I am thrilled to announce that after far too many months of refining and editing, my new novel is ready for publication. Preludes: A Modern Persuasion Improvisation will be released into the world on Thursday, September 29, 2022. Why that date? Because it’s my daughter’s birthday, and it seemed a perfect day to me. In celebration of the release and her birthday, I’m giving away two copies! Read on for more.
First of all, this is my cover! Isn’t it fabulous? I’m so thrilled with the design my cover artist made for me.
In some ways, Preludes is a departure for me. It is my first contemporary published novel, and it is also my most personal work so far. Preludes is based not on Pride and Prejudice, but on Jane Austen’s last completed novel, Persuasion. And I have to admit, Persuasion is my favourite of her novels. I love the slightly older characters who have been there and done that, whose outlook in life is tempered by the vagaries of experience. I love the rich cast of characters, all with their own stories and motives. And I love the second-chance romance, the meeting of minds and hearts that a forced separation and eight years of regret and bitterness could not destroy.
Preludes is also personal in that it takes place not in the early 19th century in England, but in the present, and in the city where I live, Toronto, Canada. While the city isn’t central to the narrative, it plays itself, rather than being a generic large centre. People who know the city will recognise buildings and parts of town, as well as the vibrant arts scene and multicultural tapestry that makes up this place I now call home.
Like Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion translates beautifully into other times and places. The essential truths of Austen’s novel and her multi-layered characters are not dependent upon a specific time period, but are universal. The details might need some adjusting, but there are always external forced pulling lovers apart, and there are always connections drawing them back together.
And music! My novel is all about music. Anne and Fred are both classical musicians who met at music school several years ago. Anne is a composer who has achieved world-wide recognition, and Fred is a conductor, returning home after eight years in Europe where he, too, has risen to international fame. We spend some time in Anne’s head as the world around her becomes the sounds and melodies that she puts onto paper, as well as in the orchestra, where those dots and lines become the sounds that transport audiences.
I wish I could put some of Anne’s thoughts into actual music, but alas, that is not my skill. I can write a little tune, but not the grand movie scores or symphonies that she creates. But I can put some of my own orchestral experience onto the page. I dreamed about somehow including a soundtrack for the book, to find a way for the music the characters are discussing or hearing to somehow filter off the page and into the ear.
Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, Beethoven’s fabulous Fifth Symphony (IMHO, the best piece ever written), Holsts’ The Planets—these and more make cameo appearances. Some of these pieces I’ve played, others I just love to listen to. At the moment of writing this, my orchestra is preparing Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, the “Pathétique,” for performance, and had I known I might have included it in my fictional orchestra’s repertoire, but I wrote this long before our concert season was announced. Perhaps for the sequel!
I have made a few changes, of course, to reflect the modern world. Anne is not sitting at home waiting for life to happen, but is, instead, a successful artist despite her broken heart. My Fred is not an English naval officer, but a Canadian-born musician of Italian heritage, and so I’ve changed his name to Frederico Valore. Toronto has a huge Italian population, many of whom speak Italian at home with their families, and this is Fred’s background. “Valore” was the closest Italian equivalent I could find to Wentworth, going by translation rather than sound.
Cousin William Elliot also had to change, since the societal structure of inherited ranks and close familial marriages just isn’t a thing here. I renamed him William Barnett, in reference to the man who wants to be a baronet, and he is a new member of the orchestra’s board of directors. And the Crofts are Anne’s good friends from a while back, rather than Fred’s close relations. But you shouldn’t need a program to tell the players.
My early readers have gushed about this novel, and I hope you will enjoy it as well.
Preludes is available for purchase or, for a limited time, to read on Kindle Unlimited. A paperback is in the works and will be available very soon.
Here’s the blurb:
A heartfelt and absorbing modern interpretation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
Eight years of heartache…
Anne Elliot is a successful composer, a shining light in the world of music. But her heart still aches for the man who left her eight years ago when she was persuaded to put her career above her heart.
Eight years of anger…
Fred Valore has found fame and glory as a brilliant orchestra conductor. He has studied in Europe, travelled the world, but cannot forget how Anne rejected him eight years ago. And now he’s coming home.
