My intent is to use this blog to discuss the things that have inspired my writing. I thought I’d start off by telling the story of how my first novel, Our Lady of West 74th Street (Our Lady) got started.
Some of the groundwork for the novel had been laid by previous writings. For example, those of you who’ve read Our Lady know that angels play a major part. In some of my earlier writing, I experimented with different ideas on angels. All that stuff about angelic appearance and behavior is the result of a long simmering pot (a pot that still simmers).
However, the main idea for the story came from a 60 Minutes episode from 2011. In the episode the late Bob Simon visited the monasteries of Mt. Athos in Greece. He interviewed a few of the monks and told of the history of the place.
Having been a practicing Orthodox Christian for nearly ten years, I knew of Mt. Athos and was highly intrigued by Simon’s piece. One part in particular was very interesting … about the Nazis sending an advance team to Athos to investigate and catalog its religious treasures. Watching the episode, I thought to myself, “There’s a good story in there.”
Here’s the 60 Minutes clip, starting at the key point…
(Click on image to play.)
This odd chapter about Athos and the Nazis gave birth to the character of Klaus Bronner, a fictional member of the team sent to Athos by Hitler.
At the beginning of Our Lady, Klaus writes in a letter…
“By 1941, German forces had occupied Greece. Hitler had a keen interest in art, particularly religious art. A team was assembled to go to monasteries on the Athos peninsula in Greece to survey and catalog works of art for the purpose of bringing them back to Germany. Professor Dölger and I, as his assistant, were part of that team.”
Klaus’s visit to Athos sets the plot of Our Lady in motion. As Klaus himself writes of the trip, “Events would occur that would alter my life.”