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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Welcome Shira Anthony



Tell us about your favorite character from your books.
While it’s difficult to choose, I think my favorite character is the conductor, David Somers, who appears in all of the books in my Blue Notes Series.  David comes from a wealthy New England family and was raised by his grandfather, the CEO of a multinational company.  He’s “richer than God,” as some of the other characters describe it, and cool as ice on the outside.  Inside, he’s a warm, romantic man who was forced to hide his emotions from others after a difficult childhood.  He’s gay, but he married a woman when he was quite young, and she helped him navigate social situations and helped to ground him.  But when she dies, he retreats into himself.  That’s where David is at the beginning of Blue Notes #4, “Prelude,” the next book in the Blue Notes Series (tentative April 2013 publication).

Tell us about your current release.
My most recent release is the third book in the Blue Notes Series, “Aria.”  The Blue Notes Series are interconnected contemporary gay romances that are music themed.  Each is a standalone novel, and the books in the series can be read in any order.  “Aria” is the story of opera singer Aiden Lind and lawyer Sam Ryan, who appears in “Blue Notes,” the first book in the series.  “Aria” is a very personal story for me, since I spent about fourteen years singing opera.  It’s a realistic story about long-distance relationships and making sacrifices and compromises in order to maintain a relationship.  It’s also a story about moving on from loss.

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?
I write every day, but since I have a full-time job as a lawyer in real life, I mostly write at night and on the weekends.  On the weekends, I can sometimes spend 10-12 hours writing and/or editing.  I’m usually doing both, since I have releases every 3-4 months.  It’s a very hectic schedule, but I love it (most of the time!).

Where do you research for your books?
Most of the “research” in my books comes from my own life experiences.  They weren’t kidding when they said, “Write what you know!”  My music themed books are drawn directly from my own experiences as a musician (first as a violinist and later as an opera singer).  Since my sister and mother are also musicians, I’ve been able to draw on their lives, as well.
I also have a series coming out this year that is a bit of a change of pace and is a fantasy about pirates and mermen shifters.  My research for that one?  My husband’s love of sailing (we own a 35’ catamaran and sail her at the North Carolina coast) and my love of the water and travel.

What do you think makes a good story?
Good characters make for good stories.  My Blue Notes books are primarily character driven.  I want to read about characters with flaws and watch them grow through their experiences and/or their love relationships.  Much as I enjoy good plots, without the strong characters to go with them, I tend to get bored. 

Plotter or Pantser? Why?
I’m both a plotter and a pantser, really.  I generally have an idea of an overall plot (I call that the “bones” of the story) when I begin to write, but it’s very basic.  I have a beginning, middle and end in mind.  After that, I become a pantser as I write, following the characters’ growth and changing directions when my characters tell me to (no joke, sometimes they really do!).  Maybe I should be worried that they talk to me...

Tell us about your family.
I come from a family of musicians.  My mother is a harpsichordist and former pianist, and my sister was a fabulous cellist who, like me, gave up music when she was in her late 20s.  My dad is tone-deaf, but he adores music and can tell you the composer of a piece of music even though he can’t sing along with it to save his life!

Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?
My pen name has a musical connection.  “Shira” means “song” in Hebrew.  I thought that was fitting, since music was and still is a big part of my life.

Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?
I can’t listen and write—my brain wants to follow the music too much.  But I do tend to pick pieces to listen to depending on what I’m writing.  It’s easy with the Blue Notes Series.  Each book has a musical “theme” of sorts.  For “Blue Notes,” it was Brahms.  For “The Melody Thief,” it was Dvorak.  For “Aria,” it was a sexy duet from a Bizet opera.  And for “Prelude,” it was Sibelius.  Each of those pieces shows up in the books as central to the story in some way.


Tell us about your favorite fan letter you have received.
I think the most moving letter I ever received from a fan was from a gay man who is also a musician.  Not only did he tell me my Blue Notes Series moved him to tears, he also told me that it meant a great deal to him to read a series of gay romances that had the musical connection to his own life and career.  And he mentioned that he’d been a little uncomfortable with the idea of a woman writing gay romance, but that he’d realized what mattered was how the books made him feel, not the sex of the person writing them.  I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt to hear that!


Blurb:
 Five years after a prestigious scholarship jumpstarted his opera career, Aiden Lind has it all: fame, choice roles, and Lord Cameron Sherrington to share his life with. Maintaining his fa├žade takes effort, but under his poised, sophisticated mask, Aiden is still the insecure kid from rural Mississippi. Then he walks in on Cam with another man, and the illusion of perfection shatters. 

