Saturday 21 October 2017

A life full of music

I come from a musical family. My great-grandmother often held impromptu soirĂ©es at which her brothers would sing the latest music hall songs. One brother dressed up as a very creditable woman and would sing comic duets with another brother. My  grandmother, with whom I share a birthday, was equally talented. As a child, I could sing to her any song we learned at school. She would take it down in tonic sol-fah (think do-re-me from Sound of Music), then sit at the piano and play it in perfect four-part harmony. Her favourite key was D flat major – which uses all the black keys, aaagh! My mother played piano, my three brothers played brass instruments and my father played percussion. I play piano (badly) and flute (even more badly) and guitar (when I am drunk and don’t think it will break my nails!).

But most of all my life has been spent singing, starting in school choirs and going on to bigger things. My most treasured memories are of singing in the Three Choirs Festival, a yearly event which swings between the English cities of Worcester, Gloucester and Hereford. For one glorious week in late summer, the members of the choir mix with world renowned soloists. I remember standing in the lunch queue next to Sir Charles Groves who looked just like Father Christmas but had a very acerbic tongue if anyone annoyed him. I’ve shared the platform with luminaries like Dame Janet Baker and the late Elizabeth Harwood. I’ve eaten lunch with the members of the Medici Quartet and sung in front of Prince Charles and the late Queen Mother at the Royal Albert Hall several times.

When I moved to Yorkshire, I sang as a soloist with local choral societies and joined a small, mostly acapella, group with only 8 members initially. We thought nothing of singing Lotti’s Crucifixus, set in 8 parts. I entered music festivals and was delighted to have my voice described as quintessential silver Handelian by the judge. I imagine myself at the age of 93, like Gran, in my wheelchair, trying for the top A’s in Messiah. 

My mum introduced me to crime fiction to which I became instantly addicted. The history bug hit me when I was 14 and has never left. When I knew I wanted to write, the obvious genre for me was crime, but I couldn’t choose between historical or contemporary, so chose to write both. Harlequin published my crime fantasy series The Tudor Enigma (Court of Conspiracy, Taste of Treason & Mantle of Malice) in 2014/15. 

Then I turned to my contemporary detective who, unsurprisingly, is an early-music soprano. I called on my own experiences as a semi-professional singer to add meat to the plot. The Georgia Pattison mysteries now number two novellas, (soon to be three) and two full-length mysteries. I am sure you won’t be surprised to know that the first,  Dearly Ransomed Soul deals with murder and music at the Three Choirs Festival in Worcester. All the titles in the Georgia Pattison series are musical quotes, the second being Laid In Earth and the third will be either Say Goodbye Now or Weep No More.  This depends on how her love life goes!

Georgia is a true opera diva, capable of holding her own in the world of classical music but insecure and craving affection. She tends to go headlong into situations without thinking things through, using her verve and waspish wit to get her out of trouble. But sometimes it gets her into trouble, as you will discover in her Christmas adventure, The Bleak Midwinter out in December. I have also gone back to my love of history and the first in the series Loyalty in Conflict will be out by the end of 2017.

You can read more about April Taylor here:

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