August Bank Holiday, and Mozart Sonata in C, K545

That time of year again. Summer is drawing to an end and dusk falls earlier each evening. Another year has passed, uncertainty persists.

Today, I made a piano recording of the Mozart Sonata in C, K545, sometimes dubbed “Beginner” – an odd description, given the technical demands throughout. This delightful work contains two movements reminiscent of a piano concerto ( hence, my questioning of the description “Beginner”), followed by a playful, though difficult, short final movement.

I really like this Sonata, and include the link to my recording here:

I think the main reason I chose to do the recording today rests with a novel I worked on regarding an August Bank Holiday back story. Ten years ago, I published my first novel, Secrets by Lawrence Estrey. The results were mixed, with a leading London Literary Agent describing the first 33,000 words as a page turner but later choosing not to represent me.

The story, a psychological thriller, starts with disjointed scenes that took place on a August Bank Holiday, which sees the protagonist as a boy of ten running from danger.

I’m not sure what to do with the novel after a decade, but still feel attached to the characters and Lancashire landscape in the North West of England. So I thought I’d share the opening of the novel. Happy reading and listening!

They say a group of teenagers saw me on the field that August Bank Holiday Monday. One called over, asked if I was all right. I didn’t answer, apparently. Just continued stumbling in the direction of home, sweat dripping from my face. The teenagers didn’t hang around. They assumed I had sunstroke. If I had seen myself, I would have probably thought the same.
Others noticed me wandering along the main road towards the estate where we lived. Drinkers in the pub watched me stagger like a drunk. I continued walking. Up the hill, through a ginnel, past the church. Down the hill, along alleyways of back-to-front houses, to the car park at the bottom of the estate.
Dad was out with your dad that afternoon. They say your mother saw me and came out. ‘Where’s Craig?’ she said. ‘What happened, Alan?’
They say I muttered two words.
A name.

Autumn Recollections

Summer has ended. Autumn has come.

The weather has changed. I don’t like the rain or grey skies. I’d prefer the heatwave of summer

Below I enclose a section from my debut novel – Secrets by Lawrence Estrey – in which the protagonist makes a journey back to his hometown at the start of autumn, his favourite season until an event in his childhood tore the close knit Northern community apart. Not surprisingly, he finds some of the journey overwhelming.

(Genre: psychological thriller; location: Lancashire: UK, published 2011)


I set off across the moors for the journey to my hometown.

Fifty minutes later, the familiar sights greet me like an old loyal friend. The airfield several miles from the estate. Stately Holbron Hall in the distance, standing on a hill. Narrow main roads with damp looking brown terraced houses. The amateur football club with the floodlights. Disused mills, factories. The cemetery behind a pair of gates. I hurry past.

Home, although I don’t recognise all the landmarks or the streets. Some are new, others I must have forgotten about. I can almost feel the reassuring touch of the wind on my face, the autumn glow in the air, the innocence and excitement of childhood.

A Video Interview From 2011

My good friend Andy Mackay, an award winning photographer from North London, made this short video of me in 2011.

The video opens on the subject of self-defence, presumably because I’d just written my first crime novel – Secrets by Lawrence Estrey – and needed to have an understanding of how a bloke would react if confronted by one or more other blokes.

The content then switches to me playing the piano: 10th Nocturne by Chopin, the posthumous Nocturne in C-sharp minor, and Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin.

In between piano pieces, I share my thoughts on the Mind-Body Problem and talk about a bus journey I made through North London.

Most of the interview takes place at St James Church in Muswell Hill.

Many thanks to Andy for his excellent video skills, and to St James for providing the piano.

Losing Work – Every Writer’s Nightmare

I’ve returned to the polishing stage of an edit of a novel – in this case, upping the pace in the middle of the story and bringing out more of the characterisation and scenery.  The writing process always raises the issue of keeping the work secure, as some years ago I spent ages trying to find a piece of writing that had got lost in cyberspace.  I never found it, but I sometimes wonder what I would have thought of the piece in question.  A case of one learns through making mistakes.

