Starting Points: Mark David Smith discussing Caravaggio: Signed in Blood

An ongoing series wherein CWILL BC writers and illustrators connect a picture or an item to one of their books.


On Remembrance Day, I noticed for the first time the white, eight-pointed cross of the St. John’s Ambulance volunteers parading past, and was struck by this centuries-old connection with one of the central characters of my new book, Caravaggio: Signed in Blood. Having fled Rome under penalty of death, the painter Caravaggio ended up on the island of Malta, trading his service as a painter for a knighthood in the Order of the Knights of St. John Hospitaller, his newfound status the only way he could hope to secure a pardon. The Knights of St. John, an order descended from the crusaders, used the eight-pointed star to represent the eight original langues, or lands of origin, of the Order.



In my book, fifteen-year-old Beppo, an indentured servant in Rome, is accused of murder. The only person who can help him is one of the most celebrated artists of his day—Caravaggio. Unfortunately, Caravaggio has troubles of his own.

Caravaggio: Signed in Blood is published by Tradewind Books. The cover illustration is painted by Governor General’s Award-winning illustrator Stéphane Jorisch.

Mark David Smith

More information can be found on the author’s website:


About Dan Bar-el

I am a children's writer. I write picture books, middle grade novels and graphic novels. Also angry tweets, once in a while.
This entry was posted in books/writing, new publications, novels, Starting Points, young adult literature and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Starting Points: Mark David Smith discussing Caravaggio: Signed in Blood

  1. Darlene says:

    It is interesting to learn more about St. John´s Ambulance and its origins. Your book sounds fascinating Mark.

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