Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Lightness of Dust by Matthew Weaver: Character Interview and Excerpt


I chose Samuel Freeman to answer the questions.  Sam appears in the book both as a young man and toward the end of his life.  The latter Sam speaks:

Where do you dream of traveling to and why?

I once painted a scene of a lonely girl at the edge of the sea.  Her story is lost, and though I know who she was…her thoughts on that day remain a mystery.  Given the ability to visit any place, in any time…that’s where I’d go.  To give her a message…

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A famous artist.  The most famous artist.  I maybe didn’t get the most part, but the Seattle Art Museum has been trying to put together a collection of my work for years now, so I must have done OK.

What group did you hang out with in high school?

High school?  Never went.  Not that I didn’t want to.  When my parents died I had to quit so I could make a living.  You might say that the Persephone was my only friend for years.

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?

That’s a pretty personal question. I’d rather not answer in too much detail.  Let’s just say that I’d apologize to the younger version of me.  I used the things he lost to take the rest away. 

Who should play you in a film?

As I am now?  Morgan Freeman. Hah! Same last name!  As a young man?  On the day I met Lily?  Don Cheadle.

Tell us about your favorite restaurant.

The Metropolitan Grill in Seattle.  I only ever at there once, and I was so nervous about the cost of my steak that I couldn’t finish it!  The bites I did manage, though…oh, nothing ever tasted so good. 

Do you have a favorite quote, quip, or saying? What is it?

The dark keeps its own company.  Lily said that to me once.  I was too young to understand it at the time.  But now…now I know.

Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?

People are never one thing, and rarely the one thing we think they are.  It was the most painful, yet utterly true, thing I’ve ever heard.

In ancient Anatolia, a young healer fights to reunite with her true love despite her father's desire to profit from her gift.

In Depression-era Seattle, the caretaker of the Persephone Music Hall finds inspiration for his art in the arms of a beautiful foreign violinist.

A university professor in modern-day California struggles to keep his lab and his marriage from the clutches of his enthusiastic new grad student.

A mysterious thread draws these lives together across the span of history and summons one of them toward an unspeakable fate. Follow the thread as mortal cares scatter with The Lightness of Dust. Paperback/Kindle Link:
Smashwords Book Link:
Kobo Book Link:

