It is our pleasure to welcome Shira Anthony to the Smoocher’s Voice blog today. Shira’s new book, Dissonance, available on Dreamspinner Press, is the sixth book in the Blue Notes series.
Shira Anthony is a complete sucker for a happily-ever-after, and rarely reads or writes a story without one. Never a fan of instalove, Shira likes to write stories about real men with real issues making real relationships work.
In her last incarnation, Shira was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as “Tosca,” “Pagliacci,” and “La Traviata,” among others. Her Blue Notes Series is loosely based upon her own experiences as a professional musician.
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 36’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel. 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.
You can learn more about Shira and her writing on her website.
Jodi: As you know, I am a big fan of the Blue Notes series. Tell us a little about your inspiration for this series?
Shira: The original story, Blue Notes, was inspired by a trip to Paris I took about five years ago. I was in the process of editing my first book with Dreamspinner, The Dream of a Thousand Nights, and I was thinking about what my next project might be. I imagined how it might be to leave my own life behind and run off to Paris to live (not that my life in the States was bad, but just because the idea seemed to incredibly romantic). I’d lived in France as a kid, and I began thinking about writing a character with that background. About halfway through that story, I realized I wanted to write about some of the secondary characters’ stories. That’s how the series was born!
Jodi: In Dissonance, we become reacquainted with Cameron Sherrington, who readers originally met in Aria, where he cheats on his then long-time boyfriend Aiden Lind. Cameron is not presented in a very flattering light in that book. Why did you choose to focus a novel on his character?
Shira: I love flawed characters. And the way Cam redeems himself, at least a little, at the end of Aria made me want to understand more about him. I knew he genuinely loved Aiden. So why the hell did he go and screw things up so badly? By the time I finished working on Aria, I had a pretty good idea of what was going on behind Cam’s bad boy act. And of course, I knew I wanted to tell that story.
Jodi: Tell us a little about who Cam is and what makes him tick.
Shira: Cam seems to have everything: looks, money, a hereditary title. But inside, Cam’s a mess. He craves his uncle’s approval. He looks up to him like a father, but Duncan Sherrington dismisses Cam and criticizes everything he does. Cam’s given up looking to his mother for support. When his father died quite young, she was devastated, and Cam’s pretty sure she’s keep her distance because he reminds her too much of his father.
Cam’s cheating is the result of a number of things (some of which you’ll have to discover in the story!), but mostly because sexual relationships are the only way he’s found to get the attention he craves. He likes it when other men look at him and want to sleep with him. He needs that encouragement because he gets it nowhere else in his life. It makes him feel wanted when another man pays attention to him. What he ends up with isn’t love, but he’s pretty much decided he isn’t worthy of being loved, so he figures it’s good enough for him.
Jodi: Cam seems to lack real friends in his life. David Somers is a genuine friend and by default so is Alex Bishop. Why is Cam uncomfortable around Alex?
Shira: Alex is warm and loving, and he’s pretty demonstrative. He isn’t afraid of hugging people or telling them how much he cares. For Cam, who’s lived his life believing he’s unworthy of love and affection, Alex is a mystery. Why would he care about Cam? And if Cam attempts to answer that question, it forces Cam to look inside of himself, something Cam genuinely fears (for reasons we learn as Dissonance unfolds).
Jodi: Cam has a dramatic fall from grace in this book. Is this primarily the result of the events with his family, or is Galen Rusk the primary catalyst for change?
Shira: I think it’s both, and probably in equal measure. Cam had to be open to change, and unless he was entirely broken, he wouldn’t have been open to the kind of love and understanding Galen offers him and he wouldn’t have taken as hard a look at his life. In a sense, Cam becomes a blank slate so he can start over again. Also, without spoiling too much, Cam only becomes aware of some of the events that have influenced his life because he’s at the end of his rope. And coming to terms with his past is the only way for him to move forward and become the man he might have become if things for him as a child had been different.
Would he have been able to change his life without Galen’s help? That’s a question readers will have to read the book to answer.
Jodi: What was your inspiration for Galen Rusk’s character?
Shira: Galen is inspired in large part by my husband (although I don’t think he knows it!). Bob is an amazing man. He, like Galen, is a teacher. He’s very Zen. He even meditates and practices yoga. He rarely gets angry, and he’s incredibly patient. He and I discussed the Galen character at length before I started writing Cam’s story, and his insights into the relationship between teacher and student helped me to frame the entire book.
Jodi; Why does Galen trust Cam enough to bring him to his home?
Shira: Galen’s always been a “think with your heart” sort of man. Before he offers Cam a place to stay, he’s watched Cam. He’s seen Cam’s kindness, felt his despair. Cam asks him flat out why Galen wants to help him, and Galen’s answer is quite honest in this respect. Galen sees past all the bullshit to Cam’s kind heart.
Jodi: Let’s talk a little about Cam’s mother. She is the opposite of Cary Redding’s mother in The Melody Thief because she seems to want to ignore her son. Mrs. Sherrington’s actions seem to border of neglect though, and when Cam needs her help, she assumes the worst of him. Why does she trust Duncan’s word over her son’s?
Shira: Cam’s mother was never a strong woman, although she runs the family’s ancestral home with an iron fist. She’s really a spoiled child. Before Cam’s father died, she managed to rise to the challenge of being a wife and mother. But losing her husband, whom she adored, is too much for her and she reverts to the spoiled child she was before she married him. Cam is a constant reminder of what she lost when her husband died, and Duncan takes the place of Cam’s father. It’s easier for her to deny the truth of her loss and believe what Duncan tells her than believe in the son she’s denied for decades. Cam, unfortunately, is the loser because of it.
Jodi: Will there be more books in the Blue Notes series?
Shira: Yes! Although with all the other projects I’m working on at the moment, I doubt I’ll be writing more than one every year or so (I think I had three published last year!). I still have Jules Bardon’s little brother’s story to write, and I have two other stories percolating.
Jodi: Tell us a little about your next project, which features vampires?
Shira: Blood and Rain, the first book in my Blood series, was just contracted by Dreamspinner Press (anticipated publication this December or January). It will be a two or three book series. It’s set in the present day U.S. and in France in the late 1800s. It follows three different romantic pairings, but the main focus of the books is on Adrien Gilbert, a vampire hunter, and Nicolas Lambert, an Ancient (born a vampire) vampire.
The hunters and vampires share much more in common than they’d care to acknowledge because they share a common heritage and bloodline. Blood is similar to my Mermen of Ea series, in that it’s a sweeping romantic adventure that spans centuries, and there are many secrets to be revealed along the way. I’m about halfway done with the second book, Blood and Ghosts.
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Tour Dates: 8/8 – 9/5
8/8 - Prism Book Alliance