Author Archives: Sophie

Thanks to Music

Thanks to MusicThis week I’m going to be unashamedly personal, thanks to music. Indeed, I want to say thank you – to friends and well-wishers, fellow writers, musicians of all kinds and the universe.

To put you in the picture – several weeks ago I booked tickets for a concert to take place this past week at the Wigmore Hall.

inner reader, mystery womanIt appealed to me for all sorts of reasons. There was history, discovery (some of the programme was so obscure I thought I’d probably never hear it live again), drama, even youth studies. There was a band I love.

And then there was a sort of deep satisfaction in participating in a major enterprise that would last as long as Mozart’s life.

BUT…

romantic novelist busy editingYou knew there would be a but, didn’t you? Shortly after the tickets arrived, I woke up one morning with a blocked ear. Well, sometimes it was just the one. Sometimes both.

If I took a deep breath and blew my nose hard, my ears popped. But then I went back to feeling as if my aural cavities had been vacuum-packed for travel and I couldn’t hear the front door bell. Couldn’t hear myself think.

Improving – but slowly

Fire Oranges Happy Christmas 2017

Christmas was lovely. I almost forgot I was hard of hearing.

As a result I turned round and walked into a number of innocent shoppers whom I hadn’t heard come up behind me. Before Christmas they were all either too jollied up or too exhausted to snap. Forgiving anyway. After Christmas, not so much.

Writing was a different matter. I kept playing the radio and turning the volume down, bar by bar, to see whether I was hearing any better. The doctor had shown me the faces I should pull while brushing my teeth. Nope. Still pretty much uni-eared.

So then I had to keep jumping up to check phone, kettle, cat flap, even the front door, didn’t I? Concentration? Forget it.

And it was January. Dark. Cold. The latest sunrise of the year. Did I really want to go out, even for music?

Friends, Well-Wishers and Writers, Thank You

Every single one of you urged me to go. And then a friend who was in actual recovery from a really nasty infection volunteered to accompany me. A combination of competitive endurance and simple shame got me to the Wigmore Hall.

Not with high expectations, to be honest. After all, how much was I going to be able to hear? It might turn out to be the music of the spheres – a long, long way away.

Musicians, Thank you

Thanks to Music, 18th century, harpsichord, singerThe title was 1770 – a retrospectiveIt was part of conductor Ian Page’s musical journey through time, in this case Mozart’s fourteenth year. (His birthday was 27th January.)

He spent most of it in Italy, but the music in this concert also comes from other great musical centres of Europe – Vienna, London, Naples, and Esterháza – as well as the two arias from Milan which saw Mozart’s first great operatic success, Mitridate, re di Ponto.

Thanks to Music

Gluck, composer. Thanks to Music.And there were revelations. Haydn, setting Goldoni texts for the first time, delivered his wonderful humane sympathy and humour – and a peach of a naughty character for soprano, Samantha Clarke, a born actress.

Gluck (left) ignoring war and telling the story of conflicted love from the point of view of the lovers, Paris and Helen, was spellbinding.

Almacks, King Street. J C Bach concerts Johann Christian Bach’s Symphony in G Minor was dramatic and unexpectedly moving. Probably it was played in concerts at Almack’s Assembly Rooms in King Street.

Rather strong meat for a Georgette Heyer heroine, I suspect. Or a hero either, for that matter. Even the most fashionable of them don’t seem to be musical. Or am I wrong?

Farinelli, castrato. Thanks to MusicBut the duets were the absolute jewel of this evening. By Haydn, Gluck, JC Bach, Jamelli (of whom I’d never heard, though he was both talented and prolific) and Mozart himself! All  gloriously sung by Samantha Clarke and mezzo Ida Ränzlöv, half Cherubino, half Farinelli (left)!

Both acted beautifully too, restrained but so expressive you didn’t have to follow the translation to know what was going on.

And Additional Thanks to the Music…

There were tears more than once, I admit. This music does after all, coincide with the first stirrings of the romantic sensibility. And Mozart sure knew how to wring the heart with a horn solo, even at 14. Blast him.

And whether it was the cold, or the exercise, or having to blow my nose quietly, or simply the gathering of tears in the first place – my ear is no longer blocked. I heard perfectly throughout the concert. Not so much as a hiccup since.

Writing, here I come.

