Thursday, 19 July 2012

Guest post + giveaway: Luba Lesychyn, author of museum mystery Theft by Chocolate

Please welcome Luba Lesychyn, author of the delectable mystery, Theft by Chocolate. She's here to fill us in about the creation of the novel, and also give the chance to win US$150 towards a very satisfying chocolate stash! Read on to find out more about Luba, read the blurb, and enter the giveaway.

You can also visit Luba's blog to stay updated and purchase a copy of Theft by Chocolate.

A cinemaniac’s journey to writing a museum mystery
Anyone reading my bio would conclude it was a no-brainer for a person who had worked in Canada’s largest museum for more than twenty years to write a novel set in a museum. Ironically, it was actually my love of movies that led to the writing of Theft By Chocolate, a sassy museum mystery about a woman looking for chocolate, love and an international art thief in all the wrong places. So how did I get from Point A to Point B? Well, it occurred via what seemed like a lot of wrong turns. But as I look back, I realize I was always headed in the right direction and ended up in the most perfect of destinations.

One of my earliest childhood memories is cuddling in my mother’s arms in a movie theater during a screening of a Doris Day/Rock Hudson movie. The proximity of a cinema to the family homestead meant it was a regular stomping ground, and as soon as my big brother and I were old enough, we were hitting the Saturday double-header by ourselves.

As for my writing, the first time I realized I loved to write was when a short story I had penciled was a big hit with my grade four classmates. But after primary studies and high school, I passed on English Lit due to my dislike of and clear inaptitude for literary analysis. Instead, I majored in history and minored in art history. I did write my first book then, namely my Master’s thesis about a ruling family in a tiny principality in Renaissance Italy, but for some reason it failed to become a bestseller. It did, thankfully, fulfill the requirements of my program. (BTW, I recently Googled it and was shocked to find you can actually access the work on line through my university’s eLibrary. A must-read for anyone with masochistic tendencies!)

After graduate studies, I landed in the offices of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and other than completing a magazine journalism program in the evenings, the only writing outlet I had consisted of drafting marketing materials and descriptions for courses, lectures and workshops for the Museum’s Programs Department quarterly brochure.

But then I discovered the Toronto International Film Festival and for the next twenty plus years I took vacation time to attend the Festival full-time. And when the beloved friend who introduced me to TIFF moved abroad, I began writing emails to her reviewing my screenings and reporting on festival adventures. Many more friends were interested in the annual journal, and they told their friends, and they told their friends. My list of recipients grew exponentially and each year, the size of my reportage amounted to a small book. When platforms such as web sites became user friendly for techno idiots like me and blogging became a norm, my journal took on new forms.

I loved reporting on TIFF to my audience, but I finally had to give it up to save my sanity and salvage my film-festing enjoyment. But what was a writer to do? Well, I enrolled in a screen-writing program and completed a screenplay. Then I started Theft By Chocolate in a summer writing workshop, later completing it in a creative writing program.

Movies will forever be my first love and no matter what the subject matter of future novels, I will always find a way to use film as a motif in my stories. The art form is embedded in my soul. But how perfect was it that I was able to intertwine so many of my passions in one work – film, chocolate, museums and writing? I hope readers will enjoy the film references as well as the homage I’ve paid to movies like To Catch a Thief with Grace Kelly and Cary Grant, and Audrey Hepburn’s and Peter O’Toole’s How To Steal a Million. Theft By Chocolate is a modern story, but it’s told with a bit of that Old Hollywood charm and humor.

Blurb: Theft by Chocolate
Chocolate addict Kalena Boyko wasn’t prepared for this. Heading to work at Canada’s largest museum as an administrator, she hopes for quiet and uninterrupted access to her secret chocolate stash. Instead she’s assigned to manage the high-profile Treasures of the Maya exhibition with her loathed former boss, Richard Pritchard.

With no warning, her life is capsized and propelled into warp speed as she stumbles across an insider plot that could jeopardize the exhibit and the reputation of the museum.

After hearing about a recent botched theft at the museum and an unsolved jewel heist in the past from security guard and amateur sleuth Marco Zeffirelli, Kalena becomes suspicious of Richard and is convinced he’s planning to sabotage the Treasures of the Maya exhibition.

Her suspicions, and the appearance of the mysterious but charming Geoffrey Ogden from the London office, don’t help her concentration. The Treasures of the Maya seems cursed as problem after problem arises, including the disappearance of the world’s oldest piece of chocolate, the signature object in the exhibit.

Theft By Chocolate is inspired by a real-life and never-solved heist at a Canadian museum in the 1980s.

The giveaway
Do you love chocolate as much as Kalena, the heroine in Theft By Chocolate? Here’s your chance to indulge in $150 US worth! The Giveaway Grand Prize is a gift certificate to a delectable chocolate online retailer. Winner chooses from one of three sites:, , or . To be eligible for the Grand Prize, enter the Rafflecopter below. Remember to sign up for Luba’s email announcements (worth five entries). On occasion she’ll send out exclusive announcements for special events, blog posts, giveaways and free swag! On July 31st, the winner will be chosen at random and notified via email.

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