Welcome to Under the Covers! Since this is your first time here with us, can you tell us five things about yourself that we wouldn’t normally know?
Hi, thanks so much for having me!
- I love trains—especially trains through the countryside—and, after repeated viewings of The Journey of Natty Gann at an impressionable age, harbor fantasies of traveling the world on them. I’m actually writing this while on a train!
- I have an amazing fluffy, gray cat called Dorian Gray who is my heart, and every time I post a picture of her on Instagram I tell her that people said nice things about her but she doesn’t seem to care.
- I do a lot of my own tattoos—the simple ones that require very little artistic skill.
- My former life was as an academic, so I take great pleasure in analyzing shit 😀
- I would like to live in a cozy shack on a rocky outcropping that extends over a desolate beach where I could sit outside and watch the ocean and make bonfires.
RIVEN is a rock star romance! What was about this trope that inspired you to write this story?
Music has always been incredibly important to me, and I’d found myself writing about it obliquely in other books, so the chance to write about it head-on really appealed to me.
My interest in the trope of the rock star, specifically, was that being famous seems like it would be utterly unbearable. And though no doubt many people who become famous want to be famous, I can’t help but think about the people who are deeply passionate about what they do (the music part) but for many reasons also have to do something they might hate (the being famous part) in order to facilitate the part they love.
So, I wanted to imagine what a rock star romance would look like from the perspective of a rock star—Theo Decker—who hates being famous but loves getting to play music. And while Theo is struggling with the fame he never wanted, his love interest Caleb Blake Whitman is struggling with having to take a step back from the spotlight in his own music career. The fact that Theo and Caleb are both musicians experiencing music in very different ways and at different moments in their careers means that their feelings for each other and their feelings about music get deliciously intertwined.
Then, since writing Riven, I published Invitation to the Blues, which is about a classical pianist, so it was really cool to have a chance to write about a very different kind of music and music culture.
Tell us more about Theo Decker. What is his greatest strength? What is his greatest weakness?
Theo is one of those rare people who is truly open to things. It’s one of the reasons that he finds the scrutiny and attention of fame so difficult. When he meets people he likes, he wants to sink in and learn all about them; when faced with new things, he’s deeply curious. This openness and curiosity, I think, are what allow him to accept the things about Caleb that Caleb worries will cause people to reject him.
The flip side of this openness—which is certainly a weakness when pushed to an extreme—is that Theo tends to get swept up in other people’s desires, needs, lives, without thinking critically about his own. He finds himself doing things he doesn’t want to in order to fulfill other people’s desires and exhausting himself, or ending up places he doesn’t want to be … like famous 😉
What can you tell us about Caleb? How does his personality differ from Theo?
Caleb is self-possessed and very clear about what he wants and what he needs—sometimes to the point of stubbornness and self-defeat. When we meet him at the beginning of Riven, though, he’s also exhausted and demoralized. After building a successful, decade-long music career, Caleb has recently left rehab for the fourth time, and isolated himself from music, his friends, and anything that reminds him of his life before. So, we meet him at a moment when he’s drained and feels low—but also when he is pouring his entire strength into a single-minded pursuit of staying clean, which is very Caleb.
In some ways, then, Theo represents all the things that Caleb has run away from. But Theo utterly captivates him regardless. Which is lucky because it turns out both Theo and Caleb really need each other to find their ways back to music as well as to find love <3
If you had to play fantasy cast, or simply from your inspiration, who do you see as Theo and Caleb?
I don’t really see IRL people as my characters when I’m writing, but I did make a pinterest board of one version of Theo and Caleb here: https://www.pinterest.com/ARoanParrish/riven/
What’s your favorite rock star romance you’ve read recently?
I just read Syncopation by Anna Zabo, and I loved the way Zabo writes about music. I think you can really tell when an author has something to say about music specifically, and it’s always my favorite part of a well-done rock star romance.
What three authors are on your auto-buy list?
Garrett Leigh, Jordan Castillo Price, and Jude Sierra are three of my definite auto-buys.
Aside from writing, what are you usually found doing?
I love to wander and poke around cities, so a lot of times I listen to podcasts or music and just walk around, go down alleys, wander into buildings, that kind of thing. It’s especially fun in unfamiliar cities, but I do it in Philly too. Just the other day, I found a hidden garden! Well, okay, it had been hidden from me.
I also love to cook and bake, and my ideal (read: only) social event is spending five hours by myself making an elaborate dinner and dessert, and then inviting a few close friends over to eat and talk for a little while, and then kicking them out so I can drink more wine and read with my cat.
What does your writing space look like?
I live in a pretty small one-bedroom apartment, so my writing space is basically the couch. It’s a not-terribly-comfortable pink velvet settee that I got on the cheap on Craigslist when I was living in New Orleans. (New Orleans’ Craigslist is far classier than Philly’s …) Often Dorian will demand to sit on my lap as I’m writing, so then I’ll put the computer on the coffee table and contort myself into very non-ergonomic shapes to type off to my side while she takes over. I loathe clutter, so I don’t really have any writing-adjacent things, which is great because it also means I can just grab my laptop and have everything I need to write anywhere, really.
I do, unavoidably, have paperbacks and boxes of swag stacked in precarious towers on the floor next to the radiator in my bedroom where I routinely bump into them.
What are you working on next?
I’ve just finished the sequel to Riven, which is the story of Rhys, Caleb’s best friend who you’ll meet in Riven. It’s called Rend, and it’s my version of an already-married story. Rhys and Matt have a deep connection and, after a whirlwind romance, get married. Things are going great, but Matt’s had a hard life, and when Rhys leaves to go on tour, all the old demons Matt thought he’d outrun come back to haunt him. When Rhys gets home from tour, he has to contend with learning that Matty isn’t exactly who he thought, and figure out how to move forward. But don’t worry because they’re hella in love and it all works out! J
Thanks so much for sharing with us today!
Thank you so much for having me!
Released: May 29 2018
Theo Decker might be the lead singer of Riven, but he hates being a rock star. The paparazzi, the endless tours, being recognized everywhere he goes—it all makes him squirm. The only thing he doesn’t hate is the music. Feeling an audience’s energy as they lose themselves in Riven’s music is a rush unlike anything else . . . until he meets Caleb Blake Whitman. Caleb is rough and damaged, yet his fingers on his guitar are pure poetry. And his hands on Theo? They’re all he can think about. But Caleb’s no groupie—and one night with him won’t be enough.
Just when Caleb is accepting his new life as a loner, Theo Decker slinks into it and turns his world upside-down. Theo’s sexy and brilliant and addictively vulnerable, and all Caleb wants is another hit. And another. That’s how he knows Theo’s trouble. Caleb can’t even handle performing these days. How the hell is he going to survive an affair with a tabloid superstar? But after Caleb sees the man behind the rock star, he begins to wonder if Theo might be his chance at a future he thought he’d lost forever.
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