Dreamspinner Press, Kate McMurray

Throwback Thursday And “The Silence of the Stars” – A Guest Post And Giveaway By Kate McMurray


Since it’s Thursday, I thought it might be fun to revisit the past. So let’s take a trip in the Wayback Machine to the late-1980s, when a cute 9-year-old picked up a violin for the first time.

I was blessed to grow up in a lower-middle class New Jersey suburb that somehow had one of the best arts programs in the state. I started taking violin lessons when they were offered to all fourth-grade students. I actually wanted to play clarinet, but the school didn’t have any loaner clarinets available. They did have violins. I figured I’d play for a year and then switch. But then a funny thing happened: I was good enough at the violin that my teacher talked me out of switching to clarinet. And so a young violinist was born.

Over the years, I’ve taken lessons, I’ve given recitals, I’ve played in orchestras. I played a couple of shows in Quebec, and I played in the pit orchestra for a musical in college. I’ve given great and terrible auditions. I took a hiatus after college and then picked it up again a few years later—apparently I cannot resist the siren call of music. Most recently, I took lessons at a music school in Brooklyn, one not as elite as the one in the Stars books, but one with a solid program just the same. I adored my teacher, even when she made me play Bach and Vivaldi alone on a stage in front of strangers.

The photo, incidentally, is scanned from my senior yearbook, so there I am in my high school orchestra during a concert rehearsal in all my mid-90s grungy finery. I was 17 or so when this was taken. I have terrible posture here, and I think that’s a scrunchy on my wrist? I hope you appreciate that I’m sharing this with you all.

I’ve been wanting to write a violinist character for a long time. The Silence of the Stars is not as immersed in music as The Stars that Tremble, but my hero, Everett, uses his music as an outlet. It helps him relieve stress and helps him think. Everett is a teacher, but he performs as well. There’s a scene in which he helps one of his students learn a new piece, and he behaves largely the way many of my teachers have—he gets out the metronome, he yells the fingerings over her playing, he explains the key signature. Later, when he plays in a concert, his love interest Sandy comments that he’s more jerky than graceful—if you’ve ever seen a great violinist in person, you see that he puts his whole body into it, and sometimes it’s not so pretty. I wrote about music I love—Everett and I are both partial to Baroque composers—and put books I own on Everett’s bookshelves and generally got to be kind of nerdy about it.

I like detail, what can I say?

It is a little strange to write about something I know pretty well. On the other hand, Everett is a little outside of my wheelhouse. I grew up in with a single mom, and we didn’t have much money, so private lessons were mostly out of the question until I got older. We had a rent-to-own arrangement with a local music store for my violin, which is the one I still play; it’s a nice model and produces great sound, but it’s not high-end by any means. Everett grew up in an upper-class family that could afford to pay for lessons starting at a young age, and he owns an antique violin he plays in concerts. (Everett is based in part on a friend of mine who is one of those music prodigies who can just pick up an instrument and figure out how to play it as if he’s been practicing for years. He’s particularly skilled at string instruments and, like Everett, owns three violins.)

So in some ways, Everett is wish fulfillment; he got the musical experience I wished I’d had as a kid. I like to treat writing as an escape, not fantasy per se but as a way to dive into someone else’s life for a little while. That’s why I don’t usually write much about my own life but prefer to make stuff up. Still, a story can certainly benefit from an author’s intimate knowledge of the subject, and as a reader who likes a lot of gritty detail in the books I pick up, I appreciate that I can lend some expertise to a book I’m writing.

All this is just a small part of the book, though. I haven’t even gotten into Everett’s love interest Sandy, maybe one of my favorite characters I’ve created, who will sarcastic your pants off. But you’ll have to check out the book to find out more about him.

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The Silence of the Stars: Sandy Sullivan has gotten so good at covering up his emotions, he’s waiting for someone to hand him an Oscar. On the outside, he’s a cheerful, funny guy, but his good humor is the only thing keeping awful memories from his army tours in Afghanistan at bay. Worse, Sandy is now adrift after breaking up with the only man who ever understood him, but who also wanted to fix him the way Sandy’s been fixing up his new house in Brooklyn.

Everett Blake seems to have everything: good looks, money, and talent to spare. He parlayed a successful career as a violinist into a teaching job at Manhattan’s elite Olcott School and until four months ago, he even had the perfect boyfriend. Now he’s on his own, trying to give his new apartment some personality, even if it is unkempt compared to the perfect home he shared with his ex. When hiring a contractor to renovate his kitchen sends Sandy barreling into his life, Everett is only too happy to accept the chaos… until he realizes he’s in over his head.

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Author photo (c) Ellen B. Wright

About Kate: Kate McMurray is an award-winning author of gay romance and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, plays the violin, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She’s currently serving as President of Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT romance chapter of Romance Writers of America. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Visit her at http://www.katemcmurray.com

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The Giveaway: THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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23 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday And “The Silence of the Stars” – A Guest Post And Giveaway By Kate McMurray

  1. Allison says:

    The violin is my favorite instrument. Recently we went to the orchestra specifically for a violin concert. I enjoyed the amazing music but watching all the bows rising and falling like waves was wonderful as well. Thank you for the post and the giveaway.

    Like

  2. jenf27 says:

    My daughter starts 4th grade next school year and her school offers a violin program. She is excited about it. I hope she enjoys it as you did!! Thanks for the post and giveaway.

    jlf827 {at} icloud {dot} com

    Like

  3. Bill says:

    I love music themed stories….being a wannabe violinist my whole life…. I’d love to read this one. Thanks for including me.

    Like

  4. Antonia says:

    I really enjoyed The Stars That Tremble and I’m looking forward to reading The Silence of the Stars. Thanks for sharing and for the giveaway!

    Like

  5. Debra E says:

    I played the clarinet in school and loved it. Too bad my daughter didn’t enjoy playing an instrument as much as I did. I wanted to live a little bit vicariously through her band experience but she denied me. Thanks for the chance!

    Like

  6. julia alaric says:

    I can’t wait to read a book about a violinist that’s written by someone who actually is one! It’s definitely on my list of things to write some day, too. I’ve been playing semi – professionally for over half my life, and I love it (plus it’s total stress relief). So excited for this sequel. :)

    Like

  7. Hi, Kate, I was raised by a single mom, too. Much earlier in the 1950’s and ’60’s. We often had to take bottles back for their deposit if we wanted to see a movie or go out to dinner. Living hand to mouth. Know what it’s like growing up poor. Your series sounds wonderful. Count me in. My best, Paul

    Like

  8. Jbst says:

    When I was a kid, I wanted to learn the violin but I never did for various reasons. Thanks for a chance to win the book.

    Like

  9. What a fun interview! I started playing the piano at about the same age, and my grandmother decided to learn to play the violin when she was 70, proving that you can never be too old to fall in love with music. :D A big part of my love of reading came from her too. She’s 92 and still an amazing and vibrant woman. This made me think of her. I haven’t read either of these books, so thanks for the chance to win!

    Like

  10. Lisa G says:

    This sounds like a wonderful series and I really enjoyed your interview. Thanks for the chance at winning a copy of these books.

    Like

  11. Barbra says:

    I can’t play violin (I play piano) but I love sitting in the symphony and watching all of the violinists. The bows are always at different angles and it fascinates me that even though they don’t look like they’re in sync, the music is always perfect.

    Like

  12. Good morning, everyone, and many thanks for entering Kate’s The Stars That Tremble/The Silence of the Stars e-book giveaway. The contest winner has been selected, and the books go to

    chickie434

    Congratulations, chickie, Kate will be in touch soon.

    Like

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