Join me in welcoming Anne Barwell to my blog today with her newest novel, Winter Duet, the sequel to Shadowboxing, Book Two in the Echoes Rising Series! She also gives us a terrific commentary on the music in Winter Duet!
Winter Duet, is out on December 27th, and is now available at
DSP Publications, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble!
DSP Publications, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble!
Off The Stave
Thanks for hosting me today, Aisling.
Music plays a big part in Winter Duet, book 2 of my WII Echoes Rising series. Two of the characters—Kristopher and Michel—are musicians. Kristopher plays violin, and Michel the flute, and they’ve promised each other a duet if they survive the war. Although the title reflects that promise, it also refers to a duet of another sort as the team is split into two for a good portion of the story. Reese Dante has done a fabulous cover for the book which is also music themed—music notes are part of the background sky behind the Mosquito aircraft, and there is an outline of a violin visible in the forest below.
I’d attended a lecture on music code as part of one of my music papers at uni, and had always wanted to use it in a story. I also studied Schubert’s Winterreise as part of the same paper, and given the setting of Winter Duet, it worked perfectly for it. The lyrics for the music come from a collection of poems by Müller so I used lines from one of the poems—Frühlingstraum’—as code phrases used by the Resistance. Kristopher takes the conversation about music a step further and devises a code which he and Michel can use to leave each other a note that will not be easily deciphered if found by the enemy.
Music code was not only used in WWII but long before that. Bach used musical notation to spell out his name in his compositions using the fact that modern music notation had developed from modes—in German ‘B flat’ is ‘B’ and ‘B natural’ is H—and phonetics. Later Schumann used several musical cryptograms in his music, spelling out not just his own name, but that of Clara Wieck, who would later become his wife. Other codes were based on pitch, motifs (repeated music phrases) and note lengths. There are many more examples and variations out there across a range of different composers.
And yes, Clara Lehrer, Kristopher’s sister, is named after Clara Schumann.About Winter Duet, Echoes Rising book 2 - Sequel to Shadowboxing
“Oh.” Kristopher paused, his spoon halfway to his mouth. “I’m sorry. I never thought. I didn’t mean to….” The words trailed off. Telling them he hadn’t meant to embarrass them would only serve to do just that.
“I’d never heard the poems before either,” Michel said. He glanced toward the door, as though suddenly nervous.
“That’s the thing with wars,” Karolina said. “They draw all sorts of different people together, don’t they? It doesn’t matter who you are. Out there on the battlefield, everyone’s the same, aren’t they?”
“Yes, they are.” Kristopher swallowed a mouthful of beans while he collected his thoughts. “I was a musician,” he said at last. “It was a long time ago. Sometimes it feels as though it was in another lifetime. I’ve been trying to work out why the code phrase sounded so familiar. I’m sorry. I guess I should have kept it to myself.”
“Nonsense,” Georg said briskly. “Don’t apologize for having a good education, and if it gives you some distraction to get through this terrible time, you should use it.” Karolina placed a hand on his shoulder. He reached up and placed his hand over hers. A sad look crossed her face, and she suddenly appeared a lot older.
Kristopher bit his lip. He lowered his gaze and concentrated on eating. He hadn’t meant to upset either of them. Michel had warned him to keep any conversation brief and focus on very general topics.
Damn it. He wasn’t very good at this at all. For a short time, he’d forgotten their situation and been caught up in the moment, remembering his passion for his music and wanting to share it.
“Paul….” Michel spoke Kristopher’s assumed name, and he looked up. “Karolina’s right. This war has drawn people together who normally wouldn’t have even met. Perhaps we should take it as an opportunity to learn new things, hmm? We all have something to offer.”
“Well said, Gabriel.” Karolina squeezed her husband’s hand. “It’s been too long since Georg and I had the company of young people. You said you were a musician, Paul. What instrument did you play?”
“I play the violin, although I haven’t picked it up in years.” Kristopher watched the couple, noticing the way they took comfort from each other’s touch. He wanted so badly to be able to just lean over and take Michel’s hand in his and be open in front of others as to how they felt about each other. During the months spent in the attic at St. Gertrud’s, they’d still had to be careful, but they’d been left alone for much of the time. He hadn’t realized just how difficult having to hide their relationship was going to be.
“We’re not that young,” Michel said when Kristopher lapsed into silence again. He’d told Kristopher he’d turned thirty on his last birthday. Kristopher was almost a year younger and had wondered at the time where both of them would be by his next birthday, which was only a few months away.
Georg chuckled. “You’re about the same age as our boy, so to us, that makes you young.” He got out of his chair. “I’m going to make some tea. Do you want some? Here, Karolina, have my chair. You’re not getting any younger.”
“My husband, he thinks he’s funny,” Karolina said. She gave him a light peck on the cheek and went to clip his ear again, but he ducked out of the way and headed toward the kitchen. “He’s only offering me his chair to keep me away from my knitting. He knows full well I’ll poke him with one of my needles if he gives me too much cheek.”
“How long have you been married?” Michel asked. He seemed amused by their banter. Kristopher wondered if it reminded him of his parents.
“Since just before the last war.” Karolina picked up the cloth bag Kristopher had noticed earlier and settled into the other armchair. She opened the bag and took out yarn and what appeared to be a large knitted square on needles. “We’d met the year before, and I waited for him to come home to me and our newborn son. I didn’t allow myself to think he might not. Tell me, do you have someone waiting for you?”
Kristopher glanced at Michel. Karolina wasn’t exactly following what he’d been told about keeping to safe subjects either.
“I have someone, yes,” Michel said finally. “I want nothing more than this war to finish so we can have a life together, but sometimes I doubt that will ever happen.”
“It will,” Kristopher said firmly. He placed his bowl on his knee, feeling the warmth of it through his trousers. “When you love someone, you wait for however long it takes.”
Hunted for treason and the information Kristopher carries, he and Michel leave the security of their safe house to journey across
Caught in a series of Allied bombings, they stop to help civilians and narrowly
escape capture by German forces. Switzerland
While investigating a downed aircraft in the
the two men discover an injured RAF pilot.
After they are separated, Kristopher and the pilot are discovered by a
German officer who claims he is not who he appears to be. Determined to find
Michel again, Kristopher has to trust the stranger and hope he is not connected
to those searching for him and the information he carries. Meanwhile Michel is
intercepted by one of the Allied soldiers he met in . His help is needed to save one of
their own. Berlin
Time quickly runs out. Loyalties are tested and betrayed as the Gestapo closes in. Michel can only hope they can reach safety before information is revealed that could compromise not only his and Kristopher’s lives, but those of the remaining members of their team—if it is not already too late.
About Anne Barwell
In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.
She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as "too many." These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of "spare time" is really just a myth.
Anne’s books have received honorable mentions four times and reached the finals three times in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.