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Masquerade Parties

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In my novel a pivotal scene happens at a masquerade party. I love these, and–naturally–a masquerade is a fabulous milieu for a thief. Here’s a teeny excerpt from the masquerade scene in A Beautiful Heist:

I surveyed the room full of strangers. Well, I was assuming they were strangers, but of course I couldn’t be certain because of the masks. That guy over there? Could have been my dentist. Who knew?

By the same token, of course, I wasn’t particularly recognizable. Which was a state of affairs that was definitely within my comfort zone. What was not comfortable was this dress. Mel was a half-size smaller than me and the gown was cut to fit.

Nevermind. Shallow breaths.

(For a longer excerpt from my book, from chapter one, see here).

Masquerade galas are lush, visually stunning, and laced with intrigue. Which is what makes them so marvelous on the silver screen. Here are some of my favorite masquerade scenes from the world of film:

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Van Helsing (2004)

Van Helsing (2004)

The Phantom Of The Opera (2004)

The Phantom Of The Opera (2004)

Masquerade balls date back to the late middle ages. They were a feature of the Carnival season in Venice in the 15th century, and grew in popularity throughout Italy in the 16th century, during the Renaissance. The tradition spread through the rest of mainland Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The results, unfortunately, weren’t always what one hoped for. In 1792 Gustav III of Sweden was assassinated at a masquerade ball by disgruntled nobleman. This event served as the inspiration for Verdi’s opera A Masked Ball.

In fact, masquerades have provided inspiration for much creativity through the ages: in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Romeo meets Juliet at a masquerade ball. Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Masque of the Red Death” is set at a masquerade ball. The novel Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse features a masquerade ball in Zürich.

Maybe, after all this talk of masquerade parties, you’re feeling inspired to throw one of your own. You wouldn’t be alone–there’s been something of a revival of masquerades in recent years. If I may make a recommendation, a fantastic resource, in your planning, is Pinterest. (Here’s my Pinterest page on Masquerades, as a starting point).

Just–one little warning–watch out for jewel thieves at your party…

In case you missed them, here were my countdown posts over the weekend:

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Kim Foster writes YA and adult books about thieves, spies, and assassins. (Read More)

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