Tag Archive | classical music

The Inspiration Behind The Story

Today, I’m discussing with the lovely Pauline Barclay the inspiration behind my latest novel White Stones. How an elusive piece of music and living in a Georgian mansion for several years, laid the foundations to the creation of Filton Shields, an Unexplained Phenomena Investigator and a haunting love story.

I’ve always had a fascination with the supernatural, not that I believe in ghosts as such as I believe all paranormal activity has a rational answer. Most can be easily explained; for the remainder, it’s more a case that the right explanation hasn’t been found yet. But, like many of us, I can’t resist a good, old-fashioned ghost story – it’s just when I hear them, I’m always searching for reasons using science and logic. Read more

Links to purchase White Stones, available in various e-formats and in paperback from 17 September 2019:

books2read.com/Whitestones 

Paperback copies of White Stones are also available direct from me. Click here to be taken to my purchase page.

White Stones – A Novel 20 Years in the Making!

At long last, the day arrived when my little baby matured and was finally published on 1st of June! And yes, it really has been 20+ years in the making. Out now on Kindle worldwide, and shortly to be in paperback and other ereader forms too.

The story began life in 1998, born with a different name, one which flitted between that and the published title. The first version went through the RNA New Writers Scheme, its reader recommending several agents to try. At a RNA conference, one agent asked to read the complete mss; but decided it wasn’t for her. I sent it to the book doctor, Hilary Johnson, who made suggestions, amended a few flaws and loved the story but not the then title, hence its change. She advised I would have trouble finding an agent or publisher because the book crosses several genres: romance/mystery/paranormal/timeslip/investigative/fantasy – something which at the time wasn’t readily accepted. It was also rather long, which didn’t help.

But White Stones wouldn’t die or go away. I liked the story too much, so over the course of the next few years kept tweaking and sending it out to agents and publishers. One in the USA showed interest but wanted me to change the location from England to somewhere, anywhere, in the States.

This I tried to do. I carried out a great deal of research as to where the story might work there, but it doesn’t’ allow itself to be transferred for reasons which become clear within the novel on two counts: the location is vital to the plot, as is the fact that a character (real, not fictional) within the story did not travel to America during their lifetime, and the fact this person is a crucial element of the storyline. What to do? There wasn’t a lot I could do unless I virtually rewrote the whole novel, so I put it back in the proverbial drawer and moved on to another.

That book, Every Step of the Way, proved a little more successful in that it went on to be shortlisted for the prestigious Harry Bowling Prize for a London novel in 2004, in turn leading to me being taken on by a top London agent who wanted synopses for two more similar books, hoping to secure a 3-book deal. I began writing the next, but every step of the way the agent tried, she couldn’t find a publisher for me and we eventually parted ways.

And still White Stones wouldn’t go away. It played in my head during the day. Kept me awake at nights as I tried to rework the story, tried to fathom out what was wrong with it, why no-one would take a chance on it. One night it dawned on me … no, actually it was my sister a few years later, who read the whole book in one sitting. At a certain point, she looked up and said, “At last, here’s where the action starts!” That’s when it hit me… the beginning of the novel, the entire first three chapters, was nothing but back story. No wonder I wasn’t getting anywhere. So those chapters were scrapped, with any relevant information pertinent to the plot drip fed into the new version.

Life, work, family got in the way on many levels and again White Stones was shelved whilst I wrote two new novels. And still the Stones kept knocking at my head wanting to be let out. I picked it up again and read it through from the start. Many years had gone by and, consequently, White Stones was out of touch with modern technology. People now had mobile phones, computers, the Internet and the world-wide-web ­– all things that needed to be brought up to date as they are relevant and necessary for the story to work, as were events that had taken place in the real world – important things which impact on the plot.

A few more years came and went. Having received many rejections but also many encouraging comments and feedback from some, though not all, publishers to whom it was sent, the publishing world had also changed in those intervening years. Self-publishing came along, which for a while sounded the death knell for agents and conventional publishers but, in turn, that world has again altered because publishers seem to prefer authors who have a backlist, have self-published several novels and gained a readership and following, meaning many aren’t prepared to take a gamble on a “new author”, which is what I am to them. However, I was determined the Stones wouldn’t crumble and turn to dust in the drawer. I had to release them, set them free so that I could move on.

That day has finally arrived and my baby has grown up, reached adulthood and I have cut the strings binding it to my heart.  Whether it flounders or flies, it will always be with me. I will always love it. I hope you do too. Whether you are a sceptic or not, whether you believe in ghost or angels, or if you just like reading a good love story, White Stones might steal your heart away too and leave you with some lasting memories and thoughts. It might also make you change your mind about all that you or don’t believe in. That is my intention.

Available at Amazon.co.uk  and Amazon.com and Amazon worldwide On Kindle.

Paperback and other ereader forms soon.

Brief Extract from White Stones

He blew a kiss from the doorway. “Coffee in fifteen minutes.”

In her hand she caught the love token, lay back against the pillow and listened to his retreating footfalls as he took the stairs two at a time, jumping the last two as always.

If someone had told her life could change so rapidly, become so blissfully tranquil and perfect, she once wouldn’t have believed them. But it was true. As the days and weeks had slipped by, he had filled each waking moment with pleasure, each hour of darkness with such tender love she thought her heart would burst from so much devotion.

