After years of trial and error, I’ve learned that just having an inspiration for a story isn’t enough. I needed a triggering incident for THE DEVIL’S MADONNA—something to set my tale into motion. One night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I had a vision of an old woman with short white hair, a long, graceful neck, and a profile like a valentine cutout. I could see her beside a lace curtain, backlit in her living room window, as yellow lights flickered throughout the house. In her hand, she held a tapered candle.
The bright tip touched the lace curtain and it exploded into flames.
Who was this woman? What was she doing? And then the apparition crystalized for me. She was lighting Yahrzeit Memorial candles. Dozens of candles in every room. But why? Lighting such candles is a practice of observant Jews in memory of the dead.
And I realized the old woman was Lillian Campbell, once a stunning young actress living and working in Berlin as Leli Lenz, but now a reclusive widow in her crumbling house on Miami Beach. The candles she lit were indeed to commemorate the dead, but also a desperate attempt to atone for the nightmare she believed she’d set into motion, and to free herself from seventy years of guilt. b>THE DEVIL’S MADONNA was almost ready to emerge.
When beginning a novel, a writer must make a decision. Whose story will this be? Who will have the most to gain or lose? While Leli/Lillian plays a pivotal role, I chose to make b>THE DEVIL’S MADONNA about her granddaughter. Kali Miller, an artist and a recent convert to Judaism, is happily married and pregnant with her first child. When she receives a phone call that her ninety-three-year-old grandmother has almost burned her house down, Kali’s life changes. She moves into her childhood home on Miami Beach to care for her grandmother, but also to learn about her roots, now that she is having her own child.
Kali begins her quest to unravel her grandmother’s past, never imagining the consequences if the truth comes out. She knows nothing of the tiny painting that Lillian had hidden long before Kali was born—a painting that, if found by certain people, would not only link Kali to a horrifying legacy, but potentially harm her unborn child.
Tomorrow: Sharon Potts Day 7: From Nightmares to Dreams
Sharon Potts is the award-winning, critically acclaimed author of three thriller novels.
A native of New York, Potts graduated from New York University’s Stern School of Business. Before migrating to Miami, Potts worked in public accounting. In Miami, Potts served as a managing director of an international staffing company and president of an executive search/accounting recruitment firm.
Pott’s is member of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers.
Her career as a mystery/thriller writer began with In Their Blood, winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award and recipient of a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, followed by Someone’s Watching and now, The Devil’s Madonna.
Potts lives in Miami Beach with her husband, Joe, and Australian shepherd, Gidget.