Today we welcome back mystery author Triss Stein who’s here to tell us about her love affair with decorative glass and the latest book in her Erica Donato Mystery series. Learn more about Triss and her books at her website.
I'm not a crafty person at all, but I admire other people's skill and talent, and I especially admire glass. Maybe it's because my grandmother took me to the annual local antique show and the shimmery Victorian glass enchanted me.
Maybe it's because we visited Corning and saw fragile glass that was, somehow, thousands of years old, and molten glass being blown into shapes. Talk about magic! I began to collect glass paperweights.
I fell in love with the modern perfection of Steuben crystal.
Then I discovered Tiffany. The glass, not the store.
Of course all this would have to become part of a book. My motto isn't "Write what you know." It's "Write what you love."
I can't give a spoiler for my own book, so let's just say that many years ago, there was a crime involving Tiffany (and other) stained glass windows. And I read the newspaper articles and thought, "Wow, what a great background for a mystery." It was a long time before I even finished my first Brooklyn mystery, let alone saw it in print, but I was thinking ahead to the next one.
Then, in 2007, there was an exhibit at the New York Historical Society. Called A New Light on Tiffany, it brought back to life the story of the Tiffany girls, an all-women glass cutting and design department of Louis Comfort Tiffany's business. A recently discovered collection of letters from Clara Driscoll, the manager and chief designer, vividly told the story of the women who lived independent lives and established themselves as a creative force back in the days when they could not even vote. I was entranced. I knew that if I was ever going to write about Tiffany glass, this had to be part of the story.
I don't write historical mysteries, but my heroine is a Brooklyn historian whose research leads her into old and new crimes. So I gave her a scholar's mystery about what happened to a young woman who wrote charming letters when she was part of Clara Driscoll's team of designers. And then there is a problem relating to a Tiffany window at historic Green-Wood cemetery. Increasingly suspicious. And of course that leads to a modern day crime or two.
How much did I enjoy the many necessary visits to museums to look at Tiffany glass? And the purchase of a few beautiful books? Plus some Tiffany stationery to use for think-you notes? And a scarf from the Metropolitan Museum shop with a Tiffany design that matches my book cover, to wear for my book signing?
What do you think?
A brutally murdered family man without an enemy in the world. A box full of charming letters home, written a century ago by an unknown female worker at the famed Tiffany studios. Historic Green-Wood cemetery, where a decrepit mausoleum with stunning stained glass windows is now off limits. Suddenly, all of this is part of Erica Donato’s life.
Erica is a youngish single mother of a teen, an oldish history grad student, and the lowest person on the totem pole of the history museum where she works. Arbitrarily assigned to catalogue the valuable letters for an arrogant expert visiting the museum, she is also assigned to take that same expert to see the mysteriously closed mausoleum windows. And as stressful as her working life become, her friendship with the murdered man’s family compels her to help.
Soon secrets begin to emerge in the most unexpected places. An admirable life was not what it seemed, confiding letters conceal their most important story, and too many people have hidden histories and hidden agendas. All set against the background of the splendid old cemetery and the life of modern Brooklyn, the stories of old families and old loves with hidden ties merges with new crimes and the true value of art.