Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Coffee and Croissants with Rhys in Paris

LUCY BURDETTE:  it's a grand day today for readers who love Paris and Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy series--we love them both and are thrilled to launch CITY OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT today.

Take it away Rhys!

RHYS BOWEN: One thing we writers are always asked is “Where do you get your ideas?”

Sometimes it’s hard to answer—a nebulous germ of plot, an item on the TV news and the brain starts ticking. But with my Molly Murphy books I’m able to pin-point the exact starting point in most cases. Usually, like my Jungle Red sister Deborah Crombie, the driving force behind the plot is place. It was my visit to Ellis Island and the emotional response that it sparked that made me write Murphy’s Law, the first book in the series and the one that brings Molly Murphy to America.

                It was the abuses in the sweat shops in early New York that made me set For the Love of Mike there. I’ve set books in the drawing rooms of the Four Hundred, on Coney Island,  in one of the ‘cottages’ in Newport, Rhode Island…almost every story driven by the sense of place and time.

               


This was especially true for my 13th Molly Murphy story, CITY OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT, that debuts TODAY.  I took my granddaughters to an exhibition at the fine art museum called Impressionists on the Water. We admired the serene sea-scapes and lazy picnics on the river.
Then they wandered into the next gallery and there were Picasso, Chagal, Dali. Shocking, distorted, bright colors.

                “Oh, this is modern art,” Meghan exclaimed.

                I pointed out that these pictures were painted within a couple of years of the Monets and Renoirs. And I started wondering what had made the art world suddenly take this sharp turn in the first years of the Twentieth Century. Then I realized it was all about Paris. Paris was in a state of flux and upheaval: the big exhibition of 1900, which showcased electricity and the Eiffel Tower, proved to the world that a new era had dawned. But at the same time Jewish refugees were pouring in from Eastern Europe, victims of pogroms and burned villages. The Dreyfus affair had literally divided Paris—you were either pro-Drefus or anti. Billboards all over the city saying “Free Dreyfus” or “Down with Jews.”

                So I decided I had to write about this. All I needed was a way to get Molly Murphy to Paris. It was a challenge as she now had a husband and a baby. But I found one that made sense… you’ll have to read the book to find out why.  

And then, of course, I had to go to Paris do do my research (yes, we writers do suffer for our art). I wandered all over Montmartre, including the cemetery where the Degas family is buried (and did you know they are really called de Gas. Aristocrats)

I visited the remaining cafes where the artists and writers had gathered. It seems strange and wonderful that a whole city could have been full of poets, writers, painters, who met to discuss their art every day. It made me long to have been part of it—part of an age in which poetry and painting were appreciated and honored.


The closest I could come was to let Molly mingle with Picasso and Degas and Gertrude Stein and Vollard although the plot is so tense that she doesn’t get much leisure to enjoy the art scene.

I’m kicking off my book tour tonight and will be on the road, on and off, for the whole month of March. If you are interested in attending one of my events, please check out the APPEARANCES page on my website:www.rhysbowen.com.

And don’t forget to comment today. I’ll be giving a copy of the new book to the best comment.

31 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

Launch Day Congratulations, Rhys . . . and having to research in Paris does sound like such suffering!
The world rushes by at such a fast pace these days . . . no more time for poets, writers, and painters to gather at the café . . . and we are poorer for that.
I’m definitely looking forward to reading Molly’s newest adventure . . . .

Kathy Reel said...

Rhys, congratulations on your big day and your amazing book. Having been lucky enough to receive an ARC, I have already read and enjoyed City of Darkness and Light. I hope you don't mind if I post my review here, instead of just repeating some of the praise from it.

My Review:
Be prepared to be wowed by lucky #13 in the Molly Murphy mystery series. It is the second of the series to take place primarily outside of New York City, in another country. The country this time is France, and the city is Paris in its heyday of cutting edge artists and intellectuals. The year is 1905, and major cities, such as New York and Paris, are bursting with history and change upon which the twentieth century will be built. Rhys Bowen once again seamlessly weaves the fiction of Molly's exploits with this metamorphic history, and the reader is presented with historical figures integrally enmeshed in the story line. Of course, one of the strengths of Bowen's writing is transporting readers to an earlier time and place through her well researched connections of people to plot. The Paris of 1905, at the zenith of seminal modernist artists, provides a bevy of real-life characters, such as Degas, Picasso, Monet, and Cassatt. And, the places of Montmartre and Montparnasse will become wonderfully familiar. Bowen even works the Dreyfus affair and Gertrude Stein into a story where the history of Jewish discrimination is evident.

