@Archaeolibrary, @GoddessFish, @LubaLesychyn,
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.
“We are coming to yet another fascinating area of the facility. And it is one of the more recent additions to the building,” said Walter.
“Holeeeeeeeee,” said Marco. “This is straight out of some Sci Fi B movie.”
“It is something,” said Walter.
Before us were shelves full of jars – large jars, small jars, roundish jars, square jars – all containing clear liquid and specimens of every conceivable sort. I turned on my phone’s flashlight app, and the illuminated sight before me was truly haunting. Hundreds, probably thousands of fish, sea life, and land creatures floated lifelessly in their ghostly containers. Those whose bodies were turned in our direction seemed to be staring directly at us with beady eyes.
“All of these specimens are suspended in alcohol. If ever there was anything you wanted to learn about aquatic creatures, this is certainly the place to do so. Everything is organized by genus and species. They are whole specimens, and they have been stained to feature various elements. As you can see, the fish turn translucent when preserved, but with the dyes, one can make out the nervous or circulatory systems, for example.”
“Cool,” said Marco.
“I seem to recall we had no choice but to move all this off site?” I said.
“Yes, indeed. Because of their extraordinary weight, they cannot be stored on upper levels without adding costly structural supports. At the same time, if they’re stored below grade, there’s a heightened risk of explosion.”
How has your impression of self-publishing changed?
Even though it was a mere 10 years ago, at the time I was looking for a publisher for my first book, Theft By Chocolate, about a woman looking for chocolate, love and an international art thief in all the wrong places, digital publishing was just appearing on people’s radars. I was in a creative writing program and my mentors were adamant that self-publishing would ruin a writer’s chance of having a ‘respectable’ career. It was considered vanity publishing – end of story.
It seemed traditional publishing was my only option back then and after spending some time searching for a publisher, I gave up and packed my novel away. Eventually, I did more rewrites, trekked to the Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, in Southern Italy, and pitched to publishers and agents in a kind of ‘speed-dating’ session where I landed a publisher.
Attica Books was a start-up digital publishing company based out of Oxford, UK and they published my book in 2012. Digital publishing and print-on-demand were still considered a novelty and it garnered me some attention. At my first Word on the Street festival (Toronto’s renowned book and magazine festival), I had a live interview on national television and I was asked to sit on a panel about digital publishing.
When it came to marketing the book, because my publishers were based in the UK and I lived in Canada, I was left to figure out and implement my own marketing strategy. I organized my launch as well as my own library and private readings.
Initially, self-publishing was still a costly venture, technically challenging, and distribution channels were largely untested. Unfortunately, Attica had to close shop and the book’s rights returned to me two years after its initial publication. Instead of spending more time looking for another publisher, I chose to republish it on my own and that involved familiarizing myself with everything from formatting to figuring out tax exemptions in foreign countries. A lot of hair pulling was involved, but I sorted things out and I was now an independent author.
There were a number of years between publishing Theft By Chocolate, and writing its sequel, Theft Between the Rains, in which my lead character, museum employee and reluctant sleuth Kalena Boyko, encounters a conundrum when stolen art work listed as still missing since the Second World War starts landing on her doorstep. I made the decision quite early into writing the manuscript to self-publish again.
First of all, I didn’t want to delay publishing with the time it might take to find a traditional publisher. More importantly, the world of publishing had changed even more dramatically and traditional publishing had lost its appeal to me.
Self-published authors have gained much more respectability in recent years. They have formed their own professional organizations and are being accepted into traditional ones, there are awards specifically for indie authors, self-published authors have their own conferences, and there are now virtual indie book festivals, such as the one organized by Pages Promotions in which I have now participated twice. Moreover, self-published authors benefit from receiving a bigger share of royalties.
I still wanted to put the best possible book forward with Theft Between the Rains and that included hiring an editor and cover designer, so I applied for grant funding and also ran a crowdfunding campaign. I succeeded at both and was able to offset a good portion of the editing and cover costs. However, costs have come down substantially and one can self-publish on a shoestring if your resources are limited.
It may take two or even more books for an emerging writer to develop a readership and sell books independently, but the industry is evolving so quickly and self-publishing is becoming so much more accessible every day that I cannot imagine going any other route with my future books.
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Luba Lesychyn is a popular Toronto-based mystery writer, a graduate of the Humber School for Writers, and a respected author in the library readings and events circuit.
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.