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Weaving Music Into The Plot

BY ELISABETH BARRETT

I love music. I mean, who doesn’t? I grew up listening and playing classical music (piano, violin, and flute were my first instruments), and moved on to jazz, rock, and pretty much everything else! In college, I sang (I’m a soprano), and was a member of both the glee club (kind of like a big, classical chorus), and an a-cappella group that performed jazz, folk, and classic rock. When I left school and went out into the real world, wherever I lived, I joined a chorus (from which I’m currently taking a sabbatical, due to the time management challenges associated with having three young children). I own about one thousand CDs that are on rotation at home and on my car stereo, and I sing to my kids every single day.  As I sought to flesh out the heroes and heroines for the Star Harbor series, it was only natural that one of my characters be a musician.

In my latest novel, Blaze of Winter, the heroine, Avery Newbridge, comes to Star Harbor to help her Aunt Kate run the Star Harbor Inn.  Avery has a musical background but at first it is not clear how this will impact the story.  Taking a break from her social work practice in Boston, Avery tells herself that she’s in Star Harbor to help out her family, but in reality, she’s hiding from her work. She’s using the time she has to regroup, but soul-searching isn’t as easy as she thought it would be. And it’s made more difficult by the fact that gorgeous novelist Theo Grayson has taken up residence at the inn. He’s one distraction she doesn’t need, but she can’t help but be drawn to him anyway.

One of the things I love about Avery is that she has so much passion simmering beneath the surface—passion that Theo taps, of course—but that also manifests itself when she plays the violin. She quit the violin in Boston—too much stress, too little time—and she’s reluctant to resume playing when she comes to Star Harbor. Still, it must have been in the back of her mind because it was one of the few things she deliberately brought to town. One of the first scenes I wrote in the book was where Luke Bedwin, the hardware store owner, convinces Avery to join Star Harbor’s chamber music group:

[Luke] nodded. “By five, for sure. I have rehearsal tonight and I don’t want to miss it.”

“Rehearsal?”

“Yeah. Every Thursday night. We have a nice chamber music group in town. I play viola, Karen Wright plays cello, and John Anson plays second violin. Andy Neiman fills in on piano if we want to do a piano quintet, Royce Hogan joins us on double bass, and Dave Berger is a fine oboist. Our first violinist, Georgina Flagstaff, moved to Andover in June, so we’ve been out a player since then. John moved up to first for a while, but he claims he likes the parts for second better. There are plenty of pieces for us to perform without two violins, but we’re missing out on some of the great ones.”

Avery narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms under her chest. “Have you been talking with Kate?” She gave her aunt a dirty look.

“Why ever would you ask that?” Luke tried to look innocent, but he didn’t fool her.

“Because I play the violin.”

“You do?” he said, his surprised tone belied by his small smile. “Why, that’s wonderful! Would you consider joining us? Maybe just one rehearsal to see if you’re a good fit?”

“Just wait until later, Aunt Kate,” Avery vowed.

Kate held up her hands in supplication. “I didn’t tell him a thing!”

“Now you leave this lovely woman out of it,” he said, putting an arm around Kate’s shoulders. “If you really want to know how I found out, it’s because Joanne Martins told Max Wright—who told Karen—that she saw a violin case when you were moving into Kate’s a few weeks ago.”

“You have got to be kidding me,” she muttered. “Everyone knows everyone’s business in this town.”

“Can’t apologize. That’s Star Harbor for you.” He shrugged. “So are you going to join us or not?”

Outmaneuvered once again. “If I don’t, then everyone will talk about how I snubbed you. Do I even have a choice?”

Luke grinned at her. “Nope.”

It doesn’t take long before she’s back in the saddle, and having music as her outlet is clearly beneficial for her:

Rehearsal that night was both exhilarating and exhausting. Every ounce of emotion, smidgen of angst, and iota of confusion Avery had pent up over the last few weeks was released into her violin in an outpouring of passion. The crescendos, trills, and rapid runs all swelled inside of her before being released into the ether. It was more than cathartic. It was cleansing.

By the time rehearsal was over, she felt drained and more than a bit sleepy. As she was putting her violin away, she could barely keep her eyes open. Luke came up to her, a smile stretching across his worn face.

“Good rehearsal tonight. You played well. I can tell you’ve been practicing.”

“Thanks. I’m enjoying it tremendously,” she said, tucking her bow into the indentation in her case and strapping it in place. “Just needed to express myself, I guess.”

Through her music, Avery is able to experience emotion, and open up in a way that she can’t quite manage through other outlets. And as she blossoms, so too does her love for Theo.

Writing the music scenes in Blaze of Winter was good for me, too. I’m taking a page from the Avery Newbridge playbook and re-joining my local chorus!

About Blaze of Winter:

Winter heats up in this hot new Star Harbor romance, as another sexy Grayson brother, a wickedly handsome writer, plots his happily ever after with a sweet stranger.

Frustrated with her job in Boston, social worker Avery Newbridge welcomes the opportunity to reassess her life when family asks her to help manage the Star Harbor Inn. Trying to figure out her future is overwhelming enough, but she doesn’t count on distraction in the form of one Theo Grayson, the gorgeous, green-eyed author who she knows is trouble from the moment he saunters into the inn.

Not only does he have a talent for writing swashbuckling adventures, but Theo also has a soft spot for big-hearted damsels in distress, especially a woman who’s great at helping everyone—except herself. Avery’s demons challenge him, but for desire this hot, he isn’t backing down. With every kiss and heated whisper Theo promises her his heart . . . if only Avery is willing to open up and accept it.

View an excerpt of Blaze of Winter on Scribd: Click here.

Pre-order Blaze of Winter: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or the iBookstore (Apple)!


About Elisabeth:

Raised in a sleepy little Connecticut town, Elisabeth draws on her upbringing to write small-town romances. Her summers spent living and working on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard were the inspiration for the Star Harbor series, which kicked off with Deep Autumn Heat and continues with Blaze of Winter (coming September 10th). Currently, Elisabeth lives in Northern California with her husband and three children. She loves lots of different kinds of music, but especially jazz. Find her online: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway:

One commenter will be randomly selected to win a NetGalley preview of BLAZE OF WINTER. Contest ends September 11th at midnight (EDT).You’ll need a NetGalley account, and to answer the question below: What is your favorite kind of music and why?