Justin Vincent is a San Francisco based artist who leads a secret double life as a cat burglar. He likes the freedom, money, and self-determination his unusual career provides but also increasingly feels that it is a life he fell into by accident. When a valuable painting is stolen from his lover Valerie, Justin agrees to use his underworld contacts and knowledge of the black market to help. The search leads him to an antiquities dealer who has fallen on hard times and a mysterious European middle man. With the help of his friend Ashna, a skilled hacker, and Gabrielle, owner of an art gallery in Nice, Justin gathers clues that lead him to a mysterious chateau in the South of France and a dangerous web of secrets and lies. To escape with his life and complete his objective, Justin’s skill, luck, and perseverance will be tested to their utmost limit.
“What happened to that painting you used to have above the bed?” I asked.
“Above the bed? I didn’t—” Val turned, stopped speaking, breath caught.
A moment later, she whirled, flipped on the light switch, jumped onto the bed, and placed her hands on the wall above the headboard. In the light, I noticed there was a picture hanger still nailed into the wall and a square of slightly brighter paint where the painting had hung. She ran her hands over the bare wall then turned to look at me. Her eyes were manic, her body tense. “Tell me this is some kind of joke, Justin.”
“No joke,” I replied. “Was it there when you left for the gallery?”
“Yes, I think so.” She stepped down off the bed and started frantically pacing the room, looking everywhere. “I’m sure it was.”
“Did you have cleaners scheduled today?”
“No. They come on Wednesdays.”
“Did you leave your balcony door open?”
She looked at me, suddenly focusing. “No. I never leave it open.”
“It was open when we came in. Was it locked?”
“Maybe not. I don’t know. I was in a hurry.”
“Let’s see if anything else is missing,” I said, turning toward the door.
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Do you agree with the adage “Write what you know”?
This is a complicated question. I both agree and disagree. Here’s why:
To me, ‘write what you know’ means choosing settings you are familiar with, characters from cultures you understand from the inside, a time period you have experienced first hand, places and things you have visited/owned. There is a lot of power in these choices. Writing about things that are familiar makes the work of writing a bit easier. You can imbue your story with a kind of authenticity you might not otherwise accomplish.
On the other hand, you must be a very observant and careful writer to write about places, people, and things you know well. It’s easy to stop noticing things when you are familiar with them. Also, writing about something that is totally new to you can be exciting and your readers will feel that. It’s a great opportunity to do research and learn new things.
You can put elements of things you know nothing about in your writing but you should also use your own experience and expertise to make your work really shine. In Old Gold Mountain I did both. I didn’t know anything about being a cat burglar, the black market, picking locks, the Corsican mafia, or chateaus in the South of France. I spent a lot of time researching those subjects. I do know a fair amount about certain neighborhoods in San Francisco, painting, and the drive from Genoa and Nice. So, I mixed up what I knew and what I didn’t know to write a book. It might not work for everybody or every genre of fiction but it seemed natural to me.
I am a writer and educational technology professional. I lived in San Francisco for the past fifteen years but recently moved to Los Angeles with my wife and five year old son. My first book Old Gold Mountain is out now. Buy it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Also available through Apple iBooks, Google Play, and Indigo.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rabbit_fighterWebsite: http://www.bradleywwright.com