The whispered voices and unsettling dreams were puzzling enough, but when the visions began, Sarah Richards’ confusion turned to fear.
Though mundane, Sarah’s life is routine and well ordered. But one autumn morning she sees a figure waving to her, the figure of a man more ghostly than real.
Several times during that same day he appears, but is the spectre harmless, or are his intentions malevolent?
Disturbed and confused, Sarah endeavours to understand the mystery, to identify her unknown stalker.
But with each visitation, she becomes ever more bewildered, and as her orderly life begins to unravel, she questions the reality of all that she knows, and with mounting horror, even her own sanity.
Musings on description and scene setting – A Guest Post from the Author!
When I was invited to write a guest post, a mild panic ensued. What topic should I pick? How does a novice author engage the reader? Am I worrying too much?
The first subject to pop into my head was ‘My Writing Journey’– how I began as an over fifties telecoms engineer and how my storytelling took me to places of which I’d never dreamed. Maybe I could interest an audience but it seemed self-indulgent and being somewhat humble I wasn’t comfortable.
My eventual choice is one close to my heart and soul – scene setting, or how to draw the reader into the world the author has created.
There are of course many ways of achieving this key goal, as many ways as genres I suspect. For example, the way to engage the reader of an action thriller is likely to be different to a romantic comedy or a police procedural. Though the overarching principle is the same, the detail will be different. I’m not a reader of action thrillers but I imagine that an avid fan would need to feel they are with the central character, wielding a heavy weapon, jumping through a window. In Rom Com, perhaps it would be important for the reader to cringe with embarrassment or laugh at a thirty something man who goes to a florist to buy flowers for a new girlfriend, only to find she works there alongside his recent ex.
My passion for descriptive scene setting began as a young boy when I first read The Wind in the Willows and it became ingrained as a teenager after I discovered The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Back in those days it’s hard to imagine The Wind in the Willows not firing a nine-year-old child’s imagination – small animals having adventures, but even now some fifty years on, Kenneth Grahame’s description of the world in which these adventures took place still engages me. The delight on hearing the first tentative birdsong at the dawn of spring; heady scents and vivid colours of never ending summer days; the sleepy but hidden drama of midwinter amidst the snow covered gorse under the lofty trees in the Wild Wood.
Tolkien’s world was no less descriptive, from the rolling comfort of green hills in the sedate and safe Shire; the glittering sunshine on falling willow leaves as they showered the Withywindle buried deep in the woods east of the Brandywine River. The long and rambling trek into the growing wildness between Bree and Rivendell chased by the ever present and fearsome Black Riders. Even on the last journey into Mordor, Tolkien woos us with the contrasting landscapes of green Ithilien, the garden of Gondor, set against the threatening backdrop and sharp peaks of the Mountains of Shadow.
When I began my writing journey, it was imperative I share my passion, and I’ve tried my hardest to set the physical aspect of scenes as best I could to help potential readers experience the world as I did, or better still as my characters did. Psychological mystery is where my genre sits and for me, giving my scenes descriptive detail is an integral part of engaging the reader. They need to experience the atmosphere, the pain, the fear or the joy, and if I’ve painted the detail in such a way that the reader can picture it in their minds eye, then I’ve achieved a small victory.
I’m happy to say one of the original reviews of Song of the Robin, an early release, received a positive ‘the author has a lovely turn of descriptive phrase’ comment, and another reviewer commented that my description of a local beauty spot, local to where I live, and the shores of Scotland made them want to visit. Receiving accolades such as these are what makes writing a joy, rare though they may be.
I know not all readers are the same – some skip description, just needing to know what happens next, and each reader will get something different from a book, even within their favourite genre, but as a reader I’m happiest when I’ve joined in the story and lived the inner magic.