4. Writing about Opera in Golden Icon

Welcome to my blog on Writing about Opera in Golden Icon.

As an aspiring author with no track record of having anything published I felt a fraud asking “experts” for their help. But I had an idea for GOLDEN ICON (my first published novel) and I knew I needed some professional, expert advice. By chance, that same week, I read an article that said:

‘Be proud of being an author and tell people what you do and don’t be afraid to ask for help.’

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I had begun my novel and decided that my protagonist Josephine Lavelle was going to be a faded opera diva but I knew very little about the opera world. I contacted the School of Music at the Universities in Belfast where I lived but then sadly the uncle of my very good friend died in Dublin. He was a lovely man with an incredible sense of humour. I went with my friend to his funeral in Dalkey and I will never forget how soprano Kay Lynch began to sing as the coffin was carried into the church. I turned around to see her up in the gallery, at the back, near the organ and I was mesmerised by the tone and quality of her “timbre.” It was haunting and a deeply emotional experience.
Several weeks later I sent an introductory email to Kay and I explained I was an author who was yet unpublished but writing my first crime novel. She kindly spoke to me on the telephone and I explained the plot and my protagonist and we spoke at length about what it was like to sing at a funeral and the skills involved in being a soprano.
Later that year I was on holiday, staying with friends, in Lake Como. When I mentioned my novel to them they were very excited and introduced me to a neighbour, who by coincidence, was a soprano living in the village. Jennifer Borghi agreed to meet me the following day. I went armed with a note pad and pencils and as we sat in the café overlooking the beautiful lake, drinking cappuccinos under the shade of a parasol, we watched passengers embark and disembark from the regular ferries. Jennifer told me things I could not have researched; how it felt to control your breathing, the hard work that went into practising on a daily basis and the desire and thrill to sing on stage.
Watching her speak with enthusiasm and passion, I felt I was finally able to capture some of the characteristic elements for my main protagonist. Josephine Lavelle came to life.
Although there was over a twenty-year age gap between Jennifer and my fictional character – it was irrelevant – the art of singing as a soprano is still the same. I was able to describe details of a voice and the training skills and speak with passion that enabled me to write in the first person.
Neither Kay nor Jennifer resembled my fictional character Josephine Lavelle but I was fortunate to draw on their experiences and incorporate details of their expertise into my writing.
I was able to write convincingly and with candour and more importantly with confidence. I included small details and nuances that formed my main character’s personality.

When I meet someone who is equally as passionate about their work as I am about mine, it’s a collaboration and a meeting of souls. I feel an inner sense of achievement and I am privileged to learn from them and share their excitement.

REMEMBER: Send an introductory email with information outlining who you are and how you would like them to help you. Sometimes if people are too busy to reply, you can send them a polite reminder but if you hear nothing after that look for an alternative resource on the Internet.

Always acknowledge those who help you. Keep notes.

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Next Blog Post: Writing Travel.

Kay Lynch singing Ave Maria

Derek Moloney & Kay Lynch -Fields of Athenry

Jennifer Borghi

Janet Pywell


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