Sophie Weston AuthorSophie

Writing a Reader Review

publish for impact blurbI find it really difficult to write a reader review of a novel. As an author I am hugely grateful to the kind people who leave reviews of my books on Amazon and other sites. I deeply feel I ought to reciprocate more. But the whole enterprise is fraught with danger.

This is a recurring problem at this time of year. Between Christmas and the end of the year I usually read a lot.

I finish books I’ve left midway during the year for some reason. And I read my Christmas present books. I read books I’ve been setting aside so I can take a good long run at them. And I experiment with books that other people have recommended during the seasonal socialising. And I go back to old favourites because, let’s face it, this is the time of year when memories get hold of you and I’ve got some lovely Bookish Memories. Continue reading

Comfort Reads

The BBC’s recent 100 Books that Shaped our World has started me thinking about comfort reads. What are they? When do we want them? Maybe even need them, indeed. What do they do for us? And how do we find them in the first place?

And is comfort reading a Bad Thing?

Escapism, after all, has got a bad press ever since the word was first coined, apparently in thirties USA i.e. at the height of the Depression. The Oxford English Dictionary defines escapism as “the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.”

Hmm. Continue reading

Romantic Fiction, Readers’ Lives and 100 Novels

reading one of 100 novelsThis month, rather to my surprise, I have found myself thinking a lot about romantic fiction and where it sits in readers’ lives. I write it, read it and love it, as regular readers of this blog will know. And there are some times in my life when nothing else will do. Not every romantic novel, of course. Maybe Persuasion. Or Sylvester. Perhaps The Morning Gift. Or…

But this is not about me…

100 Novels that Shaped Our World

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Slow Burn Story

Successful writer, murder your darlingsThis week I have been finishing a slow burn story. Writing has totally absorbed me. Hardly had time to eat and sleep, let alone read my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Actually Tweet or post Facebook status? Haha. In a contest between us, snowballs in hell would be the bookies’ favourite.

It’s been great. But…

Connecting with a Slow Burn Story

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Lies and Liars – Writer’s Perspective

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about lies and liars. I am writing one story and editing another and find that my characters in both lie much more than I am used to.

The lie is a major tool in the writer’s workbox. Often it turns the plot a full one eighty degrees. Sometimes it drives the whole story. Think of de Maupassant’s The Necklace.

But for a lie to work in a novel, you have to have a convincing liar. By that I don’t mean someone who is habitually economical with the truth. I mean someone who has a good reason to lie and does so. And, even more important, someone whom another person, or even many people, will believe.

Lies and Liars in Romance

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Reading Amid Tumult

reading, tumultReading has always been my greatest pleasure. In the midst of tumult, at home and abroad, it has kept me sane.

But it takes a strong book to keep my attention when every day feels like a battlefield.

I’ve found three. I commend them to any of you who shares my feelings. They were all new to me, two are debuts, all accidental finds. And I am so grateful. Continue reading

Haunting Ursula Torday

publish for impact blurbA few weeks ago, I blogged about author Ursula Torday  and how I had a sort of virtual not-quite-relationship with her which was like a haunting. I fell over her books on three different occasions in my life, years apart. And now, ten years on, I have just done so again.

So that makes four.
We clearly have unfinished business.

As a result,  I have been reading her books and digging a bit – and reconsidering the very helpful email that her godson, Robert Torday, sent me 10 years ago. This is how it started this time…

URSULA TORDAY – THE FOURTH HAUNTING

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Glyndebourne Inspired

I didn’t mean to write about what inspired me this week. But on Tuesday I went to Glyndebourne to hear Handel’s Rinaldo. And it’s rather put everything else out of my mind.

There was a sadness to this particular visit. The one person to whom I would have expected to pour out an account of the opera is no longer with us. As a result, I knew I was a little off my game.

Only, instead, my Glyndebourne visit gave me everything back, music, magic and memory. The whole nine yards. So I thought I would share. Continue reading

Author’s Shadow

Twelfth Night mask I deliberately called this blog “Author Shadow” rather than “Author Discovered” because its subject is not new to me nor, even now, wholly understood.

Sometimes an author grabs you. You know nothing about them. You don’t know why. Yet they speak to you as if you know them – or they know you.

In some ways this author has been walking beside me, in the shadows as it were, nearly all my life. Yet, just occasionally over the years, lightning has flashed and for a tiny moment my mystery lady has been almost revealed. Continue reading