Spies at the Met?

People ask me all the time:

Where does your inspiration come from?

How do you get ideas for books?

The truth is, I can get the mood or sense of a story from places as mundane as the grocery store or as exotic as trips overseas.


An example of this is from a recent trip to NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The fantastic exhibit, China Through the Looking Glass, had all the hamster-wheels in my brain running at full speed. In possibly the world’s best curated exhibit, the incredible Met staff arranged clothing that had been inspired by Chinese art, not in a separate clothing exhibit, but right in the midst of their Chinese art section.

It was amazing.

Covering three floors, sedate mannequins posed next to temple gods upstairs, while two floors below, in the Costume Institute, a drumming, rockstar vibe and blaring music highlighted dresses arranged against multi-media pop art. P1010081

Visitors could see how a lacquer screen influenced a dress, how decorative items guided the bottle for Opium perfume, or how the flutter of fans were reflected in the flounce of a ballgown. Even the drab uniforms of the Maoist period showed up in haute couture.


It had my little noggin smoking, too.

Look at the gold number by Guo Pei at the top of this post. What could you hide underneath that skirt? What are the observant statues thinking? One Buddha reclines seductively, the other looks down as if guarding his own secret.

p1010150 (2)

Who is the man in the hat silhouetted in shadow? Are they enemies or friends as the beautiful spy negotiates the party?


Could the flounces of this dress be hiding tools to break into a safe? Or gear to climb out a four story window? Are the figures behind her oblivious to her next moves, or are they watching, conspiring, waiting to pounce?

And this jacket appears to be something a James Bond-style villain would wear.  Do these long sleeves hide guns or perhaps poison blow darts?


And among the bustle and hustle of tourists of every description what transpires just out of sight. Is information being traded? Who is being followed, and who disappears into the tightly packed throng?

Hopefully you’ll see some of these threads weave into stories with the release of my book, The Spy in the Mirror, next yearUntil then, perhaps your imagination will run as wild as mine. Tell me which would you wear? And remember, in our imagination everyone is thin enough to fit!

For more posts like this, and updates about my book, please follow me at DianaBelchase.com

(All images copyright 2015 Diana Belchase)


About Diana Belchase

I am an author, who won the Golden Heart for my suspense novel "The Spy in the Mirror" and was a Golden Heart finalist, once again, for my second novel, "The Spy in the Harem." I am also a triple Daphne Du Maurier finalist for three other books. Please follow me at my website: TopSecretWashington.com, or friend/follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter or on my YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/DianaBelchase See you there!

Posted on November 10, 2015, in Diana Belchase, Writing Craft and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. Very exciting news about the upcoming release! Wahoo!!! Sounds intriguing. Best of luck

  2. Gorgeous exhibit! Thanks for sharing. And I can’t wait to read your first book next year!!! Congratulations!

  3. Congratulations on your release! Those dresses are gorgeous!

  4. Way to go on your release, Diana! Those costumes are fabulous – thanks for sharing. 🙂

  5. The Guo Pei golden gown for me please! Diana, your pictures are so gorgeous and I loved your take on all the potential secrets and intrigue hidden beneath the glamor. Can’t wait to read your Golden Heart Award winning book–The Spy in the Mirror! 🙂

  6. How cool, Diana! My first thought when I saw the yellow petal dress was, “you could hide a person under there.” 😁 I love the last dress with all the folds that could hide weapons. I like the way you think. 😉 Good luck getting the book out!

  7. What a lovely post! Interesting and provocative. I’m going back to look at the photos. Again. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your life as a writer.

  8. Congrats on your upcoming release Diana! (And I love the jacket!)

  9. Wow, how did I miss this exhibit? Will have to put it on my calendar. Looks wonderful, and you describe it lusciously.

    And CONGRATULATIONS on your upcoming release!! How fabulous! Come on in, the water’s warm!

  10. Hi Diana,

    Well, as you know, I went to that exhibition at the Met on your recommendation and it was quite breathtaking. Your descriptions are so detailed, you remember so much.
    Since then, it would seem you’ve been head-down, working on a new book? Can’t wait for it, and congratulations.

  11. Good luck with you release! Go You!

  12. The dress are gorgeous but the shadowy man with the hat caught my attention. He looked like he was hiding something, I wonder what? 🙂
    Congrats on the upcoming release Diana, I’m looking forward to a great read!

  13. Great minds think alike. Thanks so much, Jacquie!

  14. I really wanted to see this exhibit, but I never got a chance. But it looks amazing. And that announcement? I am SO excited for you!

    And I’m sorry I’m a day late – I wasn’t around to comment yesterday but I LOVED this post. I love any post with beautiful dresses. 🙂

  15. If only this had been in town when we all were last summer! Although I would’ve embarrassed myself yanking some of those off the mannequins to try on… 😉

    I am SO thrilled you’re finally going to show your work to the rest of the world, Diana. More power to you!

  16. Woo Hoo! Can’t wait to read the Spy in the Mirror! Next year can’t come soon enough for me! Congrats! And great post!

  17. mandacollinsauthor

    I really need to get myself to the Met one of these days…

    Congratulations! Can’t wait to celebrate with you!

  18. Gorgeous exhibit! Congrats on your release, Diana!!! Blessings.

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