Sunday, 11 September 2016

Sky's Musical Corner - Isobel Blackthorn about A Perfect Square

A Perfect Square is in essence a book about ‘flow’. About being completely immersed and fully present in a creative task. About how the ego, with all of its anxieties, prejudices and foibles, inhibits that flow.

The original inspiration for the story came through my daughter Elizabeth Blackthorn’s Honours thesis in Music. I was helping her with her research design. I have a PhD in Western Esotericism and I’m a qualified and non-practicing Astrologer. Coming up with a research proposal is always a challenge. Elizabeth wanted to do something original and unusual. I suggested the idea of tracking the outer planets of the solar system over a period of years, and then translating their geometric interactions with each other first into language, then music. Imagine how thrilled I was when she said yes!

It wasn’t long before I started to sense there was a lot more than a thesis in the idea.

There’s a lot of Elizabeth’s thesis that found its way into A Perfect Square. Not least the idea of ‘flow’. I came to writing late in life, and to a large extent it was my own inhibitions that prevented me from picking up the pen. When I did, and words did flow, I quickly lost confidence. I had no clear idea that to get past that point of stalling, you need to go off and learn the skills and techniques of the craft. For decades I approached writing as though it was an ability you either had or you didn’t. Not as a craft and an art to be learned.

My daughter is much wiser. She’s worked hard at becoming a pianist and composer. So has protagonist, Ginny Smith. In A Perfect Square Ginny agrees to compose nine musical pieces to accompany nine artworks produced by her mother, Harriet, and culminating in an exhibition. The collaboration involves the creation and application of a moon model as a source of inspiration. I invited Elizabeth to write Ginny’s pieces, or her own interpretation of what some of those pieces might be. The music she’s composed was inspired by A Perfect Square, which seems to close not a square but a circle. Although this music is nothing like the progressive rock she wrote for her thesis. It’s sweet jazz, mellifluous in places, in others angular, poised. (A link to access her recordings will appear in the front-end pages of the novel.)

Ginny and Elizabeth share a sentiment, a resonance. And A Perfect Square is not only homage to creative flow; it’s a tribute to daughters everywhere, to the gifts they bring to their mothers.

To say A Perfect Square poured out of me is an understatement. The story wrote itself. I woke early every day for months, picked up my pen and wrote, scene after scene after scene. Might sound trite, but I went with the flow, never questioning, never looking forward or back, trusting the process. The result is a story that has its complexities, its twists and turns, and its depths. It isn’t a simple story. It isn’t a page turner; at least I hope it isn’t, because my intention was both to entertain and to stimulate the reader to ponder and reflect.

At the level of sentences, A Perfect Square has a definite rhythm to it. A beat. The narrative voice is strong. It’s a voice commensurate with the ideas the book contains, and with the eccentric vibe of Harriet Brassington-Smythe. (I think there’s a touch of Ad Fab to her. That’s how I pictured her in my imagination.) It was how the story demanded to be told. But I think my muse was mocking me through the guise of my character.

A Perfect Square - the blurb

When pianist Ginny Smith moves back to her mother’s house in Sassafras after the breakup with the degenerate Garth, synaesthetic and eccentric Harriet Brassington-Smythe is beside herself. She contrives an artistic collaboration to lift her daughter’s spirits: an exhibition of paintings and songs. Ginny reluctantly agrees.

While mother and daughter struggle with the elements of the collaborative effort, and as Ginny tries to prise the truth of her father’s disappearance from a tight-lipped Harriet, both are launched into their own inner worlds of dreams, speculations and remembering.

Meanwhile, another mother and artist, Judith, alone in a house on the moors, reflects on her own troubled past and that of her wayward daughter, Madeleine.
Set amid the fern glades and towering forests of the Dandenong ranges east of Melbourne, and on England’s Devon moors, A Perfect Square is a literary thriller of remarkable depth and insight.

Book Trailer 

A Londoner originally, Isobel Blackthorn currently resides in Melbourne, Australia. She received her BA in Social Studies from the Open University, and has a PhD in Western Esotericism. She has worked as a high school teacher, market trader and PA to a literary agent. Her writing has appeared in Backhand Stories, The Mused, On Line Opinion and Fictive Dream. Other works include the novels, Asylum and The Drago Tree, and the short story collection, All Because of You. 

Twitter: @IBlackthorn

Elizabeth Blackthorn

Here’s a link to the music (alternative progressive rock) that Elizabeth created for her Honours thesis (she got a 1st!)

No comments:

Post a Comment