Thanks, Rhys, for hosting me and letting me talk a bit about my newest release, “Prelude.” For those who haven’t read any of the Blue Notes Series books, they are classical music themed gay romances, each a standalone story. The series can be read in any order, and although “Prelude” is the first of the four books chronologically, it is the fourth book in the series.
“Prelude” is the story of David Somers, the fictional music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and crossover jazz/rock/classical violinist Alex Bishop. On the surface, the two men are polar opposites. David is incredibly wealthy, having inherited his family’s Wall Street investment firm. Alex grew up on the cold Chicago streets after running away from his foster care placement. The common ground between the two men? Music. Because when David hears Alex play, he can’t get Alex’s music (or Alex) out of his mind.
The first time David and Alex meet, there’s one thing David notices in particular: Alex’s tattoos. David, raised in a life of privilege, sees the tattoos and immediately makes assumptions about Alex’s musical ability and Alex himself. But as David gets to know Alex, he becomes fascinated by those tattoos, just as he is fascinated by Alex. When David finally is able to touch the tattoos, he realizes that they cover scars on Alex’s chest. David’s afraid to ask about the scars, and it’s not until the end of the book that the full truth about them is revealed. Early on, he learns only that Alex barely survived a knife attack, and that the scars are a result.
Alex’s tattoos are in the style of the Pe’a, the traditional Samoan tattoos used as a rite of passage. Literally pounded into the skin, these tattoos usually cover the lower half of a man’s body. In Alex’s case, they cover much of the upper half. It’s a painful process and takes weeks to complete. The designs are simple and mesmerizing.
During the time I was writing “Prelude,” I spent a few days at a Dreamspinner Press table with Rhys, who shared with me her own tattoos (they are freaking amazing!). I knew I wanted to use the Pe’a concept for Alex, but I hadn’t yet thought through the connection between mind and body that can be expressed through tattoos. Rhys shared with me her newest tat, which covers an extensive scar on her upper thigh. It was incredibly beautiful. She explained that she’d had the tattoo done in part to cover the scar, one of the visible remnants of the abuse she suffered in her childhood (so many of those scars aren’t visible). She also told me that it hurts more to tattoo over scar tissue. I knew right then how I wanted to tell Alex’s story.
Alex’s choice to tattoo over his scars is a conscious one. For him, the decision is a way to assert control over things he had no control over. A way to take back something that was lost—a rite of passage and a show of strength. And even though David’s scars aren’t visible, they are just as painful. With Alex’s help, David is able to face the pain of his past and begin to move forward.
Thanks, Rhys, for the insight and for sharing something beautiful with me. And no, I’m not just talking about the tattoo. –Shira
PS: Want to read an excerpt from the first time David sees Alex? Click on this link and scroll down to the excerpt tab.
Summary: World-renowned conductor David Somers never wanted the investment firm he inherited from his domineering grandfather. He only wanted to be a composer. But no matter how he struggles, David can’t translate the music in his head into notes on paper.
When a guest violinist at the Chicago Symphony falls ill, David meets Alex Bishop, a last-minute substitute. Alex’s fame and outrageous tattoos fail to move David. Then Alex puts bow to string, and David hears the brilliance of Alex’s soul.
David has sworn off relationships, believing he will eventually drive away those he loves, or that he’ll lose them as he lost his wife and parents. But Alex is outgoing, relaxed, and congenial—everything David is not—and soon makes dents in the armor around David’s heart. David begins to dream of Alex, wonderful dreams full of music. Becoming a composer suddenly feels attainable.
David’s fragile ego, worn away by years of his grandfather’s disdain, makes losing control difficult. When David’s structured world comes crashing down, his fledgling relationship with Alex is the first casualty. Still, David hears Alex’s music, haunting and beautiful. David wants to love Alex, but first he must find the strength to acknowledge himself.
NOTE: Each Blue Notes novel is a standalone story and books in the series can be read in any order.
Want to buy the Blue Notes Series books? You can find them all here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=54_673
In her last incarnation, Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.
Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing, she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 35’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.
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