I’m always fascinated by how authors write and I’m delighted to welcome Kate Murdoch, author of Stone Circle, to Linda’s Book Bag today to explain a little bit about her take on the adage of ‘write what you know’.
Published today, 1st December 2017 by Fireship Press, Stone Circle is available for purchase here.
Is the ability to read minds a blessing or a curse?
When Antonius’s father dies, he must work to support his family. He finds employment as a servant in the Palazzo Ducal, home of Conte Valperga. Sixteenth-century Pesaro is a society governed by status and Antonius has limited opportunities.
When a competition is announced, Antonius seizes his chance. The winner will be apprenticed to the town seer. Antonius shares first place with his employer’s son.
The two men compete for their mentor’s approval. As their knowledge of magic and alchemy grows, so does the rivalry and animosity between them. When the love of a beautiful woman is at stake, Antonius must find a way to follow his heart and navigate his future.
The Personal in Writing
A Guest Post by Kate Murdoch
I’ve always found it interesting how writers use varying degrees of the personal in their writing. It’s particularly intriguing when I’m reading the manuscript of someone I know, or am getting to know, because their values, experiences and preoccupations are evident.
At one end of the spectrum is memoir, with its laying bare of the life of the author, yet curated and chosen with care. I admire memoirists a lot, because they push the boundaries using their own stories to illustrate what is important to them.
More commonly, people draw from feelings, experiences and people they’ve known, creating fiction. Parsing the information, putting it through a metaphorical filter until the right combination of insight and feeling is conveyed. This is how I work.
In my novel Stone Circle I drew on a number of elements of my life. Family is very important to me and I explored the love of family, the safe space and emotional security it can provide. But all forms of love give us a sense of self and confidence, including friendship and romantic love. My protagonist, the fisherman’s son Antonius, by virtue of his talent for telepathy and ‘seeing’, finds himself part of a middle and upper class society in which he feels ill-equipped. The fact that he comes from a loving family is a crucial factor in his ability to embrace his new circumstances.
The story was also informed by my experiences with spiritual practices, such as reiki healing. Antonius learns so much in a short space of time, all the while confronted with Nichola’s jealous hostility. I can’t say I’ve had any issues with hostile competitors, but the spiritual search was real and consuming.
There are writers I’ve met whose personal lives are so intertwined with the story it’s hard to know where one ends and the other begins. In my opinion, these are the stories which resonate the most. They are mined from such a deep place of emotion and memory, readers sense it and are moved.
A good example is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The author’s parents were children in Germany and Austria during the second world war, and many of the scenes are inspired by stories they told him. This is what gives the novel so much heart and realism.
Research is important, as is plot, dialogue and character. But if there is an absence of the personal, I think the work suffers. The emotional heart is drawn from reality. It is, in my view, the most important factor in a good story.
About Kate Murdoch
Kate Murdoch is the author of Stone Circle. She exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and internationally and was a finalist in a number of prize shows before turning her hand to writing. In between writing historical fiction, she enjoys writing short stories and flash fiction.
Her short-form fiction is regularly published in Australia, UK, US and Canada in places such as Verity La, Spelk Fiction and Feminine Collection.
Stone Circle is a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy. It will be released by Fireship Press December 1st 2017. She has also completed another novel The Orange Grove about the passions and intrigues of court mistresses in 18th century France.