15 March 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Guest Post by Ellen Ekstrom, author of Tallis’ Third Tune and Scarborough

I’d like to introduce you to one of the characters I’ve created. He’s a young man that’s gotten under my skin since his creation in my novel, “Tallis’ Third Tune.” Now he has his own story to tell – “Scarborough.” One reviewer wrote of him that he’s damaged goods and you want to love him and slap him. His name is Tarquin Oliver Laurence Radcliffe – and, as Sir Thomas Wyatt quips in “Scarborough,” why a parent would name their son Tarquin and not expect him to be angry? Quinn’s friend, Alice Martin, calls him a ‘troll’ in a moment of pique, making an anagram of the first letters of his names.

Quinn is an angry young man who doesn’t know how to deal with his anger.

Or he doesn’t want to.

He wants to be left alone with his music and his lover. Unfortunately, life and family get in the way and force him to make decisions that are “all for the best.”

One of my readers complained that Quinn needed to “grow a pair.”

Don’t we all?

Remember when you were at the cusp of adulthood – that purgatory between adolescence and true adulthood, when you had privileges and some rights – but you were still dependent upon your parents and their rules for just about everything? Remember feeling ready to take on the world, and once opening the door, felt compelled to slam it shut and climb back into bed deep under the pillows and blankets?

Compound that with being a musical prodigy and an overbearing parent holding your future over you in a decade when one didn’t question, one obeyed, especially if you were wealthy and there were certain rules that applied to your class, certain traditions. When appearances mattered most, along with standing in the community.

If Quinn had walked away after that quarrel in the professor’s den, the story would have been about Quinn trying to make a go of it alone, struggling, just another starving artist in New York City looking for break. Quinn and Alice would face the world together – break up, get back together and have a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” ending. That’s been done. “Midwinter Sonata,” is a series that started with “Tallis’ Third Tune,” and continues with “Scarborough.” Both were meant to be stand-alone volumes. This was and is a story about two people moving apart and finding their way through different kinds of adversity towards their own brand of happiness. There are lots of detours and obstacles in the road to make it a less than smooth journey. The path back to one another is treacherous at times.

I hinted at the end of “Tallis” what Quinn was about to do.

But does he take those steps? I didn’t say.

This is where the new story comes in.

Quinn is a young man with incredible talent and constantly stifled by it; he’s a figure of ridicule because he doesn’t act, talk or dress like the kids at Berkeley High. His father has been famous for his own talent and it’s rough following in that shadow. Then there’s Mom – tall, willowy, fashion model beautiful and a psychiatrist. Quinn doesn’t want Mom to tell him why he’s feeling the way he does, he just wants a hug once in a while. He’s a poor little rich boy no one understands and he’d be very happy being like everyone else – or would he?

And then there’s Alice.

She’s not exactly popular – okay, she isn’t – but there’s something about her guys tend to like. Maybe it’s the shy smile, the consideration she shows, the artistic talent, the quiet ferocity, the killer body. Quinn finds a kindred spirit with her; he finds peace. Alice is observant, introspective and passionate. What life has handed to her isn’t fair, but she makes the most of it and when she stumbles, she picks herself and keeps going despite the bruises.

From “Scarborough,” Quinn’s thoughts:

…I decided to make a go of it, make the best of what certainly had been a raw deal when it came to most of my life. No one but me would think being talented, considered drop-dead handsome, above-average in height with an athlete’s physique, charming, and coming from wealth and privilege would be a raw deal, especially when I considered all Alice had been dealt.

She saved me.

No, Quinn isn’t full of himself. Like so many of us, he doesn’t recognize the gifts given to him, because in one way or another he’s been told he’s not good enough for whatever reason.

“Scarborough” is Quinn’s chance to get things right, say ‘I love you’ when it’s meant to be said, move forward instead of backing down or hiding, just as “Tallis’ Third Tune” was Alice’s opportunity to make amends.

Alice did have a raw deal thrown at her. Living with her brother after her mother’s death, she wasn’t your typical teenager from a sitcom during the late sixties, but she could be any girl then and now. She is the stronger of these two star-crossed lovers. Or is she?

Neither Alice nor Quinn are heroic figures. Their lives and their actions will not change the world to a better place; they won’t find a cure for cancer. But they are, I believe, two people with which many of us can identify. Their struggles and problems are not unlike ours.

There are many, many Quinns and Alices in the world.

Which one are you?

When Quinn Radcliffe shows up in a village somewhere in the Cotswolds or Dorset, he knows he’s been there before. It’s a place out of a Thomas Hardy novel – or the imagination. There’s the Curiosity Shop with The Proprietress and her famous guests, the church at the end of the lane, and unbelievable but necessary journeys that test and affirm. Now the conductor of a world-renowned orchestra, Quinn isn’t surprised by his surroundings – the love of his life, Alice Martin, told him all about the village but he has always and secretly thought it was the best part of a dream she shared after her life-threatening illness.Until now.There are two sides to every love story. This is the other side of the haunting and poignant romance that began with “Tallis’ Third Tune.”

TALLIS’ THIRD TUNE:Alice Martin discovers herself in a quaint English shop. Iconic historical figures appear no sooner than she thinks of them; they come and go, offering advice – unwanted, but always interesting. While there, Alice learns that she can change definitive moments in her history, to correct mistakes made in two important relationships: with her first love, Quinn Radcliffe, a sensitive classical musician destined for the concert halls of the world, and with Donovan Trist, a charming archeologist with New England blue-blood and expensive scotch in his veins. Each has a hold on Alice, and what she is compelled to undertake begins a momentous and sometimes painful journey. Throughout her travels, Alice is linked to love by a melody, the luminous and evocative Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. As she seeks answers and happiness, Alice knows one thing is for certain – this is not a trip to Wonderland, but deep into her heart and soul.


Ellen L. Ekstrӧm has been intrigued by all things medieval since seeing Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” as a five-year old–when it was first run in theaters. Now that she is in her own middle ages, the passion for the Middle Ages hasn’t abated, as she returns time and again to medieval history and themes in her novels, with an occasional foray into matters of the heart and soul where it concerns the modern woman. Rev. Ekstrom was ordained to the order of vocational deacons in the Episcopal Church in December of 2002, serves the San Francisco Bay Area in the Diocese of California. To support her family and frenetic lifestyle, she works as a legal secretary. Once in a while, she sleeps.

Rev. Ekstrom has a growing list of published works. Her debut novel “The Legacy,” an historical novel set in 14th century Tuscany garnered praise in its first release. Said Thomas Scott of The Copperfield Review, “…I felt I was swept into the world of medieval Tuscany. The sights, the sounds, the panorama of personalities, all had an immediately natural and engaging feel. Ekstrom has developed a narrative that is full of period detail as if medieval Tuscany is being painted with words before our eyes, yet the narrative never intrudes on the characters or the story. The characters are allowed to speak for themselves.”

Her second effort, “A Knight on Horseback,” is a contemporary spin on all things medieval and chronicles the life of a woman in the midst of change, from how she pays the bills to thornier issues,such as diaper changes, work hours and men. Her protagonist, Violet Ellison, discovers she doesn’t need a knight on horseback to slay her dragons – she just needs a bit of personal space, and maybe some sleep. A reviewer wrote of “A Knight on Horseback,” “Don’t we all want to find our knight in shining armor? Is it possible? Or is it an untrue, unattainable, unreanights after all, knights on horseback are renaissance from history books and they weren’t often so shiny and glamourous. Just as we fantasize about our life and our future only to grow up and find ourselves locked in a, though full and important, mundane routine.”

“Armor of Light,” is her third published novel and is an historical fantasy, a retelling of the St. George and the Dragon legend, set in Cumbria, England, after the disasterous Fourth Crusade and the sacking of Constantinople. George Ascalon is the earl of Grasmere and returns home to discover he has one last battle – but the decisions he has to make where it concerns life are an even greater struggle. From the Historical Novels Review: “This story is a re-working of “Saint George and the Dragon,” with echoes of Beowulf and Lord of the Rings. The feel is lushly medieval, like a colorful tapestry come to life. A riveting battle between Christian elements and pagan evil is almost three-dimensional in nature . . . Ekstrom’s prose is luminous, particularly in areas where she is writing about medieval religion. The author knows her purificators from her ambries, and a timeless tale of good versus evil always strikes a chord . . . this story engaged the emotions, and the ending surprises and intrigues.”

The fourth novel, “Tallis’ Third Tune,” has been called extraordinary and sparkling literary fiction, a story that deals with first love, heartbreak, life, death, and everything in between and beyond, a woman’s journey into her heart and soul to correct mistakes made where it concerns the two men she has loved the most.

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