Susanna M. Newstead News Method in Madness

Method in Madness

Method in Madness

Posted by Sue Newstead on Feb 21, 2022 in News & Views

I know I have written about this before but whilst reading through some of my Amazon reviews, I decided to write again.

I think it’s obvious to those of my esteemed fans who read all my books that there is a theme running through every one of my Savernake Novels (not the Kennet Valley Tales or the Withershynnes novels), as far as titles are concerned.

Not everyone, it seems understands why I pick the titles I do.

“A good follow up in this Savernake murder mystery, told at quite a sedate pace, but that seems to suit the style of the book.
The ending leaves things nicely for the next murder to be solved.
The only thing I find is that the book title is really weird, from what I can see has nothing to do with the plot of the novel.”

This is a review of my second book, She Moved Through the Fair.

Now those who know their folk songs will immediately recognise this as a slightly creepy song which gives us a glimpse of a tiny story and doesn’t really give us a reason for it. It’s a beautiful song, being unusual in sound because it’s in the mixolydian mode. The notes used in this are: G – A – B – C – D – E – F.

The Mixolydian mode is the 5th mode of the major scale as it is derived from the 5th note of the major scale. It’s is also sometimes referred to as a dominant scale because the 5th degree of the major scale is called the dominant. To play a Mixolydian scale you can play all the white keys from G to G on a piano.

Now, I’m not going to get too technical but the easiest thing I can tell you about it is, it was often used in the past for folk songs and for church music. And it’s very eerie to listen to.

Here’s me singing in the mixolydian mode…the title of the book I’m talking about.

All my books (apart from the first one) in this series have titles for old British folk songs. It’s my USP…Unique Selling Point. So to say that there is no relevance to the title in the book is …well odd in the extreme.

What I do when I write a book is find an interesting title which is a song. If there’s a story in that song that’s good as I’ll tell it and build on it. If not I’ll write a story which reflects the title. This is what I did with She Moves Through the Fair. If you read it carefully (and why shouldn’t you?) you’ll see that one of the main characters ACTUALLY does move through the fair. This is the fair granted by King John in 1204 to the town of Marlborough; a fair which carries on to this day, albeit on a different day and in a more modern way. If you read this part of the book with your eyes open, you’ll pick up a few clues as to who the murderer might be! Nothing to do with the title? I think not.

I spend absolutely AGES going through songs…some which I bet you’ll never have heard because they were composed so early in our history. The next book, number 13 out this year is to be called Wynter Wakeneth, a 14th century song in an English which, whilst it’s a bit difficult to understand – I have translated it for you – will become apparent as you read it through. Many of the words chime with modern English.

Wynter Wakeneth

Wynter wakeneth al me care

Nou this leves waxeth bare;

Ofte y sike and mourne sare

When hit cometh in my thoht

Of this worldes joie hou hit geth al to noht

Nou hit is, and nou hit nys—

Also hit ner nere ywys;

That moni mon seith soth hit ys:

Al goth bote godes wille;

Alle we shule deye us like ylle

Al that gren me graueth grene;

Nou hit faleweth al by-dene

Jhesu, help that hit be sene

Ant shild us from helle!

For y not whider y shal ne hou longe her duelle

Winter awakens all my sorrow,

Now the leaves wax bare.

Often I sigh and mourn sorely

When into my thoughts come

This world’s joy, how it all goes to naught.

Now it is, and now it is not,

As if it had never been, truly.

What many people say, it is the truth:

All passes but God’s will.

We all shall die, though it please us ill.

All the grass which grows so green,

Now it fails all together.

Jesu, help this to be understood,

And shield us from hell!

For I do not know where I shall go, nor how long I shall dwell here.

Anon but possibly from Leominster Herefordshire possibly around 1310.

Wynter Wakeneth = Winter Awakes….not too difficult was it?

If you have I Tunes you can listen to this haunting song sung by John Fleagle on his wonderful album Worldes Blis.

And yes…this is the 14th book I shall publish in the Savernake Series. Anyone like to hazard a guess what that means?

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