OS : Welcome EJ Russell to here to talk about The Artist’s Touch.
Thank you Open Skye for inviting me to stop by today! Hello, intrepid internet adventurers, and welcome to the blog tour for The Artist’s Touch, the first book in my Art Medium series. After the release of book two, Tested in Fire, in April, I’ll be giving away a $40 Riptide gift card, so please leave a comment for a chance to win.
The Artist’s Touch actually has two love stories in it—one in the present day and one in the past. When I was first developing the plot for the book, I wrestled with the timeline for that past affair. I needed it to be recent enough that Luke’s “mystery client” could have been alive to have witnessed it, and to be able to use some actual historical events to spice up the story. (I dearly love to do that. I did it with Stumptown Spirits as well—taking a tragedy from Portland’s pioneer beginnings and warping it a bit to fit my story. Hey, I can do that! That’s why we call it fiction!)
For The Artist’s Touch, the historical event that I twisted to suit my needs never gets explicitly called out in the book (other than via a glancing reference), but it nevertheless helped me figure out some of the events in the lives of my past lovers. (Well, not my personal past lovers—you know what I mean!)
That event is the Tillamook Burn.
Between 1933 and 1951, the Oregon Coast Range (in what is now the Tillamook State Forest) was devastated by a series of fires. The first one was started by a spark struck from logging equipment and burned for almost a month, destroying nearly five hundred square miles of old-growth timber. The second and fourth fires were contained within that burn-out, but the third fire, in July of 1945 had a bit of a mystery attached.
The third fire was actually two blazes that started two days apart—one near the Salmonberry River and one near the Wilson River. The Wilson fire was supposedly started from a discarded cigarette, but the Salmonberry origin story is very WWII conspiracy-theory-esque: the rumor was that it was started by a Japanese incendiary balloon that had been carried to Oregon on the jet stream.
Obviously that rumor just screamed for an alternative, so I hijacked it and gave the Salmonberry fire a completely different cause. It’s backstory—never really explained in The Artist’s Touch—but I know it’s there, and now, so do you.
Shhh. It can be our little secret.
Two men haunted by more than the past.
Painter Stefan Cobbe was homeless and debt-ridden after the death of his wealthy partner, but the worst loss of all was his artistic inspiration. After two years of nothing, he’s offered patronage by an eccentric gallery owner and starts to produce again, canvas after canvas. The only problem? He can’t remember painting any of them—not one single brushstroke.
Luke Morganstern’s reputation as an art-fraud investigator is in tatters. He can’t afford to turn down any job, even a lousy one for an anonymous client who sends him after an unidentified forger in a remote cabin in Oregon. When the alleged forger turns out to be Stefan, the man he never stopped loving, Luke’s professional ethics are stretched beyond the breaking point.
As the two men take tentative steps toward reconciliation, evidence begins to mount that they’re not alone in the woods. Someone—or something—is watching. Something with sinister plans for them both. To escape, Luke must overcome his suspicions and Stefan must trust Luke with his deepest fears. Otherwise they could forfeit their relationship, their sanity—and their lives.
Publisher’s note: This is a heavily revised and significantly expanded reprint of Northern Light. The second book in the Art Medium series, Tested In Fire, is a first edition. Both are sold together in both ebook and print collections.
Artists use all manner of materials to express their vision, to interpret the world around them, to affect the hearts and minds of their audience.
But what if the artist himself were the medium? And what if artistic inspiration weren’t the only force at work?
If painter Stefan Cobbe and art investigator Luke Morganstern don’t answer those questions fast, they stand to lose their reputations, their relationship—and their lives.
About E.J. Russell
E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.
E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.
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To celebrate the release of both books in the Art Medium series, one lucky winner will receive a $40 Riptide credit! Winner will be pulled from entries to both blog tours. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Contest closes at midnight, Eastern time, on April 7, 2017 and is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following The Artist’s Touch tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!