one of the magnetic stories on the author’s fridge

I have a 3 STEP PROCESS for writing an art history/mystery. But before one can ‘step’ anywhere, the ground must be prepared.

STEP ONE – In the beginning there is

A CONCEIT’ (the Latin term for ‘concept’) – a ‘literary conceit’ is an often unconventional, logically complex, poetic or surprising metaphor whose delights are more intellectual than sensual. Nice.

Very nice!

I’m onboard

My conceit: ‘LISABETTA – A STOLEN GLANCE’, book one of the LISABETTA TRILOGY, introduces a true face hiding behind a mask of shame and a boy with a planet-sized mind who meet the disempowered ‘Mona Lisa’ on a collision course with destiny.


A lost painting or a famous artist and one of their portraits with hauntingly plaintive eyes guarding a secret worthy of deeper discovery. 

Create a parallel story hook that links the dispirited spirit with living present-day characters.

Invite a muse who’s eager to play.


A muse’s job function is to connect the dots between historical facts and an author’s imagination. My muse is a storyteller entity, trained to play with fictional life situations, thereby creating compelling time-slip stories of loss, love, and reincarnation.

Voila! Two Florentine woman named Lisa who live in the same neighborhood, confuse the art world in a tragic comedy of errors.


Sadly, an egoic self-centered powermonger father (a lawyer) and a bullying stepfather (a mercenary soldier and ruffian) are negative role models for Leonardo, a gentle son – an abandoned wunderkind motivated to document the entire natural world.


GIOCONDO: the unsuspecting volatile surname of a wealthy client of the DA VINCI FAMILY LAW FIRM, that triggers a double mystery: the location of a missing portrait, and a woman’s lost identity that befuddles historians for 500 years.

GIOCONDA: the working title ‘Gioconda’ (a smiling woman), casually applied to the ‘Mona Lisa’ is misspelled with dire consequences. French translation, ‘La Gioconde’.

SER PIERO DA VINCI, who’s not above using the son he’s cruelly disowned for a favor, commissions Leonardo to paint a flattering portrait of a disgruntled client’s wife, to pacify him.

LEONARDO DA VINCI – is an artist of growing stature by 1502, capable of painting flattering portraits. Leonardo, ever seeking to reclaim his birthright, hoping to be openly acknowledged by the family clan his name reflects, accepts Ser Piero’s offer, thinking to gain favor in his father’s eyes. His plan fails, but the commission sparks a unique idea for a portrait with a secret narrative, and he paints his sister, Lisabetta, in a modified pose wearing the same dress.

LISABETTA BUTI – Leonardo’s young stepsister has a secret name even she doesn’t know.

VERONICA LYONS – an unwed 21st century mother whose name, translated from the Latin ‘Veritas Icona’, means ‘a true face’, meets the ‘Mona Lisa’ whose true face is stolen by fate to be lost forever.

SCENE: Enter Caterina – an unmarried mother, her illegitimate son Leonardo; Lisabetta, Leonardo’s half-sister (???), and a married self-centered lawyer, Piero da Vinci.

Stir in the wife of a disgruntled client – one Monna (‘Mrs.’) Lisa Giocondo and a wishing pig.


Simmer over a vanity fire, fast forward 500 years to 2008, and serve with a depressed present-day unwed mother and her autistic son, and the story pitch becomes:

A troubled unwed mother hiding her ‘true face’ behind a mask of shame, and a sweet boy with a planet-sized mind visit the Louvre, and meet the spirit of ‘Mona Lisa’, trapped in her famous portrait, suffering from an identity crisis.

The pitch inspires the tagline: FATE IS MORE MYSTERIOUS THAN A SMILE





About Veronica Knox

Veronica Knox has a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Alberta, where she studied Art History, Classical Studies, and Painting. In her career as a graphic designer, illustrator, private art teacher, and ‘fine artist,’ she has also worked with the brain-injured and autistic, developing new theories of hand-to-eye-to-mind connection. Veronica lives on the west coast of Canada, supporting local animal rescue shelters, painting, writing, editing other author’s novels, and championing the conservation of tigers and elephants, and their habitats. Her artwork and visuals to support ‘Second Lisa’ may be viewed on her website - www.veronicaknox.com
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