Mister Woodreeve's Reflection

By Robert Bluck

Can the secrets be unravelled if they share the impossible things they have seen?

Fiction
101% funded
105 supporters
Published

Publication date: TBC

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Author guided tour (for 2) of locations in and around Hexham that inspired the book and lunch with the author (travel not included –bring wellies!) plus everything from the Launch Party level.

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Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection is a literary mystery with a hint of the supernatural running through it. Set mainly in contemporary Northumberland, it tells the story of Emma Forster and her family. Their meeting with Matthew the Woodreeve sets off events which will transform all their lives.

As Emma crosses the footbridge, on the day after a summer storm, she sees something impossible, a man walking unharmed out of the churning river. By now she knows enough to keep it to herself. But who is the reclusive Matthew, and why is Emma drawn to him? Will the Forsters remain trapped in the past, or can they solve the puzzle he sets for them all?

On the surface is a family in crisis. Emma is an awkward teenager in a world of her own, and younger twin brothers Jonathan and Ben turn into squabbling eco-warriors. Their reliable but unimaginative father Keith finds his whole career threatened, while home-loving but fragile mother Helen is faced with a tragic loss. Beneath this is a web of secrets the Forsters are hiding from each other, which can only be untangled if they have the courage to share what they have seen. There seems to be a hidden world – magical or dangerous – only a hair’s breadth away from everyday Northumberland.

Emma has seen impossible things before, and her parents think she is hallucinating. The family befriend Mister Woodreeve during their summer holiday, and begin to dream of moving from urban Newcastle into the country. When Matthew disappears, leaving behind his own peculiar story for them to read, they are more confused than ever. Secret letters, secret places and secret lovers all have to be discovered and understood, before Emma and her mother can find their way towards the truth.

The award-winning poet Linda France writes: ‘Robert Bluck’s Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection begins with everything in turmoil – past and present twisting and turning, the Forster family’s lives unravelling. Even the river is in spate, haunted by a barely glimpsed mysterious spirit. The drama, elemental and intriguing, draws the reader in, keen to discover more, watch the story unfold and find answers to the questions at its heart – questions about roots and the land, the enchantment of special places, where we belong and what makes life worth living.’

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  • Robert Bluck avatar

    Robert Bluck

    Robert Bluck is a writer, Zen practitioner and occasional meditation teacher. He previously worked as a schoolteacher, academic librarian and Open University lecturer. Born in London, he migrated north in stages, and he and his wife now live in rural Northumberland. As well as a Creative Writing Diploma, he has research degrees in English and Religious Studies, and his doctoral thesis was published in 2006 as British Buddhism.

    He used to spend summers backpacking across the Pyrenees or climbing Scotland’s mountains, but this has given way to cycling. In 2013 he and his friend Steve rode from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for their local hospice. (It was Steve’s wife Julie who discovered Unbound as a new way to publish.)

    At present he is researching and writing a book on family history, setting the four families of his grandparents in their nineteenth-century social and economic contexts, from labourers in rural Worcestershire to drapers in Newcastle. Away from writing, Robert is either cycling with Steve or planning their two-thousand-mile ride round the coast of Scotland, which may well turn into another book. Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection is his first novel.

  • In the last second of the chosen morning, Emma lets go of a wooden post, one foot raised to step off the bridge. A brown wave leaps up at her and she falls into the air – peaty water in her mouth, a slow scream inside her head, like the buzzard’s mewing. In that single moment, between water jumping and ground slipping away – if there is space for such a moment – a shape in the corner of her vision becomes a young man walking.

    He moves slowly, out of the wave and onto the bank beside her. The churning river must be eight feet deep, but there he is, the young man with a rucksack, his clothes all wet, a smile of anticipation and that split-second glance from his wide eyes. The question springs into her mind, a fragment from a half-forgotten conversation: Are you a person in my story, or am I a person in yours?

    Fifteen minutes earlier, she is striding along the rough track, determined to reach the bridge before her little brothers, birthday or no birthday. The path is full of puddles, grass still wet from the rain. Wind sways white birch trunks, pulls at the wrinkled oak. The startled pigeons clatter from the trees.

    The noise is all around her. Is it the wind on the steep slope above her right shoulder, roaring through the great oaks, their branches covered in lichen, thick strands of ivy climbing up gnarled trunks? Or is it the river itself, the writhing water below her feet on the left, glimpsed through the strip of woodland, the smaller birch and alder, the bushes whose names she can never remember?

