As you are aware, I am a part of the Kate Tilton Book Bloggers where authors can request reviewers to take a look at their book. As a part of the book blogger team, I have received a couple of books to review and Kate Murdoch’s Stone Circle was one of them.
Kate Murdoch is the author of Stone Circle. She exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and internationally 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.
Stone Circle is a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy. It was released by Fireship Press December 1st 2017. Her novel, The Orange Grove, about the passions and intrigues of court mistresses in 18th century France, will be published by Regal House Publishing in 2019.
Written by Kate Murdoch
The themes beneath the story
Alongside writing novels I write short fiction. I like this form as it’s pared back to one theme, one idea. It’s refreshing to write because you can find a more direct solution – the sentiment you are trying to express can be teased out with a few plot points. In any case, it’s healthy as a writer to switch between writing novels and short stories, because the marathon of long form can take its toll. A short piece can give a sense of accomplishment in a few days, rather than a few years.
In writing a novel, I’m attempting to convey several layered themes at once. I don’t need all of them to be transparent to the reader, but they help enrich the story and my characters. In Stone Circle, issues of identity along with class, rivalry and love are explored. One character, Nichola, is not entirely good or bad. The shades of grey in his personality led to my focus in my forthcoming novel, The Orange Grove.
In this story, my themes were more opaque, even to me. I was interested in the ambiguity of morality, but the challenge of revealing this through plot and character was a hurdle. I was wary of being misinterpreted, that readers might think I was endorsing bad behaviour. Rather, I wanted to paint my less wholesome characters with empathy, in terms of the causes and conditions behind their actions. The message being: ‘If we had that upbringing, or those circumstances, what might we do? Would we be pushed to go against our morals or beliefs?’ It’s something I think about when I see people who have committed crimes in the media. What was the tipping point taking them to a place of no return? This is often touched on as the ‘ordinariness’ of evil. The fact that a number of those who commit crimes are living seemingly perfect lives and present as ‘normal’ until it all unravels. Perhaps, there are many who come to that edge, but quietly step back.
Stone Circle was more straightforward in its themes. How talent can break through even the most rigid social barriers. How love and tenderness is a universal need, and how self-knowledge, through spirituality or other means, can lead to transformation.
Whether these types of issues are examined in short or long form, if the result is a reader asking themselves questions, or just thinking about human complexity, then three days or three years are more than worthwhile.
Excerpt of Stone Circle
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.
Did you like what you read?