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Interview with Jayme H Mansfield

Jayme Mansfield researched for her latest novel with the true inspiration for her protagonist, a real-life art authenticator. With a good friend at her side, Jayme dove into research and truly experienced many facets of her book.
The inspiration for your newest release took shape after you attended a lecture on art forgery. What message do you hope readers take away from this story?
My desire is for readers to contemplate the importance and necessity for truth and purpose to guide and define our lives. Hopefully, readers will enjoy an intriguing nugget of art history while delving into the fascinating world of art forgery. After all, things aren’t always what they seem.

What literary pilgrimages have you taken in the name of research? What was your favorite and what did you discover or learn?
Brilliant phrase – literary pilgrimages! Each novel has set me on a unique adventure. From drawing on experiences traveling in Paris and Provence for Chasing the Butterfly, retracing my great-great grandmother’s footsteps at the Oklahoma Land Run for RUSH, and taking an emotional deep-dive with my aging mother for Seasoned, the research for each book is personal and life-changing—much more than facts and knowledge.

The growth curve for Portrait of Deceit was particularly steep since I had little knowledge of the world of art forgery and the intriguing life of early1900s artist Amedeo Modigliani. The most fascinating part about the research for this novel was doing it live with the protagonist! Along with my good friend Dr. Colette Loll, the real-life art authenticator and inspiration for the story, we toured art museums, archival libraries, art conservation labs, and even walked around and dined at many of the places in the book. Who said fiction doesn’t ring true?

Time spent raising three boys was bound to come with adventures. Have any of those mis-adventures ever found their way into your stories?
Oh, my! You have that pegged! Often small intimations of their personalities, gestures, and even physical traits sneak into stories. A highly emotive scene in Chasing the Butterfly was sparked by my three boys convincing/challenging me to climb a tree (a mossy, slippery, and looming over a river tree, I might add!) on a Hawaiian vacation. Mid-tree crawl, I panicked. Big time! Going down wasn’t an option. Remaining frozen with a death grip around a branch was a dismal choice unless I wanted to become a tree sloth. It took my oldest son to inch me up and up while the other two shouted pep talks sprinkled with laughter while lounging in the sand on the “safe” side of the river. Needless to say, I finally summited, white-knuckled the tree rope, and with a not-so-gentle shove from my son, flailed in to the river and dog-paddled across to safety. Is that scene literally in my book? No, but the raw emotion of intense fear had me breaking out in hives as I wrote a particular scene involving a tree and pond. My boys often remind me they plan to share that humbling event someday at my memorial.

Writers are often seen as introverted or primarily non-social with their faces constantly buried in their computers, but that’s not the case for you. (Me, either!) What challenges does being an extrovert bring to your writing? How does being extroverted benefit you in your career?
I do love an active lifestyle, and of course, my time at the computer is easily waylaid by time with friends and family and enjoying other interests. It takes a great deal of discipline and time management for me to park myself and get to work. Although I aspire to a fresh approach, I tend to write best in lengthy stretches versus a daily regime. Acoustic music, coffee or water with sliced lemon, and my golden retrievers underfoot are always helpful companions.

The great benefit of being an extrovert is I thrive on sharing about my novels at book clubs, signings, speaking events, podcasts, and even engaging on social media. All of that takes time and a whole lot of energy, but I enjoy and appreciate the relationships I’ve made over the course of my writing career. God has a wonderful way of bringing people into our lives!

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you typically spend researching before beginning a book?
Since I tend to be a seat-of-the-pants writer, I approach my research in a similar way. I am constantly zipping down bunny trails mid-manuscript to read articles, books, view photographs, watch documentaries, visit locations, interview others . . . to ensure accuracy and interest in my stories. Portrait of Deceit was a bit different in that I read and reviewed a great deal of history about Modigliani and art forgery prior and during the creation of the book.

As writers, we often must be careful of our word count. Sometimes, that means snipping out bits of what we write during the revision process. With that being said, what did you edit OUT of this book?
Portrait of Deceit went through several opening scenes before catching its stride. I also removed much of the ending detail regarding the protagonist’s next phase of life. After the climax and wrapping up loose ends, I decided to end this novel with the intention to write a sequel for more art investigations and new adventures with Olivia Danford.

You have successfully diversified your writing with speaking and teaching careers as well. What takeaway do you hope attendees or students receive at the core of what you teach?
It is my most heartfelt intent to encourage my students and audiences that all humans have been gifted from the Ultimate Creator with the ability to create. Though creativity is expressed in a myriad of ways, we are called to glorify and relate to God through our abilities and passions. The adage, “Once a teacher, always a teacher is true,” yet my greater hope is to be an encourager and point others to Christ.

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I always loved to read, especially stories that took me to faraway and imaginative places. For years, I dreamed that stepping into my grandparents’ attic would take me to Narnia. Later, high school and college academic reading, essay papers and such pulled me from spending time with authors I loved. I missed out on reading many of the classics that I wish I would have tackled. If I could go back, I would have gifted myself books of my choice to be ready at hand in my backpack and dorm room. I also would have journaled more – messy, real, and moving.

You clearly bring a joyous zest for life and a passion for art to everything you do. How do your faith and spiritual walk play out in your novels?
Each of my novels have tightly woven elements of faith and art. For me, painting and creating art is a personal form of praise and worship, and in those moments, I am close to God and listening intently to His calling. Sharing the transformative power of art allows me to share my faith in both my novels and paintings.

Finish this statement: In the future, I will…
Breath deeper and smile wider as I welcome and invite new callings to write stories and continue creating paintings that bring joy and hope.

Any parting words?
Thank you for inviting me to share. What a privilege it is to be a light along with other Christian authors in this often dark world. Shine on, dear writers! Shine on!
Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having an active imagination and a flair for the dramatic. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning author and speaker who works as a homeschool mom and independent contractor, helping others become their best from the inside out. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Kentucky. They have a daughter and son, and 2 cats. She has sold over 25 books so far, three of which have won annual reader's choice awards. She is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. (

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