The Lightness of Dust
M.L. Weaver 

Chapter 14: The Waiting Girl 

The knocking grew more insistent until Sam swung his feet from under the blanket and onto the cold floor.  This can’t be good, he thought as he walked across the dark apartment to answer.  The door banged again.  “Sam?  Sam, open the door.”  Or maybe it is.  He swung the door inward with a smile.  “Lily, what are you doing here?  I just got to bed.”  
Lily’s own smile faltered.  “Do you want me to leave, Sam?”
“Never.  Come on in.”  He left the door open and pulled the chain to light the single bulb in the middle of the room.  When he turned back to her she was struggling to fit a steamer trunk through the door.  He rushed to help.  When she released her end of the trunk he nearly separated his shoulder.  “Jesus, Lil, what have you got in this thing?”  They set the trunk to the side of the door and Lily lifted the lid.
“Only some dresses,” she replied.
Sam saw a few dresses neatly folded and arranged in the bottom.  “Really?  Just how big are your dresses?”
“About this big,” she said, pulling at the hem and collar of the plain gray dress poking from under her coat.  “Where can I put them?”
“I don’t understand…why the trunk for three dresses?”  He tried to shake his grogginess.  “Why bring dresses here at all?”
“Well…” she hesitated.  Sam thought she looked as confused as he felt.  “I thought you said that you wanted me never to leave, Sam.  How can I never leave if I keep my clothes somewhere else?”
Did I say that?  I did say that.  “That was five minutes ago, and you brought the trunk with you!  And I know you own more dresses than that!”
She cut off any further comments with a kiss.  “Please try not to get stuck on the details, love. What are you doing up so late? I thought you have to work in the morning.”
“I wasn’t…I mean, I do…”  Sometimes trying to follow her thoughts made him dizzy.  Like now.  “You’re right,” he surrendered.  “I’ll go to bed as soon as you leave.”
“Oh, Sam.  You already said I could stay.  Please, let us get some sleep.”  Lily strode toward Sam’s bed in the corner.
“Oh…okay.  I’ll get another blanket and sleep on the floor.”  It was very strange, Sam thought, that Lily showed up in the middle of the night expecting to stay.  And to sleep in his bed.  No sooner had the thoughts occurred than they were forgotten.
“Not so strange, Sam.”  Lily draped her dress over a chair near the bed.  She wore nothing beneath the dress; Sam quickly averted his eyes.  Did she say something?  Lily led him to the bed.  She lay beside him and ran her fingers lightly through his hair while he argued silently with himself about the propriety of the situation.  Fatigue and the hypnotic sensation of her nails against his scalp allowed sleep to claim him.
Sam woke, as he always did, before dawn.  Lily still slept with her arm across his shoulder and her face tucked into his back.  Extricating himself from her embrace, he crept out of bed and stood watching her sleep. The mixed feelings he’d had in the hours of early morning were gone.  Sam felt nothing out of the ordinary; the memory of her arrival no longer existed.  When he pushed aside her clothes to retrieve his own from the closet it didn’t occur to him that Lily should be anywhere else but their apartment.
The Persephone was dark when he arrived, as it always was.  Sam went about his morning routine.  He switched on the few lights he absolutely needed, lit the furnace, and double-checked that he’d cleaned the hall properly the night before.  Then he readied the paint and brushes he would need.  Despite the fact that Mr. Craddock had denied, just a week before, Sam’s request for paint to touch up the carved paneling behind the stage, Sam had been severely reprimanded by the man just three days ago for letting the theater fall into disrepair.  Sam did not know what had prompted his employer’s change of mind; what he did know is that after Mr. Craddock threatened to fire them all if they didn’t show up early and work without extra pay, Johnny, Marcus, and Deborah would be in to help him this morning.
Sam retrieved the new canvas drop cloths from the basement and spread them beneath the woodwork most in need of new paint.  The railings at the edges of the orchestra-level seating had been chipped and worn by years of careless encounters with canes and umbrellas.  Sam began preparing the railings with a new sheet of ‘Wet and Dry’ while he waited for the others.
“What are you doing, Sam?”
Sam jumped.  “Jesus, Lil.  I didn’t hear you come in.”  He looked at her more closely. “No blue today?”
Lily wore an emerald-green dress suspended from her thin shoulders by equally thin straps.  The pleated hem brushed her legs just above her ankles.  In place of her usual high heels she wore a brown pair of low-heeled Mary Janes.  “Did you get dressed in the dark?” he teased.
“Did you decide to paint in the dark?” she shot back.
Sam hesitated.  “No…” he waved the sandpaper at the ceiling.  “There’s enough light in here.”
“Silly man,” she laughed.  “I mean why are you going to repaint this?”
“Because it needs it and Mr. Craddock finally agreed.”  As he often did when talking with Lily, Sam began to feel disoriented.
“It does?” she asked.
“Of course it does.  See how the wood is bare in a lot of places?”  Sam looked for himself.  His disorientation increased.  The handrail appeared freshly painted.
Lily looked concerned.  “Sam, you painted this two weeks ago.  Remember?”
He hesitantly ran a finger over the pristine wood.  “No…”  Sam thought hard but had no memory of painting, ever, in the Persephone.  He was certain that Mr. Craddock had reminded him, quite unnecessarily, just the night before.
Lily took the sandpaper from his hand and brushed his brow.  “You should relax, Sam.  You work too hard.  Everything is fine.”
Everything is fine, he realized.  I do work too hard.
“Come with me.  I have a surprise for you.”
She led him to the front row of seats. There, centered before the stage, his easel waited with a new stretched canvas propped at his preferred angle.  A short wooden table held an impressive array of Rohm’s oil paints in more colors than Sam had ever worked with, even if he included the watercolors he’d started out with in the total.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“Painting supplies, love,” she answered with the patience one might show a young child.
“But what…”
Lily became excited.  “You have had so much trouble painting me.  I started to think that I am the problem.”
“No!” Sam objected, though he’d had the same thought himself.  Unfair as it was to blame her, he had no other explanation.  Even in his harshest moments of self-criticism Sam knew that he had a talent rivaled by few.  So why, when he painted Lily, did her image look so flat?  His knack for seeing deep into another and painting what he saw there had never failed him before.
“But then I realized that perhaps the problem is not me, and it is not you.  Do you remember how you felt as you watched me perform that first night?”
