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Snapshot Smiles, a novel by Barbara Masterton

Snapshot Smiles is the only eBook published by Il Moscardino in 2013.
Barbara Masterton’s latest¬†novel deals with the lack of love, and Oliver was never loved by his mother:
She didn’t like being touched.” There was a long silence as if he were remembering many past instances of Maura Wenston’s peculiarities, which as a child he had found so distressing, then he added, “Or touching, either, unless it was to fuss about with herself. I used to long for her to stroke my eyebrows or my ear lobes, smooth my neck and arms. She wouldn’t even wash my hair when I was small, she used to push me under the soapy bath water with the tips of her fingers as if she were trying to drown a spider”.

Evil can come in the shape of a little deprived boy. Out of pity and eagerness to help, you can take him into your life without noticing, at first, the damage that your good intentions have just set in motion… if only Aphelandra had spoken about what she knew and feared, maybe her family would still be happy, she would still have a brother and she would have spared all the suffering to her younger cousin Lillie: a lonely girl living in a far away boarding school in Dorset and whose parents are divorced. The only happiness Lillie can enjoy is the moments she spends with her cousins, uncle, aunt and grandmother during the holidays, when she can join them at Kupton Hall, their home in Minstrelford, Northumberland. Lillie is a lovely girl of thirteen, eager to please, when Oliver creeps into their lives. She is the perfect innocent creature upon whom evil would prey.
Who could even imagine what hides behind the beaming smiles of four young people in an old photograph taken at Lillie’s birthday picnic by the lake on a late September afternoon!

When Oliver was seven, he killed a cat. No, it wasn’t an accident. He pressed it to death. It took a long time. He had killed other things, of course, birds and mice, things like that, but they did not count, because they belonged to no one. You can do anything to things that have no owners. That is why he remembers the cat, because it did. It had belonged to Curtis’s sister. Curtis had been Oliver’s best friend, his only friend, except for Jim, who belongs to Oliver. Lillie belongs to Oliver as well, but she is not his friend, she is his wife.

Lillie looks at Oliver. She looks at him when he is not looking at her, but Oliver knows that she is looking. He can feel her large eyes stroking the air between them, sad and reproachful, full of hidden dislike. She says she loves him, she repeats it when he makes her, yet she is scheming to run away. Where could she go that he would not find her? Oliver asks her and she shakes her head slowly, her eyes downcast, her delicate hands twisting together in her narrow lap. She does not know. Her unhappiness annoys him. Jim would comfort her with kisses, if he had the chance, but Oliver objects. She should put her arms around his neck and weep, not Jim’s.

Lillie is beautiful, even in melancholy. She is tall and gracefully thin, with finely shaped hands and feet and a white neck licked by long, glossy curls. Oliver felt the need to possess her the first time he saw her, skipping towards him, a bright-eyed innocent child, eager to say hello. They had something in common. They had both been on the outside, looking in on an existence protected by custom and money. The difference between them then was that Oliver envied the privileged persons who had befriended him and smarted under his disadvantages; Lillie loved them and was grateful, contented with her lesser lot.

Oliver is beautiful as well, with dark eyes that are brooding, some say expressively soulful, in a long, pale face that would suit a medieval saint. His hair is thicker and blacker than Lillie’s and his lips are pinker than hers when she is without lipstick, which is practically all the time now. She is always washing. She washes and bathes in an attempt to decontaminate herself, but she will never explain to him the cause of that contamination, which is all in her mind of course, only fix him with her impenetrable gaze and accuse without words until Oliver becomes angry. When she speaks, he listens, when she stares he goes mad.

Speak to Oliver, Lillie. He knows you speak to Jim when he is absent and cease the moment he creeps upon you. You whisper in Jim’s ear the way you used to whisper in his when you made love. This makes him jealous.

Oliver tries constantly to keep Lillie and Jim apart. They pretend they do not mind, but he sees the way they drift nearer one another as soon as they are in the same room. Lillie does not look at Jim, as if careless of his presence, but he is too simple to dissemble and his pleasure at the sight of her is all too obvious. Oliver spoils that pleasure with spite, reminding him curtly where his loyalty should lie. Lillie says nothing. She sighs, the slightest gust of sound, and slowly turns her head away to gaze at nothing. The dusty light from the high window falls on her hair and the long spirals gleam with copper tints.

There was a time when Lillie talked a lot and laughed with a simple joy. She talked and Oliver listened. He was born listening. Now he hears things that he would rather not be told, voices from the past, reminding him of things he does not want to remember, but Lillie remains mostly quiet, as if she too is hearing those same voices, telling her some awful truths.

For truth is awful. It always is. Not just for Oliver and Lillie, for everyone. To be happy one must shy away from truth’s harsh outline and recline on marshmallow billows of illusion. Truth is a weapon that wounds. Oliver wields it with discrimination and never to gouge his own sores.¬†

Everyone would be a much better person if loved…
A very powerful story, and probably Barbara Masterton’s masterpiece!

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Felice 2014!

Il Moscardino augura un buon anno nuovo ai suoi affezionati lettori!

muscardin_petit

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Adam Biggs: the interview

What is your novel ‚ÄėThe Heart of Sitnatia‚Äô about?

Well it’s a fantasy about a group of characters, all unrelated, on a journey for different reasons: some for greed, some for love, others for intrigue… all from different directions, finally realizing that they need each other to survive a treacherous island.
We meet the Vendra, who are a lost civilization trying to reclaim their home, and it sets up the following two books, and yet each is an independent story.

What inspired you to write this story?

I have always enjoyed fantasy and I wanted to write a story which I could make as unpredictable as possible, and that adults would enjoy reading to their children, as much as the children would enjoy themselves just on a different level, also using characters who were all the different aspects of my own personality.

