I have the pleasure of sharing a guest post by author Emily Mims, who shares with us her answer to the question...
ELF: What is one of your hobbies and how has it enriched your writing?
EM: My second passion in life, after telling my stories, is music. I was blessed with parents who bought a piano when I was nine and treated me to nine years of piano and organ lessons. I played both for fun and semi-professionally during my teen years and served as church organist during high school and college. That extensive background on keyboard and theory enabled me as a teenager to pick up a guitar and teach myself to play it. As an adult, I continued to play on and off, but teaching school, writing and rearing a family got in the way, and I was lucky to sit down at the piano three or four times a year.
I found myself returning to my interest in music in the summer of 2012. I was in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and happened upon a luthier demonstrating a mountain dulcimer. I sat down and in just a few minutes was making music on it. Needless to say, that dulcimer came home with me and I found a tiny but enthusiastic group of dulcimer players, the San Antonio Riverpickers, who taught me the old mountain tunes that they play. I fell in love with a second instrument, the ukulele, on my first trip to Hawaii in the winter of 2013. I brought home a ukulele, got chord charts and within just a short period of time was playing that little instrument also. Since then, I have picked up a bowed psaltery, an autoharp, a hammered dulcimer, a banjo dulcimer and a mandolin dulcimer. I don’t play all of them yet, but give me a little time!
Through the Riverpickers, I discovered and began attending the various dulcimer festivals held in Texas and the ukulele workshop held at the Kerrville Folk Music Festival every year. These festivals are wonderful. As well as offering performances by true masters of the craft, there are plentiful workshops offered to interested participants. Almost everybody there has a gig bag with them! My husband and I also play with Ukulele Ladies and Gents, an all uke group that performs frequently for everything from parades to murder mystery dinners.
So when I was thinking about a second series to write, having mined the lake community in the Texas Hill Country series to its limit, I wanted to do something with this renewed love of mine. So I combined my musical knowledge and background with the place where it all began-Appalachia. I’ve spent literally months in the region since my son and his family moved there in 2009 and love it there. My characters in some ways are based on the musicians I’ve met and studied with at the festivals, many of whom have sat down and shared with me what it’s like being a professional musician. My heroes and heroines all play mountain and bluegrass music (these are two separate but related genre) in a fictional bluegrass club in Bristol, Tennessee. My characters play the same songs on the same instruments that I do. Francesca learns the same songs on her fiddle that I learned on my dulcimer. Cooper’s bowed psaltery looks and sounds a whole lot like mine does, although he plays it a lot better than I do. The festivals portrayed in ‘Smoke’ and the other books in the series, aptly dubbed the ‘Smoky Blue’ series, are like the ones we’ve attended. Research for this series has been minimal. Or does going to a music festival count as research?
More importantly, my heroes and heroines share my love for music. Music is a passion with them, just as it is with me. It’s what draws them together in the first place and what holds them together against all odds. It holds Francesca and Cooper together when it would seem they have nothing else in common and draws them back to one another in the end. I sincerely hope that my readers can feel this passion that my characters feel for their music. If they can, then I have done my job.
by Emily Mims
GENRE: Romance/Romantic suspense
A concert violinist and musical prodigy, Francesca Giordano is internationally acclaimed and always in the spotlight—right where she doesn’t want to be. Not after she’s witnessed a murder. Suddenly on the run, she finds her way to Bristol, Tennessee, and to the music club Acoustics. There, as “ Chessie Hope,” she can hide out in the open. But with this newest gig comes a different kind of danger. Older and impossibly sexy, bluegrass singer Cooper Barstow is everything she’s ever wanted in a man, and his daughters are just as easy to love. Yet Francesca cannot enjoy the luxury of such a relationship, not even if he could protect her from the men on her trail or if she could be honest with him about who she is. Cooper is as wounded as he is strong, and he needs someone who will stay by his side for the rest of his life. Just as Francesca does. And the smoke on the mountains and the haze of desire almost make her believe that could happen.
“No, it was more than that. You’re wise for your tender years, Chessie. How did you get to be so smart?”
“I’m not all that smart. You’d eventually have figured it all out.”
They stared into one another’s eyes for a moment. “I was jealous.” Cooper was abrupt. “Of Jeremy. When he came on to you.”
Chessie cupped his face between her hands. “Cooper, why?”
Cooper put his good hand on Chessie’s shoulder. “He’s young and he’s cute and he has both his arms.”
“If I were into boys, I might have been impressed. But I’m not into boys, Cooper. I’m into men. One man, in particular. And you know what? I’m going to kiss that man, right now.”
Cooper stood, not moving, as Chessie went up on her tiptoes and placed her lips against his. She held his face in her hands and nibbled, touching and seeking in the gentlest of caresses before deepening their embrace. At first Cooper let her take the lead, but as hiss torment became unbearable he crushed her to him, her soft curves fitting just right into his hard, muscled body like a cool drink of water in the parched Arizona desert. She wrapped her arms around his body and held him even closer. Her nipples stiffened with desire and poked into his chest. Cooper was overcome with longing. He wanted this woman so badly he could taste it.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Author of thirty romance novels, Emily Mims combined her writing career with a career in public education until leaving the classroom to write full time. The mother of two sons and grandmother of six, she and her husband Charles live in central Texas but frequently visit grandchildren in eastern Tennessee and Georgia. She plays the piano, organ, dulcimer, and ukulele and belongs to two performing bands. She says, “I love to write romances because I believe in them. Romance happened to me and it can happen to any woman-if she’ll just let it.”
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