International art theft mysteries are always absolutely fascinating. And so are author's stories about how they got to where they are today! Luba Lesychyn tells us about her writer's journey and shares an excerpt from Theft Between the Rains. Be sure to follow the tour for even more! And best of luck entering the giveaway.
What would you do if you worked at a reputable international museum and art works listed as still missing since WWII began showing up on your doorstep?
That’s the substance of the newest urban art theft thriller Theft Between the Rains by Luba Lesychyn.
Drawing on her more than 20 years at Canada’s largest museum, Luba reintroduces many of the affable and quirky characters from the prequel, Theft By Chocolate. Also resurrected is the malicious art thief who has been on the world’s most wanted criminal list for decades.
Theft Between the Rains takes readers behind the scenes at museums and to parts unknown of Toronto. And with water being a character unto its own, Luba uses both humor and thriller elements to weave a page-turning story while simultaneously illustrating how changing weather patterns and flash flooding are impacting metropolitan centers globally.
Lying slumped back in a chair, my body felt as though a truck had dumped a load of concrete over me. I mustered enough energy to crank my head upwards, but my brain was foggy, punch-drunk, as if I’d overdosed on gluten. In a mirror on the opposite wall, I caught a glimpse of my reflection. What was that dark mark on my throat, small and round? My head drooped downwards, and I noticed the door swelling open, incrementally, a sliver of light growing by millimeters. And then…a leg came into view. And, another. Where was I? Who was this coming in? Was I asleep, having one of those 3:00 am witching hour anxiety dreams? Should I get up? I couldn’t get up. Neurons were misfiring. I knew that person at the door. He was saying something to me…but the words seemed out of sync with what I was hearing.
Why did this guy sound like Johnny Cash…singing “Hurt”? Oh my god, it was Marco Zeffirelli, and now he seemed to be screaming at me, but it sounded as though he was underwater.
“Huh, what’s going on?” I said. Was I on some kind of drug trip? I didn’t do drugs. Did someone drug me?
Marco’s hands came towards the sides of my face, tugged at something, and the music stopped. Oh, right. It was all coming back to me. I had been listening to my iPod while working at my desk.
I spent the greater part of my career working in an administrative capacity at Canada’s largest museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, and one of my most exciting jobs was in its Programs Department where I had the privilege of meeting writers like Kathy Reichs, Jean Auel, and Umberto Eco. I was always fascinated by their personal stories, but after dealing with literary stars such as these, I wondered if there was any hope for someone like me to ever write a book. As it turns out, there was, and I have two humorous art theft thrillers under my belt, Theft By Chocolate and Theft Between the Rains.
I did not begin writing at an early age, nor did I journal. Instead, my first foray into writing was in university where I did a graduate degree and wrote a thesis. Academic writing is definitely a different animal compared to fiction, but it did involve doing copious research and I realized later that I had already proven to myself I was capable of writing something as long as a novel. And the project taught me valuable skills like consistency, carrying threads of thought through to the end, and story arcs.
After university I was fortunate to get a job at an international museum, but I was always taking courses and at one point enrolled in a Magazine Journalism program. But upon completing it, I realized that wasn’t the world for me, but I did learn substantially more about writing.
And then enters my passion for film. I’ve been a guerilla Toronto International Film Fester for decades (seeing 50 films during the ten-day fest). But when the friend who introduced me to the fest moved overseas, I kept her in the loop by sending daily emails about the films and my capricious experiences, such as stalking Irish actor Gabriel Byrne after spotting him on the street. Word got out about these emails and my distribution list expanded and the next thing I knew, I had an international readership. This was a time when the term blogging wasn’t in our vocabulary, but eventually I had my own website and my emails turned into official blogs.
The writing bug tugged at me harder and harder as time progressed and I decided to try screenwriting and thereby marry my passions for film and writing. I quite enjoyed it, but it’s a more impressionistic kind of craft. And it didn’t take long to recognize that the odds of having a screenplay turned into a film are minimal, especially these days when many directors are writing their own stories.
So, I eventually pivoted and decided to try my hand at writing a novel and, perhaps, develop a wider readership. I enrolled in a summer writing workshop, followed it with a course on ‘How to Write A Novel’ and left the museum to do a creative writing program where I completed the first draft of Theft By Chocolate, about a woman looking for chocolate, love and an international art thief in all the wrong places.
The publishing journey was another marathon and the road to writing my second book was a bumpy ride. Theft Between the Rains is a sequel to the first book and finds my lead character, Kalena Boyko, in a conundrum when stolen art work listed as still missing since the Second World War starts landing on her doorstep. But as someone recently pointed out to me, writing is not my hobby, it’s my profession. And seeing that I have written two books and am currently developing two books, I would say they were right!
In her two books, she draws from her more than 20 years of work experiences at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada’s largest museum), and her time working for a private museum consulting firm to write humorous, international art theft thrillers featuring amateur sleuth Kalena Boyko. Her newest book, Theft Between the Rains, is a sequel to Theft By Chocolate (about a woman looking for chocolate, love and an international art thief in all the wrong places) published in 2012 by Attica Books and launched in Canada and the UK.
Luba currently spends her time writing and virtually touring Theft Between the Rains in which lead character Kalena Boyko returns to find herself pulled into international art theft intrigue when masterpieces missing since WWII start appearing on her doorstep.
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