The Magic of Prague
March 19, 2015
Fairy-tale spires pierce a misty sky over waves of red-tiled roofs. Musicians, vendors, and tourists swarm along the Charles Bridge spanning the Vltava River. Children giggle as marionettes dance. At sunset, stone saints along the balustrades stand in silhouette against the fuchsia, tangerine, and pink hues of the evening. Each day, street performers, artists, and the 15th century astronomical clock draw thousands of visitors to the Old Town Square. An hourly parade of apostles circles on the upper level of the clock and mechanical figures come to life, charming the spectators, pulling them back in time even as the hands of the ancient clock move forward. Layered with history and myth, Prague is a place of magic and mystery, and the setting for my latest novel, LOST AND FOUND IN PRAGUE.
I've visited the city twice. The first time I was not yet a published author, but I had sold my first book and it was scheduled for publication the following year. Though I was still hesitant to call myself a writer, I could see stories everywhere in the city just waiting to be told.
For my husband, this was a return trip. He had visited during the sixties when Prague was part of Czechoslovakia, a suppressed country under Communist control. He described grime-coated stone buildings, roof tops covered with crusty soot that all but obscured the colorful red tiles. People in drab clothing, reluctant to make eye contact, populated the city. His memories contrasted drastically to what I saw.
My own earlier awareness of Prague was a distant childhood memory, dating back to my years in a small Catholic School in Idaho. In a corner of each classroom stood a small image of the Infant Christ. The Infant of Prague wore an ornate robe, a jeweled crown, and cradled a globe in one hand, the other extended in a blessing. We visited the Church of Our Lady Victorious where the Infant stands high on an altar enclosed within a glass case. The church is surprisingly small, decorated in over-the-top Baroque gold and marble. The literature we picked up in the visitors’ center spoke of wars, miracles, and the amazing survival of this small 16th century icon.
Several years later, after the publication of my second book and a contract for a third, I set out to work on a story set in Prague. I knew the Infant, as well as the history of Communism, would play a role, and I knew I had to go back. By this second trip I had fleshed out a plot involving a mysterious event in the Church of our Lady Victorious, a politically related murder, and three unlikely collaborators thrown together to solve the mystery—a woman reporter from Boston, an aging Italian priest, and a Czech police detective.
During our second journey to Prague, we revisited many of the sites included in the book—Our Lady Victorious and the Old Town Square where a murder takes place early in the story. We ventured up to Letna Park, walked the route student protesters had marched during the Velvet Revolution, visited the Communist Museum, and twisted along narrow streets in the Malá Strana.
I hope I've caught the magic of the city in LOST AND FOUND IN PRAGUE, and I hope you’ll come along with me on this journey.
I am looking forward to reading your latest - you have such an eye for descriptive details - and I look forward to your visit to Auntie's next month!
-Linda, March 19, 2015
Hi Linda! See you in April at Auntie's.
-Kelly Jones, March 19, 2015
I had been wondering the order of your visits and your writing--and it is well explained here: you had "fleshed out" the plot before your second Prague visit. I recently finished the book and look forward to your reading here in Spokane.
I failed to tell you how much I enjoyed your short stories, too. The Evil Knievel story, and the boys on bikes in the alley brought back a similar Montana childhood.
Well done, Kelly. See you soon.
-Sally Quirk, March 21, 2015