Is this a stand-alone title?
Tricia: Chasing Mona Lisa can be read as a stand-alone title, but it does follow The Swiss Courier. Readers of that book will be excited to go on another adventure with Gabi and Eric!
Do you have a favorite character in Chasing Mona Lisa? Why?
Tricia: I have to say that I’m partial to Colette, who worked in the Louvre during the Nazi occupation. While I still love Gabi and Eric, the Swiss OSS agents working for the Americans, I was fascinated by a character who worked behind-the-scenes in the art world during WWII.
Mike: I’ve always liked Gabi, who’s in her early twenties. She is the daughter of an American father and Swiss mother and has lived in Switzerland all her life, so she’s quite talented with languages and quite clever in the way she thinks on her feet.
How much research did Chasing Mona Lisa take?
Tricia: Historical fiction always takes a lot of work, but we put due diligence into researching the time period, the political climate, and the art world. I would say just as much time is put into research than writing . . . maybe more!
Mike: When I was in Paris, I took a World War II walking tour that passed by famous Prefecture de Police, where the Paris uprising started just before Liberation. Then the group walked to the Hotel Meurice, where the German High Command was headquartered. I peppered the poor tour guide with questions all afternoon, but I was able to “see” how many of those famous events really happened, which are part of the book.
What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Chasing Mona Lisa?
Tricia: Well, first that the Mona Lisa was really stolen in 1911. An Italian took her out of the Louvre. I had no idea . . . and she wasn’t found right away!
Second, I was fascinated by the political factions at the time. The French worked together to fight the Nazis, but when it was clear that they’d soon have control of their country again the fighting turned against each other. It was a scramble to control.
Third, I was horrified to find out the Nazis not only stole priceless art, but purchased it, too. I had no idea!
Mike: A lot of people think the Nazi generals and bigwigs just marched into Paris museums and took paintings off the wall. Didn’t happen that way. They had the money to buy up all the art they wanted. Sure, they stole art from Jewish families, but with legitimate museums and dealers, it was by purchase order.
Another thing I learned was that the Louvre museum started packing up all their treasures just days before Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Within weeks, priceless paintings like the Mona Lisa were dispersed to southern France for safekeeping.