Soon after finishing her graduate studies in history, Luba Lesychyn (le-si-shin) landed on the doorstep of Canada’s largest museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, where she worked for more than twenty years as an educator and consultant. Theft By Chocolate is Luba’s debut novel, though she has been amusing people with her writing since the age of eight. Her love of chocolate precedes this age and she has been in and out of chocolate rehab for most of her adult life. She currently works in the educational sector and teaches yoga in her home town of Toronto. When not writing or looking for her next chocolate fix, Luba can be found in dance classes, trekking to remote waterfalls in the mountain rain forest in Puerto Rico, running through the streets of Paris or doing any other number of calorie-burning activities that help offset the calories consumed in her chocolate intake.
Q & A
Q. What inspires your writing?
A. In the case of Theft By Chocolate, chocolate. But on a more general level, the biggest influences are culture and the arts, particularly film and music. And often the humorously mundane things I encounter in my day-to-day life inform my work.
Q. What is your favorite thing about being an author?
A. I love living in my head. We are so over-stimulated in our society, and writing, creating and imagining block out all that unnecessary noise and it brings such a sense of calm to my spirit.
Q. What is the toughest part of being an author?
A. It’s the same dilemma writers have struggled with for centuries – trying to make a living from your writing. I have two survivor jobs, those jobs that pay the bills, and it’s tough to schedule time for my writing.
Q. If you could not be author, what would you do/be?
A. Well, I actually work as an executive assistant at a city college and I also teach yoga. But if I were to change careers and not have writing as an option, I would be doing something in the film business. I did have a short stint at a film production company, and though it involved insane hours, I loved the work.
Q. What would the story of your life be entitled?
A. Unbroken. I know that title was recently scooped for a book, but it has been at the back of my mind for a very long time as a title for a memoir. It’s taken a long time, but I am at a wonderful point in my life where I feel like a whole person, have such peace of mind, and absolutely love my life.
Q. What is your favorite book of all time?
A. Oh that’s so not fair. That’s like asking what my favorite chocolate of all time is!
Okay, I’m going to be really boring because I simply can’t choose one fiction book, so I am going to chose a non-fiction work that made a great impact on my life – Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. Although I had been reading books with similar messages for years, for some reason when I read this book, everything finally seemed to make sense. Suddenly, the light switch had been turned on.
Q. Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A. You really know how to stump someone. But I would say an older version of Rebecca Bloomwood in Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic. The character is really a pretty bright and strong woman, but has moments where the ditz in her comes out full force.
Q. What character from all of your books are you most like?
A. This question is much easier to answer: Kalena Boyko in Theft By Chocolate.
Q. What is your favorite season?
A. The one thing I have always loved about living in a location like Toronto is the fact that we do have four distinct seasons. But I thrive and love to languish in the heat, so I would have to say summer. Of course, I might have a different answer once we hit another record high this summer.
Q. What inspired your book cover(s)? Or what is your favorite book cover and why?
A. My publishers and I were looking for something that was a bit playful, but at the same time hinted at the museum/ Mayan connection which is at the heart of Theft By Chocolate. As a group, we went through a lot of cover designs and we unanimously chose the cover you all see.
The one detail I suggested was to add purple-hued nail polish to the nails on the hands in the cover as in one of the first scenes in the book, lead character Kalena Boyko unearths a bottle of dark plum nail polish. And it’s later revealed that she has a bit of Justin-Bieber- like obsession with purple.
Q. Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
A. Well in this digital age, touring has taken on a new format - that of blog tours, so it’s a different experience.
It wasn’t funny at the time, but now it’s a bit amusing, but very recently, a number of emails from my publicist extraordinaire landed in my spam box. And because this happened over a weekend, it was a couple of days before I realized what had happened. And, of course, included in the junk email box was a critical email about imminent deadlines for the blog tour. Suddenly I had to crank out a series of blog posts like there was no tomorrow. Not very funny, I know, but as a new author, it’s all I have. J
Q. Are you working on something new?
A. Theft By Chocolate was always written with the intention of being followed by at least one more installment. I’ve started mapping out the next work and I can’t wait to get back to that world and its sometimes nutty characters. This time, however, Kalena will be doing some serious globetrotting with her adventures taking her to London, Paris (to the Salon du Chocolat, of course), Geneva (an important chocolate capital), Hong Kong (for a most interesting twist to the tale) and back to her beloved Toronto. I plan to take the readers on an unforgettable and delicious journey around the planet.
Q. Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A. I once heard a statistic that babies laugh 400 times a day and most adults laugh a handful of times. When I was workshopping Theft By Chocolate in a summer writing program some years back, I took a huge risk and volunteered to do a reading to the 200 some odd students attending.
The piece I read got such a laugh that my mentor came up to me after the reading and advised me “to pause next time and to wait after the laughter dies down before continuing.” “Oh, yeah,” I thought. “Good advice.”
Anyways, my suggestion is to all those adults who simply don’t laugh enough in a day to pick up Theft By Chocolate. I can guarantee it will increase their laughter quotient and they’ll also get some insider scoop on what it’s really like to work in a world class museum.
Thanks for hosting me and giving me some space. I am most grateful.
Chocolate addict Kalena Boyko wasn’t prepared for this. Heading to work at Canada’s largest museum as an administrator, she hopes for quiet and uninterrupted access to her secret chocolate stash. Instead she’s assigned to manage the high-profile Treasures of the Maya exhibition with her loathed former boss, Richard Pritchard.
With no warning, her life is capsized and propelled into warp speed as she stumbles across an insider plot that could jeopardize the exhibit and the reputation of the museum.
After hearing about a recent botched theft at the museum and an unsolved jewel heist in the past from security guard and amateur sleuth Marco Zeffirelli, Kalena becomes suspicious of Richard and is convinced he’s planning to sabotage the Treasures of the Maya exhibition.
Her suspicions, and the appearance of the mysterious but charming Geoffrey Ogden from the London office, don’t help her concentration. The Treasures of the Maya seems cursed as problem after problem arises, including the disappearance of the world’s oldest piece of chocolate, the signature object in the exhibit.
Theft By Chocolate is inspired by a real-life and never-solved heist at a Canadian museum in the 1980s.
Giveaways: copy of Theft By Chocolate and $150 Certificate
There are two chances to win!
1. Copy of Theft By Chocolate as ebook or print copy (winner’s choice). Answer this question in the comments section (be sure to provide your email): Who is your favorite mystery writer? In five days, a lucky winner from this blog will win a free copy of Theft By Chocolate!
2. $150 Gift Certificate Giveaway
Do you love chocolate as much as Kalena, the heroine in Theft By Chocolate? Here’s your chance to indulge in $150 US worth! The Giveaway Grand Prize is a gift certificate to a delectable chocolate online retailer. Winner chooses from one of three sites: http://www.chocosphere.com/, http://www.hotelchocolat.co.uk/ , or http://www.dlea.com.au/ . To be eligible for the Grand Prize, enter the Rafflecopter below. Remember to sign up for Luba’s email announcements (worth five entries). On occasion she’ll send out exclusive announcements for special events, blog posts, giveaways and free swag! On July 31st, the winner will be chosen at random and notified via email.