Cecilia Tan

Guest Post: The Daron’s Guitar Chronicles (Volume Eight) Tour with Cecilia Tan


Today I’m so pleased to welcome Cecilia Tan and the Daron’s Guitar Chronicles blog tour to The Novel Approach. Daron and this series have quickly become an all-time fave of mine, so enjoy Cecilia’s post and the excerpt too!


Not-So-Historical Romance: Writing the 1980s

by Cecilia Tan

My long-running series Daron’s Guitar Chronicles carries the tag line “coming out and coming of age in the 1980s.” We joke that it’s “historical romance,” but actually it’s sometimes as more challenging to get the settings and details right in a 1980s romance as it is in the Regency.

For one thing, it’s challenging because a lot of us are still alive to remember it, so if I get something wrong, someone is bound to call me on it! I use many real venues and locations in the book, from Madison Square Garden to small underground clubs, restaurants, bookstores, in cities like Boston, New York, and San Francisco. The difficulty is upped by the fact that Daron’s Guitar Chronicles, following the life and times of a rock musician, sometimes changes setting every chapter. When Daron is on tour, it’s a new city and new venue every day. A huge number of the arenas and music venues that stood in the 1980s are gone now and sometimes Wikipedia is the only trace online I can find of them.

Another thing that’s tricky to handle is technology. The current book, volume eight, takes place in 1991. Some of the characters have pagers and one or two have “car phones” but no one has a mobile phone like we’re used to today. Most of them don’t have email yet.

And the music industry is quite different. MTV is still playing music videos at that point. There are dozens of music magazines in the US and the UK that are gone now. We still have Spin and Rolling Stone, but gone are Musician, Blender, Standing Ovation, BuZZ, The Face, Melody Maker, and many others. The only path to fame was through the major labels and radio stations were owned and operated locally, instead of being run by giant national conglomerates. Same for concert venues.

It was, in short, a different world. The biggest thing that has changed, though, that is really central to the story, is LGBT rights and the visibility of openly gay celebrities. The environment in which Daron is trying to succeed as a rock musician and come to terms with his own sexuality is drastically different. Hysteria and paranoia over AIDS are peaking during the years the story takes place. Volume Eight, which released this week, takes place in 1991, two years before Tom Hanks starred in the movie Philadelphia, five years before the musical Rent reached Broadway, and six years before Ellen came out.

The other big challenge for me as I write the volumes is that time in the series moves forward. What started in 1986 in Volume One is now in 1991 in Volume Eight and I have to keep track of all kinds of news events and societal changes that will impact Daron. 1991 is a crucial year in which the music industry has hit a particularly stagnant period and US politics are in the 10th consecutive year of Republican presidency (two terms of Reagan, and then Bush the First). Freddie Mercury is still alive (but not for long) and Nirvana and the rest of the grunge scene are still unknown (but not for long). Both those events will be noted in Daron’s world.

I’m sure there are things I missed, too, but I hope when people read the books they feel immersed in Daron’s life, not only the tour buses and backstage green rooms, but the closet and Daron’s struggle to kick open the closet door. Fortunately, nothing can keep love down forever, not in my books, anyway!


Daron's Guitar Chronicles 8Blurb: Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Coming out and coming of age in the days of AIDS, MTV, Reaganomics, and Just Say No.  Winner of the Rose and Bay Award for Crowdfunded Fiction!

Daron Marks is a young guitar player with a dream, make it big like the guys he grew up idolizing in New Jersey–or at least escape his dysfunctional family. He makes it as far as music school in Rhode Island, and the rock clubs of Boston beckon him. But it’s hard to succeed from the closet.  A story of how finding one’s self is key to finding love, and loving one’s self is key to loving another.

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ExcerptIn this excerpt, Daron’s in a hotel in New York City. It’s Christmas time, and Daron knows Ziggy’s in New York, too. They had a brief encounter the night before and Ziggy slipped his pager number into Daron’s pocket. It’s almost six in the morning and Daron’s been awake all night when he gives in and pages Ziggy:

The phone rang gratifyingly quickly. “Hey. I guess you’re not sleeping either.”

“I’m on West Coast time,” Ziggy said. “Where it’s only three in the morning.”

“Uh huh,” I said, unconvinced.

We sat there in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. I was the one who had paged him, so was it on me to say something? But he was the one who put the “call me” message into my pocket, so….

“Maybe we should get together to talk,” I finally said.