Suddenly, Fred and Anne are living in the same city again, and forced to work with each other. Old feelings are hard to ignore, but now Fred is waltzing about town with an attractive musician, and Anne has caught the eye of a handsome businessman.
When a whirlwind of misunderstandings gets in the way of a tentative reconnection, is their long-lost love doomed to remain a thing of the past? Or can they somehow find a path back to each other to make beautiful music once again?
~ ~ ~
But wait! There’s more!
Did I say something about a give-away? Yes, I did. I’m delighted to offer two copies of the eBook to two readers who comment on this post. We will take entries between today (Sept 23) and Wednesday, September 28, 2022. Winners will be announced the following Sunday, October 2. Make sure you check that post so you can claim your prize.
And now, without further ago, here is an excerpt from Preludes: A Modern Persuasion Improvisation
Over the next few weeks, the schedule for the orchestra’s coming season settled into some sort of shape. Frederico mainly dealt with the orchestra’s board of directors, but since he would, by the nature of their respective positions, work closely with Anne, she was often drawn into the meetings. Jeremy Croft, it transpired, knew Frederico well from his first years in Europe when Jeremy had been working with one of the German orchestras for a season, and the two were often found chatting on some video conferencing platform when Anne arrived. Sophia tended to stay out of orchestral management affairs, preferring the music to the politics, but announced over coffee one afternoon that she had joined in some of her husband’s chats with the new conductor and found him more charming than when she last had spoken to him. She referred to him often, Fred this and Fred that. “I knew him just a bit before he left,” she explained, “not so very well, but enough to chat at functions. He was so young then, but he’s really grown into himself.
“You knew him too, of course,” she smiled behind her latte. “I think I remember you two talking at a few events. Did you work much together? This was back when we had just met, you and I. I know you were in different fields, but the doctoral music program must be pretty small, right?”
So she didn’t know. This was a relief.
“Yeah, we knew each other.”
“Were you close?”
How to answer this? Anne took a deep drink of her tea while she scrambled for an answer.
“We all were, in different ways.”
“It must be so exciting to have him back. I wonder if he’s changed much in person. He’s a rather handsome man.”
Handsome was not the beginning of it. From that day of the press conference, when she had seen him for the first time in nearly a decade, his face was all that she saw when she closed her eyes. The years had taken some of the boyishness and left strong masculine lines in their place. But his dark eyes had lost none of their depth and sparkle, and his curly hair looked as thick and black as ever. Would it feel the same now as it did then? Would her fingers remember the spring of his curls as she touched them? Or had the passing of years taken those tactile memories from her, just as they had taken the light from her own eyes?
Sophia was staring at her. Right. It was her turn to speak.
“Yes, he is handsome. He always has been. He is not so different. I would have known him anywhere.” An ache began to grow in her heart. What had she lost?
She took another drink of her tea to disguise her distress. So many memories were lying buried, barricaded behind a wall she had constructed to keep them hidden and away. She could not weaken now. Like a dam holding back a mighty river, the slightest crack—the first recollection—would shatter the entire barricade and she would drown in the deluge.
“Anne?” Oh. Sophia was still speaking.
“Sorry. Daydreaming. I’ve been up late working on the last movement. It was so informative hearing the orchestra play through the first two movements last November; I’ve been reworking some of my ideas to take advantage of some particular strengths. The oboist is absolutely amazing…”
“You can tell me tomorrow night. Jeremy will want to hear it, too. This is what I was saying while you were in La-la-land a moment ago. Come for dinner tomorrow. It’s too long since you’ve been over and Jeremy was saying he hardly sees you outside of board meetings. Seven o’clock?”
“OK. Thanks. That will be nice.”
“And dress up a bit. We have a treat. Guess who else is coming. Frederico! Weren’t we both surprised when he called yesterday to let us know he was on his way. He flew in from Rome only this morning, and Jeremy is running around with him looking at apartments. Isn’t that wonderful?”
The teacup shook in Anne’s hand and the table swam out of focus. Was she about to faint?