The following review is excerpted from ©Naples Sun Times 2008
"Neapolitan G. P. Walmsley provides a racy, colorful entertainment with his first novel, "The Virtuoso: A Love Story in Scarlet."
The story takes readers through about
three decades, tracing the life of John (Jack) Dupree from his days as a wartime New Orleans street kid of eleven through his ups-and-downs as a musician, friend, lover, and human being.
The part of the portrait
that illumines Jack's coming of age in the 1950s, a section that includes his service in the Korean War, is even better at capturing the feel of a decade than the delineation of the other periods - and this sense of
time and place (including St. Louis and New York) is always keen.
Jack's early education takes place in the saloons and jazz clubs of his native city, and his passion for jazz, still mainly the province of black
musicians, is matched only by his passion for women.
His sexual experience begins early and it continues to define him through the decades that follow. Walmsley draws this formative New Orleans milieu quite
convincingly and along the way he probes the racial tensions of the times. He also probes the dynamics by which racial barriers give way to mutual respect among dedicated, skilled musicians in the world of blues and
The world of nightclubs, whether sleazy or posh, is interwoven with the world of prostitution. Jack lives in that world as well. When his mother dies, Jack moves on to live with an aunt, who is a madam in
Soon enough, he meets her friend, Sophia, also in that trade, with whom he has a most passionate and complex relationship. Sophia supports, marries, and occasionally torments the much younger hero,
helping him to realize his dreams of becoming a top-level musician.
Along the way, Jack is transformed into John, and he temporarily puts aside the jazz clarinet for the classical piano. Private tutors, Julliard,
minor league competitions and concerts, and an ambitious agent-manager, all bring Dupree to the threshold of fame and fortune.
Though Sophia tries to bury her past and develops a successful Manhattan boutique,
criminal prosecutions for prostitution and tax evasion threaten her - and thus threaten her husband's chance at the gold ring.
Partly for this reason they decide to divorce, but the reader learns of other motives
as well. Incidentally, Walmsley's background in law enforcement adds credibility to several aspects of his plot.
As much as he cares for Sophia, Jack/John Dupree is tempted by other women and he strays. Sophia
has secrets as well, which I'll leave for readers to discover.
What Walmsley does best is project the ecstatic moments of creative release - those times when an artist achieves a transcendent state.
implicitly and explicitly, Walmsley likens this ultimate euphoria to sexual release. There's nothing new in this comparison, but the author evokes it with skill and force.
He also does a fine job in creating a
rich collection of minor characters, including Cotton Blanchard, a wise, caring black musician, who becomes Dupree's mentor and father figure. Dupree's Aunt Clara is also well-drawn, as is Sophia's lawyer and a young
female violinist named Laura."
Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with
twenty books to his credit, this "Dr. Phil" chairs the annual Naples Writers' Conference and Authors & Books Festival, presented by the Naples Press Club.
New post on Writing Under Fire
Author Interview Friday featuring G. P. Walmsley
It is my pleasure to have another local member of Marco Island Writers with me today. At the end of this interview we are going to ask you, the readers to vote on your favorite book cover. G.P. (or George) has
posted his book with two different covers on Kindle as a test market to see if the cover makes a difference in the way readers choose the books they buy. Your vote will be most helpful in his marketing research.
Joanne: Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?
George: No, I may even switch POV in the same story, but not carelessly. Only in keeping with clarity.
Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?
George: No. While I have favorites I believe in flexibility. Erotica I use sparingly for realism and to make a point, but I would not say I use it as a genre. I do
believe you can find a bit of it in most everything I write. I like mystery stories, and I also like metaphysical plots. I like mainstream fiction when I think in terms of writing a classic.
Joanne: Are you published through a traditional publishing house?
George: No! Nor do I have any desire these days to do so. If anyone would like me to be more specific ask for my number.
Joanne: . Why did
you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indi publisher to a colleague?
Several reasons: 1. Time 2. Keep all Rights 3. In today's world of publishing I see no advantage in traditional publishing and lots of dis-advantages. I have had three publishers and I would recommend my present one,
Create Space. If anyone would like me to be more specific, ask for my number.
Joanne: Do you have a special time or place you like to write?
George: Yes, the morning when I am alert and fresh. Or the middle of the night if I'm fresh.
Joanne: When and why did you first become a writer?
