ScatteredThoughts is so happy to have Shira Anthony here today to celebrate the release of Blue Notes (2nd edition). Welcome, Shira!
Thank you, Melanie, for hosting me today to celebrate the 2nd edition of the original Blue Notes! I’m giving away one ebook copy of the book to a lucky someone who comments on this post. Just tell me what your favorite city is in a comment, leave your email addy, and you’re entered in the drawing. I’ll ask Melanie to choose a winner after midnight tonight.
Melanie asked me to write about why Blue Notes is getting a spiffy new 2nd edition. I promise I’ll get to that in just a minute. But first, let me tell you a bit about how Blue Notes and the Blue Notes Series came to be….
Paris is my favorite city. Hands down. Maybe it’s because I lived in France for several years when I was a teenager and attended the Conservatoire de Grenoble for violin. Maybe because it’s the first city I ever traveled to (I was a whopping 6 months old!). Maybe it’s because I lived in Paris when I was about 5 years old and went to school there. Or maybe it’s because I’m a true romantic at heart, and I find Paris to be one of the most romantic cities I know. Yes, it’s probably all of those things.
I go back to Paris every five years or so (I only wish I could go more often). In my early 20s, back when I was still singing, I spent several weeks in Paris. There I met a gorgeous Frenchman (another musician, of course!) and we had a brief but very torrid affair. I remember rides around the Périphérique (the freeway that loops around the city) on the back of his scooter (“moto”). I also remember dinners in his loft apartment with friends, afternoons spent lounging at a café, nursing our coffees while people watching, and making love at night to the sounds of jazz and be-bop. Have I mentioned I love French men? Philippe was the first of several Frenchmen I dated before I got married. There’s just something about their comfortable, casual attitude, good looks, and the way the French language sounds when they speak that makes them so damn sexy….
The inspiration for Blue Notes came about five years ago now, when two girlfriends and I spent two weeks in Paris. We stayed at my brother-in-law’s apartment near the Jardins du Luxembourg, a gorgeous park complete with long gravel walkways, gardens, a reflecting pool, and, of course, a chateau. A fifteen minute walk from the Seine and Notre Dame de Paris, the area is one of my favorites. We shopped, went sightseeing, and ate very well. It was January, after a heavy snow (unusual for Paris, which tends toward milder weather), and the skies were overcast and gray. It didn’t matter. Each time I walked out of the apartment, I imagined romance. In fact, I imagined a very particular romance: the romance that was the inspiration for the first book in my Blue Notes series of music-themed gay romances. I imagined Blue Notes.
Jason Greene (the main character in the book) and I share much in common. We’re both former musicians who became lawyers. We both have felt the pain of loss of our music, and we’ve both found our way back to it (although in different ways). Like me, Jason spent several years in France as a teenager, where he studied music. He and I even share a hometown: Cleveland, Ohio.
When Blue Notes was originally released by Dreamspinner Press in 2011, I felt I’d missed an opportunity to share more of Jason’s past with readers. In fact, I wrote a short story called “Knowing,” based on a reader suggestion for a Goodreads Gay-Straight Alliance’s project: “Am I straight or am I gay?” It’s a question Jason asks himself over the years, but one which he finds easier not to answer. That is, until he meets Jules Bardon, a young man confident in his sexuality and whom Jason finds more attractive than he cares to admit. The short story was a look back at an experience in Jason’s past with a boy from high school, Robbie. The story is incorporated into the new version of Blue Notes, and helps to explain Jason’s attraction to Jules. Will the boy from Jason’s past make an appearance in a future Blue Notes Series book? Very possibly. A number of readers have asked for that story, and I love the character of Robbie Jenson from Cleveland. In addition to adding more of Jason’s background, the story has been completely re-edited with the help of my fabulous editor at Dreamspinner, whom I began working with when the second Blue Notes Series book, The Melody Thief, was written.
The new Blue Notes is now available at Dreamspinner Press. For readers who purchased the original at Dreamspinner, you will get the new version automatically on your bookshelf! Haven’t started the series yet? Blue Notes Series books can be read in any order, but if you’re one of those readers who likes to read in publication order, the original Blue Notes is a great place to start!
I’ll leave you with a short excerpt from Blue Notes, when Jason and Jules first meet. Don’t forget to comment on this post to be entered to win a free ebook copy of the book!
Blurb: Blame it on jet lag. Jason Greene thought he had everything: a dream job as a partner in a large Philadelphia law firm, a beautiful fiancée, and more money than he could ever hope to spend. Then he finds his future wife in bed with another man, and he’s forced to rethink his life and his choices. On a moment’s notice, he runs away to Paris, hoping to make peace with his life. But Jason’s leave of absence becomes a true journey of the heart when he meets Jules, a struggling jazz violinist with his own cross to bear. In the City of Love, it doesn’t take them long to fall into bed, but as they’re both about to learn, they can’t run from the past. Sooner or later, they’ll have to face the music.
