Picture of Vera Jane Cook

Vera Jane Cook

I’ll Take a Rembrandt Please

I’ve been asked how I come up with ideas for my books. I’ve been known to scour the internet for story ideas but I think most of what I write comes from memory. There are all these bizarre fragments of things I remember like the lyrics to old songs. They never go away, they just find a safe harbor in the back reaches of my mind where I’m still a teenager, a child, a near adult, even a full blown one.

Many years ago, when I was in my early teens, I heard a story about a robbery at The Museum of Natural History. It seems some guy named Murph the Surph and his buddies planned a midnight theft at the museum. Several things were stolen, among them the Eagle Diamond. Everything was recovered except the Eagle. For some unknown reason, the story fascinated me. Years, years and years later I centered my latest Musa release, Marybeth, Hollister & Jane, around this illustrious gem. Don’t ask me why, save for the fact, the story piqued my interest and remained in the gobbly gook of memory.

Thefts of any kind don’t necessarily titillate me but they do when they involve history. Art is history. All art today will become history and that little diamond that was discovered in Wisconsin in 1876 is history. I’m a little sad that the diamond isn’t sitting in a museum somewhere. It was sunny colored, yellow hued, quite beautiful, I’m sure. It’s a shame that it might have been cut up and sold off. What a horrible violation of a beautiful thing.

Well, in my story the Eagle Diamond is very much whole and there’s a ring of thieves who are after it. Perhaps I find thieves interesting, but not run of the mill thieves, thieves with a hunger for art, for precious stones, and for the artifacts of history. My classy bandits have a taste for Van Gogh and Degas, and any other masterpiece that doesn’t belong to them. Oh, yes, they like jewels too, which is why they’re after the Eagle.

I have no idea why I made a ring of thieves characters in my story which is really about a motherless child, about trust and mistrust, and about the ever resilient bonds of love. Hopefully, the book is also about maintaining a sense of humor when everyone around you has an ulterior motive.

I did a lot of research into all the art that’s been stolen over the years and I said to myself, “My God, I’d love a Picasso in my living room. What I wouldn’t do to own a Monet. What a price people pay for art! And if I had it, I would spend it as wisely. I’d purchase art just to own it, just to sit in front of it with a glass of champagne and a good cigar. Ah, if I were rich that could be me, sans the cigar, of course. I’m not saying I’d steal the art but if it fell into my lap…..I think a lot of valuable art falls into the laps of rich people. Maybe when you’re so rich you don’t care about things like getting caught with stolen art. My characters don’t care, but there’s a price to pay for that kind of arrogance, or should I say, lust?.


I call memories and the fascination with memories the gobbly gook in my mind. In that chasm of information I can reach in and rediscover all the gook that stuck. Nonsensical, for the most part, but valuable. My old college art classes, a newspaper article, some movie about the glamour of crime, some people I know and have known that made me smile, names I don’t remember but essences that remain and shout out, remember, remember, remember – every time I sit down to write a book. .

Marybeth, Hollister & Jane is Vera Jane’s sixth novel published with Musa. The Story of Sassy Sweetwater was Vera Jane’s second southern fiction novel and was a finalist in the ForeWord book of the Year Awards for 2012 and received a five star ForeWord Clarion review, as well as an Eric Hoffer honorable mention for ebook fiction in 2013. Dancing Backward in Paradise also received a 5 Star Clarion ForeWord review and an Eric Hoffer notable new fiction award in 2006, as well as the Indie Excellence Award in 2006. Also by Vera Jane Cook: Lies a River Deep, Where the Wildflowers Grow and Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem..