Guest Post & Excerpt: On Wings of Song by Anne Barwell

Thanks, Charlie, for hosting me today :)

No one really wins a war.  Even if one side is ‘victorious’ over the other, it comes at a very high price for both sides.  Often those who survive are left with not only physical injuries, but mental and emotional ones too.

During WWI post traumatic stress syndrome was not recognised or understood. Soldiers suffering from it were either sent back to the front lines or shot for desertion if they ran because they couldn’t face returning to the horrors that had already scarred them.  Many who fought refused to talk about their experiences, even years later.  Recurring nightmares were common. So was jumping at loud noises as it threw them back into the memories of the battlefield, and the sound of bombs and gunfire. Many men saw their friends die in front of them. Accounts of seeing men caught in the barbed wire between the trenches and no man’s land are common. I’ve read several stories of men caught in a bomb blast while climbing the wire, and the only thing left of them are an arm, or a leg.

In Wings of Song, Jochen and Aiden fight on opposite sides of the war, but neither of them escape unscathed.  Six year later, when they meet in London, both men can see the difference in each other.  Both have lost so much, and still have nightmares about what happened to them and those around them.  Although I knew they were damaged, I didn’t realise just how much until I began writing their story.  I had originally thought about giving them a series as I want to write a detective series set in the 1920s, but it soon began clear that it couldn’t happen.  They’ll still be there, but as side characters, or appear as a cameo.

My grandfather fought in the trenches in WWI.  My father spoke of how he never talked about it and how the family said his health was never the same afterwards.  Sadly he died before I was born so I never had the opportunity to meet him.  He was an artist, and from I’ve heard, very much like my dad in personality.

Many families grew up having lost loved ones, or had them return as a completely different person from who they were before. Often the psychological injuries were far worse than the physical, and much harder to heal. For many they never really did.

Yet, despite this, and with the memories of everything and everyone they’d lost still fresh in their minds, just over ten years later the world was at war again.  People often ask me why I write stories set during WW1 and II. There’s a saying that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.  I think that’s why it’s important to remember those who fought in the war, and not whitewash their experiences.

Lest we forget.

OnWingsofSongLG

BOOK DETAILS

Title: On Wings of Song
Author: Anne Barwell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 97816325497
Length: 110 Pages
Genre: Historical, Gay Romance, European
Release date: December 24, 2014

Purchase Links

Dreamspinner Press eBook

2015About the book

Six years after meeting British soldier Aiden Foster during the Christmas Truce of 1914, Jochen Weber still finds himself thinking about Aiden, their shared conversation about literature, and Aiden’s beautiful singing voice. A visit to London gives Jochen the opportunity to search for Aiden, but he’s shocked at what he finds.

The uniform button Jochen gave him is the only thing Aiden has left of the past he’s lost. The war and its aftermath ripped everything away from him, including his family and his music. When Jochen reappears in his life, Aiden enjoys their growing friendship but knows he has nothing to offer. Not anymore.

2015Excerpt

“I’ve seen it,” Aiden said quietly. “I wish to God I hadn’t.” He looked directly at Jochen. Jochen met Aiden’s gaze. He’d seen an echo of Conrad’s fire in Aiden when he’d talked about his music earlier that afternoon.

“Don’t die on the wire, Aiden.”

“I’ll try not to.” Aiden’s words were an empty promise. They both knew it, but what else was he going to say?

The red-haired man Aiden had spoken to about arranging the burials walked over to him. He too held a shovel, and he wiped perspiration from his brow despite the cold. “There’s going to be a combined service for the dead,” he told them. “In about ten minutes in no man’s land in front of the French trenches.”

As they made their way over, men were already beginning to gather, soldiers from opposite sides sitting together, conversation dwindling to a respectful silence. A British chaplain stood in front of them, a Bible in his hand, a German beside him. Jochen recognized him, although he didn’t know his name. The young man was only a few years older than Jochen and was studying for the ministry—would he ever get the chance to complete those studies?

Jochen and Aiden found somewhere to sit a few rows back from the front and joined the company of men. The German spoke first. “Vater unser, der du bist im Himmel. Geheiligt werde dein Name.”

The British chaplain repeated the words in English. “Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.”

They then spoke a few words each, some from the Bible, the rest from their hearts. Their congregation was silent apart from a few quiet “amens.” Jochen saw a couple of men wipe tears away. He was close to it himself.

Finally the chaplain bowed his head in prayer. When he’d finished, he spoke quietly to the man who had come to stand next to him. It was Captain Williams. He nodded and looked over the crowd, his gaze fixing on Aiden.

Aiden must have guessed what Williams wanted. He inclined his head in response and then stood. Jochen glanced between the two men, confused. What did Williams expect Aiden to do?