“Can you get away from your family?” he asked.

“For a couple of hours, no one’ll miss me,” I said. “But I wanted to ask what you’re doing for the holiday tonight. Tomorrow. No pressure, but you could join us here.”

“Daron, how should I put this…” He breathed, and I imagined him sighing with his eyes closed. “Your group there is kind of overwhelming. I’m not good with crowds.”

“I never thought I’d hear you say that.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Actually, I don’t. Explain it? I’m listening.” I lay back to listen.

“I mean, I’m fine with crowds if I’m the center of attention. But I don’t want to be—and shouldn’t be—the center of attention at your chosen family’s gathering.”

“Why shouldn’t you be? You outshine everyone in any room you walk into.” This room felt like it was spinning slightly. I had definitely drunk more than usual.

“Like there’s a spotlight on me?”

“Like you’re a star that fell out of heaven. Ziggy, you’re the most gorgeous human being I’ve ever laid eyes on, and that’s as true today as it was that day in the park.”

“You’re drunk.”

“I’m telling the truth.”

“Because you’re drunk.”

“Because I’ve been to therapy. And I’ve realized there are a lot of things I could have been saying that I haven’t been.” I thought about what Bart had said, that maybe me being forthright and truthful about my feelings was actually scary to Ziggy. If so, I was probably freaking him out completely right now. “Am I freaking you out? I’m not trying to. I just… have this thing about the truth.”

“Uh huh,” he said cautiously. “And if the truth is… it’s too late?”

“Then tell me to go fuck myself: break my heart and send me on my fucking way.”

“Whoa. Whoa.” There was a kind of long silence while I guess he tried to figure out what to say to that. Or got himself together. I don’t know which. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“It’s worth asking, isn’t it? Is it too late, Zig?” It felt crazy-good that I could send him spinning by speaking so baldly. Of course, the only reason it didn’t hurt like fuck to say was because alcohol had numbed me so much at that point. “Did I wait too long to tell you I loved you? Is it just fucking tragic when I say it?”

“Okay, you know what? I want to make a rule. No saying ‘I love you’ over the phone.”

“You don’t want me to tell you I love you?”

“On the phone. Seriously. I’m coming over there and then you can say it to my face.”


Cecilia TanAbout the Author: Cecilia Tan is “simply one of the most important writers, editors, and innovators in contemporary American erotic literature,” according to Susie Bright. RT Magazine awarded her Career Achievement in Erotic Romance in 2015 and their prestigious Pioneer Award. Tan’s BDSM romance novel Slow Surrender (Hachette/Forever, 2013) also won the RT Reviewers Choice Award in Erotic Romance and the Maggie Award for Excellence from the Georgia Romance Writers chapter of RWA. She lives in the Boston area with her lifelong partner corwin and three cats.

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Cecilia Tan, Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal: Daron’s Guitar Chronicles: Volume 8 by Cecilia Tan

DGG 8 cover

Cecilia Tan


Date of publication: 10/13/2015

Cover Reveal: 10/15/2015

Blurb: Pre-order special price: $2.99!

The latest volume in the award-winning web serial about coming out and coming of age in the music business of the 1980s and 1990s. The year is 1991 and Daron Marks is trying to stay true to his heart.

But life is tough when you’re a talented musician whose life is controlled by gigantic mega-corporations. Daron is trying hard not to think about that, though, when he invites Ziggy to spend Christmas with Daron’s chosen family: his mentor Remo and the guys from the band Nomad. Ziggy’s career is taking off at rocket speed; meanwhile Daron spends a few months living in New York City working with one of the music industry’s hottest producers and then takes a gig to hit the road with Nomad. Even with the industry pulling them in different directions, Daron and Ziggy’s paths keep crossing. Can they rebuild a relationship without music tying them together? And what is that mysterious song Daron keeps hearing on the radio?  


Preorder Today: AMAZON || B&N || KOBO  

C Tan __Courtesy of Tom Smarch Photography__About the Author: Cecilia Tan is a writer, editor, and sexuality activist. She is the author of Slow Surrender, The Prince’s Boy, Mind Games, The Hot Streak, White Flames, Edge Plays, Black Feathers, The Velderet, and Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords, as well as the Magic University series of paranormal erotic romances. She has the distinction of being perhaps the only writer to have erotic fiction published in both Penthouse and Ms. magazines, as well as in scores of other magazines and anthologies including Asimov’s, Best American Erotica, and Nerve. She is the founder and editor of Circlet Press, publishers of erotic science fiction and fantasy, the founder and creator of the Fetish Fair Fleamarket ™, and was inducted into the Saints & Sinners Hall of Fame for GLBT writers in 2010.