George: Probably about the age of 10 or 12. Mostly
"dirty stories", no doubt from frustrations, but always from a desire to express thoughts and move people emotionally. Many of my writings come from philosophical arguments that may cause some to think.
Joanne: . Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?
George: I took several writing courses, plus many papers in college. I also wrote many, many
reports during my career in law enforcement. When I was young I subscribed for about 20 years to things like "Writer's Digest"
Joanne: . How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?
George: About 12 years, but that had nothing to do with publishers. That was from dragging my feet once I really got into doing novels. I was experimenting with 3rd person and 1st person writing and not very serious
Joanne : . What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?
George: I spent 4 years in the military service on active duty and 25 years in local law
enforcement. I served in many capacities and retired a Deputy Chief of Police. My education was extended and I have an Associate in Science Degree in Law Justice and a Bachelor Degree in Behavioral Science/Liberal Arts.
I did not finish graduate work. Let me simply say everything broadened my experiences.
Joanne: So readers, help George out here. Which one of these covers would entice you to buy the book?
Click on either link to order your books today. Don't forget to vote in the comments section of the blog.
Vote A for A Virtuoso's Affairs to Remember and B for The Pianoman
Readers, here are some excerpts from his book (in both editions)
They are not in any order-just excerpts.
He followed her up the
stairs, watching her stocking-clad legs climb each step, exposing more thigh the higher she moved. Her small waist curved nicely downward into hips that were pressed tightly against her short dress. He wondered if he
should be embarrassed while watching her every motion. He smelled her cologne lying delicately on the staircase before him. Entering her apartment a few steps behind he placed the groceries on the kitchen table, still
inhaling her pleasant scent.
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust . . ." The words flowed from the ministers mouth in the cool of the morning mist as Jack Dupree watched his mother's body being
placed in a simple tomb at the rear of the cemetery. Large overpowering trees with heavy branches reaching outward daunted the landscape bringing an ancient feeling to the moss covered ground that lay beneath their feet.
"Sophia, this is Jack, my dear nephew." Clara said, causing her arm to unfold in a gesture of presentation. "Jack, this is Miss Berry." As she turned with a twirling motion her
glistening blond hair fell to her shoulders. Jack stood motionless as if mesmerized. She smiled and extended her arms wide toward him.
"Why Jack, I can't tell you how glad I am to finally meet you."
Sophia Berry took several steps in his direction. "Your aunt told me so much about you."
She turned to Clara, "Why Clara Peachmont, you never did tell me how handsome he was. Your aunt always
forgets these important little details."
He could feel the warmth of his face turning red from the excitement he felt.
"Cold emp-ty bed - springs hard as lead, - Pains in my head, -
feel like old Ned, What did I do to be so black and blue?"
The tune, "Black & Blue", drifted onto the street from the open barroom door, meeting the dusk with that certain grace the blues have
been known to create in the soul of man. Jack had arrived in Saint Louis. He straightened his crooked brown cap and looked hard at the seediness of the neighborhood near the train station. He heard the screech of a cat
and then some bottles breaking in an alley. He moved along quickly.
He moved to the piano and lifted the cover from the keyboard. Just then a woman wearing a flowing feathered gown came bouncing into
the room. Her face, white as alabaster, was surrounded by long red curls. A large gold cigarette holder was stuck in one corner of her painted mouth as the smoke curled upward in swirling ringlets. She supported it with
"Ahh, you must be Jack," she said, throwing her arms open and giving him a big hug. "Your aunt told me to expect you. I am Greta. Would you like some tea? No, of course not. How about
a big cold root beer and a large piece of chocolate cake?"
She ordered Henry to bring the refreshments and pointed to an overstuffed chair for Jack to sit in. Harris accompanied Henry as Jack watched the two
tall men glide silently through the double pocketed doors. He figured Miss Greta must be sort of an important lady in this operation. A real pro! "Miss Greta, would it be possible to play that piano?" Jack
pointed to the high-back.
"Of course! Of course! Can you play boogie-woogie, dearie? I just love boogie-woogie. Charles, that's our colored professor, he plays real nice music for the 'Johns'. I mean, the
customers." A look of flushed concern passed across her face quickly.
Jack sat at the piano and ran his fingers across the keys from left to right and back again. Little out of tune, he thought. For the next
few minutes he pounded out a medley of Fats Waller tunes at a tempo that used to make his old friends at Mamma Goldies shake their heads and clap their hands. He glanced at Miss Greta, who was bouncing around, smiling a
broad smile on her painted face. She was a little heavy, with a large bosom.
