Monthly Archives: April 2015

Happy Spring!

Spring is finally here!  The ground is starting to warm up.  The rock faces, who have been sleeping away the winter are awakening. Some seem a little grumpy.

Rock FaceBut most people seem to be enjoying themselves, pouring into the park for various purposes, nearly oblivious to the beauty exploding around them.

English ElmThe dancing ladies who enlivened my trips to the Park during the winter snows have put on their very best finery and are dancing more gracefully than ever.

Dancing treesLike Orpheus, they can make the rocks smile…

Rock face 2And even laugh.

Rock face 3The magnolias and cherry trees compete with each other, it seems, and compete as well with the new buds of other trees, each of which has its own pastel to add.

Three treesWillow treeBow BridgeAltogether a very nice beginning.  Happy Spring!

 

Welcome to Matthew Peters

Today we are very pleased to have author Matthew Peters here for an interview.  We’ve been having a bit of very unsettling weather and there was heavy fog last night so it is something of a miracle that Matt is able to be with us today! 🙂

Matt lives in North Carolina but lived for a time in New York and attended Vassar College which is just up the Hudson River in a place with the wonderful name of Poughkeepsie, which means, I understand, “the reed-covered lodge by the little-water place”.  There was a stream that entered the Hudson here and the Indians used it as a meeting place.

For a change, we would like to start with an excerpt from Matt’s latest novel, The Brothers’ Keepers, which is excellent:

The bus moved up Viadotto and turned right onto Rene. Smells of fried food and burning incense wafted through the open windows of the bus. A left turn brought them to Emilia, past white stone buildings, statues, and street vendors, past the fountains toward the heart of Pisa. The further north they went, the closer they came to the Arno, where a vast migration of darkly-clad figures moved in the opposite direction, southeast toward Rome. It was a black exodus of grief, one of almost unreal proportions; swarms of people with lowered heads and bent postures, heading desperately, slowly, inexorably toward a common ill-fated destination. The dark edges of the black clothes stood out in stark contrast to the gray day that blurred the corners of buildings and churches. Rain fell, blended with human tears, and smudged the scene like a charcoal sketch. Open, dark umbrellas resembled the conical piles of volcanic ash upon which the country was built. On that gray morning Pisa wore a death-mask.

Now, we are ready to begin!

Matt Pic

Please share with us a memory of visiting the library or of reading, preferably as a young child.

I did visit the library when I was a child, but no particular memory stands out. I was the only person in my household who read for pleasure. I do remember escaping into my own world through books and reading in an effort to shut out the chaotic environment surrounding me.

 

Which book have you inherited from the generation above; that is, which book have you read and has stayed with you and made you reread it in whole or in part? What about the book created this attraction?

The book I inherited is not exactly from my generation, but it is from my childhood. That would be LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The attraction to me was the strength of the family depicted in the book. They stuck together through the worst of times and the gravest of challenges. Despite incredible odds, they survived and grew closer in the process. I think I saw in Laura’s family the characteristics I wish I had seen in my own. In addition, the illustrations by Garth Williams are just enchanting.

(Anne and I got to read these books through our children, who loved them as well.)

Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why? (NOT one of the books you’ve written).

The book I would like to leave for future generations is THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV. In this novel, Dostoevsky says so much about life, that he renders superfluous many novels that came after.

Dostoevsky(He is  indeed a tough act to follow.  I think Brothers Karamazov is also many novels in one.)

Take a photograph of one of your bookshelves. If a stranger were to enter your room and see it, what would it tell that person about you?

Book shelf

I think the picture tells the stranger (no pun intended) that I love Camus, and that in addition to novels, I am a huge fan of playwrights, especially Henrik Ibsen. A bookshelf down one would find YA, contemporary romance, and philosophy (mostly Nietzsche), to demonstrate the eclecticism of my reading taste.

Albrt Camus(If you haven’t noticed already, Matt is a deep thinker, and this thought is reflected in his writing.)

 

You have written a thriller, The Brothers’ Keepers, and a mainstream novel, Conversations Among Ruins. Did you prefer writing one or the other? Why?

I liked both of them for very different reasons. THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS allowed me to exercise my love for research, history, and politics.

CONVERSATIONS AMONG RUINS allowed me to use a different set of writing skills, and to fulfill my love for literary fiction. Most importantly, it gave me the chance to explore the issue of dual diagnosis. Daniel Stavros, the protagonist, is dual diagnosed, meaning he has a mood disorder and chemical dependency.

I’d like to continue writing both genre fiction and literary fiction.

(We hope he does write both!)

This is the buy link for THE BROTHERS KEEPERS : http://amzn.to/1BTP8cE

This is the buy link for CONVERSATIONS AMONG RUINS on Amazon, available both in paperback and Kindle: http://amzn.to/1GbhBrX

You can find Matt on social media at these addresses.

