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HEART OF THE TREE by Graeme--new and multi-part novel


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Read Heart of the Tree , the new novel by Graeme. Meet Rhys, Mia and Vince, then please let Graeme know how much you like the story. Chapter One online.

http://www.awesomedude.com/stories/HOTT/he..._tree_title.htm

The Tree was old. It had watched over many generations of local inhabitants. Settlers moving west from Sydney, recognising that the area was suitable for farming, had formed the small township of Mourton around The Tree. Even then, the residents recognised something special in The Tree and preserved the land around it as a park. Their discovery of land nearby that was suitable for grapes assured the prosperity of the town.

The children enjoyed clambering through the gnarled roots, up between the multiple, twisted trunks, and along the huge, curving branches. The middle of The Tree, between those trunks, was a safe haven, a fort, the room at the top of an enchanted tower, the meeting place of a secret society, the cabin of a sailing ship, or the centre of a wild forest ? whatever the children imagined. Without knowing it, The Tree became a part-time babysitter, as it entertained the youngsters while their parents performed their strange adult rituals.

An educated man once declared The Tree to be a magnificent specimen of Ficus Macrophylla ? a Moreton Bay Fig Tree. That name said so much about The Tree, but left so much more unstated.

Young lovers enjoyed the cool shade the spreading canopy provided. Many a tryst took place under the protection of The Tree.

Slowly, a legend grew.

Vows of love taken within the cover of The Tree were true and binding. The Tree was given the appellation ?The Lovers? Tree?, though most locals would shorten that to ?The Tree?. Many a wedding was held under those leaves, and the district enjoyed the lowest divorce rate in the country.

The story is still told of a young man, hormones running wild, professing his love to the latest target of his lust, only for the purpose of gaining the momentary pleasure he sought. He?d done that before, but never under The Tree. It was the last conquest he ever made; no other girl would have him from that time on.

The townsfolk loved their tree and protected it to the best of their ability.

Three times, though, that protection wasn?t enough.

Three times, The Tree started to die.

Three times, a young maiden, despairing of ever finding love, found her beau in a stranger to the town.

Three times, a wedding was held under the canopy of the dying Tree.

Three times, The Tree recovered.

Three times, a young maiden was given the sobriquet of Heart of The Tree.

The last time had been just after World War II. Since then, The Tree had faithfully cared for the children, protected the young lovers, and comforted the older couples.

One night in late November, a drifter came into town. Filled with a sickness in his heart, he lay down beneath the tree and fell asleep.

He never woke up.

The sickness in his heart, though, spread to the tree.

The fourth time had arrived.

Read Heart of the Tree , the new novel by Graeme. Meet Rhys, Mia and Vince, then please let Graeme know how much you like the story. Chapter One online.

http://www.awesomedude.com/stories/HOTT/he..._tree_title.htm

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After having seen glimpses of this story from Graeme over a period of several months... I'm super happy that we can bring it to you now!

Thanks Graeme and editor Aaron!

:D

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Ute: short for Utility vehicle. Known in the USA as a pickup truck.

Not quite, though they do serve a similar purpose. A ute is actually a passenger car body that's been modified to have a truck bed in the rear, where the rear seats and trunk would normally be. Sort of the reverse of an SUV, which is basically a truck modified into a passenger vehicle.

Though they weren't called utes back then, these vehicles enjoyed a brief popularity in the USA in the 1960s, the Chevy El Camino being perhaps the most familiar.

The research I did after reading the story took me to this site.

I think they're pretty cool, and it's doubly cool that they're still being produced and are so popular.

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Nice site, Paul!

I'll just add a small piece of history. There has, to the best of my knowledge, been one, and only one, Rolls Royce ute ever made. The manufacturers were horrified when they found out what the owner had done to their beloved vehicle....

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A mysterious beginning starts off Heart of the Tree with the Prologue and Chapter 1.

I'll look forward to finding out what's next.