Philadelphia attorney Sam Ryan never moved on after his partner died, though he tried. Instead of dating, he keeps himself busy with work—but when he unexpectedly runs into ex-lover Aiden while on a rare vacation in Paris, he’s inspired to give their love a second chance. First, though, he’ll have to get Aiden to forgive him. Because when Sam was still grieving five years ago, he broke Aiden’s heart.

When rekindled lust blossoms into a true romance, it seems like the start of something wonderful. But Aiden’s career has him on the road much of the time, and the physical distance between him and Sam starts translating into an emotional disconnect. If Aiden and Sam can’t learn to communicate, their separation may prove more than their love can bear.

Excerpt:
“MR. LIND?” The stage manager poked her head into his dressing room. “There’s a Mr. Ryan to see you.”

“Thanks, Carla.” Aiden guzzled the rest of his bottle of water and went to the door.

“Sam. Damn, it’s good to see you.” He pulled Sam inside and shut the door, then kissed Sam, lingering lightly over his lips before embracing him. There hadn’t been any earlier flights from Philly to Miami, and they hadn’t seen each other before the concert.

“You were wonderful.” Sam put down the small overnight bag he was still holding and swept two fingers over Aiden’s lips, a gesture that made Aiden shudder with pleasure.
Aiden smiled the same pleasant smile he always gave when someone complimented him. It mattered little that the reviews of his performances were universally good; he still felt uncomfortable with the praise. Even a little undeserving. “Thank you.”

He’d worried that the weeks apart might have made their reunion a bit awkward, but as usual, Sam set him at ease with another kiss.

“So what’s on the agenda to celebrate the New Year? You promised you’d let me know what you were up to when I got here.”

“Did I?” Aiden did his best not to smile.

“Is it something I’ll like? Because I’m thinking spending the night in a hotel with you would be fine with me.” Sam laughed against Aiden’s throat as he feathered kisses there.

“My lips are sealed.” Aiden pushed Sam playfully away, then grabbed a small duffel from off the lighted table. “I think you’ll like it, though. Just the two of us. Romantic.”

Sam put an arm around Aiden’s waist and pulled him back, this time to claim his lips.

This is just the two of us.” There was a mischievous twinkle in Sam’s eyes.

“Do lawyers always argue?”

“Of course.”

Aiden pulled away and straightened his bow tie and cummerbund. “Mr. Ryan, we’re on a very tight schedule here. The limousine is waiting outside and”—Aiden pushed up his sleeve to check his watch—“we have four hours to midnight. I’ll hold you in contempt if we’re late.”

Sam held up his hands. “I’m throwing myself at the mercy of the court.”

“You’ll behave?”

“You might have to make me behave.” Sam’s eyes glittered with lust.

“Shit. You’re incorrigible.” He aimed Sam in the direction of the door, giving him only a minute to grab his bag before pushing him into the corridor. “This way,” he said as he gestured to the entrance to the street. A moment later they were outside, and Aiden was leading Sam over to a limousine. There, the driver took Sam’s suitcase and held the door for them.

Once settled inside, Sam looked at Aiden with a raised eyebrow. “Nice. So are we headed to some swanky party that only the rich and famous are invited to?”

Aiden only shook his head. “My lips are sealed.” Okay, so Sam proved him wrong on that point pretty quickly with a deep kiss. But he wouldn’t give up the secret. “Keep trying. I’m liking this.”

“Clearly I’ve miscalculated. I should be withholding my affections. Then maybe you’d come clean and tell me where we’re headed.”

Aiden bit his lower lip before opening a panel to reveal a bottle of chilled champagne and two crystal flutes. Then, without missing a beat, he said, “Something to drink?”

“Isn’t it a few hours too early?”

“It’s past midnight in London,” Aiden pointed out as he opened the bottle and filled their glasses.

A few minutes later, they were settled in each other’s arms. “I missed you, Aiden.  Sam’s voice was soft in Aiden’s ear. “More than you know.”

“Oh, I think I know.” Aiden’s heart felt as though it were going to burst.


THE limousine stopped about twenty minutes later. Sam looked out the window. They were in a parking lot illuminated by several lights. There was what looked like a small building at the edge of the lot, but other than a single light at the entrance, there was nothing to identify it. When Sam looked to Aiden for an explanation, he just took the champagne flute from Sam’s hand, placed it alongside his own on the console, then pulled something out of the same cabinet in which he’d found the bottle and glasses.

“Gonna tell me what that is?”

Aiden held the object out so that Sam could see it. A flashlight.

“What are you up to, Lind?”

The driver opened the door and Aiden illuminated their way, leading Sam across the parking lot and down a paved walkway. The faint scent of the ocean wafted on the breeze, and the air was cool. “You’re not very good with surprises, are you?”

