Friday, March 13, 2015


Some people have asked where I got the title's inspiration for my second novel, The Book of Hours.  The answer is simple:  the title was based on the actual Hours of Giangaleazzo Visconti, a Roman liturgy, personal prayer illuminated manuscript created in the 14th century.  It was started by Giovannino dei Garassi and was finished Belbello da Pavia.

In my first novel, The Coin, my main character, Gabriela Martinez, is an artist.  Maybe the inspiration to give her that career was simply because I come from a family of artists as well (ballet dancers and choreographers, painters and architects).  As far back as I can remember, my sister and I had been always surrounded by art books, many from which my parents took their inspirations for wardrobe, theater settings, postures, and even dance steps.  I remember spending hours looking through them and falling in love with the images and their colors, which later in life translated to a love for paintings, specifically medieval and Renaissance illustrated manuscripts (unfortunately, I can't draw worth a damn, and my best attempts have been stick figures.  So, maybe, that is why I made my Gabriela a fantastic illustrator and painter).

In the 70s (God, this really dates me), I had two opportunities to buy beautiful, photographic reproductions of the Visconti Hours and another illustrated manuscript, which had been carefully crafted and bound into beautiful books.  In them, you can't help but fall in love with the colors, the imagination of the artist, and the craftsmanship.  I still have them.

In my first novel, there is a scene where Richard goes to watch Gabriela create her world of drawings.  There, in her studio, he sees the preliminary work of her version of The Book of Hours.  The dialogue for that particular interchange about the work and the description of the manuscript pages she had created never made it to the final cut of the The Coin.  However, since I knew I was going to write the second half of Gabriela's and Richard's stories, this deleted scene stayed in my mind in order to use that manuscript as the next conflict point of the new novel.

So, as I wrote my second novel, I grabbed my book, scanned the page with the B, and sent it to my cover artist, who did a wonderful job of interpreting what I wanted for the title.  And, voilà, so Maria Elena's The Book of Hours was born.

I am attaching the folio page I sent to my cover artist.  I also describe one folio (not this one) in a scene in the novel, where Gabriela is explaining to Richard her work as it is being exhibited.  Hope you like it.

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