Click the image to explore the Disaster Crimes series.

NOTICE:


DISCLOSURE:

This site uses affiliate links for Bookshop.org, an online marketplace that supports independent bookstores. Chrys Fey will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

February 27, 2015

Scene Spotlight for A Swan's Sweet Song by J. Arlene Culiner

I am thrilled to bring another Scene Spotlight to you, this time from J. Arlene Culiner, a Wild Rose Press author. She’s sharing insight into her book, A Swan’s Sweet Song, about a playwright and a country music star.

Title: A Swan’s Sweet Song
Author: J. Arlene Culiner
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Release Date: January 23, 2015

BOOK LINKS:

SCENE:

            Without much enthusiasm, she sauntered in his direction and stopped in front of him. Boldly, she let her eyes slide up and down. Carston almost laughed. She was evaluating him, sizing him up like a chunk of roast beef or a steak, calculating how tender he might be. Well, he had nothing to be ashamed of. He had a trim body and easy grace. Women loved his gray eyes, his silvered mahogany hair, and weren’t physical attributes a more immediate magnet than intelligence? But this singer giving him the once-over didn’t look so pleased about the physique. Or his reputation. Who did she think she was?
            He met her eyes with an equal lack of warmth. Ms. Valentine would learn, very quickly, she was out of her depth when it came to him. But even as the thought crossed his mind, he felt his fatigue and pent-up hostility trickling away. To be replaced by interest. And something akin to desire. Desire? How could his body betray him in this way? He struggled to smother the reaction, nip it in its first, traitorous bud. This country singer was a charmer. She knew what effect she had on men.
            His mind raced, searched for meaningless conversation to smash the powerful silence, quash the sensations and, above all, to hide his reaction from her. He kept his tone cool.
            “Hard to understand why we’re being interviewed together.”
            “Just what I thought,” she answered, just as icily.
            Carston stared harder. Her voice had taken him by surprise: low, vibrant, it clashed with her flashy appearance. Now he really was intrigued. Very much so.
            “We are on opposite sides of the cultural world.” He noted how condescending he sounded. Did it matter? Well, in a way, it did. He had the vague suspicion that condescension  might not be the right tactic to take with Sherry Valentine.
            A sarcastic smile slid over her beautiful lips. “That’s why you were sneaking out the door?”
            Her words pulled him up short, shoved soft, sensual thoughts to the back of his mind. So she’d seen what he’d been up to? He felt himself squirm and sensed he had to justify himself for some crazy reason.
            He shook his head. “Fatigue. That’s why I wanted to get away. What I need right now is a nice big bed with crispy sheets, just like the one waiting in my hotel room. Believe me, I know how good those sheets will feel when they slide over my skin tonight.”
            He stopped, shocked by his own words. Was he crazy? Talking about a bed, sheets, skin? He’d intended to keep the conversation on neutral ground—then had dropped into the trap. Reacted the way all men would. Did Sherry Valentine now expect him to pull out the big guns? Invite her back to that bed of his for a torrid night?
            But she ignored the innuendo. Her lips crooked up into a smile of complicity.
            “A comfortable bed? Sounds heavenly. Just add a glass of wine and a good book to that picture.”


QUESTIONS:

1. Where does this scene take place?

The scene takes place in a local radio station in the rather uninspiring town of Midville. Carston and Sherry are both celebrities — he’s a well-known playwright and she’s a country music star — so they’ve drawn quite a crowd of onlookers. And, being in the limelight, attracting fans and paparazzi certainly complicates their budding romance.
 
2. What inspired this scene?

Years ago, I worked in a local (French) radio station and had a country music program (something quite unusual in France at the time.) My job wasn’t just to play music: I had to talk about the origins of country music, present different musicians and talk about their musical styles. I had to do considerable research, and all that information has stayed with me. I did sometimes think about using it in a story, but I wasn’t quite sure how.

Around a year and a half ago, I decided to write a romance with a hero and heroine who were complete opposites. For some reason, I remembered those long ago days at the radio station, and how exciting it was to see new people walk through the door every day — some were very charming. I was single at the time, and I wondered if, one day, I’d fall madly in love with one of them... And remembering that, gave me the beginning of my book, A Swan’s Sweet Song.

3. What do you love the most about this scene?

I think that when people fall in love, they do it at first sight. In most cases, they don’t know they’re falling in love — they don’t even know they’re attracted to the future lover. But there’s a subtle, quite unconscious game going on, a sort of testing, a sharpening of wits, even when the conversation is quite banal. And capturing that first magical moment when my heroine Sherry, meets my hero Carston, was a delight to write.

4. Was this scene difficult or easy to write?

For me, everything is difficult to write. This particular scene needed a delicate sort of tension, and I had to make sure to catch that. However, the very finest points come much later, when I rewrite. And I love nothing better than rewriting. I usually rewrite at least four times before I even start to be happy with a manuscript.

5. Can you tell us a secret about this scene?

I certainly can — but, then again, I don’t want to give too much away. As we all know, first impressions are so important, and we always put our best foot forward when meeting someone new. We project an image of ourselves, and hope the other will accept what we’ve presented. Sherry is a flashy-looking country movie star, a self-confident woman in her early fifties with a smart answer for every situation. Carston is an ivy-league playwright, a loner and very reserved.

But neither Sherry nor Carston are what they seem to be…


BLURB:

The air sizzles when a country music star and renowned playwright meet, but can opposites fall in love?

The instant Sherry Valentine and Carston Hewlett meet, there’s desire and fascination in the air…but they’re complete opposites.

Smart-talking Sherry fought her way up from poverty to stardom as a country music singer. Now, she’s ever in the limelight, ever surrounded by clamoring fans, male admirers and paparazzi, and her spangled cowboy boots carry her all across the country, from one brightly lit stage to the next.

