Newsletter 1 – September 2023

I have been obsessed with Van Gogh from a very young age, his wildly expressive work, his short tragic life. In art school, when I was trying to be cool, I temporarily rejected him as being too romantic. But later, I came to my senses and fell in love with him again, seeing the structure beneath his brushwork, the mind and genius that guided his hand. And now, I found a way to put him in a novel!

THE LOST VAN GOGH is a sequel to THE LAST MONA LISA. The two books share the same protagonists, Luke Perrone, artist, Alexis Verde, art history scholar, and John Washington Smith, INTERPOL art crime analyst, but each has its own independent story.

In the first book, Luke is searching for a diary his great-grandfather (the man who stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre Museum), wrote while in prison for the crime. The novel merged fact and fiction, the past and present, with a cast of art forgers, thieves, and con men, all after the diary and willing to kill for it. THE LOST VAN GOGH also blurs the past and present, fact and fiction. This time, Luke, Alex, and Smith are on the hunt for a lost Van Gogh self-portrait. I don’t want to spoil the surprises, but I will say there is a true backstory that draws the characters and reader into one of history’s darkest eras.

Just outside my front door on a rainy day in the Manhattan Flower District
Just outside my front door on a rainy day in the Manhattan Flower District

The novel’s early scenes are set in NYC, where I was born. I’ve lived other places, Boston, Rome, the South of France, but I always come back to NY, to the converted fur loft in Manhattan’s Chelsea flower market I’ve called home for several decades.

I was trained as an artist, its influence and discipline something I’ve used as a writer. Along with art, I’d say movies have had the greatest influence on my writing. They taught me about brevity and cutting and how to think visually. I watch films over and over and read books by and about great film directors, like Alfred Hitchcock, who talked about creating suspense and designing scenes for maximum impact before he actually shot them. Movies are all about POV, something I think about in writing: where is the viewer/reader in this scene? Are they right there, in close-up, watching along with the character or are they seeing the action at a distance?

In upcoming newsletters, I will take you with me on my travel research to Amsterdam, Paris, and Florence.

Vincent and Theo’s graves in Auvers-sur-Oise, France
Vincent and Theo’s graves in Auvers-sur-Oise, France

I will also be giving you some deleted scenes from THE LOST VAN GOGH (ones I’d written about Van Gogh’s life told through the artist’s own first-person voice). I’ll be announcing my book tour and contests (such as giving away the original drawings I made for my recent novel). If you would like to receive my newsletter please sign up here on my website.

THE LOST VAN GOGH hits stores January 2, but you can preorder it here. There will be a hardcover and a trade paperback released at the same time, so you have a choice.

Till then, keep reading!

The Lost Van Gogh by Jonathan Santlofer