Bog Tour: The Golden Key by Marion Womack


In the last couple of years there has been a increase in authors who release playlists while they are either working on their project or after they are done with their projects. This gives readers a glimpse into how their minds think when they are working. I am pleased to be part of the blog tour for The Golden Key. Marion has put together a great playlist that she was using while she was writing it.


The Golden Key – From The Golden Key Playlist

by Marian Womack

I write to music. I find it easier to concentrate and get into my own head. Music helps me evoke the right mood, find the right words. The Golden Key is a dark, uncanny novel. This means that the list below – and my usual preferences for music as well – is dark and slightly weird. I favour female singers, and I like to write to the sound of song; I do not mind hearing words as I write. As English is not my first language, I found the words more comforting than distracting, solitary beacons that throw messages at me in my chosen language. But I also like writing to classical music, to Celtic music, to a few operas that I love. In a way, it is strange to share the music I like writing to. It feels more intimate than speaking about my favourite books or poems; almost as if I were opening a window into the inner workings of my brain.

(1) Isobel, Bjork (Post, 1995): Brought to you by the original, one and only queen of weird music, Isobel by Bjork is the ultimate dark fairy-tale. The rhythms are hypnotic, the lyrics tell a story of female self-sufficiency, of a fearless girl, surviving the many things that lurk behind the trees. You can almost hear the rustling of the wind, the creatures advancing towards your refuge, and also the hope, in that tune in crescendo.

(2) Yes, Anastasia, Tori Amos (Under the Pink, 1994)Under the Pink was the first Tori Amos album I heard. The encounter was providential, at a time when I was struggling to find my own voice as a writer. It is difficult for me to choose a track, the album is utter perfection, and it meant so much for me. I have written often to the final one, Yes, Anastasia, a marvel of a 10 minutes song, or rather experience, the feels timeless, and goes from delicacy to intensity in a heartbeat, like an ocean throwing wave after wave. Some of Amos’s songs are like short stories, so filled are they with meaning. Her piano, her vocals, the orchestra that appears out of nowhere, all contribute to the storytelling, and make this a memorable track, difficult to get out of your head.

 (3) Black Dove, Tori Amos (From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1998): Another Tori Amos favourite to get into the right writing mood. In the same dark-fairy tale vein as IsobelBlack Dove is also a telling, perhaps retelling, of a familiar story, of a tale that we have heard sitting around the fire. Another highly hypnotic track, in great measure thanks to Amos’ vocals, to that way she has of pacing slowly across a song, making sure all the meanings are spoken, and creating a new space of possibility, where the unexpected is allowed to enter the room. 

(4) The Dark Night of the Soul, Loreena McKennitt (The Mask and the Mirror, 1994): I am very fond of this album by Loreena McKennitt. She has stated that her inspiration for it was the mixture of cultures that lived together in fifteenth century Spain, and that it was inspired by a journey that took her through Andalusia, Morocco, and beyond. Still, there is space for the Celtic Irish tunes that mirror the melodies from the North of Spain, and for Prospero’s speech, speaking not so much of the universality of Shakespeare, as to the fact that we are all overcome by the same emotions. This particular love song is a translation by a mystic Spanish poet, San Juan de la Cruz, and depicts his love for God. But its lyrics are intriguing, and its place in the middle of the album allows it to be read as a love song for a lost moment in time when the coexistence of different cultures was not impossible. 

(5) Go Long, Joanna Newsom (Have One on Me, 2010): Joanna Newsom is my favourite performer. I have seen her play in several countries, and she is the one musician I have followed obsessively since her first EP. Go Long is a track from her triptych album Have One On Me, a musical feast which has space for this retelling of Bluebeard, one of the fairy stories I am most obsessed with. The verse ‘what a woman does is open doors / it is not a question of locking or unlocking’ is a haunting reminder of the curiouser and curiouser theme running through my work.

(6) Autumn, Joanna Newsom (Have One on Me, 2010): Another one by Newsom. The death of Summer, the advent of Autumn, the year quickening to an end. There is something magical about Autumn, my favourite season of the year; and this quiet tale, where “even the ghosts / huddled up for warmth”, is the perfect reckoning 

(7) Rubycon, Part 1 and 2, Tangerine Dream (Rubycon, 1975): A track as old as I am! I find it very easy to get lost in this dual track, and seek it out deliberately when I am looking to write a weird or uncanny piece. The ending is suitably unnerving, the piece in its entirety like an episode of Sapphire and Steel on steroids. Unmissable weird music.

(8) Nu Solen Gar Ned (The Sun is Setting), Trio Mediaeval (Folk Songs, 2007): Trio Mediaeval is another of my writing staples; any album, and track. Overwhelmingly immersive, truly inspiring stuff. 

(9 y 10) Piano Concert Number 20 in D Minor, Mozart; & Bluebeard’s Castle, Bartók: When I don’t want lyrics, I look for something equally inspiring and gloomy. These two fit the bill perfectly! 


Keep reading if you want to know more about The Golden Key.

Synopsis: London, 1901. After the death of Queen Victoria the city heaves with the uncanny and the eerie. Séances are held and the dead are called upon from darker realms.

Samuel Moncrieff, recovering from a recent tragedy of his own, meets Helena Walton-Cisneros, one of London’s most reputed mediums. But Helena is not what she seems and she’s enlisted by the elusive Lady Matthews to solve a twenty-year-old mystery: the disappearance of her three stepdaughters who vanished without a trace on the Norfolk Fens.

