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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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?

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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)

 

Mission Thailand

Ever wonder where ideas for spy stories come from? Well mine often come from visits to Washington, D.C. embassies. See if you can get a few ideas of your own after reading about my latest covert exploit.

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Living in Washington is wonderful.  The city is a museum, culture is everywhere, and politics often makes sleeping pill prescriptions totally unnecessary.  Sometimes I lose sight of how interesting and different our city is, but events like the one I attended on Friday night shake out complacency.

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Yes, I was a guest at the Royal Thai embassy in Georgetown.  The food was sumptuous, the Ambassador and his staff gracious, and the entertainment divine.  I had such a good time, two days later my cheeks still hurt from smiling so much. Here’s a snippet of the entertainment for you to enjoy.

The cherry on the cake truly was the Thai Masked Dance Khon Troupe from Bangkok.  For over an hour they danced, fought, joked, clowned, and displayed aspects of the Thai heritage.  The men wore brilliant golden costumes, the women dripped dozens of orchids from their hair.  Each movement — practiced over decades — seemed effortless, yet I couldn’t fathom getting my fingers into the artistic backward curving gestures or moving with such precise grace.

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I’d like to thank His Excellency, Ambassador Vijavat Isarabhakdi for his kind generosity during the evening.  He reminded me of my husband’s and my trip to Bangkok a few years ago — and a place and people so lovely, I cannot wait to visit there again.

 

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