So far, we have:

    [*]One tree is both a symbol and essentially a character in the story, with an imagined locally legendary backstory.

    [*]Another tree appears to be just a tree, because trees are seldom characters.

    [*]One character isn't contributing much yet, but he has an excuse, as he's busy being dead.

    [*]Three older teen characters, friends; one of whom could be gay.

    [*]Three adults, in their 40's and above, movers and shakers in the community.

    [*]One estranged brother off somewhere, but he has no excuse, as he's busy being uninvolved...maybe.

    [*]Plus a few others, such as a married couple and a nice date, whose involvement so far is unknown.

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    Thanks everyone. I'll just say that the story is only just starting, and there are a number of other characters still to be introduced. I learnt my lesson from New Brother and I'm letting the characters introduce themselves as they appear in the story, rather than hitting the reader with lots of introductions all at once.

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    The plot thickens and we get a strong dose of reality and some local legend that seems almost a bit mystic. The writing's strong; I like it. The plot is coming together slowly, bits and pieces; I like that.

    The characters? I'm just getting to know the characters. They don't come off as ciphers. They show some dimension, but I'm not sure I know them yet. With the Prologue and Chapters 1 and 2, I think I know Aunt Cynthia, Vince and his dad, and Rhys and his dad. Still getting to know the others. Oh, and a nice bit of characterization for Padma too, saying she's a deep thinker, but with a habit of stating what sounds like the obvious. :coughs: I think I recognize that from somewhere.... :cat: Also, an interesting character hook about the girl who's the " 'Pedia" (encyclopedia, you lot).

    Heheh, I'm a bit amused by the town legends talking about young maidens. Oh my. Yes, I know, that gives the wrong impression of the very fine way Graeme's story portrays things.

    Still, if you'll let me stray off-topic for a second, I'm reminded of a couple of vampire movies, including one where a hot female vampire is looking for the last male virgin. Some funny scenes in there. ("It's not what it looks like!")

    Alright, back on-topic.

    I can't quite guess what's going to happen with anything, though I suspect what one or two of the surprises might be. I'm not tellin', I don't want to spoil it for anyone. Besides, I'm not sure I'm right, and I know for certain that Graeme can throw in some surprises and some red herrings. (Gets out the lemon juice for the herring....)

    Do yourself a favor and read the story. I've heard a little about a couple of things in the rest of the story, though I haven't read a draft (drat).

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    Thanks, Blue.

    I have to say that I hadn't considering include vampires into the story... would a few bats be enough to keep you happy? :cat:

    Thanks in particular for your comments regarding the characters. I've been trying to balance character development with plot development.

    Graeme :)

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    Thanks, Graeme. -- About char. development, looking at it from the reverse angle, I'm glad you haven't gone into melodrama or long expositions on characters. Better to do as you've done, to show one or two glimpses at a time into a character's personality and looks.

    :cat: Bats! Haha, well, let's see... vampires, fruit bats, baseball bats, cricket bats? :roll:

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    I get the 'big picture' of the story and love Aunt Cynthia's past references to the tree.

    But then there is a three paragraph throw-away injection about a 'Karen Christian' character. It is really distracting the way she is presented.

    Further down is Rhys's confrontation with his father and a rant that comes out of left field. Rhys can't figure out what that's all about and the father doesn't explain. This literary oil in water leaves me confused. There should be some hint, I feel, about the father's explosive confrontation with his son.

    I enjoy the premise of the story and certainly admire Graeme's writing.I'm sure we all know how Gary Ross's heart was broken.

    As a reader, however, I find my concentration sidetracked and disoriented by the issues stated.

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    I get the 'big picture' of the story and love Aunt Cynthia's past references to the tree.

    But then there is a three paragraph throw-away injection about a 'Karen Christian' character. It is really distracting the way she is presented.

    Further down is Rhys's confrontation with his father and a rant that comes out of left field. Rhys can't figure out what that's all about and the father doesn't explain. This literary oil in water leaves me confused. There should be some hint, I feel, about the father's explosive confrontation with his son.