As City of Darkness and Light begins, Molly has no thoughts of Paris and famous artists, other than the occasional letter from her friends Sid and Gus, who have traveled to that progressive city in order for Gus to explore her artistic endeavors. Molly is quite happy with her new family of her husband Daniel and son Liam. However, Daniel's police business intrudes into their lives in a most devastating manner, as retaliation from the newly formed Costa Nostra takes the form of a bomb that destroys Molly and Daniel's cozy home and very nearly costs them their lives. The solution to keeping Molly and Liam safe while Daniel searches for answers to the bombing is for Molly to take refuge with Sid and Gus in Paris. Molly and Liam sail for the safety of Paris, but, to Molly's dismay, her friends are not there to meet her and have seemingly disappeared. In Molly's attempt to locate her missing friends, she stumbles into a murder of a famous American artist who has resided in Paris for twenty years. Molly's journey to locate Sid and Gus will take her into the heart of the artist community and require her yet once more to unscrabble a mystery of complex scope. Molly also discovers that the Paris Surete is no fonder of interference than the New York Ciy police.

Followers of the Molly Murphy series will be well pleased with Molly's latest excursion into murder and mayhem. Although now a married woman and a mother, Molly hasn't lost any of her drive and determination to use her powers of detection in solving yet another confounding death and clear the names of the innocent. This lady is made of far sterner stuff than sugar and spice and everything nice, and she never ceases to win us over with her unconventional bravado.

Mark Baker said...

I, too, received an ARC of the book. If you like Molly, you'll love it. (And if you don't like Molly, you obviously need to read more of the books so you will.)

I'm just going to post a link to my review if anyone is interested in reading it.

http://carstairsconsiders.blogspot.com/2014/03/book-review-city-of-darkness-and-light.html

Congrats, Rhys!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

It's a wonderful book Rhys, congratulations! Besides Paris, I was struck by how difficult it must be to write a heroine solving a crime who has a baby to take care of--alone! Can you tell us a bit about how you worked that out?

Brenda Buchanan said...

I cannot wait to read this lovely book, Rhys. Congratulations - I wish youi a lovely launch day and a wonderful March tour.

Tammy said...

I can't wait to read it. Congratulations, Rhys!

Karen in Ohio said...

A baby to take care of, alone, and in a foreign country! That sounds daunting to me.

Happy launch day, Rhys. I can't believe this is #13--which means I have lots of reading to catch up on!

Kim said...

Congratulations, Rhys. This sounds like another terrific adventure for Molly, and I can't wait to read it. I'm especially intrigued by the fragmented moment in time that you've chosen to write about in this book. And of course, who doesn't love Paris?! I'm looking forward to meeting you at Ladies of Intrigue. In the meantime, have a wonderful tour.

Hallie Ephron said...

I'm having croissants with my scones to celebrate, Rhys. Oooo, a baby. My kind of book. (Doesn't Cara Black have a baby in he new book, too? The two of you touring together should have a lot to talk about!)

Rhys said...

Thank you for the good wishes, everyone and Kathy and Mark thank you for the reviews!
Molly with a baby really was daunting. It was like having a dog in a story but worse. I had to keep remembering to feed the child regularly, to make sure he was safe..and how did one wash diapers etc? Big challenge.

Anonymous said...

Rhys, congratulations on your launch day for your new Molly Murphy book. I need to come clean here. I admit that I waited too long before reading Molly Murphy because I loved Constable Evans. Now I have all of the Molly Murphy novels in my personal library. Look forward to reading about the spunky Molly Murphy new adventures and in Paris! Wonder if Molly can speak French? I will find out when I read about Molly in Paris. And I also look forward to reading about the new baby.
~Diana

Kaye Barley said...

Happy, happy launch day, Rhys! Can't wait to read this one.

Libby Dodd said...

What a marvelous germ of an idea--the transition from the impressionists (radical artists at their start) to the abstracts. I look forward to reading this as I am a painter myself.