"Boy, you can tickle those ivories," said Miss Greta, clapping her hands to the lively music. "I think Miss Clara should
hire you, Jack." As he finished playing and spun himself around on the stool, his eye caught the lone figure standing by the doorway to the drawing room. She was blond, with long curls and appeared to be near his
age. She wore a pink cotton pull-over that ran to her knees. For a moment he sort of locked eyes with her. Then she smiled and introduced herself.
"Hi! My name is Penelope. Everyone just calls me,
Penny." She extended her hand. "Sure like your play'en."
Miss Greta stepped forward, "This, my dear, is Master Jack. He is Miss Clara's nephew. He ain't no customer. You understand me, my
dear?" A note of authority was in her voice.
The silence was broken when Sophia asked, "Clara, what did you mean when you told your nephew not to gamble, that he would lose?"
Clara smiled at Sophia. It was one of those smiles that one gave another when you just knew something lay behind it. "What I said to John, dear, was he should not play poker, but I suppose it could apply to
gambling in general." Her smile stopped as she continued, "I might say the same to you, as well, old friend."
"Okay, Clara!" Sophia exclaimed, a nervousness in her voice. "What's going on?"
"Well, my dear, I don't think you are quite that innocent, now are you?" Clara pulled the car to the
side of the road, just blocks from their destination.
"Okay, Clara, what's on your mind?"
"You, my dear. My old friend. To be more exact, you and my nephew, that is what is on my mind. And
please don't insult me with any bullshit denial that the two of you aren't sleeping together."
"So that's it, is it? Okay, let's have it."
"I went to your room last night to check on
you and I discovered your bed empty. At first I thought you were in the bathroom, but when I discovered you were not - well . . . How could you betray me this way, Sophia?"
"Your nephew and I fell in
love a long time ago. I tried not to, but he is dearer to me than you could ever know."
"Love! Love! For God's sake Sophia we are whores. What do we know about love? You took advantage of John. You
seduced him. He didn't have a chance. God, this is all my fault. I never should have introduced you to each other."
"Oh, Clara, wake up! Your John is a good guy, a talented guy and we are in love with
each other. We didn't want to tell you because of what is happening right now. This is what I expected would happen. He wanted to tell you last year and I wouldn't let him."
"Last year? My God! I want
the world for that boy, Sophia. I want his happiness. What do you think will become of your love affair in a few years? What will become of him in a few years?"
"Clara, if I thought giving him up would
full-fill his life and insure his happiness I would walk away right now. I love that young man and we have a good life together no matter what you think. We are much more than lovers. Much more! He has given me respect
and gave me back something I thought I lost forever. Feelings Clara! You know what I'm talking about."
"I feel you have betrayed me, Sophia."
"Well, I didn't. I never promised to not
make love to Jack, or to not fall in love with him. I only kept our affair secret because I knew how you would feel. Don't think I don't understand your feelings, but let's face it, your feelings include a pretty low
opinion of me." Sophia stepped out of the car and slammed the door. "I think Jack, or John, or whatever you want to call him, and I should leave at once."
Clara started to cry. "Give me a minute, please. I need to think this out."
"I will give you the rest of your life to figure it out, Clara. The fact of the matter is that your nephew and I are in
love. Talk to him, Clara, but don't you beat up' on him. I won't allow it."
The two women were silent for what seemed like a long time. Then, looking at each other they knew each other's pain as each bore
tears that streamed down their cheeks like crystal lakes of muddy waters; laden with mascara.
After several moments Clara spoke up, "You look like shit, Sophia. You better get back in the car before someone
calls the cops."
"Yea, so do you." replied Sophia. "I guess we look like two old hookers after a bad scene."
Clara tried to compose herself. "I don't want to lose my nephew,
Sophia. If he's that smitten with you, as you say, I know the consequences of getting between you. This is one reason why I wanted to talk with you first. I do want to talk with John, but only to see what he has to say.
I will not try to break your relationship up. Also, I would appreciate that he didn't know about our talk. At least the negativity."
Sophia agreed. "Clara, it is important that you believe I only have
his interests at heart. That includes his career as a concert pianist. And, one more point I would like to make; don't sell yourself short. We lose much in our world, not least of which is the ability to feel intimacy
in our lives. We are the proof that intimacy can be restored."
The two said little more as they continued on and Clara took care of bringing some cheer to her girls and the staff.
As they arrived
home, John was sitting at the piano, playing a wistful melody that caused both women to not interrupt. Silently they listened as he played. As he brought the number to a close he heard his aunt announce their arrival
Here is a bonus excerpt:
"What do you want to do, Melvin?" Sophia asked, a smile on her curved, red lips. It was obvious that Dr. Johnson was terribly aroused.
"Well, my dear Sophia, I thought we could get a room."
"A room? Why, I thought we would go to your home. You know, later, after a nice dinner at the Stork Club. A little dancing, perhaps." Sophia was loving the tease. She watched his anticipation turn to panic.
"Well," he began, "My home is too far and I have an elderly aunt and uncle that live with me. The Stork Club? If you are hungry we could have a bite right here. Did I tell you that you look like an
She let him order another round, but knew that two was her limit. She felt his hand patting her leg. "Why not the Stork Club, Melvin? It would be fun." She taunted him a little more. "If
we get a room, could it be in the Waldorf?" She watched the anxiety grow on his face.
"Now look here Sophia. This is not an ordinary date. We have a bargain and unless you want John thrown out of school you
will keep your end."
"Well, Melvin what exactly is it you want? Would you like to fuck me? Do you want to ravage my body? Would you like me for dinner?" Sophia was almost laughing as she spoke.
Dr. Johnson was beside himself, now. "Yes! Yes, I want all of that, and I want it now."
Sophia slid closer to him in the booth. "Let's see what you have down there, Melvin!" she spoke in a hard,
He quickly fumbled with his trousers, opening his fly. "Here!" He blurted, showing the obvious emotion of the moment with a smile, his yellowish teeth showing beneath a bushy mustache.
Sophia, now charged with anger reached into his trousers and cupped his scrotum with her hand, squeezing gently, but firmly as she stared right into his eyes.
"What are you doing?" He asked, wincing, a look of anguish on his face. "That hurts! Do you hear me?"
"Now that I have your attention, my good Dr. Johnson, you listen to me and you listen
well." Sophia released her grip, keeping just enough pressure as a reminder that she was holding all the cards. "First, you will see that John passes this year and that he stays in school. Next, you will
resign when this term is over."
"You're out of your mind!" Dr. Johnson growled, but not so loud to cause alarm. "You stupid bitch, do you really think squeezing my balls will make what you want
"You are a black-mailing son-of-a-bitch, Johnson. That's a crime! You extort sex for school favors."
"Your word against mine. The word, I might add, of a whore." Spoke Johnson.
Reaching into her purse, Sophia pulled a small package out and threw it on the table. "This is a copy, you asshole. It may not get you convicted as a criminal, but it certainly will end your career at Juilliard
and I think in education as well. If that's not enough, I think your wife might like to hear what kind of a man she's married to. And, by the way, that conversation we had was not only taped, but witnessed by another
She watched him squirm, the sweat pouring from his brow as fear grew in his eyes. She knew a cornered rat would fight back so she reminded him he was getting off easy. "The only fucking you're getting
tonight, Doctor. is the one you deserve. Now, do we understand each other? If anything happens to either of us, this tape will go to all the right people."
"You bitch, you talk about black-mail, what do you
think you're doing? You're a fucking bitch?" He looked away and then right at her. He had tears in his eyes, but held a sneer on his face. "You'll get yours someday!"
Sophia tightened her grip once
again, this time she gave a quick, hard squeeze as he grimaced in pain. He began choking and then vomited down the front of his suit. The tears and moans were much more pronounced. Sophia stood and looked quickly
around, but no one seemed to pay any attention.
As he looked up into her cold piercing eyes, Sophia calmly said, "Just so you'll know, you prick; my first plan was to have you killed. You're getting off
easy." She watched as the horror in his face grew. Maybe it was the tone of her voice, but Johnson seemed to believe her. "The next move is yours." As she spoke, she started to walk away. "Oh, yes,
and you can pay the tab."
She walked out of the bar and felt the refreshing breeze that brought a smile to her lips. She murmured, "Did he say I looked like an Angel?"
Thank you, George, for
sharing your book and your experience with us today. Hopefully, a lot of people will leave a vote on the comments on their choice of book cover.
jtailele | July 19, 2013 at 8:00 am | Categories: writers | URL: http://wp.me/p3dBuE-gv