Sam did.  He would never forget, and said so.
“I think we need to re-create those emotions for you!”  Lily bounced on her toes and clapped her hands together rapidly.  Her enthusiasm was contagious; Sam was caught up in the idea.  Until he realized that Mr. Craddock would never allow it.
“Oh, you have not heard yet, have you?”  Lily spoke sympathetically.
“Heard what?”
She shook her head.  “Your Mr. Craddock has had a bad week.  A very bad week, indeed.”
“What do you mean?” He hadn’t heard of any bad news at all.
“It seems that all of the acts scheduled for this week have cancelled on short notice,” she said, frowning.  “Vey odd.”
“Fantastic.  We’ve got to get this stuff out of here before he comes in.”  He began to fold down the easel.  “He’ll kill me for this.”
Lily restrained him.  “He will not be in for a while, love.  It seems that his mother has taken quite ill.”  She added in a conspiratorial whisper, “I do not think she will live much longer, in truth.”
Though Sam felt some degree of human sympathy for Mr. Craddock’s mother, he felt nothing for the man himself.  It wasn’t that Sam disliked the man (though he held no great affection for him, either); Mr. Craddock had simply treated Sam poorly for so long that Sam no longer saw his employer as a fellow human being.
“Shall we begin?” Lily asked.  Sam tried to conjure a reason that they should not; it seemed wrong to pursue personal interests during hours he was paid to work in the theater.  Nothing occurred to him, however, and when Lily again brushed his brow the idea made perfect sense.
While Lily stood on the stage and warmed up her bow and strings, Sam set out to arrange his tools.  He found, though, that she had set everything exactly where he wanted it.  Not only had she placed his paints in the correct order, she had also replaced his brushes and palette.  In place of the modern equipment she had previously insisted he use were the old, worn horsehair brushes and the simple, paint-stained palette.
Once Sam had his paints properly applied to the palette Lily began to play.  The opening notes of the Rain City Concerto vibrated from the strings of her instrument.  Sam prepared to be swept away on beams of music but as Lily continued to play nothing happened.  He tried listening with his eyes closed, envisioning the notes fluttering past the insides of his eyelids but the magic remained hidden.  The canvas before him remained untouched.
“Lily, stop,” he called up to her.  “It’s not working.”  He slumped back into his seat, dejected.
The music stopped mid-stroke. “Is there a problem?” she asked.
“I don’t know.  Something’s different.”  Sam thought about what that might be.  “Is that the same violin?” he asked.
She dangled her feet over the edge of the stage and handed it to him.  Sam inspected it closely.  “It looks pretty old.  Maybe it’s just wearing out?” he offered.
“You are just delightful, Sam,” she smiled.  “It is old, but it only sounds better with time.  Even if it were to wear out I would not give it up; an old friend made it for me long ago.”
Sam wondered at the craftsmanship of the instrument.  “Your friend made this?”
“Yes,” she said.  “His name was Bartolomeo.”
Sam laughed.  “That’s a mouthful, for sure!”
“It is,” she replied softly.  “Most people know him as ‘del Gesù’ now.”
“It’s beautiful.”  Sam had never held a violin before.  “Do you think I could meet him?”
Lily looked at Sam sadly.  “No.  He was not very happy to see me, the last time we met.”  She switched topics quickly.  “What do you think is wrong?”
“I’m not sure.  The music doesn’t seem to fit you anymore.”  It was close as Sam could come to expressing his feelings.
Lily reclaimed the violin and plucked a short tune with her nails.  “Something more personal, then?”  She remained seated with her ankles crossed below the stage, tucked her violin beneath her chin, and drew in a long, deep breath.  Her bow drew slowly across the strings; music flowered out in a slow exhalation of mourning.  Sam had never heard such deep notes from a violin.
Still the canvas did not tell him where to begin, or with which color he should start.  He closed his eyes again and allowed the music to take him.  In his head the music became colors that swirled before settling into an undulating vision.  Sam’s eyes never opened but his hand moved the brush with sure dexterity from palette to canvas and back.  After a while Lily set the violin gently on the stage.  Sam didn’t notice that the music had stopped, or that she watched him, unmoving, for hours.
The vision faded.  Sam was dimly aware that his hand no longer held a brush.  The silence of the hall roared into his ears and he looked up to see Lily watching him expectantly.  “Well?” she asked.  Sam dropped his eyes down to the canvas before him.  In shock, he tried to understand what he saw.  He had painted no stage, no violin, not even Lily.  He couldn’t answer.  What is this?
Lily dropped down from the stage and lifted the canvas from the easel.  “Sam!  I cannot believe this!”
“I’m sorry, Lil.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”  He’d let her down again and was afraid to hear what he knew must be coming.
“Wrong with you?”
Sam thought she sounded like she might to cry, which she did almost immediately.  He took the canvas from her and wrapped his arms around her shoulders.  “I’m sorry, love.  I’ll get it right.  I promise.”
Her shoulders shook and she buried her face in his chest.  “Oh, Sam.”  Her words muffled through his shirt. “You did get it right.  Exactly right.  Thank you.”
Sam examined his work out of the corner of his eye.  A young girl with long, dark hair stood at a rocky shore wistfully searching an ocean with faraway eyes.

M.L. Weaver’s best friends as a child were books, as asthma kept him indoors—and in bed—a  great deal of the time.  His favorite genres were, and are to this day, science fiction, fantasy, and history textbooks.

Matt’s asthma abated but his love for books did not.  Writing novels was always one of his goals but he didn’t manage to put pen to paper until the third year of grad school, which, as he now admits, might have been the worst possible time to focus on anything but research!

After graduating from UC Davis with a Ph.D. in chemistry, Matt moved with his wife and son to the Pacific Northwest.

Luna Risen website:
Book page on Luna Risen website:
Author personal FB profile:
Author/business FB page:
Author Goodreads profile:
Book Goodreads page:
Luna Risen Pinterest Boards:
Luna Risen Twitter URL:
Luna Risen Twitter Username:    @LunaRisen
Author Google Plus profile:
Luna Risen Google Plus Page:

My favorite review:

The author will send a 100%-off coupon code (Smashwords only) to the first 25 people who "Like" the Luna Risen FB page (you need to  message his personal profile and reference my blog - Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews - to qualify).

1 comment:

Matthew Weaver said...

Thank you for sharing my work with your followers!