Tag Archives: Georgette Heyer

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

Sarah Mallory: Living and writing in the Scottish Highlands.

Those who know me from Social media will probably realise that I have moved. A big move. Massive. After 30 years in one house I have moved to the Scottish Highlands.   To Wester Ross. It has been described as Britain’s last great wilderness, and with good reason. Moving here is not just another country, it is another life and a very different one. The language is almost the same. Almost, but not quite. One has to think more about it. No one asks where you live, it is where are you staying, as if you are just passing through.

Hospitality is generous, tea, cake or biscuits are often offered as a matter of course. Which means I need to brush up on my baking skills.

Okay, I doubt I will EVER bake anything this good!

The Scottish Highlands from a writer’s point of view

I travel through this land with my writer’s hat on. The landscape feels old. Continue reading

The Sweet Sorrow of Endings

I have done it!  I have finished my latest historical romance!
Hooray, I hear you say. At last.
About time.champagne to celebrate book endings

writer worries waiting for editor's verdict

It has been polished, re-polished and sent winging its merry way to The Editor, the god-like creature who will pronounce judgement upon my baby. As some old writer hack said, “parting is such sweet sorrow.”
It is an anxious time.

But while I wait, chewing my nails to the quick, I have been pondering on Life, the Universe and…

Endings

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In Praise of Dirty Drafts

This week I have been remembering the first draft of my first book. Well, the first book I actually completed.

First draft libraryI remember that it was written by hand, mostly while I was waiting for books to be retrieved from the stack in a very famous library.

The leather-bound tomes, the scholarly hush, the dust dancing in the sunbeams, the academics concentrating all  around me…. oh, I remember them as if I’ve only just walked in from that day with my book bag stuffed with notes and my head full of my characters.

First draft cafe napkinOr sometimes I wrote that first draft while I was waiting for an old friend in our favourite coffee shop.

When inspiration struck there, I sometimes scribbled the idea down on any old scrap of paper — including a cafe napkin once or twice.

By now, dear Reader, you will have realised two things: Continue reading

The Romantic Hero Revisited — Essential Hero Qualities

Revisiting the Romantic Hero Formula —
except that there isn’t a formula, as I tried to show in the first blog on this topic. So, instead, I’m going to explore some aspects of creating the romantic hero.

With examples from a master of the art of hero-creation — Georgette Heyer.

Which Qualities Make a Romantic Hero Attractive — to Readers?

Most of us would say that our aim in writing romance is to create a heroine that our readers will identify with and a hero that they will lust after. Warning: it is not easy to do and not all readers will respond in the same way. Some may adore our hero and some may hate him. As romance authors, we’re winning if we have a lot more of the former. 😉

Tall Dark and Handsome?

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in "Game of Thrones."

Alan Rickman as Nottingham, Richard Armitage as GisbourneTall dark and handsome? Not necessarily. As readers we probably all have favourite heroes who are none of those. As writers, we may have created some of them, too.

Most telling recent example? Who became the abiding hero in the Game of Thrones series? Yes, Tyrion, the dwarf. Continue reading

World-building

World building fantasy mirrorAt a recent conference I discovered that Georgette Heyer has had a considerable influence on science fiction and fantasy authors.

Huh?

Restrained, witty, convention-conscious Georgette and the Trekkies? Really? How? Above all, why?

Because of her world-building. Continue reading

Georgette Heyer Study Day

Georgette HeyerThis week I spent a day with Georgette Heyer. Billed as The Nonesuch Conference, this was at a hybrid gathering at London University, offering a selection of papers from accredited academics together with reader/writer participation from people labelled in the programme as independent scholars.

Clearly, and heartwarmingly, most of the speakers I heard were also fans.

Georgette Heyer regency invitationIt was preceded by a writing workshop the day before. And there was a Regency Soirée in the evening after the conference, which sounds like a lot of fun.

Sadly, I couldn’t make either of these events. For one thing I’m still convalescent. (My energy gives out unexpectedly, so I didn’t want to push it.) For another, the programme was really full. Academics seemed to be supercharged, cheerily steaming from session to session, enthusiasm still at white heat.

When I read my notes I was astonished at the sheer volume of ideas I had noted down for further consideration. Continue reading

Beautiful heroines, handsome heroes : never ugly, never bald?

Let’s hear it for the heroes! Tall, dark and handsome?

mysterious hero but is he handsome?

Hero = handsome; heroine = beautiful?
Bestselling author Susanna Kearsley published a blog last week that asks a thought-provoking question about romantic heroines:  — why is it that “some readers, when faced with a blank face, are programmed to fill in the features as ‘beautiful’?”

Good question.
A disturbing question, too, perhaps.

But what about the heroes? Do we readers fill in male features in a similar way? Why?
Do the heroes of our imagination have to be tall, dark and handsome? Continue reading

Day 8 of 12 Days of Christmas : 8 Maids a-Milking & Heyer

By Day 8, the True Love is getting more ambitious and, frankly, a bit cracked.

Today’s gift embraces both livestock and human trafficking. This is seriously dodgy territory now. He’s clearly into all things quaint, traditional and with just a hint of the Good Old Days. Maybe even Heritage.

I feel we’re beginning to detect some disturbing undercurrents in these so-called gifts. Are they not just another way of tying his Beloved to endless cleaning and animal husbandry? Only now she’ll have staff to placate as well. Not a good outlook. Continue reading

Subtext and Space Between the Words

Roman Holiday subtextI’m intrigued by subtext and, in particular, the space between the words in a novel. 

Yet perhaps the most perfect example of this is not in a novel at all, but in a movie. It’s the little miracle that is Roman Holiday, starring a luminous Audrey Hepburn as a stifled princess. Gorgeous Gregory Peck plays against type as a distinctly dodgy expat newspaperman. They don’t have a Happy Ever After ending, either. Yet its perfect, mostly because of that extra layer of meaning.

Why Subtext in Roman Holiday is Interesting for Novelists

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