Thursday, November 3, 2016

Interview with author Dianne Neral Ell

The Exhibit
 1. What inspired you to write your book?
As far back as I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with Ancient Egypt—their lives, their religion, the pharaohs, the pyramids, the history. The beautiful, stunning artwork and jewelry they created. I’m also a fan of mystery and crime fiction. After reading an article on museum thefts, I had an idea for a short story that involved a museum theft   and ancient Egyptian artifacts. As the story became more complex and the characters grew, the short story soon became novel length. I’ve read about and watched movies   involving museums robberies, but I wanted my story to be different. Usually the thieves are pros but I wanted to see if there was a way to take ordinary people with no skills or knowledge of committing a museum theft and have them pull off the perfect crime.

2. What is the book about?
Foremost, it’s about a crime and it’s execution. And it’s about the four people who are involved. It’s about love and hate, success and failure, and what drives people to step outside of themselves and do something out of the ordinary. It’s about that moment in time where everything changes, and about dark obsessions where one is willing to do whatever is necessary. And it’s about the aftermath of the crime and where it takes them.

The idea for the theft starts with Claudia Betancourt, the head of exhibitions for the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art who is also a forty-something wealthy collector of Egyptian art and artifacts. Like all avid collectors she is obsessive about obtaining pieces for her collection and doesn’t take well to losing. Her one loss is a statue that’s currently in a museum in Cairo. Since no amount of money has been able to pry it loose, all that’s left is to steal it. Through her job she manipulates the Cairo museum into taking some of its pieces on tour. The Golden Age of Egypt Exhibit will showcase ancient Egyptian artifacts all made of gold. The piece she covets is among them. And the museum in New York is the first stop on a world-wide tour. To pull off the theft, Claudia enlists the talents of a television producer, a script writer and an insurance investigator who will elp her relieve the exhibit of several pieces.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?
I think back to the fiction books that I liked, or didn’t like ... the impression in the end that was left with me. For The Exhibit, were the characters real? Did the story fulfill its promise? Was the ending the right one—the only one that would have worked for the set of events set into motion by the main character? Was the reader left with a sense of satisfaction long after the book ended. Did I fulfill my promise as a storyteller.

4. What advice do you have for writers?
Even in workshops and seminars, I hear speakers talk about writing what you know. If everyone did that the shelves of bookstores and libraries would be bare. We’d never have science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, ghost stories, and most crime and mysteries. I’d prefer to say write what interests you and make it into a story that you’re passionate about. Passion will drive you to create the best story you can. And it doesn’t matter if you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, make sure you do your research. It’s the most important tool you have ... besides your imagination.

5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
The digital age has introduced books to people who may never have thought of picking up a paperback or hard cover and reading. It has made all types of books and subjects accessible where they weren’t before. And while this increases the number of readers, it’s good to see that the dire prediction for tree books hasn’t come true. I have to believe there is a trickle-down effect that has righted the balance between tree and ebooks and that this will continue.

6. What challenges did you have in writing your book?
Time was always the biggest obstacle. Being able to find the hours needed to write the draft, polish the prose, and rewrite and rewrite. Somehow miraculously it happened. But along with the time, the biggest challenge in creating the story was to find the right characters with temperaments, knowledge, and ability (or lack of it) to plan and execute a foolproof theft and make it real to the reader. The last challenge was the aftermath of the robbery. Making certain that the characters stayed true to who they were as the story flowed to its conclusion. That the ending was organic. Not contrived. That it concluded the only way it could have.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
All books come with promises. Some say they’ll make you smarter, better looking, healthier, make more money. My promise is simple. Read The Exhibit and I promise to entertain. And that you’ll keep turning the pages until the very end.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.
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