JULES GLANCED over at Henri and their pianist, David. David grinned and nodded as he caressed the keys of the upright piano, his touch so delicate that Jules could hear him breathe with each phrase. David complained that the instrument was out of tune and a “piece of shit,” but the sound he managed to coax from it was astonishingly sweet. Henri’s mellow brush strokes over the surface of the snare drum joined the soft piano, much like the sound of the rain on the city streets—understated yet insistent. Sexy.
Jules gripped the neck of his violin and tucked the instrument under his chin. There was a rough patch of skin there, a result of years of playing, that looked much like the mark of an overzealous lover. He drew his bow above the strings and allowed it to hover there for an instant before lightly catching the D string. The sound of the violin flickered like a candle flame blown by an unseen breeze, then grew and melded with the muted piano, sultry and inviting. Jules closed his eyes, letting the sound wash over him, responding to the slow harmonic progression on the piano, both instruments weaving the ghostly melody.
IN A dim alcove only a dozen or so feet from the musicians, Jason sat nursing his drink, transported by the sound of the violin. It wasn’t jazz in its purest form—it was more of a hybrid, combining the traditional jazz rhythms of the fifties with a modern yet classical approach. But whatever you might call the music, he found it transcendent. Between pieces, Jason glanced around the room to discover the group’s name but found no mention of it anywhere.
The set ended and the club erupted in applause. The musicians nodded, their manner casual, aloof, even a bit embarrassed. The violinist met Jason’s eyes and, for a brief instant, lingered there. Jason’s face heated. Breaking their eye contact to look down at his empty glass, he told himself that the heat in his cheeks was from the alcohol and the lack of sleep. He motioned to the lone waiter for a refill. When he turned back toward the stage, he found himself sitting face-to-face with the violinist.
“May I join you?” the violinist asked, a coy grin on his delicate lips. Jason figured that he might be nineteen, tops. As his companion brushed a stray lock of shoulder-length black hair from his eyes, Jason realized that he had one brown eye and one green. He was a waif of a kid, his face uniquely French, from the slightly pronounced nose to the sharper edge of his jaw. Even seated as he was, Jason could see that the kid’s body swam in a large pair of jeans that hung low on his hips, exposing blue plaid boxers. On top, he wore a body-hugging black T-shirt with the word “Quoi?” splashed across the front in bright red.
“Be my guest,” Jason replied in French, still unsure of what to think about the kid. “Seems as though you’ve already invited yourself.”
“You’re French-Canadian?” the newcomer inquired, grin widening.
“American.” Jason noted the rough edges of the uneven tattoo on the kid’s right forearm. Homemade, no doubt.
“Really? Your French is excellent.”
“And your music’s good,” Jason countered playfully. “What’s your trio called?”
“Dunno. We haven’t named it yet—we don’t play that much. Wouldn’t have played tonight except the group Maurice booked canceled and he couldn’t find a replacement. My roommate’s the dishwasher here.” He gestured at the drummer, who was watching them with interest from the edge of the small stage. “So, do you live in Paris?” he added after a moment’s pause.
The waiter deposited two drinks on the table and winked at the violinist.
“My name’s Jules. Jules Bardon.”
“Enchanté.” Jules took Jason’s hand across the table. The gesture was far too friendly. Flirtatious. Jason pulled his hand away and raised an eyebrow. Jules appeared unfazed. “Here on business?”
Jules laughed—a soft, almost girlish laugh. “Do I make you uncomfortable?” He fixed his gaze on Jason.
“No,” lied Jason, finding Jules’s gaze a bit too intense.
“I could make this a pleasure visit for you.” Jules absentmindedly traced a long finger across his own lips.
“I don’t bat for that team.” Jason borrowed the American expression wholesale as his French failed him at last. It was not the first time he’d spoken the words, although it was the first time he’d spoken them in French. They were also not entirely true; it was simply that the right opportunity had never presented itself.
Jules looked at him for a moment, clearly uncomprehending, then laughed again.
“What’s so funny?” Jason demanded, noting a hint of licorice on the air as his companion replaced his drink on the table.
“Oh,” Jules said, “I understand.” He laughed again. “Sorry. I’ve just never heard it put that way before. At first I thought you were asking me about baseball.” He took a swig of his drink and shrugged. “Too bad. You looked like you could use a good—”
“I have to go.” Jules sighed and appeared disappointed. “Time for the next set. It was nice to meet you, Jason.” He tripped over the name, and it came out sounding something like “Jah-sohn.” Jason chuckled in spite of himself, reminded of the various ways in which his name had been mangled by French speakers through the years.
Jules sucked down the rest of his drink in one swallow and stood up. “If you change your mind…,” he began, but the drummer grabbed him by the arm and dragged him back toward the stage.
Not likely, kid. Jason chuckled again. He had enough shit to deal with.