Sunday, December 19, 2010

Play it Loud with Gina Lee Nelson

Today I welcome author Gina Lee Nelson to my world. Welcome, Gina, and many thanks for stopping by for a chat. I recently read her romance novel, Play it Loud, and enjoyed it so much I dropped her mail to say thank you.

How did you take the well-known concept of "girl meets celeb" and give it that touch of realism?

I attended acting school at the Circle in the Square Theater in New York City. In the theater district and on the Upper West Side it was common to see celebrities on the street. I also worked for a catering company that handled parties and dinners in Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art, plus other well-known clubs and theaters. Though we didn't exactly exchange words, I'll never forget seeing celebrities like John Malkovich and Val Kilmer up close and personal. My experiences in Manhattan definitely removed some of the celebrity mystique.

One Christmas I was invited to a party at the home of one of my fellow acting students. Turned out she was the daughter of a famous Broadway composer and lyricist. Her home was a two-story apartment on the 80th floor of a historic building on Central Park West. I walked in and found not only her famous composer father, her well-known actress mother, but their famous friends, Lauren Bacall and her children.

You write with great passion about music. Do you play at all? Do you have favourite music you listen to while you write?

I don't play, I sing. Trained in musical theatre, I currently teach choir and drama. In my personal life, I often sing in church. Music definitely draws me closer to God.

If music is on when I'm writing, it's very, very low and usually instrumental. I'm so auditory, music can be distracting. If I'm editing or formatting, I might listen to Zydeco, Jack Johnson, Keith Urban--you name it. I'm a fan of music all across the FM dial.

Tell us about Evan Price. Are there any real musicians who inspired him?

Absolutely. I was a huge Josh Groban fan when I began writing this story. My hero is from Georgia, not California, but Josh was the original inspiration.

Describe your writing environment.

Let's see...I often write at the desk next to the television in the middle of my living room, but only when all is quiet. Occasionally I write on my laptop in bed before I go to sleep. I don't recommend either location, but I currently live in a small space.

Are there any works in progress you'd care to share the skinny on?

I'm trying my hand at a light, Southern mystery series set in Texas. It's based on a short story I published with The Wild Rose Press a few years ago.

Tell us about Play it Loud.

An ambitious reporter stumbles upon the story of her career when she rescues a pop star from the path of an oncoming subway train. Little does she suspect that revealing his painful secrets will challenge her need to succeed at all costs.

Claire Ashton-Howard strikes out on her own to prove to herself, her Upper East Side family, and Downtown Magazine she has what it takes to make it as a journalist. Unfortunately, immersing herself in Evan Price’s life may force her to question her motives, confront her controlling family, and open her heart.

Two years ago, a devastating motorcycle accident not only stripped Evan Price of his pop star status, but cost him his friends and his incredible singing voice as well. Now he’s ready to pursue a comeback as a writer and producer. First he must overcome the demons in his past, and then convince Vista Records he’s more than a has-been. In spite of his misgivings, he allows Claire to infiltrate his defenses only to discover she may be as self-centered as the music world around him.

What are the three books you'll always have on your shelf and why.

Touch not the Cat by Mary Stewart was written in the 1960s, but it pushes all my buttons. It's a delightful mystery within a mystery that doesn't reveal the identity of the heroine's telepathic lover until almost the very end.

To the Hilt by Dick Francis. Probably my favorite mystery writer, Francis writes phenomenal, spare, yet illuminating, narrative. The protagonist in this mystery is an artist who leaves his bare existence in the Scottish Highlands to save his family and reconcile with his wife, on his own terms. Yum.

Wicked Game by Jerri-Smith Ready. Also a first-person narrative, this one's about a young woman who turns from life as a grifter to marketing a radio station overflowing with vampire DJs. Each DJ spins records from his or her own era, but the emphasis is on the rock music of the 1990s. Deliciously frothy, and very sexy.

Okay, I'm shocked. I chose not only three first-person narratives, but three mysteries as well. I'm obviously going through a phase!

Web site and blog:

Claire’s instincts as a performer were right on, courageous fire and simmering sensuality. He remembered her courage from the subway and her sensuality from the audition. Now as she played, his passion ignited, and a desire stirred to take her in his arms. The red highlights aglow in her gorgeous hair and the strength of her ivory hands captivated him. But it was her expression of ardent longing, innocent and untried, that drew him in and urged him to follow as if she played the piper.

He almost forgot to open his mouth and sing when the time came. Braff thought his voice no longer had value, would no longer sell records. In spite of the music exec’s cutting words, Evan sang anyway. For the love of it, for the need to succeed, to prove to himself and to all of them that he could.

When the last note faded, the room remained silent. All at once, the musicians erupted in excited chatter. He stole a look at Claire. Good, lord. Her skin was pale, smooth and perfect. Her eyes were a warm hazel-green with the same russet lashes as that magnificent hair. She wasn’t beautiful–she was bewitching, striking and different, qualities he’d been too angry to appreciate in his hallway. He met her stunned expression with a gentle smile of encouragement and flat out pleasure. They would make the perfect team. His breath stopped for a moment when her gaze softened with what? Admiration? For what? He shook himself.

“Beautiful,” he murmured for her ears alone. He smiled at the others. “Great job. Now get out.” Evan pointed at Claire. “Not you. You and I need to talk.”

* * * *
NEWS from Nerine... wearing her editor's hat...

I'm currently looking for submissions of erotic fiction, so do drop by at and see what the guidelines are. Make me happy. Some of my favourite authors include Storm Constantine and Jaquline Carey, which should give a pretty good idea about my likes... My only stipulation is that the stories must be narrative-driven and display some sort of character development. And yes... I still like vampires. I would like to see some urban faeries, however... **wink**
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  1. Great interview and truly delicious excerpt!

  2. I loved this book ... can't wait to see more from Gina Nelson!

  3. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Jeri's work. Wicked Game is just the beginning. Great Vamp series. Trust me.