1. What can you tell our readers about your new book Prelude and Fugue?
Prelude and Fugue is about a middle-aged woman, Olivia St. Claire, with broken dreams of once becoming a pianist. Tired of lamenting about what might have been, she takes action and starts studying piano again. Even if she started too late, she has to know she tried. What she doesn’t bargain for is falling love with her married piano teacher, Liam Wallace, a pianist whose career is waning. Olivia tries to cover her feelings for Liam by dating other men with disastrous results, while struggling with a job she loathes and the escapades of a dysfunctional family.
2. Where did the inspiration come from for this book?
When we’re young, everything seems possible. What we don’t expect are the complications of life. Sometimes we make decisions, which seem to put an end to our dreams. Sometimes we let others steal our dreams. My thoughts were “what if?” What if a woman couldn’t abandon her dreams? What if everyone thought she was crazy but she didn’t listen to them? What if she forged ahead and actually accomplished something? What if in her heart she thought she would fail, but tried anyway? My hope is that as people read Prelude and Fugue they will look within themselves and actually believe that they can pursue their dreams.
On a personal note, many years ago, I started to study piano after having abandoned it. I called many teachers, but no one could teach someone at my level and teach in the evening. I had to take evening lessons because I worked during the day. I was nearly at the end of the alphabet of the list of teachers I was calling, when I found a teacher, a man, a retired professor and performer, who was willing to teach me. The relationship between teacher and student can be very close, and I fell in love with my teacher.
3. The main protagonist is a piano player, so is this something that is important to you?
Music is very important to me. Although I have little time to play anymore, I listen to everything I can. Music is emotional and stirring. It can tell a story. Each musician is different and approaches music in special and unique ways. For example, Robert Schumann wrote little notes in the score that only the performer sees. Pianist Adolph Henselt was so shy that between performance pieces he wrapped himself in the stage curtain. Johannes Brahms was once declared the next Beethoven, which may have shattered his self-confidence and caused the delay in his production of the First Symphony. The stories are endless.
4. This is your first book, so what plans do you have for another?
My next book, Rhapsody in Blood, is also about a pianist. Vanessa Sterling is an accomplished performer married to a composer. Her career threatens to destroy her marriage while she struggles to hide the terrible secret that killed her college roommate. After a performance, she’s locked in her dressing room. The lights go out and something or someone comes after her. Will she escape her tormentor or refuse to run and face her tormentor head on?
5. What is your writing background?
I have always written from journal entries to screenplays. I have had several short stories published in magazines and wrote scripts for a children’s television program. I prefer writing novels because I become so attached to the characters and creating the world they live in. I am constantly imagining people in precarious situations. My mind always asks “what if?” I’ll meet someone and think, “What if you saw something, didn’t realize you saw something that you shouldn’t have seen, and found that you now had to run for your life?” I suppose that’s a question most people don’t ask, but I’ve learned that if you start to imagine, your mind will take you to the most startling places.
6. Which writers have influenced you most in your writing life?
Charles Dickens created amazing characters in amazing situations. His characters were so flawed that they seemed real. Not one was perfect. They made mistakes and paid penalties. Of course, there was always an epiphany and a happy ending for some. He gave the reader hope.
For contemporary authors, I like Anne Rivers Siddons, who writes about the South, which I love. I’m not from there, but whenever I visit the South, I’m intrigued by the people and the history. Ms. Rivers Siddons creates believable characters who are flawed and make foolish decisions with consequences.
7. Who do you most love to read and why?
A few years ago, I discovered author Kate Morton. Her first book The House at Riverton was remarkable because of all the research she did about England during World War I. Her books usually jump between several time periods, which can span a century. The main character struggles with her personal life while trying to find the answer to a secret, a secret that causes repercussions for generations. Sometimes, by the end of the book, the reader learns the answer to the book’s secret, but the main character doesn’t. Ms. Morton is a master storyteller.
8. How do you capture the element of music in your writing?
That is a great question. When I’m writing a scene that shows the music being performed, I try and put myself into that scene by showing how the musician touches the keys, how the musician feels when s/he hears the sound, how the musician struggles to make that sound. Most musicians I know make the performance seem easy, but so much work goes into that performance. Many times these musicians have been playing that piece for years. They study not just how to play the piece but what was going on in the composer’s life when s/he wrote the piece and how the composer struggled to create a composition that expressed the specific emotion s/he wanted to convey. I listen to a piece then I listen to it in my mind. Sometimes the sound penetrates my heart. Sometimes it makes my stomach spin. Sometimes, in my mind, I can see dancers in colorful, gauzy garments twirling about the room. I write quickly trying to capture this onto the page and hope that what I’ve written creates an image in the reader’s mind.
9. What is next for you?
I have always thought that the music world would make a great setting for a book. I’d like to continue writing about musicians who come from different areas of music, for example, a soprano, a violinist, a composer, a music professor. Of course, there has to be a secret and there has to be a mystery. What if a recently divorced conductor travels to Prague to recover from the debacle? What if she takes with her a trunk full of books so she can catch up on her studies? What if she goes through customs and the agent opens the trunk? What if her books are not in that trunk? What if the trunk contains her ex-husband’s . . .
Female First Lucy Walton