But the Fens are a liminal land, where folk tales and dark magic still linger. With locals that speak of devilmen and catatonic children found on the Broads, Helena finds the answer to the mystery leads back to where it started: Samuel Moncrieff. 

There is one more stop on the blog tour is Looking Glass Reads!!

Blog Tour: Wonderland

Every time I go to the bookstore I always look at the copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I want to buy it for a child and watch them read it. Watch their eyes light up as they read about the March Hare or the Cook that had a pig for a baby. Which, incidentally was the part that scared me the most. I really couldn’t tell you why either. The jabberwolky never scared me…..just the cook and the pig baby. I digress though. I love retellings of many different stories, so when Titan Books asked me if I wanted to participate in the blog tour for Wonderland I jumped at the chance.

Synopsis: Within these pages you’ll find myriad approaches to Alice, from horror to historical, taking us from the nightmarish reaches of the imagination to tales the will shock, surprise and tug on the heart strings.

So, it’s time now to go down the rabbit hole, or through the looking glass or….But no, wait. By picking up this book and starting to read it you’re already there, can’t you see?

Contributing Authors: Jane Yolen, M.R. Carey, Cat Rambo, Angela Slatter, Laura Mauro….and many many others.

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts: Many of the stories worked really well in the wonderland type back drop. There were a couple that didn’t really work for me. But that didn’t mean that the story was great it just didn’t fit with the others. Saying that all the stories were so well written. The poems by Jane Yolen which opened and closed the anthology were so beautiful. Each story was very different then the other.

If you have an itch to return to Wonderland in a more adult manner then please check out Wonderland it does not disappoint at all. There is something there for each genre.

Make sure you go to the next stop on the blog tour!!

Big Thanks to Titan Books as always for including me in an amazing blog tour.

Blog Tour: The Arrival of Missives By Aliya Whiteley

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Synopsis

The Arrival of Missives is a genre-defying story of fate, free-will and the choices we make in life. In the aftermath of the Great War, Shirley Fearn dreams of challenging the conventions of rural England, where life is as predictable as the changing of the seasons.

The scarred veteran Mr. Tiller, left disfigured by an impossible accident on the battlefields of France, brings with him a message: part prophecy, part warning. Will it prevent her mastering her own destiny?

As the village prepares for the annual May Day celebrations, where a new queen will be crowned and the future will be reborn again, Shirley must choose: change or renewal?

How to Enjoy Writing Historical Fiction

By Aliya Whiteley

I always start writing in the same way. I take up a pen and a sheet of paper, and write until a voice emerges. Then I place that voice in a setting, and start finding out what that new character cares about.

When I found out that the main voice in my novella The Arrival of Missives belonged to a teenage girl who wanted to change the world for the better I liked her straight away, but I was also terrified of the challenge she represented. I usually write contemporary fiction, and she definitely came from a different time. She belonged to a small village in the UK countryside in 1920. It was a time I knew very little about.

Historical fiction can be scary to write. There’s the need to represent the past accurately, in a way that feels truthful and also reflective upon the way we live now. That need to be accurate began to affect my enjoyment in writing the story, until I worked out a few techniques to help me concentrate on the voice and not the setting:

  • Use research to work out what your character knows

There’s no way of getting around research; it has to be done to bring the period you’re writing about to life. But find your character first (this applies particularly to writing in the first person) and then concentrate on how they’ll view the time they live in rather than in trying to formulate every aspect of life back then. People often live in small bubbles of experience; trying to place you reader within that bubble is more rewarding.

  • Don’t stop every time you come across something you don’t know

At first I’d put down the pen and turn to the laptop to search for answers every time I came across a detail that I didn’t know. I’d look for how long sheep slept for, or what version of the Bible would be in the village church. Then I realised that I really didn’t have to know straight away. I started to put a row of crosses whenever I came across a small issue, and that meant the flow of words was no longer broken. At the end of writing my first draft, the crosses were easy to pick out, and it was fun to go back through finding my answers without feeling pulled out of the story.

  • Don’t feel constrained by what others have done

When I decided to write about life in a rural setting in 1920s Britain, I wanted to see how other modern authors had tackled the period. The more I read, the more disheartened I became. How could I ever hope to capture the time in the same way? Then I realised my task wasn’t to capture it in the same way. I needed to portray it in my own way, using my own skills as a writer. Remember your own strengths, and create the setting using those rather than attempting to follow somebody else’s strategy.

There is never only one way to write about the past. It’s filled with so many different voices. I only had to remember what I love about writing to drown out the fears I felt. When I’m caught up in the moment, writing fast to get all my thoughts down, swept up in my character’s voice, I really enjoy my job as a novelist, and through this experience I discovered that there’s no reason why historical fiction can’t be just as exhilarating to write as those stories set in the here and now.

Author Biography

What can I tell you?

WhiteleyI write about all sorts of things but it would be fair to say I’m drawn to the darker side of life.

My favourite writers are a diverse bunch. Graham Greene and Iris Murdoch and George Eliot. Rupert Thomson and Christopher Priest. Octavia Butler, John Wyndham, Ursula Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Dylan Thomas, TS Eliot. My favourite Shakespeare play is King Lear. No, Much Ado About Nothing. It depends if it’s a tragic or a comic day.

I like those moments in stories where you have no idea what’s going to happen next. The moments when genre can’t save you.

 

Next Stop on The Arrival of Missives Blog Tour

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