The key to back up, I think, lies in folders and creating as many as possible, a folder a day in necessary.  Instead of having a date in the folder name, consider using a relevent word from the story.  For instance, title of novel, “bar scene”. Text files don’t amount to much in terms of storage (unlike images and audios), so one a day does seem a good idea.

The next stage involves the backing up.  I like to save the file in as many formats as possible.  Word Doc.  Web Page, Filtered.  PDF, although this last one doesn’t always work.  I send the various files to three or more email accounts and also back it up on several USB sticks. The process can be tedious, especially when I’m in a hurry, but I think it’s better to take the time to make the work secure than to spend huge amounts of time later on trying to recover a document that has probably gone for ever.

Just a few of my thoughts.

________________________________

Meanwhile, my two novels are available from Amazon in paperback and e-book.

Check out the reviews for Secrets by Lawrence Estrey.

Newspaper article on author.

EggHead by Lawrence Estrey: Questions And Answers

EggHead reviews

Another Week In the Life Of A Writer

Another week has gone by, and mild rain has come, casting more grey across the north London suburb where I live. I haven’t done any more work on my current novel, just waited to hear back from an agent.

However, during the week, I read a first-rate psychological thriller. In the story, a man flees London. The narrator doesn’t state why. Instead, the back story comes in short sections throughout the novel. The present setting – a remote farm in rural France – works well with a sense of rising menace, especially as the two-time frames collide.  The writer has a sensitive style with insight, a refreshing change from other crime novels I’ve read. I don’t want to give away any more.   The book?  Stone Bruises by Simon Beckett.   Read it!

Meanwhile, my debut novel Secrets by Lawrence Estrey is available from Amazon in paperback and e-book.

Check out the reviews for Secrets.

Newspaper article on author.

EggHead by Lawrence Estrey: Questions And Answers

EggHead reviews

 

Back At Work Tomorrow – Relief!

I finally go back tomorrow afternoon and can’t wait.   A busy week lies ahead.  As well as working, I will continue my piano practice (Liszt, Beethoven, Debussy) and language studies. I’m also booked in to provide live piano music at my local library on Saturday afternoon.

I haven’t done any creative writing this summer, other than a brief edit of my current novel.  I hope to get back to that soon.  At the moment, I don’t have any concrete plans for a fourth novel, although I’ve toyed with a few ideas.

Meanwhile, my debut novel Secrets by Lawrence Estrey is available from Amazon in paperback and e-book.

Check out the reviews for Secrets.

Newspaper article on author.

EggHead by Lawrence Estrey: Questions And Answers

EggHead reviews

At That Stage Again – Submitting My Latest Novel

After all the hard work, I’ve reached the final stages of my third novel, a psychological thriller aimed at teenagers and Young Adults.  I’m trying to get together a decent synopsis – i.e. full coverage of the plot in three simple paragraphs.

Following an incident with the police in London, teen concert pianist Gavin (17) travels up to Lancashire to take part in a series of master classes for gifted musicians.  But from the start, he encounters a hostile atmosphere, along with a mysterious girl (LUCY) who seems to know his deepest secrets. 

On his first day on the course, he meets Philippa (17, one of the other musicians, and falls for her, quickly becoming obsessed.  Philippa enjoys stringing Gavin along and springing surprises on him. 

Story Plot Spoiler follows as a result of previous para.

Meanwhile, Gavin witnesses an altercation between the mysterious girl (Lucy) and a powerful businessman from the region.  Aware that he has seen something, Lucy approaches Gavin and makes a number of startling claims, drawing Gavin into danger and confusion…

Clearly is more than three paragraphs. I will need to round this off somehow, but hope the blurb-style synopsis gives enough of the story in a logical manner.

Meanwhile, my debut novel Secrets by Lawrence Estrey is available from Amazon in paperback and e-book. 

Check out the reviews for  Secrets.

Newspaper article on author.

Local musician publishes crime thriller

EggHead by Lawrence Estrey: Questions And Answers

 

Conflict In Fiction: Dialogue

I’m about two-thirds of the way through my latest novel, a psychological thriller aimed at teenager and young adults. 