Deb said...

Happy Launch Day, Rhys, and huge congrats! I love this book--great setting, great story, wonderful title and cover. Longtime Molly fans will be thrilled and new ones enchanted.

And I hope, since I'll be seeing you soon, that we can celebrate over a croissant. Or maybe a very French glass of wine!

Enjoy your tour!

Bev Fontaine said...

Oh Rhys, I am soooo excited! I am heading to Denver tomorrow afternoon (I live in Cheyenne, WY) to hear you speak and hopefully get to shake your hand at The Tattered Cover tomorrow night. Then I'll head over to my daughter's house to spend the night and probably stay up all night reading about Molly in Paris. My younger daughter wanted to come with me, but couldn't get off from work, so I'm planning to get her a copy also.

I'm sure Molly can speak French because she was educated along with the aristocratic daughters of her landlord and those girls always had to learn French, right?

Such excitement! I can hardly wait.

Rhys said...

Yes, Molly learned to speak French as she was educated with the landowners' daughters. In those days every aristocrat spoke French, all over Europe. When my father-in-law was young he was much sought after for house parties because his French was perfect and he could converse with all the old European aristocratic ladies.
But Molly's French is definitely rusty.

TFJ said...

I've only had the opportunity to read the first in the Molly Murphy series and can't wait to see how she ends up in Paris, on her own, with a baby to boot. And I thought I had it tough as a single mom in the 20th century . . .

Congratulations on lucky 13!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

So nice to see Rhys's big fans here--as excited as we are for the launch of the new book!

One more thing about putting your character in difficult situations--my gosh I was exhausted when she had to trudge up and down the five flights of stairs over and over with baby and groceries:)

Ann Mettert said...

This really sounds intriguing. I haven't read a Molly book yet. I do love the Georgie books so I'm sure I'll love the Molly ones. :)

Denise Ann said...

My husband's grandmother was a Molly -- Molly Casey who arrived in Boston in 1903. I need to read this series!!

How are there enough hours in the day for all the reading I want to do??

Mary Sutton said...

I am sad to say I read MURPHY'S LAW, got distracted, and haven't read any others in the series. Perhaps this is what I need to jumpstart again, But man, why are there always so many books to read?!?

Congrats on the new book, Rhys, and have a fabulous tour!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Congratulations on your launch day, Rhys! I loved reading about that spark of inspiration that came from thinking about the jump from the Impressionists to Picasso, et al. It'a always fun to follow the intuitive leaps of a brilliant, creative mind. I can't wait to read about all of Molly's adventures in Paris at that time.

Deb Romano said...

I am a long time fan of the Evans books and now the Georgie books. I am just getting started on the Molly books. The mental images of NYC from when she first arrived there will be with me always! I can't wait to get caught up on all of the books about her. Congratulations on the launch!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Love this SO much...Rhys, I don't know how you do it. Under all that wit and clevenrness is a truly serious (And seriously talented) mystery author...

xoxoo

Deb said...

Lucy, you are too funny! I was exhausted from trudging up and down all those stairs with Molly and the baby and shopping, too! But, hey, it was Paris, and there was always the bakery...

Reine said...

Happy Launch Day, Rhys! I have been looking forward to this Molly Murphy for so long! Wishing you the best launch ever!

storytellermary said...

So sorry you had to suffer so for your readers. It is appreciated. You have piqued my interest and renewed my faith that I'll never run out of good things to read. Thanks!

Ann Zeigler said...

Happy Launch Day! The right person + the right place + the right time = GREAT storytelling!

Susan C Shea said...

Paris was so wildly creative and exciting at that time. The two Gertrude Stein/Stein Family shows that came to SF awhile ago brought it to life for me. I can't wait to read Molly's take on it, given her background. I'm fascinated with that era in art, too. Can you imagine being a painter, seeing an early Picasso or Matisse and trying to digest what it meant for you? Thrilling.

Pat D said...

P.S. there is an Impressionists exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Not far at all from the book store.

Pat D said...

How weird. My first post vanished. Just said looking forward to Molly in Paris. I wish I could meet you but Mom is in the hospital and I am on chaffeur duty for Dad, among things. Hope you enjoy your tour.