Who are the primary readers of your book?

Mainly teenagers, but I have had wonderful reviews from people in their forties, which is just what I was going for.

How long did it take to write it?

This book is the first in a series and although it took about nine months to write. I had to go back and make changes right up to publishing, as I wanted it to cross-pollinate with the other two books which I am currently in the middle of.

How did you come up with the title?

I wanted the title to be as mysterious as possible, and as the fictitious island which my characters are trying to get to is called Sitnatia, I felt that this would have to be part of the title, and the Heart was in reference to the temple at the Heart of the volcano towering the island.

Why did you choose this cover?

I have great respect for the beautiful illustration Art work of Carla Lastoria, and was flattered when she offered to work with me to bring some of the characters to life, especially the eight-legged Gibberic, for which the editor thought her Guinea pig Crinotte would be the perfect model. As the poor thing had just died a few weeks earlier of a heart failure, she submitted Carla a photograph of Crinotte, which from now on will be remembered as the Gibberic on the cover of my novel. With four more legs, she will climb even faster up the rainbow…

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Trying not to run away with my thoughts. Staying in the moment is very difficult, as when you enter your own fantasy world you want to tell the story and your thoughts run off in all directions. It is a journey I want to share with my reader as if we were both there for the first time.

Did you do research for your book? What did that involve?

Since I was creating my own world I have a room in my apartment which is dedicated to ‚ÄėThe Heart of Sitnatia‚Äô, with globes of the world showing where it is and scraps of paper with my thoughts about the characters stuck with blue-tac all over the wall. I’m so pleased I did this as it helps me¬†reference¬†and there is no need to re-decorate‚Ķ

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Yes, I learnt that you are never done learning and you get better with every re-write; I value other people’s opinions and will always make changes to please readers before publishing, as after all it is about them and me making a connection through words.

What do you want to say to your readers?

I would love to say thank you for allowing me to share my world with you all, and I hope that you will travel with me again:¬†there is¬†a lot more I want to show you, we are going to go deeper into ‚ÄėThe Heart of Sitnatia‚Äô and meet some strange and exciting characters together.

That would be great… thank you, Adam!

 

Photo_Adam_interview

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Cross Currents on Goodkindles

Barbara Masterton is now on Goodkindles with Cross Currents: “A novel with a refined and elegant style of narration, coupled with a sharp introspective portrait of its characters”.

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The Heart of Sitnatia on Goodkindles

The Heart of Sitnatia, a fantasy novel by Adam Biggs, is now on Goodkindles: where writers meet readers…

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Adam Biggs è su MyBook

Il romanzo fantasy per ragazzi di Adam Biggs The Heart of Sitnatia viene presentato sul sito di MyBook.

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La pagina di Adam Biggs

La pagina personale di Adam Biggs è ora disponibile su Amazon.

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Reginald Catchpole reclined in a bath full of bubbles…

Reginald Catchpole reclined in a bath full of bubbles in his lavish flat above his antique shop. The walls were covered in red-flock wallpaper not unlike that which you would find in any tacky restaurant. The only light in the room was from a candle chandelier hanging over his head. He held a pink hippo-shaped nailbrush in his right hand while his left hand drifted in the air, conducting the soft music that gently flowed from the horn of his wind-up gramophone which stood on an occasional table just behind him. He wore nothing but a plastic shower cap and, covered in white bubbles, he looked as if nothing short of a herd of elephants in the bathroom with him (he chuckled at the very thought) could disturb his ecstasy. Suddenly, climbing the stairs at great speed, as if riding a thundering herd of elephants wearing hobnailed boots, Sid burst his way into the bathroom. Reginald hurled his hippo-shaped nailbrush five feet into the air, where it landed on the chandelier between two lit candles.
‚ÄúHow many times must I tell you, man? Not when I am taking my ablutions‚ÄĚ.
Sid stood there, yellow duster in hand, shaking like a leaf, a droplet of sweat trickling down his cheek.
‚ÄúBut, Mr Catchpole,‚ÄĚ he burbled, spitting as he spoke in his strong cockney accent and hardly remembering to take a breath between sentences, ‚Äúsomething‚Äôs happening downstairs. Something amazing!‚ÄĚ he said with a note of urgency in his voice.
‚ÄėUrgent‚Äô was not generally a word that best described Sid Slug, a man who had been knocked down three times in the last year for not getting out of the way of a speeding granny on her mobility scooter. The fact that the same granny had managed to knock him down each time, all in the same month but on very separate occasions, was suspicious in itself. However, Reginald knew better than to ask deep questions of Sid unless he wanted a long, drawn-out tale that would not necessarily come with a start, middle or an end, let alone an interesting point.
‚ÄúDon‚Äôt tell me you got that blasted woman‚Äôs pillbox unlocked.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúYes Mr Catchpole, this was inside,‚ÄĚ Sid held up a rectangular crystal, ‚Äúbut it wasn‚Äôt alone.‚ÄĚ
Sid was ordered out of the bathroom to allow Reginald to get out of the bath and cover his pride. Sid ran off back down the stairs, closely followed by Reginald, now with a towel wrapped round his bird-like body. The shower cap was still on his head and bubbles floated off him as he ran. They both stopped short of the door at the bottom of the staircase. Bright lights of every colour shone through the keyhole and through the gap around the door that had been left ajar.

From the novel The Heart of Sitnatia, by Adam Biggs – Il Moscardino

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Adam Biggs su ShowBooks

The Heart of Sitnatia di Adam Biggs viene inserito nella vetrina di ShowBooks.

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