Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Richard! First off, how did you select Jean-Baptiste Tavernier as the subject for your novel?
Tavernier was one of the most interesting men from a century that included many. Consider that he traveled 180,000 miles. The Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620 and they never left. Tavernier made six voyages and managed to survive countless adventures, enough to flesh out several fictional heroes. In addition he was like me, an international gem dealer, I figured I could get inside his head.
I loved how you blended fact and fiction so seamlessly in the book. In the afterword you wrote that you incorporated many of Tavernier's opinions from his journal into the story. Was Tavernier's goal of finding a large and unique gemstone something he wrote about or did you concoct it as a storyline?
About 80% of the novel is factual in the sense that it describes actual events in Tavernier's life. I added and embellished mainly in areas that Tavernier left blank in his own biography. How did he manage to get an entre into the highest aristocratic circles? His fictional adventures in Germany provides a context. Like most gem dealers he was very close with information on sources. I had to fill that in so that the reader would understand his objectives and how one goes about searching for gems. I also tried to retain his voice as I found it in his own books.
From your website I see that, like Jean-Baptiste, you have quite the collection of precious stones yourself. How did you first get involved in this trade?
I originally began as a goldsmith that was my third and current career, but when I was a young boy I also read a wonderful book called Pearl Diver that took place in the South Seas and that whetted my appetite for searching for gems and adventure.
Tell us a little about your travels. Where would you say has been your favorite location to go?
Like Tavernier I like Southeast Asia though as a dealer in colored gemstones, Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka are more important areas for me. Tavernier always traveled to the source. I have visited the gem mines of Brazil, Colombia, Tanzania, Kenya, Australia and the pearl beds off Tahiti. Several articles describing these travels can be found on my business website, www.rwwise.com.
I have many favorites and my latest favorite tends to be my latest acquisition. You can find my collection on my business website: www.rwwise.com
You have a long list of credentials for your work as a Graduate Gemologist, but you also have a remarkable talent for writing. How did you get started as a writer?
Thank you, I have always been a writer. I have published perhaps forty articles on gemstones and most of them contain a travel narrative that my readers seem to enjoy. My first book, Secrets Of The Gem Trade, The Connoisseur's Guide To Precious Gemstones, provided a learning experience. Like many other writers, I also have an unpublished novel. I am now totally hooked on fiction.
The French Blue was a really enjoyable piece. Are you planning on writing more novels in the future?
My next book, also a novel, is set in Boston in the 1970s. It is meant to be a mystery-thriller and recounts the adventures of a community organizer.
Where can we find more information about your work?
Well, obviously there is my website and also my 1st book's website; www.secretsofthegemtrade.com. I also write a blog: GemWise.
Thank you again for your time, Richard! The French Blue and Secrets of the Gem Trade are available now!