Hounslow seemed a thousand light years away instead of a hundred-odd miles. Ten years of married hell over. Almost over, she reminded herself with a jolt. There was still the matter of the divorce to deal with. But yes, Harry was right. Life was good. Apart from one black cloud forever lurking below the horizon, gripping on at its edge, always threatening to spoil things – Alex.

Like that annoying little tune still duelling with the other inside her head, Alex wouldn’t go away. Her thoughts returning to him at inopportune moments, always skulking there in the back of her mind, waiting to pounce.

Why won’t he let go of me and let us all get on with our lives?

With every ring of the telephone, each persistent knock on the door, she dreaded it would be him. Each day living in trepidation that he would turn up at the house. It could surely only be a matter of time before he found out where she was, and he would be here, thumping on the door, demanding she come home with him at once.

There had been no remorse in leaving Alex. No pangs of guilt or tinges of sorrow, only relief when she closed the door on the West London house for the last time. But there were tears. Tears of regret that she hadn’t had the courage to do it sooner. When Harry had rushed to her that day she’d arrived at Hill House and pulled her into his arms before she was even fully out of the car, she knew she had done the right thing. Harry would always take care of her. Keep her safe. Love her.

But she feared the repercussions. Revenge was the sort of thing Alex was capable of. He’d pick a fight with Harry, come in with arms flaying, blaming everyone but himself.

This looming threat worried her, not that she had spoken of these fears to Harry. He had his own past to deal with. Her physical wounds and bruises had healed; his were still sore. Emotional scars that would be with him for eternity, so why make him suffer any more than he already had by worrying over the baggage of her past.

If only he would talk about Lorna and little Sam and Elly more, speak about the accident instead of clamming up every time she tentatively broached the subject. They were a part of him she wanted to share yet she knew so little about them. She needed to understand, to know that part she hadn’t yet been able to reach….

My Next Big Thing

Having been double-tagged recently for the Next Big Thing by Gilli Allan and Joanne Lambert, I couldn’t really refuse, so hang to your hats and settle down to read about what’s simmering on the back burner of creation for Kit Domino.

The game plan is I answer a stack of questions about what I’m currently working on and tag five other friends to take part. The questions are easy to deal with, what isn’t is the sad fact I haven’t got five friends left to tag (Billy No Mates Left, me!) as most, it seems, have been tagged already. But what the heck, I’ll do it anyway. If you want to take part in next week’s bundle feel free. Let me know and I’ll add you as an official tag. Of course, you can just go ahead and tell us about your next big thing anyway. So… here goes mine.

Ten Interview Questions: The Next Big Thing

What is the working title of your book?  I’m currently working on Whitestones. The book is finished and has been for some time but is in the process of being reworked and updated.

Where did the idea come from for the book? The story was inspired from hearing a particular piece of classical music  for the first time. I’m a great lover of classical music but this is not one of those frequently played on radio, but the sort of tune that once you’ve heard it, you can’t help falling in love with it. I came cross it by chance on a complication CD. I thought it so beautiful, so dreamy and romantic I had to use it, even to the point of obtaining the sheet music and teaching myself to play it on the piano, and so plays an integral part to the plot.

What genre does your book fall under? That’s a difficult one to answer. I would class it as a romantic mystery, but because it has paranormal elements it’s been classed (by others) as a paranormal.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? There are four central characters within Whitestones. Keria Knightly would be brilliant Penny, the lead heroine, alongside Anna Friel. The jury’s still out over the male roles but I would love Kevin Costner to play Harry, the lead male, failing that, Patrick Demsey, with George Cloney playing the professor.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A story of music and love that transcends the barriers of time.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? ThornBerry Publishing will be publishing the ebook, hopefully next year if I can pull my finger out.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Probably about 12 months. It’s had many rewrites already as it was first drafted many years ago, long before Every Step of the Way.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? There is a touch of Rebecca in the beginning, and think Nicholas Sparks and Barbara Erskine and you would be on the right track, but because Whitestones is cross-genre, and has a story line that is, I have been told by “those in the know”, quite different to anything else around, I can’t think of a single book I could compare it with.

Widden Hill House. Picture courtesy of David Harper

Who or What inspired you to write this book? There were two inspirations. The first, a large mansion in the Cotswolds near Chipping Sodbury where I lived once upon a time (pictured). The other, the fact that I’ve always been fascinated by the unexplained, paranormal events, ghosts and hauntings etc. It was whilst watching a series on TV some years ago that explored many of the locations around Britain that were reportedly haunted, I realised that many of these occurrences had a familiar theme. I began to question what was behind these stories, delving and digging deeper and reaching my own conclusions in seeking to find an explanation. This is explored in Whitestones. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Picture the scene: A lonely house overlooking the Severn valley on a stormy night during the wettest summer in recorded history, Penny alone inside. Cue music – making Penny think she’s left a radio on somewhere in the house. Okay, cut music. … I said CUT MUSIC! Oh, you have? Ah, now that really is a problem because Penny can still hear it. In her head, playing over and over again. Constantly playing, for days at a time, enough to drive her to the brink of insanity and headlong towards a breakdown. And so begins her and Harry’s journey to seek out the source and find answers. What they discover will astound them, and you.

Okay … now over to you.

(Read my recent interviews with Carol E Wyer   and Nicky Wells)

Fellow author at ThornBerry Publishing, Shirley Wright also talks about her Next Big Thing is too! Click here to read