details and showing how they emotionally and physically effect the main character is the key to bringing a place to life for the reader. In the case of my series, I made it even easier on myself by surrounding the fiction town of Scandal Mountain, Vermont with places I’m familiar with in real life—such as Stowe, St. Albans, and Burlington, Vermont.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
I do tons of research. My initial research is online. I read articles, watch videos, and listen to endless podcasts. In the case of THE ART OF THE DECOY, I also studied auction listings, dealers websites, and archives just like my main character does in the novel. I also ask questions at museums, and chat with experts. In this novel’s case, that included talking with a probation officer.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
I love having readers as well as aspiring authors follow me on social media. Be sure to also signup for my newsletter on my website. You’ll find a contact email there. Feel free to use it if you have questions about writing or any of my series. I enjoy answering questions and staying in touch.
Thanks for answering my questions, Trish, and good luck with The Art of the Decoy, the first book Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Trish Esden: Trish loves museums, gardens, wilderness, dogs, and birds, in various orders depending on the day. She lives in northern Vermont where she deals antiques with her husband, a profession she’s been involved with since her teens. Don’t ask what her favorite type of antique is. She loves hunting down old bottles and rusty barn junk as much as she enjoys fine art and furnishings.