“Aiden?” Jochen asked softly.

Aiden smiled at him and began to sing. “O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining….” He lifted his head, his voice strong and clear, each note building on the last to create something truly beautiful, something angelic. Aiden’s eyes shone; his body swayed slightly in time with the music. He was the music.

His audience sat in awe. Jochen could feel the emotion rippling through the men around him, tangible, as though he could reach out and touch it. He felt something inside himself reach out, wanting to be a part of it, to be carried along the wave of pure music, to grab it and never let go.

2015About the author

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

connectwiththeauthor

BlogWebsiteCoffee Unicorns |  FacebookGoodreads
Dreamspinner Press Author Page

 2015 Divider

 

Guest Post & Excerpt – Anne Barwell: Music Code

Thanks, Charlie, for hosting me today.

When I was studying Music History as part of my degree, one of the things that fascinated me was the use of code in music.  Although it was used in WW2 when my upcoming release Winter Duet was set, it had also been used long before that.

Bach used musical notes to spell out ‘Bach’ in his music, using the fact that modern music notation had developed from modes—in German ‘B flat’ was ‘B’ and ‘B natural’ was H—and phonetics. Later, Schumann used several musical cryptograms in his music, spelling out not just his own name, but that of Clara Wieck, who would later become his wife.  Other codes were based on pitch, motifs (repeated musical phrases) and note lengths. There are many more examples and variations out there across a range of different composers.

And yes, Clara Lehrer, Kristopher’s sister, is named after Clara Schumann.

Kristopher in Winter Duet is a musician, or was before he chose to pursue his passion for science.  He still tends to hum music while thinking through problems. So, when he and Michel need to work out a code to leave messages for each other, music is the logical choice.  Michel is also a musician. He plays the flute, and promised Kristopher, who is a violinist, a duet in the first book Shadowboxing.

He still intends to keep that promise.

One of the set pieces for that same paper that covered the music codes, was Schubert’s Winterreise — a collection of poems by Müller, Schubert had set to music.  In Winter Duet, the Resistance uses lines from one of the poems as code phrases, and Kristopher refers to one of the others later, ‘Der Leiermann’, which is about the wanderer in winter.  Also, given Kristopher’s background and education, it was something he’d recognise, even if the other characters didn’t, which led nicely into the use of music as code between him and Michel, something he’d been thinking about anyway.

I knew that university paper would come in useful somewhere.

WinterDuet400x600

Winter Duet is available from Dreamspinner Press on 6th October.

Purchase Links

Dreamspinner Press

TH2014Blurb

Echoes book 2 – Sequel to Shadowboxing

Germany 1944

With Kristopher finally fit enough to travel, he and Michel leave the security of their safe house and continue their journey across Germany toward Switzerland. Caught in a series of Allied bombings, they stop to help civilians and narrowly escape capture by German forces.

While investigating a downed aircraft in the Black Forest, the two men discover an injured RAF pilot.  After they are separated, Kristopher and the pilot are discovered by a German officer who claims he is not who he appears to be. Determined to find Michel again, Kristopher has to trust the stranger and hope he is not connected to those searching for him and the information he carries. Meanwhile Michel is intercepted by one of the Allied soldiers he met in Berlin. His help is needed to save one of their own.

Time quickly runs out. Loyalties are tested and betrayed as the Gestapo closes in. Michel can only hope that they can reach safety before information is revealed that could compromise not only his and Kristopher’s lives, but those of the remaining members of their team—if it is not already too late.

TH2014Excerpt

“Oh.” Kristopher paused, his spoon halfway to his mouth. “I’m sorry. I never thought. I didn’t mean to….” The words trailed off. Telling them he hadn’t meant to embarrass them would only serve to do just that.

“I’d never heard the poems before either,” Michel said. He glanced toward the door, as though suddenly nervous.

“That’s the thing with wars,” Karolina said. “They draw all sorts of different people together, don’t they? It doesn’t matter who you are. Out there on the battlefield everyone’s the same, aren’t they?”

“Yes, they are.” Kristopher swallowed a mouthful of beans while he collected his thoughts. “I was a musician,” he said at last. “It was a long time ago. Sometimes it feels as though it was in another lifetime. I’ve been trying to work out why the code phrase sounded so familiar. I’m sorry. I guess I should have kept it to myself.”

“Nonsense,” Georg said briskly. “Don’t apologize for having a good education, and if it gives you some distraction to get through this terrible time, you should use it.” Karolina placed a hand on his shoulder. He reached up and placed his hand over hers. A sad look crossed her face, and she suddenly appeared a lot older.

Kristopher bit his lip. He lowered his gaze and concentrated on eating. He hadn’t meant to upset either of them. Michel had warned him to keep any conversation brief and focus on very general topics.