    Read more...
  • Robert Bluck has written 2 private updates. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    1st February 2018 Literary Walk

    If you're in the North-East.... here's advance notice of a National Trust literary walk on Wed 2 May. I'll be leading a group of people through Allen Banks, where Mr Woodreeve's Reflection is set, with readings and explanation of the special places. We'll end up for tea and biscuits in the cottage where much of the novel takes place - and where signed copies of the novel can be bought! If you've not…

    14th October 2017 One thing leads to another...

    Two festivals to report! I was lucky enough to be part of the Hexham Book Festival, where a small but appreciative audience heard me explaining a little about Mr Woodreeve's Reflection

    Afterwards a nice lady called Marj suggested that I might like to be part of the Haltwhistle Walking Festival in October. The novel is set locally in and around Allen Banks, so we worked out a literary walk together…

    3rd April 2017 Fan Mail!

    The best news since publishing Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection is that people have enjoyed reading it! I keep getting emails and letters saying how much they liked the book. I can’t resist sharing some of these comments….

    Kate read the novel in one go and enjoyed being ‘steeped in the world of the Woodreeve for the whole day’. Yvonne was impressed by how well the story was woven together, and Rachel…

    3rd April 2017 Fan Mail!

    The best news since publishing Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection is that people have enjoyed reading it! I keep getting emails and letters saying how much they liked the book. I can’t resist sharing some of these comments….

    Kate read the novel in one go and enjoyed being ‘steeped in the world of the Woodreeve for the whole day’. Yvonne was impressed by how well the story was woven together, and Rachel…

    25th January 2017 Book launch for Mr Woodreeve in paperback

    We had a lovely book launch in Hexham for Mr Woodreeve's Reflection, with about 40 people present for readings, an author interview (not as scary as I thought), and questions from potential readers. The paperback cover was much admired, and we sold 20 copies too.

    Our local paper will have a feature article out soon (I hope), and I'll be speaking at the Hexham Book Festival in May.

    Again, my…

    12th January 2017 Paperback published!

    Mr Woodreeve's Reflection is now in digital and in print! The ebook has gone out to subscribers, and I have just unwrapped a big parcel of paperback copies. It's hard to describe holding a pile of books with your name on the cover. It's something I have dreamed about. But in the dream it's someone else, not me, who has published a novel...

    The crowdfunding was not always easy - I'm still not quite…

    3rd January 2017 Publication Dates!

    Happy New Year! The digital version of Mr Woodreeve’s Reflection will this week be winging its way through the ether to a computer/tablet/other device near you, I am assured by Unbound. Apologies for the delay, due to the festive season.

    If – like me – you’re not really a kindle/tablet person, here’s the even better news! The paperback is due for publication on Thursday 12 January, after which…

    2nd December 2016 Mister Woodreeve's Reflection - in print!

    I've just heard from Unbound that they will soon be publishing my novel Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection in paperback as well as e-book format! This is great news for all potential readers who like to turn the page literally as well as digitally.

    The e-book is almost ready and should be published in the next week or so. Again, my heartfelt thanks to all the lovely subscribers who have pledged to make…

    14th October 2016 Launch Date in Sight!

    Great excitement today in the Writer’s Shed, as I have just received the page proofs from Unbound for Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection. At last my typescript looks like a real book! All I need to do now is go through the text with a fine-tooth comb to see if I can spot any mistakes.

    We’re very nearly there now. Hopefully the final adjustments and corrections will be made in the next couple of weeks…

    24th August 2016 Editing and Cover

    We’re two big steps closer now to launching Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection. I’ve spent quite a bit of the last month making lots of small revisions in the light of some very helpful editorial comments – and have now submitted the final version for copy-editing, where my spelling, punctuation and grammar will be scrutinised. Fingers crossed!

    Meanwhile, I filled in a detailed design questionnaire…

    28th June 2016 How to Improve Your Novel

    I’ve not had a chance to post anything in the writer’s shed for a while. My cycling Pal Steve and I have been pedalling round to coast of Scotland from Carlisle to Fort William – just over 800 miles in all – and we’re now back home in Northumberland. (Our wives let us out each June to do daft things like this.)

    Meanwhile, Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection has been to an editor and back, and she has…

    26th April 2016 Almost there - but almost where?

    Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection now has over a hundred supporters – and the novel is 75% funded! It feels like we’re really going to hit the target by Monday 9 May. Last chance to add your own pledge to support publication!

