Mozart’s Last Aria: Who killed my brother?

Who do you think killed Mozart? In my novel Mozart’s Last Aria, the great composer’s sister Maria Anna travels to Vienna in 1791 to find out who murdered her brother. Many people think the rival composer Salieri did in Wolfgang. That’s been popular since Salieri confessed — except that he was in a madhouse when […]

Write historical fiction: Finding daily details

How to use historical objects in fiction without making them into fetishes In writing historical fiction, there are two main traps to avoid. One is the bugbear of every historical fiction reader, anachronistic dialogue (Such as: “No way,” said King Henry VIII.) The other is being too showy about your historical research. We’ve all bumped […]

Daily Caravaggio: Martha and Mary Magdalene

Caravaggio’s Detroit masterwork shows use of mirrors, contrasting light After I posted David with the Head of Goliath, a reader commented on the amazing perspectival detail in David’s projecting arm. That’s why I’m posting this one of Caravaggio‘s works today. The convex mirror has been taken to suggest his use of visual aids in formulating […]

Daily Caravaggio: David with the Head of Goliath

Costanza Colonna key to Caravaggio’s mysterious disappearance The Marchesa of Caravaggio’s hometown was an important figure in his life. Costanza Colonna knew him as a small boy and helped him in his career — and out of jams — throughout his life. He was living in her cousin’s house in Naples when he disappeared in […]

Daily Caravaggio: The Flagellation

Caravaggio’s depiction of torture reflects his own fear of execution For the last four years of his life, Caravaggio was on the run under sentence of death. He became much obsessed with execution. It gave depictions of the deaths of saints and, in particular, of the torment of Christ a deep resonance for him–and for […]

Daily Caravaggio: Seven Works of Mercy

Caravaggio’s Naples masterpiece Caravaggio painted The Seven Works of Mercy (or Our Lady of Mercy, as it’s actually called) in Naples in 1607. He was on the run with a price on his head. He was, of course, the perfect character for a historical thriller, because he was producing masterpieces while trying to keep a […]