Sam shook his head and chuckled. “Depends.” He snaked an arm around Aiden, nearly knocking him off balance before pulling him tight to claim Aiden’s lips. “As long as it involves you and sex, I’m good with it.”

“Could be.” Aiden slipped out of Sam’s grasp and continued to walk and point the way. “Watch your step here.”

A band of metal met the pavement, and the path beyond was wood. The smell of salt water was powerful here. A dock. “Aid—”

“You might want to take your shoes off.” Aiden was already slipping out of his patent leather oxfords and rolling up the legs of his tux pants. Sam did the same, unable to suppress a grin. Wherever they were going, he was having fun. He felt like a kid again. “You can leave them here. Ralph will pick them up when he comes with the bags.”

“Bags?”

Aiden took Sam’s hand, and they walked to the end of the dock until they reached a large white wall. A restaurant, perhaps.

Then the restaurant’s lights went on, illuminating the surface of the wall. “Holy shit.” It wasn’t a restaurant. It was an enormous yacht—at least a hundred feet long. “Where did you…?”

“Mr. Lind?” A man wearing a crisp white uniform, complete with captain’s hat, walked toward them down the gangway at the end of the pier.

“Richard?”

“That’s me. So good to have you joining us tonight. And this is Mr. Ryan?”

Sam offered the man his hand. “I’m Rich Cowan. Captain of the Prelude. Good to meet you.”

“The Prelude?”

Rich looked to Aiden, who nodded.

“She belongs to David Somers.”

They climbed aboard and Sam tried not to stare as a young woman dressed in white pants and a white polo greeted them.

“This is Amy. She’ll be attending to you gentlemen. We’ll be getting underway for the Bahamas in a few minutes. We’ll arrive by morning. Maestro Somers sends his compliments and says you should enjoy yourselves. We’ll arrive back in Miami in time for your flights on Monday morning. Enjoy your evening, gentlemen.”

“Dinner will be ready in about an hour,” Amy told them after Rich left. “Would you like to dine on the foredeck?”

“Sounds wonderful.” Aiden turned to look at Sam, who nodded his approval.

“Do you need me to show you the stateroom?” she asked.

“I know the way. Thanks, Amy.” Aiden turned to Sam after she left. “Well? How did I do?”

“Not bad.” Sam did his best to keep a straight face. But then Aiden smiled, and Sam grabbed him and crushed his lips against Aiden’s. “Better than that,” he said after the kiss broke. “Amazing, really.”

“We have an hour. How about thanking me up close and personal.” Aiden took Sam’s hand once more and led him down a set of stairs to the cabins below.



THEY sat on the foredeck, having finished one of the best meals Sam had ever eaten.

Not that the starry sky and the company had anything to do with it.

“Remind me to thank David next time I see him.” Sam stood up and began to massage Aiden’s shoulders.

“My fairy godfather.”

Sam laughed.

“David’s been too good to me.” Aiden’s voice was slightly wistful now. “Not only this, but he helped me out of a bad situation.”

“Cam?”

“I’m not sure I’d have had the guts to move out if it hadn’t been for David. Hell, I tried to find a place of my own in London and he told me to stay. Said he didn’t spend much time there anyhow.” Aiden leaned into Sam’s hands, and Sam kissed him on the top of his head.

“You sound almost like you don’t think you deserve his friendship.”

Aiden’s shoulders tensed beneath Sam’s fingers. “Am I that obvious?”

“No.”

“Sometimes I worry that I can’t even begin to give back what he’s given me.”

Sam moved in front of Aiden and drew him up off the chair with a hug. “You don’t give yourself enough credit, you know.”

“You think?” Aiden’s laugh was bitter.

Sam traced a line over Aiden’s lips. “I think I could kick myself for letting you go. Twice.”

Aiden’s smile looked strained. “Are you sure you want this? I mean, there’s a reason you let me go before. My lifestyle isn’t exactly the best for long-term relationships.”
“It was never about your lifestyle.” Sam wasn’t exactly sure how to explain his hesitation. “I just wasn’t ready.”

“You don’t need to justify it, Sammy.”

“I know. But I wish—”

“Here and now. That’s what matters. Fuck the rest of it.”

“Right.” Sam inhaled a long slow breath and looked over the bow at the moon rising on the horizon. And yet he couldn’t help but think of New Year’s past. And of Nick. “You’re right. Fuck the rest of it.”

“Happy New Year, Sammy.”

“Happy New Year, Aiden.”

Bio:
In her last incarnation, Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas asToscaPagliacci, 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 30’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.
 
Shira can be found on FacebookGoodreads, Twitter (@WriterShira) or on her web site, http://www.shiraanthony.com. You can also contact her at shiraanthony@hotmail.com.

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