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5 Stars, Cecilia Tan, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Daron’s Guitar Chronicles: Vol. Seven by Cecilia Tan

TNA Page Turner Resized

Title: Daron’s Guitar Chronicles: Vol. Seven

Author: Cecilia Tan

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 421 Pages

At a Glance: “Love is a friendship set to music.” – Unknown

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Ziggy went to India. Daron traveled the world. Is the music business ready for what happens when they meet again?

When last we saw guitar prodigy Daron Marks, he was on a beach in Australia on the very last day of 1989. A new decade has dawned and Daron has little choice but to embrace change in the face of Ziggy going AWOL and poor record sales. Daron embarks on a journey of artistic growth, studying more styles of guitar and music, a journey that takes him from Virginia to Spain to New York City.

But while he prepares for whatever may come next in his career, is Daron prepared for his inevitable reunion with Ziggy? Ziggy is back and he’s got a plan.


Review: Five-hundred and eighty-four chapters. That’s how far Cecilia Tan has taken her readers into the life of Daron Marks—so far—in Daron’s Guitar Chronicles, a grand feat of altogether consummate storytelling.

From the moment Daron was introduced as a teenager in the 80s in Chapter One, not only afraid of anyone finding out he’s gay but so afraid of simply being gay, Tan has taken readers on a journey deep into the life of her young guitar prodigy. We’ve followed Daron through creative highs and lows; through family drama; through falling in love with the one boy who would turn his life upside down and inside out (not once but a multitude of times…and still is), and the author has done so with an ease so seemingly effortless that we ourselves are notched directly into the world of music and the lives of the characters who people it. This series truly is realistic fiction at some of its finest, consistently blowing me away, chapter after chapter, with attention to detail and a protagonist I’m invested in to the extreme. Daron’s narrative voice is so utterly sincere, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes frustrating, but always engaging. This is one of those series where I want so badly to see whether or not he gets his happy ending (read: the happy ending I want for him), yet…the thought of there being an end is too much to consider.

For seventy-nine chapters in this installment of the serial, we head into the 1990s as we follow Daron from the US to Spain, where he spends a brief interlude with Orlando, a guy who can’t seem to admit out loud that he’s probably gay, or at least bi. And, we get a glimpse of a Daron who is becoming more comfortable in his own identity as a gay man, something his time with Jonathan helped him to do, even though the relationship didn’t end up being what either man needed. Daron’s love for his lead singer Ziggy is always there, always at the forefront of everything for Daron—sometimes even in his music—and we’re teased by an almost-mending of their relationship in these chapters. Now, if only Ziggy were singing the same tune. One of the most frustrating and compelling aspects of this epic masterwork is the push me/pull you of the relationship between these two characters, and how invested I’ve become in their future. It’s an addiction of the sweetest kind.

One of the things Cecilia Tan has done so brilliantly in the first person storytelling is to not only disappear behind this character but to allow us to see Daron through Daron’s eyes. Rather than his voice telling us how we should think and feel at any given moment, I love that there are times when his frustration makes me sad; his sadness makes me frustrated; his anger makes me glad that he’s angry, while at other times I wish he’d step a bit more carefully. And his happiness… well, his happiness only comes in fits and starts, so that makes me sad too. But therein lies the beauty of this series—Tan builds upon the story and characters layer by layer—there are no cookie-cutter caricatures or cardboard stereotypes (even when the music business might demand it)—until you feel a degree of certainty that the author has known these people at some point in her life because they’re so authentic, the investment in them so complete. There isn’t a lot of action in these chapters, nor is there a lot of sex—this is, simply put, literary fiction at its finest: character driven and filled with all the flaws and challenges and perfect imperfections of the human condition, set against the backdrop of Daron’s near-obsessive need to play his guitars.

I know the word count in this series is intimidating. I can’t even begin to fathom how many words into Daron’s life we are now, nor do I know how many more words Cecilia Tan has left to offer her readers, but if there’s ever been a work of storytelling I’d beg someone to dig into, it’s this one. It’s pretty amazing, in my most humble opinion, and deserves all the recognition it’s received so far.





You can buy Daron’s Guitar Chronicles: Vol. Seven here: