Monday, August 24, 2020

Master of Illusion - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Nupur Tustin back to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Nupur writes the Celine Skye Psychic Mystery series. MASTER OF ILLUSION is the first book in the series and was released last month.

Kathy: You start a new series with MASTER OF ILLUSION.What made you switch from a historical European composer to a modern day American psychic?

NT: I’d always wanted to write a contemporary series featuring, preferably, a woman since the Haydn series center around a man.

Setting it in America where I live seemed the most logical course of action. A contemporary mystery requires considerable information on contemporary police procedure. And living in this country, I have access to it and an understanding of it—the local differences in procedure, for instance—that help me figure out what questions to ask.

Why, a psychic? Well, shortly after my parents passed away, I recalled a book that my father had thought very highly of. The author, Jose Silva, in the course of his studies discovered a form of dynamic meditation that can stimulate creativity and boost memory. Working with his children, Silva discovered that we all have natural intuitive abilities and meditation can enhance these as well.

Re-reading his book helped me appreciate one of the truths my parents had tried to instill in me—the mind is a very powerful tool. I think the mystery genre helps us realize that as well—the power of the mind is such, it can penetrate the darkest mystery.

From there, it was just a short step to realizing my protagonist would be psychic. The true crime programs that we were watching at the time also involved psychic help. That bolstered my resolve.

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

NT: I knew my psychic protagonist would reluctantly get pulled into solving mysteries after the murder of her employer. I had no idea why he’d died, though. I might have left that as backstory that I wasn’t really aware of and that didn’t need to be explained.

But an agent I was discussing the Haydn Mysteries with as well as this concept, suggested that I seriously consider making the first book in the new series about her employer’s death.

I knew Dirck Thins, Celine’s employer, is murdered because of something in his past. But what exactly? At about that time, we went to the Getty Museum. We missed the program we’d intended to attend and spent some time wandering around the galleries. And I fell in love with Canaletto and learned about the Gardner Museum theft.

Aha! I had my story.

Kathy: Celine Skye is a psychic. Do you know any psychics? Have you ever had a reading?

NT: We’re all psychic. Not all of us can do readings for other people. Most of us use our intuitive abilities to a greater or lesser degree for the betterment of our own lives and to perform our jobs well.

In PHYSICIANS’ UNTOLD STORIES, for instance, Dr. Scott Kolbaba talks about an uncanny experience he had. A patient of his was suffering from undiagnosed stomach pains. But Dr. K had a strong sense that what was needed was a lung scan. It made no sense, but he followed through anyhow, persuading both his patient and the lab to make time for it.

It turned out the patient had a massive pulmonary embolism in his lung near the diaphragm. That was what was causing the stomach pain.

Many writers prefer not to plot their stories at all. They’re using their storyteller’s instinct and their intuition to write a compelling story. But whether we plot our stories or not, we’ve all had the experience of our characters’ taking over our stories and doing things we hadn’t planned for them.

Rosalie, a character in the Haydn Mysteries, frequently does this to me. But I find when I follow her, I have a better story.

Kathy: Celine works in a wine bar. Are you a wine aficionado? Do you have a favorite type of wine?

NT: I’ve always been fond of sweet wines—Port, in particular. But in researching Celine’s story, I’ve come to appreciate other types of wine. I’m still not a big fan of the funky, earthy reds. I prefer lighter wines—Viognier is becoming one of my favorites.

I can’t drink too much wine, though. For some weird reason, a glass of wine today can mean a couple of extra pounds tomorrow!

Kathy: The murder in MASTER OF ILLUSION may be tied to an infamous art heist in Boston. How did you decide to add a real crime to your story? Are you a true crime fan?

NT: Yes, absolutely. And I love blending fact and fiction. That’s what makes writing historical mysteries fun and it’s what makes writing this new contemporary series fun as well.

The Gardner Museum heist is also fascinating because it’s been thirty years since those works of art were stolen. We still don’t know what happened or where the art ended up. The storyteller in me loves the idea of coming up with a narrative to explain what happened and why and to provide some closure to us all.

Kathy: Of the artwork stolen from the Gardner Museum, which is your favorite?

NT: Definitely, the Vermeer. I’m a huge fan of realistic painting. It takes hours of effort to create a work that’s so real, it looks like a photograph. You can look at a Canaletto setting up close, and you still can’t detect the brushwork or the lines that make up the scene. It looks like a photograph.

Vermeer’s brushwork is apparent when you look closely, but he seems to have a special insight into the way the eye perceives. You have to look really closely to see through the illusion to the globs of paint that comprise it.

Vermeer, possibly because he was looking through the lens of a camera obscura, knew what the eye would focus on and what would just be perceived as out-of-focus, fuzzy. He must have seen the difference between the human eye and the camera lens.

The human eye has variable focus—and Vermeer manages to capture the way eye perceive things. It’s quite uncanny.

What’s even more compelling is that his paintings look like snapshots. It’s as though he went around with his iPhone snapping pictures of everything and everyone he saw.

In Woman Writing a Letter, the woman has an amused smile on her face as she glances up—the kind of indulgent smile a contemporary woman seeing her husband excitedly operate an RC car or some other device might have. It’s a “Boys and their toys” look.

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

NT: MASTER OF ILLUSION  has a prequel, VISIONS OF MURDER. Readers who want to know more about Celine and her psychic powers will find the answers in the Prequel. I’m currently working on the second novel in the series. I’ve yet to come up with a working title, but I’m enjoying writing and researching it.

Master of Illusion: A Celine Skye Psychic Mystery by Nupur Tustin

About Master of Illusion

Cozy Mystery/Psychic Mystery 1st in Series  
Publisher: Foiled Plots Press (July 28, 2020)  
Paperback: 292 pages 
When death arrives in Paso Robles, so do clues to an infamous art heist in Boston. . .
For seven years, psychic Celine Skye has led a life free of visions in quiet Paso Robles. But now the visions are back. Along with a dubious customer from Boston.
Celine has always been able to sense death. But not even she can foresee her employer Dirck’s murder. Finding his corpse in the wine bar he owns is bad enough.
Grappling with the suspicion that Dirck’s death could be connected with the Gardner Museum heist is even worse.
As Celine struggles to make sense of the psychic clues she receives, there’s just one question in her mind: What exactly did Dirck know about the Gardner Museum heist to get himself killed?

About Nupur Tustin

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin misuses a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to paint intrigue. She also orchestrates mayhem in composer Joseph Haydn’s Europe. Visit her at

Author Links:

Purchase Links - Amazon - Nook - Apple - Kobo 

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  1. This book looks fantastic. My kind of books. Would love to read and review print format of books. The plot(s) sound mysterious and intriguing.
    OH I Hope I Win.

  2. I have my fingers crossed for you, Crystal. Thanks for visiting.

  3. What an intriguing excerpt. I really enjoy ready cozies. Thanks for this opportunity.

  4. Thanks for visiting, Nancy!