Now that 2020 has arrived, we’re looking forward to some amazing new book releases by talented indie authors. Among these great upcoming releases is Queen of the Owls by Barbara Linn Probst. Hitting shelves on April 7, 2020, this new literary fiction novel focuses on art and a woman ready to be truly seen by the world.
Check out the cover and an excerpt of this empowering new book below and make sure to pre-order your copy now!
An excerpt from Queen of the Owls by Barbara Linn Probst:
She edged forward, closing the space she’d ceded to the waiter, and met his eyes, those grey ovals rimmed with charcoal. The smell of freshly-ground coffee rose up around them, wrapping her in a thick aromatic haze.
Then Richard spoke again. “I think O’Keeffe’s paintings inspired Stieglitz’s cloud photos. And I think modeling for him inspired her, in her own work.”
Elizabeth inhaled, drawing the scent of the coffee into her lungs. “Yes, I think so too. Her work absolutely exploded after she started posing. Those flower paintings? They were all from the 1920s. She hadn’t done anything like that before. She wasn’t able to, until she’d modeled for him.”
“Maybe posing freed her,” Richard said. “Or maybe it was Stieglitz’s passion.”
Elizabeth felt the heat spread across her skin. “You mean, as a photographer? He photographed her endlessly, you know, once she came to New York.”
“Weren’t they lovers?”
“Not at first.”
Richard eyed her intently. Flustered, Elizabeth kept talking. “It was part of how their relationship was intensifying. He started by photographing her hands and face, these amazing close-ups. After a while they did become lovers, and the portraits changed. There’s this quote from one of O’Keeffe’s letters about how he began to photograph her with a new heat and excitement.” Her flush deepened. “Those were her words. It was quite mutual, apparently. A mutual intoxication.”
Richard raised his coffee cup. “Mutual intoxication makes for great art.”
Elizabeth watched his throat as he drank. She thought of Stieglitz, learning Georgia’s body through his camera. Deliberately, with a fire that ignited them both.
When I make a photograph, I make love.
Then Richard set the cup on the table. “So. I’ll repeat my question. How are you going to actually understand O’Keeffe?”
By doing research. Obviously. That was how you got a PhD.
“Not by writing about her paintings,” he said. “You know that.”
Elizabeth tried to keep her tone light. “Oh? And what do you suggest?”
“You have to do what she did.”
“Hardly. I’m not artistic. I can’t paint to save my life.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about.”
His gaze bore into her like a laser. She wanted to say, “Then what are you talking about?” But she knew. She’d known from the first time they had coffee together.
The noise in the café receded. The swirl of people, the clang of the espresso machine, the coldness of the marble against her skin—everything drew back, grew silent.
She had to reveal herself. Be seen.
The very thing she wanted, and the very thing she feared.
Images of Georgia tumbled across her brain. A woman in a white skirt, looking up from her work. The same woman in an open robe, drowsy and disheveled.
The air in the coffee shop was thick as a mattress, pressing against her from all sides. Elizabeth brushed back her hair, the glinting highlights and flattering haircut that Ben hadn’t noticed but Richard had. She felt her hair against her neck. Imagined that neck bare. Imagined her whole body, bared to him.
She made herself ask. “What are you talking about, then?”
His expression was sharp and clean, like the edge of a blade. “You have to know in your whole self and not just your mind.”
Her whole self. All her body parts, favorite and un-favorite.
She yearned to give words to what he was offering. A portal to another way of knowing, when nothing separated you from the thing known.
Say it for me.
“You have to do what O’Keeffe did.”
“You mean, pose?” Her voice cracked.
“I mean pose.”
“For yourself. I’d just be the one holding the camera.”
She thought of the long hours Georgia had given over to posing—letting Stieglitz arrange her body the way he wanted, holding each position for minutes at a time. If Stieglitz was creating his art, Georgia couldn’t create hers. And yet, by giving him her time and her body, she found her own beauty. Out of that, her art changed. In being seen, she saw.
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