Following an incident with the police in London, central character Gavin (17) goes to stay in a remote coastal town in Lancashire where he continues his studies.  Early on, he falls for a girl on the course and drifts into trouble with the local kids.  In this section of the novel, Gavin finds it increasingly difficult to cope:

‘Gross,’ Steve called over to him. ‘You’d better clear that up, mate, or I’ll smash your face in.’

‘Leave him alone,’ Philippa called back. ‘He’s ill, can’t you see?’

‘You can shut up too,’ he said to Philippa. 

‘And you,’ he added to me.

The rap stopped.  A tense silence fell.

The hoodie girl glared at me. ‘Hey,’ she yelled. ‘What’re you staring at?’ 

 

Meanwhile, my debut novel Secrets by Lawrence Estrey is available from Amazon in paperback and e-book. 

Check out the reviews for  Secrets.

Newspaper article on author.

Local musician publishes crime thriller

EggHead by Lawrence Estrey: Questions And Answers

Teen Fiction (YA) – A Sample

I’m about halfway through a new novel aimed at teenagers and Young Adults. 

In the story, a group of musicians meet at a Summer School.  The central character (aged 17)  falls for one of the girls on the course (not the one in the writing sample).  Meanwhile, a third girl arrives with a secret regarding a serious crime in her background and her actions during the week of classes bring about danger for all the participants. 

As a trained classical pianist and graduate of Dartington College of Arts, Totnes, Devon, I felt qualified to write the novel.

We reached the car park, paid a quarter of the fair each and got out, walking along the promenade to the Grand Theatre, through the August rain and a hint of mist, the waves crashing in the background, the air tasting of sea salt. The sky looked like a gigantic bruise, all purple, black, yellow and storm like. The wind was bitter, the ground slippery. The pier full of graffiti and rubbish. Small groups of hoodies gathered by the railings with cigarettes and cans of cider, staring when we passed.

‘Freak,’ I heard one of them mutter. 

I must have tensed because I felt Dawn’s hand on my arm. ‘Ignore them,’ she whispered to me.

____________

Genre: Crime, Psychological Thriller

My debut novel Secrets by Lawrence Estrey is available from Amazon in paperback and e-book. 

Check out the reviews for  Secrets.

Newspaper article on author.

Local musician publishes crime thriller

EggHead by Lawrence Estrey: Questions And Answers

Being Followed? Brief Writing Sample

I’m working on a third novel, a psychological thriller aimed at teenagers and Young Adults, and I’m keep to increase the psychological immediacy and chill factor.  The story has two viewpoints – first person narrative told through central character Gavin (17) and third person narrative (Lucy, also 17).  In this point of the novel, Lucy has returned to the place where a fire occurred a decade earlier (an unsolved crime), and she wishes to find the answers but suspects that someone is following her:

She reached the country lane leading back to Lyme House.

Bookstore.  Delicatessen with umbrella-like covering.  The smell of grass and sun. 

Stillness, evoking memories of childhood.  A childhood that had shattered when she moved here.   Recollections of bursting rivers and muddy banks and the smells of pine and bonfires.  Wooded hills.  Wild stretches of heathland. A warm shore.

She stopped suddenly. 

The sense of someone watching again.  Just like yesterday afternoon in the fields.

Village church.   Village green.

Subtle sounds in the lane.

Fifteen minutes to go before she reached the private driveway leading to Lyme House.

She hurried on, glancing over her shoulders each time the sense got stronger.

Silence.

But something still didn’t seem right.

Instinct kicking in. She broke into a sprint.

Danger, danger, danger.

Flames. Smoke. The smoke settling like a fog, pushing its way down her throat and nose, choking her.

Footsteps again. Snapping branches. Like yesterday afternoon.

Movement, obscured by the afternoon sunshine.

A figure standing by a tree, watching her.

The next second, the figure was no longer there and only shafts of sunlight remained, like a silvery mist.

A car appeared then.   

 

Meanwhile, my debut novel Secrets by Lawrence Estrey is available from Amazon in paperback and e-book. 

Check out the reviews for  Secrets.

Newspaper article on author.

Local musician publishes crime thriller

EggHead by Lawrence Estrey: Questions And Answers