Website/Blog: www.matthewpetersbooks.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MatthewPeters65

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Matthew-Peters-Author/1434941676798108

 

And as an added treat, this is an excerpt from CONVERSATIONS AMONG RUINS:

She continues to sing and it’s all so surreal—the Christmas song in June, love-making’s passion followed by sudden coldness, the undulating movement of hips and breasts as this mercurial woman dances in the warm summer night. The balcony doors are still open and she has her back to the water. At the end of the song she stretches out her arms and tilts her head to the side. In that moment, silhouetted against the dark night, she looks crucified. Humming softly now, she dances barefoot toward the balcony. She glides past the table, picks up the open bottle, beckons with a crooked finger. Through the open doors he watches her pour ruby liquid into glasses.
He goes out and stands beside her. When she leans over the railing, he reverently places his hand on her tattoo—almost an exact replica of the pendant his mother gave him right before she died. 
“Still want to go?” he asks.
She reaches behind her and rests her hand on the back of his neck. “Yeah, but not from here. Not yet anyway.”
He turns her around and dances her slowly back to bed.

(Beautiful!)

Thanks for being her, Matt!

New York Skyline

When we visit Cape Cod, we are able to see the sky almost entirely unobstructed by buildings and trees and I try to take pictures that convey the feeling of standing in the presence of such enormity. (Click on any picture to increase the size).

Sunset Sometimes I get lucky and a shape appears that suggests a story or simply seems a sign to those who care to look.

Thor HammersSometimes, we find an enormous picture inside a small stone.

30 Peaceful SunsetNew York City gives us a different perspective, since we always have the sky but the presence of buildings is inescapable.  But that is not always a bad thing.

west 1Sometimes they seem to be made for each other.

Northeast ContrastsAnd at other times, no matter how big the building and its intrusion, the sky wins, overwhelming the scene and reminding us  how very little we are.

Sunrise 12 27 14Touche sky, nature, God…

Helena Fairfax Visits from Yorkshire, England

Today we are welcoming the English Romance Novelist Helena Fairfax to our blog.  She has a web site and blog where she posts consistently wonderful items about her life, her writing and her fellow authors. http://helenafairfax.com/

Helena is visiting from a town called Saltaire in Yorkshire, which is a UNESCO preserved mill town just steps away from the moors.  And if the word ‘moors’ does not evoke enough mystery and wonder for you, here is a picture from Helena’s website that will make you want to pull on the hiking shoes and get out there.the-moors-004Yorkshire is a place that I have long wanted to visit and explore.  One of my ancestors — Thomas Tindal — came from Yorkshire with his young family at the end of the 17th Century.  That is one reason Anne and I used that last name for our protagonists, Jenny and James, in our ‘tween novel, Things Are Not What They Seem.

But enough shameless self-promotion…

We now welcome Helena, and ask her to take a seat in our living room since it is still a bit too cold in New York City to sit on our terrace.  We have macaroons today because we are in the middle of Passover, and they are especially good this year  And Anne has a selection of teas for Helena to choose from!

  1. Please share with us a memory of visiting the library or of reading, preferably as a young child.

Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, by Rumer Godden, is the first book I ever read that really gave me a sense of what the best books are all about – a mirror of our own lives and experiences, and also a way to see the world with fresh eyes.

To put you in the picture: I was born in Uganda, and didn’t arrive to live in England until I was six. Until then I’d never been to school. When I got here, I hated it. I couldn’t understand what the other children were saying to me with their accents; the skies were grey; I was cold, miserable and homesick.

Then I read Rumer Godden’s story and – amazing! Here was a little girl, just arrived in England from India, who felt exactly as I did. I was bowled over by it. After that, I was hooked on reading. (And I still have my battered copy!)

Miss+Happiness+and+Miss+Flower

 (What a nice story within a story!  And such an inviting cover.)

  1. Which book have you inherited from the generation above; that is, which book have you read and has stayed with you and made you reread it in whole or in part? What about the book created this attraction?

One of the best presents I ever received was a complete set of Jane Austen, given to me by my mum on my fifteenth birthday. I’ve read and re-read these novels, and never get tired of them. I love Austen’s piercing insight into what makes people tick, her dialogue is witty, and what she has to say about how people interact is as relevant today as it was all those years ago.

  1. Which book written in your lifetime would you like to leave to future generations? Why? (NOT one of the books you’ve written).

A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth. This is a really long book – I think one of the longest ever published in one volume – but if you haven’t read it, don’t let that put you off. I love it because, like Jane Austen, it’s a book about people. I love the style of writing, which is deceptively plain and easy to read, and I love the fact that basically it’s a beautiful, heart-warming book.

(Another book for our TBR pile.  Thanks!)

  1. Take a photograph of one of your bookshelves. If a stranger were to enter your room and see it, what would it tell that person about you.

