Monday, March 13, 2017

Literature and Life: What Edward Heard

Please welcome back Megan Easley-Walsh:

Hi, Laura and Readers!

Thanks for having me back to discuss my novel, What Edward Heard, and its connections across time.

Literature and art are wonderful bridges into the past and across time periods.

One of the best parts of being an author of historical fiction is getting to immerse myself in a new time and place.  Something that I loved about writing What Edward Heard was the ability it afforded me to explore several different time periods.  What Edward Heard is really two parallel stories.  The first is of Edward Jamison, a returned World War I veteran, who has been injured on the Western Front, and the life and mystery that he finds in England.  The second is of a portrait that is painted in Venice in 1566 and the painting's journey to Edward in 1916.

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What Edward Heard is historical fiction with the added element of magical realism, because the painting is able to read people, the way that art critics and historians usually read meaning behind a painting.  Without giving too much away, I'll say that the painting is able to read hidden thoughts, heart's desires, and messages for the characters and this influences many lives in interesting and diverse ways.

This plays out across the span of centuries.  Some of the many locations and time periods that the painting travels to are the colonies during the American Revolution, France in the nineteenth century, Switzerland in the sixteenth century, and England during World War I.  Part of how the characters and the painting interact is dependent on the individuals in the circumstances, but the times also impact how the events are interpreted.  For example, in the American colonies, a character encountering the painting fears witchcraft, while in nineteenth century France, Jules Verne and science are the comparison.

Art and literature are products of their times, but they are also continually being rediscovered and reinterpreted by subsequent generations.  I am reminded of a very interesting piece I read about how Shakespeare's plays, though popular for many centuries, have appealed to different audiences for different reasons.  Popular plays in one period may not be the same plays that another generations finds most memorable.  History, culture, and economics can all be reasons attributed to this and they also play a part in the unfolding of the paintings' story in my novel.

That mix of permanence and transience is a theme explored in the pages of What Edward Heard.  Edward was surrounded in life being cut short as he battled at the Somme.  Then, he returns to England and unwraps layers of age through the antiques and the painting he discovers.  Ultimately, the painting then unwraps layers of him that he never knew were there, many from earlier times in Edward's life, but also revealing pieces of its own past to Edward.  Part magical realism, part historical fiction, part mystery, and part literary adventure, What Edward Heard reminds us that though times change, the most important lessons often remain the same.  I'll be exploring those lessons in the next post.

My best to you all,

Megan

COMING UP:
  • March 20-24, 2017: Indie-Con, an online convention of indie authors in which I'll be participating with guest blogs, Q&A, and critiquing.

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