A family secret and an artist’s obsession – Inspiration for A Perfect Copy…

For me, writing brings together my interests and hobbies into something unique and pleasurable. I love to paint – I enjoy historical research – and I like writing stories. I like to write the kind of stories that I want to read, fast-paced, with twisty plots, and full of memorable characters.

My novels usually have an art angle. In a A Perfect Copy this emerged because of a book I was reading about detecting fraudulent artworks. I had the idea of two identical paintings turning up at an auction, and one potentially being a fake and I started to develop it as an idea for a plot.

But the main inspiration for A Perfect Copy came from a family secret, unspoken for so long that it was simply forgotten – that my husband’s grandfather was Jewish. This fact was discovered almost accidentally at a family gathering when one of my in-laws asked a cousin why they had similar but different names – Wilson and Wingard. He replied, ‘Oh, didn’t you know, our grandfathers were Jewish, but yours changed his name’. The knowledge haunted me – my children should understand their heritage, know their history, and how this collective ‘forgetting’ came to pass. I started to research the family. I tried to imagine what life was like for their great-great-grandfather.

The family’s story was similar to thousands of other Jews who, like them, were forced to uproot their lives and flee from bigotry and persecution. But this journey into the past uncovered a whole new world for me, a rich tapestry of Jewish life in Eastern Europe in the mid-19th Century, from the poverty of the Jewish Pale to the flamboyant opulence of Hapsburg Vienna. This was the world that inspired my novel, A Perfect Copy. I do hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

About the author

For many years Derville worked as Bank of Ireland’s Group Architect and was also art curator of their museum-quality art collection. But in 2008, to fulfil a lifetime’s dream she left the world of finance to complete an MPhil in the History of Irish Art and Architecture in TCD, followed by a PhD in Art and architecture in UCD. During this time, she also set up her own art consultancy. Derville is also a practising artist who has exhibited widely, and her paintings are in several public and private art collections. Her two previous novels (available as eBooks and paperback online) are both set in the world of history and art.

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