Damn it. He wasn’t very good at this at all. For a short time he’d forgotten their situation and been caught up in the moment, remembering his passion for his music and wanting to share it.

“Paul….” Michel spoke Kristopher’s assumed name, and he looked up. “Karolina’s right. This war has drawn people together who normally wouldn’t have even met. Perhaps we should take it as an opportunity to learn new things, hmm? We all have something to offer.”

“Well said, Gabriel.” Karolina squeezed her husband’s hand. “It’s been too long since Georg and I had the company of young people. You said you were a musician, Paul. What instrument did you play?”

“I play the violin, although I haven’t picked it up in years.” Kristopher watched the couple, noticing the way in which they took comfort from each other’s touch. He wanted so badly to be able to just lean over and take Michel’s hand in his and be open in front of others as to how they felt about each other. During the months spent in the attic at St. Gertrud’s, they’d still had to be careful, but they’d been left alone for much of the time. He hadn’t realized just how difficult having to hide their relationship was going to be.

“We’re not that young,” Michel said when Kristopher lapsed into silence again. He’d told Kristopher he’d turned thirty on his last birthday. Kristopher was almost a year younger and had wondered at the time where both of them would be by his next birthday, which was only a few months away.

Georg chuckled. “You’re about the same age as our boy, so to us, that makes you young.” He got out of his chair. “I’m going to make some tea. Do you want some? Here, Karolina, have my chair. You’re not getting any younger.”

“My husband, he thinks he’s funny,” Karolina said. She gave him a light peck on the cheek and went to clip his ear again, but he ducked out of the way and headed toward the kitchen.

“He’s only offering me his chair to keep me away from my knitting. He knows full well I’ll poke him with one of my needles if he gives me too much cheek.”

“How long have you been married?” Michel asked. He seemed amused by their banter. Kristopher wondered if it reminded him of his parents.

“Since just before the last war.” Karolina picked up the cloth bag Kristopher had noticed earlier and settled into the other armchair. She opened the bag and took out yarn and what appeared to be a large knitted square on needles. “We’d met the year before, and I waited for him to come home to me and our newborn son. I didn’t allow myself to think he might not. Tell me, do you have someone waiting for you?”

Kristopher glanced at Michel. Karolina wasn’t exactly following what he’d been told about keeping to safe subjects either.

“I have someone, yes,” Michel said finally. “I want nothing more than this war to finish so we can have a life together, but sometimes I doubt that will ever happen.”

“It will,” Kristopher said firmly. He placed his bowl on his knee, feeling the warmth of it through his trousers. “When you love someone, you wait for however long it takes.”

 

TH2014Author

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

connectwiththeauthor

http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/

http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/

http://coffeeunicorns.wordpress.com/

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_426

Guest Post: Michelle Rae – Time for Destiny

Time for Destiny came about when a good friend requested a time travel story. Her first suggestion was the early Victorian era, but I felt that had been done to death. While at work and talking to a fellow worker, he suggested somewhere exotic. After a brief search of Indian history, the story was born.

Originally written for the 2012 National Novel Writers month, Time for Destiny underwent 15 edits before being picked up. The most challenging part came at this stage. Although I felt I had covered the past well my wonderful editor found conflicting differences with the references I had used.

It was at this point I had to decide if I made the story more fantasy or use real facts. I chose to use actual facts from the past and this meant some big rewrites and a lot more research. The end product is completely different to the story I first submitted and this has made the story better in my eyes. The opportunity to be published professionally was an amazing experience and I learned a lot about how I write and how to be better.

TH2014Divider

TimeForDestinyLG

Title: Time for Destiny
Author: Michelle Rae
Genre: Time Travel M/M Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Length: Novella, 198 Pages

 

TH2014Blurb

When Daniel Wilson, oldest of five children in a troubled family, joined the military, he expected to see combat in Iraq. But it comes as quite a shock when a Rupee minted a century and a half ago transports him to that dangerous time in war-torn colonial India. After he meets and falls in love with Vir during his visit to 1857, he faces the greatest challenge of his life. He knows he may ultimately lose Vir because he belongs in a different time. Still, he wants desperately to keep his love alive despite threats of violence from both wars.

Purchase Links

Available for pre-order from Dreamspinner Press

Release Date: August 22nd, 2014

 

TH2014Author

 Michelle Rae lives in lovely Adelaide, South Australia. She began writing fan fiction for her son in 2007, which led to bigger and better things. Writing LGBT stories became her passion after discovering the genre in 2008. Determined to write her greatest story, Michelle dedicates endless hours hoping to achieve this dream. In her spare time, Michelle likes to drink tea, eat peppermint chocolate and keep the last of her sanity intact.

connectwiththeauthor

Website | Facebook