I don’t think it would give them much insight, apart from to tell them I love books! I have hundreds on my shelves, I like to keep them in alphabetical order, and my books on writing would give them a clue that I’m a writer 🙂

(Funny that you have given us a clear image through words when we asked for a photograph.  Who needs pictures when we have words!)

  1. You have written three contemporary romances so far. Do you think you will ever try out a different genre? If so which one and please explain why. If not, also please explain why.

I’ve just finished writing my fourth contemporary romance. I love this genre, probably for the same reasons I love the novels of Jane Austen and Vikram Seth. Romances are novels about people, about how we as humans relate to one another, and they are novels that take an optimistic view of mankind.

I’m also in the middle of writing a YA “time slip” novel which features a fifteen-year-old present-day heroine and a young Roman soldier. I like the possibilities the time travel element opens up. I’m also interested in exploring what it is to be a teenager, and how teenagers view themselves and the world around them.

  1. If you could make a wish and be magically transported to anywhere in the world tomorrow i.e., cost and comfort is not an issue (and assuming the magic would keep you safe in this place), where would you go and why?

I’d go to New Zealand. First of all, my daughter lives there, and I’d love to see her! Secondly, the landscape and the wildlife are wonderful. I’d love to experience being at the bottom of the southern hemisphere, and if I could also take in a trip whale-watching in Antarctica that would be superb!

(Great trip!  But this is why we built “magically transported” into the question.  The thought of a plane ride there is daunting.)

  1. Attach a photo  (preferably one that we have not seen before!)

helena+fairfax

A Way from Heart to Heart is available in print and e-format

A+Way+from+Heart+to+Heart-1

Amazon: http://authl.it/B00PQRJ0WQ

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-way-from-heart-to-heart-helena-fairfax/1121193110

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-way-from-heart-to-heart/id965774616

and from other online retailers.

You can find out more about Helena’s books on her website www.helenafairfax.com, on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HelenaFairfax , Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7082986.Helena_Fairfax and on Twitter https://twitter.com/HelenaFairfax

 Blurb from your latest book (or another if you prefer).

My latest release,  A Way from Heart to Heart, is published by Accent Press, and is set in London and on the Yorkshire moors near where I live.

Here is the blurb:

A novel about friendship, loss, and the human heart’s enduring capacity for love…

After the death of her husband in Afghanistan, Kate Hemingway’s world collapses around her. Her free time is spent with a charity for teenage girls, helping them mend their broken lives – which is ironic, since her own life is fractured beyond repair.

Reserved, upper-class journalist Paul Farrell is everything Kate and her teenage charges aren’t. But when Paul agrees to help Kate with her charity, he makes a stunning revelation that changes everything, and leaves Kate torn.

Can she risk her son’s happiness as well as her own?

 Thanks for visiting, Helena!  And if anyone would like to see our Five Star Review of A Way From Heart to Heart, you can find it on our website reviews page, on Amazon and on Goodreads.

 

 

Central Park in an Early Spring Rain

After a very cold winter, it was suddenly warm yesterday, and so I walked over to Central Park to see what signs there might be that Spring had actually arrived.

Sour treeEveryone was not happy to see me and others trooping around.  The trees enjoy their solitude in the winter when so few people are walking the paths.  Spring to them just means children yanking their leaves and climbing.

Sour tree 2But really, do you have to be quite so sour?

Smiling TreeOf course, most of the trees are very tolerant of we trespassers on their territory.  They find humor in anyone’s attempt to halt the approach of new seasons.  You can see that in this fellows knowing gentle smile.

Stone faceThe rocks have been around far longer than any of the individual trees.  They have seen the area we call Central Park since the days when glaciers covered Manhattan Isle.  This individual has managed to keep his sense of humor over the eons.  He just watches everything and smiles.

Anyway, I started at the reservoir and saw the very first proof of the season — a Common Loon in breeding plumage, something that is an annual spring occurrence as they return to their breeding grounds in the North.  It was too far away for my camera, but this picture I found on the internet should give you an idea.  A beautiful bird!

Loon

But if you were looking for leaves on the trees you would have been disappointed.  Still, I enjoy looking at the winter trees — including this lithe dancer.

DancerWorking my way south, flowers started appearing around the Delacorte Theater and the Shakespeare Garden.  Snowdrops…

snowdropsCrocuses …

crocusesA white flower whose name I do not know (sadly).

White flowersAnd more crocuses…

crocuses 2The daffodils will be coming soon.

Daffodils soonThere was a little bit of rain from time to time but no one seemed anxious to leave.

UmbrellasThe paths still were enticing.

Beguiling pathAnd Belvedere Castle was a favorite hangout even under very gray skies.

Belvedere CastleSo take a walk and check out the flowers and the trees and the rocks and the birds.  They will be very glad to see you.

CamelReally!