    Lots of people have asked me where the novel is set, so here’s a picture clue. Forty miles or so west of Newcastle, between Hexham and Haltwhistle, a stream like this one tumbles…

    21st April 2016 Hexham Book Festival

     

    Hexham Book Festival is upon us! There are speakers of all sorts – poets and novelists, comedians and politicians (not mutually exclusive!) Come to Hexham and listen to Susan Calman, Rev. Richard Coles, David Owen, Vince Cable, Melvyn Bragg, James Naughtie, Joanne Harris – and our own Linda France.

    As you wander into the foyer at the Queen’s Hall, you may meet a bearded person offering you…

    10th April 2016 A Sneak Preview - Four Weeks to Go!

    Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection is now 50% funded – half way there at last! The novel has eighty supporters, including my first real girlfriend, three of my cousins, and lots of my dear local friends and neighbours. I’m so grateful to all of them. But now we only have four weeks until the deadline on 9 May. That’s why I’m asking for your help.

    Here’s a sneak preview of the scene where the Forster…

    28th March 2016 Scientific or Supernatural

    I’m really excited! This morning we reached 40% of the target, thanks to several generous supporters – and one anonymous patron in particular, who will definitely be the guest of honour at the launch party! You know who you are….

    Thank you to everyone who has supported Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection so far, now from Japan and New Zealand as well as local friends from Northumberland.

    Scientific…

    14th March 2016 Now we are Sixty

    A massive thank-you to all supporters! We have reached 30% of the target in just over a month, which is a really big milestone. I know there’s still a long way to go, but it feels somehow that the momentum is building. Mister Woodreeve is almost one-third of the way to being transformed from a figment of my imagination into a real character in a published novel.

    And now there are sixty of you!…

    4th March 2016 A Hint of the Supernatural....

     

    When I say Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection has ‘a hint of the supernatural running through it’, I don’t mean angels or demons, celestial or infernal beings. I’m thinking more of ‘beyond the natural’, beyond what we expect to experience.

    The novel opens with Emma, an impressionable teenager, seeing something which obviously can’t happen – a young man walking unharmed out of a deep churning river…

    26th February 2016 Hexham Courant article (Friday 26 February 2016)

    From the Hexham Courant (Friday 26 February 2016)

    Robert enters a brave new world with his debut spine-tingling mystery novel

    It’s a brave new world for Bardon Mill’s Robert Bluck as he bids to publish his first novel with the help of crowd-funding.

    The retired librarian and university lecturer has twice ventured into print in the past with writings of a scholarly bent – one about British…

    26th February 2016 'Spine-tingling mystery novel...'

    A friend asked me recently what I understood by the supernatural, and I promised to explain when next in the writer’s shed. But wait! Breaking news intervenes….

    This week my local paper – the wonderful Hexham Courant – has a very welcome article publicising Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection. I was a little taken aback by the headline: ‘Robert enters a brave new world with his debut spine-tingling mystery…

    19th February 2016 A Literary Mystery?

    I’ve described Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection as ‘a literary mystery’ – what do I mean? It’s hardly a whodunit – there are no murders, no list of suspects to interrogate. It’s more of a ‘what’s going on here?’ mystery, with an increasing number of questions spinning round inside my head.

    What does Emma see in the first chapter? Who is Mister Woodreeve? Will they be able to share the secrets which…

    13th February 2016 A Sense of Place

    Writing a little about finding Woodreeve's Cottage reminded me about how important particular houses have been in my writing. There's a childhood bungalow, a student flat, and two particular houses in Northumberland, all of which seem to have wheedled their way into the novel, one way or another. I've disguised them or moved them, but the details of a particular room or passageway, or perhaps part…

    12th February 2016 Welcome to Robert's Shed - and thank You!

    Hello and welcome to my shed! First of all, a big thank-you to my first subscribers, Julie (on Day One), Audrey, George, Barbara, Alex, Mick and Di, and Brenda. I'm so pleased to have support for Mister Woodreeve's Reflection right from the word go. Supporters from Dorset to Northumberland already!

    I'm hoping to write regularly from the shed - at least once a week or so - with updates on progress…

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  • Julie Gibbon
    Julie Gibbon asked:

    I'm so pleased Unbound are supporting Mister Woodreeve's Reflection. I have had the pleasure of a secret preview which I couldn't put down and thoroughly enjoyed. I do hope many others will support it too. I would love a printed copy if that is possible?

    Robert Bluck
    Robert Bluck replied:

    Thanks Julie, I'm so glad you enjoyed the secret preview. A printed copy is of course the ultimate ambition - but for the present, we need lots of kind people like you to pledge for the ebook. We seem to be off to a good start...