A renowned but reclusive playwright, Carston cherishes his freedom, the silence of his home in the woods and his solitary country walks.

Any long-term commitment is obviously out of the question: how about a quick and passionate fling?

But when their names are linked in the scandal press, Sherry’s plans to become an actress are revealed. And the budding relationship seems doomed.



BIO:

Born in New York, raised in Toronto, J. Arlene Culiner has lived in England, Germany, Turkey, Greece, Hungary and the Sahara. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn and cafĂ© in a French village of no real interest. Much to everyone’s dismay, she rescues and protects all living creatures—especially spiders, bats and snakes; her wild (or wildlife) garden is a classified butterfly and bird reserve.

AUTHOR LINKS:


Thank you for sharing this scene with us, J. Arlene. I really enjoyed it!

Please leave J. Arlene a comment! :)


49 comments:

sage said...

Culiner has an interesting background for someone to write about Country musicians...

betty said...

This was neat to read something from the book with the scene and then have the author answer questions about it related as a scene. Enjoyed it! Good luck with the book!

betty

Pat Hatt said...

Great interview indeed. Nice take on it with exploring the scene. Have to put our best foot forward indeed

Unknown said...

ooh love these types of books! especially that the scene was set in a radio station, I worked for mine in college :)

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Well, it's just taking an experience and spotlighting it. Lots of fun.

CottonSr said...

interesting subject. and actually i was a country singer, old fashioned one at that, in Switzerland. was on the radio and such too. it was big in Switzerland, almost as much as pop music.

J. Arlene Culiner said...

It's fun to do too, Betty. Thanks to Chrys for giving me the opportunity.

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Thanks, Pat. Of course, the best foot isn't always the right foot...

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Then you'll also remember how much fun it was seeing new people walk in the door, Beth. Sometimes I do miss that job (but not always).

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Wow. And you're right. Being a country singer in Europe is BIG - and fairly rare (compared to the USA.)

Susanne Matthews said...

Sounds good. Can't wait to read it. Bonne chance.

Jana Richards said...

I love the way you've thrown together two people who should be complete opposites. I have a feelings they're not so different after all. Best of luck!

Patricia said...

Love the excerpt! Thanks for this introduction, Chrys. Arline, it's very nice to meet you and I'm intrigued by your story. I write to the same demographic and spend a lot of time in France. I'm off to visit your website. Best of luck with your new release!

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Thanks, Susanne.

J. Arlene Culiner said...

You've guessed it right, Jana. Different paths, different pasts, but the differences are all on the surface.

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Thanks, Particia. Enjoy the visit.

teresa said...

Love it! And yeah, I agree, everything about writing is hard. Why we torture ourselves is a mystery to me. Best wishes with the release!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I like first meetings from the guy's point of view. Congrats to J. Arlene.

nashvillecats2 said...

A great post, Congratulations to J. Arlene, A success I am sure.

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Perhaps because it feels so amazingly good when we've finished something? Or when something works?

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Thanks, Susan. I suppose we often forget that reactions are pretty much the same for both male and female...

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Basically, if I can carry people away to another world for a while, or just make them happy and laugh, that's success.

Mary Kirkland said...

Really liked the scene and learning how it came to be. Wonderful blurb.

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Thanks, Mary.

Angelina Jameson said...

I also enjoyed your answering questions about the scene, J. Arlene. Great concept and knowing where your idea for the scene came from brings me further into the world you created.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the newest feature to my blog, Betty. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Pat! I'm glad you like it.

Chrys Fey said...

I think it would be neat to work in a radio station. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I had no idea you were a country singer, Larry! Wow!

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for stopping by, Patricia! How lucky that you spend a lot of time in France. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for stopping by, Susan!

Chrys Fey said...

I think it's a success. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I'm happy you enjoyed Arlene's scene spotlight, Mary. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I love that everyone is enjoying my newest blog feature for authors. :) Thanks for leaving a comment, Angelina!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Seeing through a guy's eyes is always wonderful.

Love the cover. Very romantic.

Kristin Smith said...

Loved the scene and the tension between the two characters. And great interview, Chrys! I enjoyed learning more info about this scene, especially the little insight that despite their outward confidence, neither Sherry nor Carston are who they appear to be. Sounds intriguing. :)

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Your interview questions were great, Chrys. They made even a small snippet of the story work.

J. Arlene Culiner said...

The face we present to the public; the people we really are: always an intriguing contrast. Thanks, Kristin

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. yes, I also find forests evocative (there are quite a few of them in the book.)

Patsy said...

Good idea to use your own unusual experiences as a backdrop for part of the story.

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Isn't most writing, to a great extent, auto-biographical (but disguised)?

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Interesting scene. I could "see" her sizing him up. Ha!
Best of luck, Arlene. I'm thinking crispy sheets, and a book too - now. (smile)

Chrys, I enjoyed the interview.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for stopping by, Dixie!

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Thanks, Dixie. The questions Chrys asked were great.

Stephanie Faris said...

I've lived in Nashville all my life and know zilch about country music. This sounds like a charming read!

J. Arlene Culiner said...

Yes, I know what you mean, Stephanie. For six months of the year, I live half-an-hour on foot from the Eiffel Tower. But do I ever go up it? Nope.
Country music is actually more complex than it seems, and it's a definite grandchild of traditional Irish, English and German music. And Hawaiien, and, and, and...

Trisha said...

These two sound like they'd be very fun to read about. ha!

J. Arlene Culiner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. Arlene Culiner said...

Fun is actually what the whole book is about. And romance, of course. Thanks for your visit, Trisha.