Hooray! It’s Happy Truly, Madly, Deeply Publication Day!
Look what Amazon says about it:
This collection brings together all-new specially selected stories from star authors from the Romantic Novelists’ Association, including international bestsellers Adele Parks, Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Miranda Dickinson, and many, many more and is edited by Sue Moorcroft.
I’m one of the many more – how exciting is that?? Being amongst such illustrious authors is a dream come true.
My story Making the Grade was inspired by my experience as a pianist and music teacher. So many times I heard: I wish I could play the piano. Parents would stroke the keyboard when they delivered their children to me for lessons and I would say: Then why don’t you give it a go?
Most reacted in embarrassed horror, but some took up the challenge, often with the excuse that they could help their son or daughter with their practice. I didn’t let on that it might be the other way round. Occasionally an adult learner would want to take exams. Actually want to. Clearly, for some, the lure of a certificate is very strong.
On the day, sitting in the waiting room can feel worse than the exam itself. The anxiety level is stratospheric even though the poor invigilator assures everyone that the examiner is lovely and kind and not at all scary. Coming back to my story inspiration, it occurred to me that I couldn’t recall ever seeing a man waiting to take a primary grade. That’s when I thought of my hero, and how uncomfortable he would feel sitting amongst all those talented children.
Todd’s a brave man, although his courage almost deserts him when he enters the exam room. The examiner isn’t scary; she’s terrifying! Beautiful, charming and so sexy he can’t concentrate at all. I remember seeing Evelyn Glennie looking terrific at the Olympic Games opening ceremony and thinking that Grace might have a similar, if somewhat quieter allure.
Being a pianist, I’ve accompanied many instrumentalists taking their music exams and usually they run smoothly, but not always. Of course, in real life, Todd would be in the exam room for five minutes then he’d go home and never see the examiner again but with such strong chemistry between Todd and Grace, that wouldn’t do at all. Besides, a story needs an upset, a problem, some sort of difficulty - what could possibly happen?
I so enjoyed writing Making the Grade. It makes me very happy to think that all my own hours of waiting room anxiety, have had the unforeseen outcome of providing such useful fodder for my own writing. And then to see my story published in Truly, Madly, Deeply…excuse me, I just have to go and play a fanfare!
This link is for the Kindle edition of Truly, Madly, Deeply which contains all thirty five stories, including mine. The print edition only has twenty-four stories. Mine isn't one of them but if you would like to win a copy go HERE
A couple of weeks ago I was asked by Sophie Duffy if I would like to follow her on a blog tour. Oh yes, I said. How cool!
Everyone on the tour has four questions to answer about their writing process. Sophie's is definitely worth a read. Her writing process involves hopscotch. Gosh. Go HERE
What am I working on?
I’m writing two short stories and having a final read of my latest novel before sending it out. Madrigal is a time-slip novel centred round a contemporary vocal ensemble and the C16th Italian composer, Gesualdo. He is famed for his music, which some, such as Stravinsky, say is the work of a genius centuries ahead of his time. Others find the gruesome murder of his wife and her lover more intriguing.
My novel explores what happens when the menace of Gesualdo begins to undermine the singers of his music today. In the historical thread the story is from the point of view of Sylvia, a servant girl whose witness statement is on record. While rehearsing Gesualdo’s music, my contemporary heroine, Lisa, feels that her family and friends, particularly Jon, the love of her life, are becoming more secretive and distant. Is she imagining it when she sees blood on her music? Is her quartet being haunted by the dead hand of Gesualdo? What is the connection between a macabre manuscript from the Renaissance Naples and Exeter Museum? Lisa has to find out. I hope readers will too!
The in-between novels period is a strange mixture of relief, sorrow – I miss my characters! - and anticipation as I begin to plan the next one. I try to channel all that nervous energy into writing some short stories and keep a list of ideas on my desk that I add to during the months of novel writing. I don’t usually write two at once, but they are very different so there’s no chance of muddle.
How does my work differ from others in the genre?
If I look back at the novels and stories I’ve written, by far the majority are about music and musicians. This isn’t very surprising in the light of my own professional training as a music teacher. I still do a little teaching, although my performing days are over. The hours I used to sit at the piano are now spent in front of a screen. My musical experience, however, is proving a valuable resource. Most people like music! It isn’t only the actual music that has been inspirational – in the story that I have in the forthcoming Romantic Novelists’ Association showcase anthology Truly, Madly, Deeply it was my experience of taking music examinations that gave me the idea. What would it be like for an adult taking their very first grade?
Why do I write what I do?
I like people! I want to know about their hopes and fears, their relationships. I know what moves me, what inspires me, what makes me shrink in anxiety and fear. But each of us is unique. The myriad ways that we conduct our lives is an endless source of fascination to me. Stories seem to be rather like the ‘working’ of a big mathematical problem. I write to make sense of the world around me. In the midst of life’s chaos, a story attempts to make order.
How does my writing process go?
Let me count the ways…sigh. I sometimes wish there was a regular structure to my days, but one of the joys of my life is that no two days are the same. Because I’m so busy, I’ve taken to writing a To Do list on A4 paper for a couple of days ahead. At the top it says something like Finish story or Finish chapter. Of course, what happens is that finishing the chapter or story might take all day and the next! If I’m writing a dramatic or highly charged scene, I often pace round the house, run up and down the stairs several times (good exercise for the sedentary writer) and make cups of tea that don’t get drunk.