Today, author J. Arlene Culiner is guesting. She’s here to talk about her latest release A Swan’s Sweet Song, a contemporary romance. Be sure to check out the excerpt.
How did I come to write A Swan’s Sweet Song?
Well…Several things came together. I once had my own vintage country music radio show in France, and one day, a French country group came to town. I was sent to interview them — charming middle-aged men — and after their last set they told me about being on the road and the sort of life they lived. I remember thinking that I had to write down their story one day. In A Swan’s Sweet Song, Sherry Valentine’s life is much like theirs, but I also added quite a few of my own experiences as a (rather mediocre) actress.
Readers should know that there is nothing fictitious in A Swan’s Sweet Song. The book is amusing — my heroine Sherry Valentine is quite able to laugh at herself and she has a snappy answer to everything — the settings for the story are unusual, and this is also a peek into another sort of life. There are also pesky, nosy secondary characters— but we’ve all met people like that!
What else is in this story? Secret moments, the ones we aren’t supposed to see. And intensity, and a few good recipes, too.
When country singer Sherry Valentine meets playwright Carston Hewlett at a backwoods culture festival, despite resistance on both sides, romance blooms. But when the paparazzi dream up a scandal, romance disappears. Or does it?
Blurb: The instant Sherry and Carston meet, there’s desire and fascination in the air…but they’re complete opposites. Smart-talking Sherry Valentine has fought her way up from poverty to stardom as a country music singer. Now, ever in the limelight, ever surrounded by clamoring fans, male admirers, and paparazzi, her spangled cowboy boots carry her from one brightly lit stage to the next. But Sherry’s been on the star circuit for far too long now, and she wants a change: is it too late for her to begin an acting career?
A renowned, but reclusive playwright, Carston Hewlett cherishes his freedom, the silence of the deep woods surrounding his home, and his solitary country walks. Long-term commitments have been out of the question for many years, so why is he suddenly fascinated by a flashy country music singer? Perhaps a very short, but passionate, fling will resolve the problem.
When their names are linked in the scandal press, and Sherry’s plans to become an actress are revealed, Carston is furious. Is their budding relationship doomed?
Perhaps she could avoid meeting Carston Hewlett again and circumvent disaster. Yes, she had enough on her agenda. A fling at a conference like this? That was positively banal.
“There he is,” said Charlie, ripping into her thoughts. “On the left. You see?”
Of course, she saw. How could she miss him? Mighty easy on the eye, he leaned against a plaster pillar, listening to the people surrounding him.
“Don’t make plans,” she warned Charlie. Yet she couldn’t avoid looking in Carston’s direction again. Didn’t he look delicious in that brown silk shirt and elegant tweed jacket; how those jeans hugged his long legs. He was just the way she’d always imagined a successful playwright should be: cool, intelligent, strong, and sexy.
As if aware she’d been watching him, Carston turned, caught her eye. She tried forcing herself to look away. Failed. For an eternity, their gaze held. Then detaching himself from the group, he headed in her direction.
She commanded herself to pretend indifference, but her heart thumped a sensual jungle beat. She swallowed, tried to summon up some zen-like calm… realized she didn’t have any available.
Why come over anyway? They had nothing in common. Here he was, tiny inches away, his jaw a definite line, his body that tight, sinewy stretch she’d thought about too often during the night. But it was the expression in his eyes, warm humorous, that confirmed her instinct: the immediate, deep reaction was mutual. Try as hard as they could to avoid it, something would happen. It was inevitable.
Actress, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and writer, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.