Friday, August 12, 2011
Barbie Jo's Bunkhouse: Meet Elizabeth Edmondson
Happy Friday everyone and please help me welcome to M&M, fellow Book Cents author, Elizabeth Edmondson. Elizabeth is the author of several period mysteries set in the turbulent world of pre- and post-war Europe, weaving together lives, art, and love against a background of deadly secrets and the deepening shadows of fascism and communism. Her books have been translated into several languages.
She joins us from the UK, and is trying to spread the word about her new book DEVIL'S SONATA, a spooky gothic tale surrounding a possessed violin. Wow...it's got me hooked!
Let's listen to Elizabeth as she fills us in on how the story came to be. Take it away Elizabeth!
LEAD INTO GOLD:
It’s odd how books evolve. Once I’d got the notion of a violin possessed by the spirit of a violinist from the eighteenth century, I knew that the violinist was a young woman. A prodigious player, whose abilities weren’t God-given, but came from an entirely different source. So it was natural that the violin and its powerful gift of good and evil would pass to another young musician in the present day.
I decided, or rather it was decided for me in the way that the writing mind decides these things, that the violin had been walled up more than two hundred years ago in the wing of a great house, formerly an abbey.
These days, families don’t live in houses of this size, and so I turned the abbey into a school. A school in a remote part of the north of England, surrounded by great hills, a world of its own. A boarding school.
English boarding schools in literature range from the historically awful – Dotheboy’s Hall in Nicholas Nickleby – to the improbably jolly in Enid Blyton’s school stories, to the most famous boarding school of them all: Hogwarts, the educational establishment attended by Harry Potter.
As far as I know, JK Rowling didn’t actually go to boarding school, although her brother went to a famous Catholic one. Had she been at a boarding school, and disliked it as much as some of us did, she might not have been able to create Hogwarts in such an appealing way.
I loathed boarding school. I loathed the routine, with every minute of your day accounted for. I loathed having to be with other people all the time, and used to lock myself in the lavatory for a peaceful read. I hated getting up and into a cold bath and a brisk walk around the extensive grounds before a meagre breakfast. I detested games: icy afternoons with bare legs in sub-zero temperatures, a lacrosse stick clenched in frozen fingers – oh, the misery.
So why set a story in a boarding school, given that I was writing a gothic mystery and not a gothic misery memoir?
Schools are different now. A modern boarding school is a well-appointed, pleasant place with excellent facilities and a relaxed atmosphere. And a modern school, located in an old abbey with centuries of history contained within its majestic walls, provides a wonderful backdrop to a struggle between good and evil as an ancient curse begins to wield its baleful influence on both staff and students.
I like books set in an enclosed environment, especially when it’s an unusual, not to say exotic one. Another plus for the school setting is the way the school year and the school day give you such a neat structure. Characters, plot and action are bound by the unity of place. Classrooms, lecture halls, the theatre, the music school, the head’s office, the gym, the games fields, the boarding houses form a self-contained world that you can draw the reader into, a world in which, like EM Forster’s past, they do things differently.
And, given that this is my school, my invention, and I can have it any way I like, it has a haunted chapel, a Great Hall, an old library, cloisters, and a magnificent Venetian Wing.
You won’t find Beauregard Abbey in any guide book, but I could take you over every inch of it, pausing at a practice room here to listen to Arabella’s dazzling artistry on the violin, eavesdropping at the staff room door to hear the gossip, dropping into the theatre to watch a rehearsal of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, tiptoeing after the sixth-formers as they break bounds to celebrate Hallowe’en on nearby Dancing Hill.
I loved writing a big spooky mystery, I loved creating a school that was nothing like the one I went to, and I loved throwing all my characters into this strange and dangerous situation and finding out how they coped. So, in the end, the alchemy of writing transformed the lead of boarding school into something very different – the gold of a world worth spending time in.
I don't know about you guys, but I'm totally sucked in! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of DEVIL'S SONATA!! If you want to find out more about Elizabeth Edmondson and her books, check out her website at www.atticabooks.com/attica
And if you're like me and can't wait to get your hands on DEVIL'S SONATA, here are the links to get your own copies:
Thanks for joining us on M&M Elizabeth! This sounds like a fantastic read!