    I enjoy the premise of the story and certainly admire Graeme's writing.I'm sure we all know how Gary Ross's heart was broken.

    As a reader, however, I find my concentration sidetracked and disoriented by the issues stated.

    Thanks for the comment!

    I have quite a few characters to introduce, and I didn't want to swamp the reader with all of them at once. You're right that all you have is a small teaser about Karen, and in hindsight that maybe wasn't enough. However, it won't be long before she makes an appearance.

    The story is mainly written to be read in one go, but unless everyone was willing to wait for several months, that wasn't going to happen. The downside of that is that you get these little isolated snippets that you then have to wait before you get clarification.

    As for Rhys's dad, I thought I was clear. Can you please PM or email me and we can discuss this offline without ruining the detail for anyone who hasn't read the chapter yet.

    Graeme :-)

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    • 2 weeks later...

    All the other things in the chapter aside, I loved this:

    ?Your dad?s Chinese??

    Mia nodded.

    ?Good. I love Chinese.?

    ?That?s a pity, because it?s a Mexican restaurant.?

    Matt looked so startled that Mia had to laugh.

    ?Dad hates stereotypes. Everyone expects a Chinese chef to open a Chinese restaurant, so he opened a Mexican one, instead. He likes to challenge himself with new things, and Mexican cooking was what he decided on.?

    ?Well, I love Mexican, so it sounds perfect. I?m looking forward to seeing what Mexican cooked by a Chinese chef will taste like.? He paused. ?I thought I saw a Chinese restaurant in town.?

    Mia nodded. ?Yeah, The Royal Orchid. They have an Indian chef.?

    ?Is there an Indian restaurant in town??

    ?Yep, with an English chef.?

    ?I?ll probably regret asking, but what other places are there in town??

    ?Mama Saviloni is the chef at La Bella, the Italian restaurant. Dad?s been taking lessons from her, which is why I?m eating mainly Italian at home at the moment.?

    Matt laughed. ?Okay, enough questions for now. It?ll take me a while to get all of that straight as it is.?

    Excellent. I think that's what's called the new con-fusion cuisine. ;)

    Variety's tasty.

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    Chapter 2

    Jack Scribe asked about Rhys' dad's reaction, Snr. Sgt. Ernest Dresden, which I'm writing out because my memory for names is not the greatest.

    At first, I didn't know what to make of it either, in light of his earlier characterization as level-headed and fair, but controlling. I wondered why on earth he was going off like that, whether it was the difference between the man as a public, work figure, and the man as a private, home/personal figure. I also wondered how Rhys was going to react: blow up and walk out; fight; simply take it silently, then walk out; be too submissive; cry...? (I was betting on some kind of confrontation from Rhys, not docility.)

    But after the dad's explanation at dinner, of what his day had been like, I understood what Graeme intended with the father's blow-up. Ernest (the dad and an experienced policeman) has had to hold in his growing anger at how little respect was shown for a deceased young man who had done nothing wrong. It reminds him very much that his own son is near that age, and is rebellious and mischievous, although in mostly mild terms. It does tick off the dad and cause him to worry about his son.

    So we've set up one part of the reason. What's the other part? Simple: Ernest Dresden is acting in a way typical for many UK (or presumably Aussie) dads from his background. He blusters and gets mad and exaggerates all the things that could go wrong to their utmost -- and then tells his son (perhaps suddenly tenderly) that he'd love him and support him, even in those worst circumstances. Taken in that light, it reminded me of the Irish Sgt. Maj. Quincannon character, in a couple of John Wayne's movies. Except that Graeme chose not to make Sgt. Ernest Dresden a comedic char. To make it fit the mystery genre, the modern drama, real parenting (warts and all), and make motives and actions a little uncertain, he chose not to show the sergeant as becoming gentle, until he had calmed down and explained his day. Apparently, the dad, as a policeman, used to authority, is worried that his son's pranks might lead to trouble, although he seems to know his son better than that. I think the dad lets his temper get away with him, but is intending it as a "teaching moment" too. (That doesn't mean it would work that way, nor that it's a great idea to do it that way.)

    Hmm, and I think we see the father's attitudes towards gay people too. After he tells Rhys that he'll still love him, won't disown him, and will support him, he lists several somewhat laughable worst-case scenarios:

    He paused and looked down at his son. ?Despite all of that,? he continued in a suddenly gentle tone, ?you are my son and I will love you as such for the rest of my life. There is nothing, nothing, that you could ever do that would make me disown you. I promise you that, and I hope you know that your mum and I care for you now and always will. It doesn?t matter if you end up in prison, if you work as a male stripper, if you become a hippy, or even turn queer. You?re our son and we?ll always love you.?

    Note that he lists becoming a hippie, and then last, being queer, the point that's usually remembered. He then reiterates that they love Rhys. I'd say, perhaps the sergeant suspects that Gary (the deceased young man) was gay, or that Rhys could be gay, or at least wants to get across that he would be willing to accept having a gay son, although he might not be thrilled at the idea.

    Rhys is taken aback by his father's angry speech, and notices how uncharacteristic it is. I think we might say that the dad has been so thrown off by the day that he's reverted to how he grew up, copying his own dad's pattern, or letting his feelings get the better of him.

    Am I being too charitable to him? Quite possibly. Would Rhys even notice, in all the heightened emotions? Doubtful. -- I'm pretty mild-tempered, but either at Rhys' age or now, if someone was in my face like that, in person, chances are, I'd argue back, though it'd take a minute for me to go from simmer to full boil. -- Do I think that's a good way to teach or talk with one's child? Not generally, though if all other options aren't working, maybe so. Sometimes, tough love is necessary. Personally, I'd prefer a different method (and I suspect Graeme usually does too) but then, I'm not a dad. (My dad rarely ever got good and mad like that, but when he did, it was controlled, and you knew why he was mad at you.)

    I'd arrived at my interpretation after the sgt's after-dinner explanation, and after I'd had a little time to think it over. -- I think Graeme intended Ernest Dresden to be "laying down the law."

    Good grief, I really rambled. -- Graeme, was I close? What did I miss?

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    I'll have something more about Chapter 3 later.

    For now, I thought I'd add that, yes, I did get a lot more than the fun scene out of the chapter. -- And as long as the food tastes good, I'm not picky about whether it's traditional, regional, classical, home-style, or world fusion cuisine. I like variety in food and in people.

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    Chapter 2

    It's easy to read too much into things, but overall I think you're pretty close. Without worrying about the fine detail, Rhys's dad was so furious about what he saw as a bad parent that he wanted to tell Rhys that no matter how infuriating he is, he'll still be loved.

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    I really enjoyed the lighter aspects of Chapter 3 and the introduction of the new character.

    I guess I was going too deeply in my search for an explanation of the father's rant. Although there was no indication in the previous chapter, I felt that the policeman/dad's upset concerned not only disgust with the dead boy's father's uncaring attitude, but a concern that Rhys was gay. And, like Blue, I thought that the Sgt. was communicating unrelenting love to his son.

    Really looking forward to Ch. 4.

    Jack

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    • 9 months later...

    What an intriguing story! :icon_geek:

    Graeme - You have done a masterful job with every aspect of this story. Just beautiful.

    Started reading it yesterday and have just finished Ch 16 and went looking for this forum. I just can't believe that the last entry here was so long ago and stopped after the third chapter. Am I missing something? You had alluded to the fact the story was not finished and there was more to come. Is that in fact happening? I'm not sure when chapter 16 was posted.

    Great job, Graeme!!!!!

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    Thanks!

    I was going to make an announcement soon anyway, but part three of Heart of The Tree will start posting late April. I'm still to set which weekend that will be, but it won't be long.

    Graeme :icon_geek:

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