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 Buddhism, the other a guide for librarians – but this is his first foray into fiction.
And he hopes Tynedale folk will look kindly on his efforts, for he is using the services of Unbound Books, which takes the illustration of support provided by crowdfunding to justify publishing it as an ebook.
“This is an online version of the ‘subscriptions in advance’ model used by Dickens and others,” said Robert. “There is a full refund given if the target is not reached. I’m off to a good start, with 34 supporters in the first 10 days, so I’m around one-seventh of the way there.” He has 90 days to get his target of 240 people prepared to buy his book on board.
The book in question is Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection, a spine-tingling 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 – and the meeting with one Matthew Woodreeve that changes all of their lives.
As Emma crosses a footbridge after a summer storm, she sees the unimaginable: a man walking unharmed out of the churning river. But who is this recluse and why is she so drawn to him?
Beneath the surface of an apparently normal family life, the Forsters are, in fact, trapped in a web of deceit. Emma is an awkward teenager with squabbling twin brothers, a father fighting to save his career and a fragile mother facing a tragedy of her own. The Forsters are hiding from each other as well as everybody else, but the key to freedom is at hand, if only they can solve the puzzle set by the enigmatic Mr Woodreeve.
Award-winning poet Linda France said: “Mister Woodreeve’s Reflection begins with everything in turmoil – past and present twisting and turning, the Forsters’ 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.”
Robert makes full use of his beloved Northumberland as a backdrop. Several scenes are set in Hexham, and even those that are set in Newcastle have more than a hint of Tynedale about them.
“Some of the local influences are perhaps not quite so obvious,” he said. “For example, several chapters are set in a big Victorian house in Newcastle that is actually the house I lived in once in Hexham. Most of the book is set in what I call a fictional corner of a real county and capturing the atmosphere of that is important to me.”
Anyone interested in contributing to the crowdfunding can follow the link to: https://unbound.co.uk/books/mister-woodreeves-reflection.
Robert’s weekly blog on his Facebook page also contains snippets about the writing of the novel and updates on his funding drive.
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