Welcome, Jayme! Please tell us about your book, Portrait of Deceit.
When an anonymous collector approaches the Richard Museum in Washington, DC, with a possible Modigliani portrait, art authentication expert Olivia Danford is called in. Her talents investigating pieces for museums, universities, and private collectors provide a retreat from a past she’d rather forget. But the chemical analysis and mysterious provenance of The Girl in White reveal much more than what lies beneath the layers of paint. Olivia is drawn back into her past, where she must decide if a half-truth is still a whole lie . . . and if a lie eventually reveals the truth.
What inspired you to write this book?
If I hadn’t stumbled across attending a lecture about art forgery in Denver eight years ago, this novel would not exist. Dr. Colette Loll, founder of Art Fraud Insights, a consultancy dedicated to art-fraud related prevention initiatives, exhibitions, lectures, training, and specialized investigations, was the stellar presenter. It would be mild to say I was interested in her content. Instead, I was wildly captivated and a story seed took root that I couldn’t shake.
Nearly two years later, I reached out to Colette. Little did we know that a literary collaboration, and even more cherished, a cross-country friendship, would blossom. The creation of this story perfectly melds the consistent theme of the transformative power of faith and art that is present in all my books.
What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book?
Although I’ve studied art history quite a bit, the writing of this story took me into a deep dive into the artistic work and tragic life of Modigliani. The most fascinating aspect of the research was learning about the prolific and complex art forgery world—notorious forgers, forensic testing, and deciphering provenance. Clearly, much lies beneath the layers of the paint!
How has God used the message of your book in your own life?
Although I am always many characters removed from the plotlines in my books, each story grows from within my heart and mind. The particular message in this book—pause, examine what truly matters in life, and embrace God’s love and calling—is particularly meaningful to me at this juncture in my life. I tend to lead a fast-paced, full-to-the-brim life and am ready to breathe and be all that God desires for me to be.
What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?
Forgiveness, hope, redemption, and love resonate in each of my novels. The beauty of these reoccurring themes is that they are initially unintentional and unplanned. Instead, along the characters’ journeys, life happens and “humanness” plays out. Art is a recurring theme in each of my books. As a visual artist, my writing is often referred to as “painting with words” – literary and expressive.
How has being a writer impacted your relationship with Christ?
My writing time is extremely personal and meditative. I am continually challenged
What would be your ideal writing place? And…what’s your actual writing place like?
Crazy as it seems, I am in the process of leaving what is the ideal writing place – an extension of my art studio that is filled with color, comfort, and inspiration. My husband and I are making a tremendous life change and heading off to ranch life. Just when I thought I could never have a better place to write, I’ll be watching horses graze in meadows of full bloom. God is good and I am blessed!
Do you have an unfulfilled dream?
My heaven on earth is a breathtaking area in Wyoming where I ride horses in the wide-open, grassy plains. It’s the most special and sacred place for me where I dream big and smile wide. The amazing thing is this dream is about to become a reality as my husband and I will be moving to that breathtaking location in a few months to begin our next journey together, fondly called our “30 or Bust!” It’s a dream come true —a place to write, paint, and of course, ride!
What talents do you have aside from storytelling?
I am passionate about painting, particularly my big and bold, acrylic on canvas floral abstractions. I have owned an art studio for 28 years where I teach many art mediums to children and adults. You can see my work, referred by many as, “art filled with joy and hope,” on my website.
Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
I’ve taught elementary school for 27 years – most grades and a long stint as an art teacher (a fabulous job!). I continue to run my private art studio and sell my paintings. The transformative and inspirational power of art is present in all of my books—a part of me that is infused in my storytelling.
Do you have pets and do they inspire your writing or hinder it?
Great question! We have two Golden Retrievers, Bella and Millie, who run the roost! On many days, they are my quiet, underfoot companions as I write and paint. Often, they are my distractors—tennis balls dropped on my lap, doors nudged open for walks and daily squirrel chasing adventures, and rambunctious dog-wrestling matches on the rug behind me … not much has changed since my husband and I raised our three sons!
They sound delightful! So, what’s next for you? Tell us about your next project.
Portrait of Deceit was intentionally written to allow for the protagonist, Olivia Danford, to continue her art forgery authentication and forensic adventures. In the next book, Portrait of Despair (working title), a Henri Matisse painting is in question. Again, the outcome of Olivia’s investigation will prove that things aren’t always what they seem.
That sounds fascinating, Jayme! Thank you for sharing with us today!
Writing for Him,
Sarah’s website: https://www.sarahsundin.com/