We are delighted to welcome Amelia C. Gormley back to SSBR as part of her Saugatuck Summer Blog Tour. As a firm favourite amongst us reviewers we are also incredibly excited to have her here on the release day of her latest novel Saugatuck Summer, she has also brought a friend along with her to chat about the musical inspiration behind the story.
Hi, and welcome to the Saugatuck Summer blog tour! I’m so glad to be back here at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews. And when Tina contacted me on Facebook a couple months ago and told me she’d just finished with Saugatuck Summer and that she had not only enjoyed the book, but she had fallen in love with the music referenced therein, I knew just what this post had to be about.
For those of you who have seen me talking about it on social media for the last nearly year and a half, you know that Saugatuck Summer was a labor of love far beyond what I would normally claim for one of my books. Of course I love them all, but Saugatuck Summer came from my very soul. Actually, I’m not certain it came from me at all.
Basically, here’s what happened: One day I was driving along, running errands, and Topher Carlisle whispered one line of dialogue in my ear. Just one. When I asked him what I was supposed to do with that, he promptly took over my brain for fifteen absolutely insane days and at the end I had the first draft of Saugatuck Summer.
Topher’s story of recovery, hope, making mistakes, and growing up just told itself, and the experience of being the conduit for that was at times gruelling and heartbreaking, but also euphoric and wonderful. It was one of those experiences that, as a creator of some form of art, be it musical, visual, or literary, you have once or twice in a lifetime if you’re extraordinarily lucky, when you know you’re creating something magical. I’m not sure it will ever happen to me again, but I feel absolutely blessed that this book has come of it.
This week on the Saugatuck Summer blog tour, I’ll be sharing some bonus content from the book and a sneak peek at another upcoming book in the Saugatuck universe. I’ll also be having a heart-to-heart discussion with Marie Sexton about our experiences as adult children of alcoholics and how they translated into writing our ACOA characters from Saugatuck Summer and Family Man, giving you a peek at some of “Jace’s” art, and I’ll be sharing the official Saugatuck Summer soundtrack from a brilliant singer/songwriter of my personal acquaintance, Casey Stratton.
And finally, all week long I’ll be asking trivia questions from Saugatuck Summer and this week’s blog tour articles, and each correct answer emailed to me offers you a chance to win your choice of any of my backlist titles!
So put on your sunscreen and let’s go!
The Music of Saugatuck Summer
Casey Stratton ~ The Calling of the Crows
One thing Topher was adamant about when I started writing Saugatuck Summer was that he would have a very strong relationship with music, particularly singing. Specifically, there were a few songs which resonated strongly with his character, and in that I saw an opportunity to do something a little different with the novel.
Due to legalities, one cannot, under fair use, quote song lyrics in a book without first obtaining permission of the copyright holder for the song, which generally is one of the big music publishing companies and it can get quite expensive (assuming you can ever get a response to your request in the first place.) What this means is that while many authors will share a playlist that inspired them while they were writing, they can’t really incorporate that soundtrack into the book itself.
However, I was exceptionally lucky in that my particular soundtrack happened to be by a single singer/songwriter with whom I went to high school, Casey Stratton.
Since high school, Casey has gone on to do amazing things, especially in composing and producing his own music. He generously gave me carte blanche to quote his lyrics, to which he holds the copyright because he’s an independent artist, and he’s gone a step further and compiled some of his songs into the Saugatuck Summer soundtrack. It’s available here on his Bandcamp store.
Casey has agreed to do a little interview for this post, and then I will discuss a few of the most important songs I used, from Topher’s perspective.
1) You of course have a biography up on your website, but for those people reading this post who aren’t familiar with you or your music, can you give us a little bit of history?
A: I grew up in Michigan and my father was a well-known regional musician. Music was a part of my life from day one. I studied violin, cello, piano and voice for many years. I graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy in 1994 and moved to Los Angeles soon after. I started making records in 1995, moved to Chicago then New York where I signed to Sony. I made one record with them and then went indie at the end of 2004. I’ve recorded and released everything on my own since then and put out my 18th album in June 2013. I’ve been busy!
2) How are you acquainted with the author of Saugatuck Summer, Amelia Gormley? Share one anecdote or memory of your acquaintance.
A: I’ve known Amelia since high school. We were both in choir together and performed in a few musicals as well. Most notably, we co-starred in a production of Pippin with me in the title role and Amelia as the Leading Player. That was a fun time. I have a funny memory of Amelia coming up to an upright we needed and saying “Let’s Shanghai the piano!” I still use that phrase. Fond memories!
(Amelia’s note: I have no memory of this, but I do remember the amount of time we have to spend practicing so I could dip Casey during the “On the Right Track” number.)
3) What were your thoughts when Amelia asked you if she could feature your music in her novel?
A: I am always excited when my work can inspire artists, especially in other media than music. I have been fortunate to collaborate with many artists in film, dance, theatre and now fiction writing. For this project, I loved that Amelia was going to use lyrics of mine to compliment her character’s experiences. I tend to go very much inward as a songwriter, so these seemed like a great use of the songs.
4) We already know that Tina, the reviewer who covered Saugatuck Summer for this site, has become a fan. Hopefully today will offer the opportunity to acquaint others with your music as well. Which of your albums do you feel is the best introduction to your music for someone who isn’t familiar with it already?
A: Actually, a double disc based in mythology might not be the best place for everyone to begin! I usually tell people, and this has been confirmed in most cases by feedback I’ve received, to start with my Sony record Standing at the Edge. Then I was say the followup to that, DIVIDE. If a listener enjoys those, the good news is that almost everything in mu digital store is streamable so you can click around and see what other records might be up your alley. I also have 2 “best of” compilations. I know that there is a lot of music in my catalog, which is both a good and bad thing for a new listener. It can feel overwhelming when you discover an artist who has many titles. I get it!
Casey Stratton ~ DIVIDE
5) Casey, thank you so much for stopping by on the blog tour and for sharing your music with us! Any final thoughts?
A: I really hope this book is a resounding success for Amelia! Thanks so much for asking me about my work and I hope people check out the songs that accompany the book. We’ll have a Spotify playlist and a special release in my store as a companion soundtrack of sorts. I think it’s great to be able to listen to what the character is listening to in the narrative. Thanks again!
Casey Stratton ~ Signs of Life
Saugatuck Summer Soundtrack
If the link is not currently live, be sure to check back later to hear the Saugatuck Summer soundtrack by singer/songwriter Casey Stratton in full!
Saugatuck Summer by Amelia C. Gormley
Author ~ Amelia C. Gomley
Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Published ~ 19th May 2014
Genre~ M/M Romance
One summer can change everything.
Hi, I’m Topher Carlisle: twenty-one, pretty, and fabulous. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. But let’s get real. Walking the fake-it-til-you-make-it road to independence and self-respect isn’t easy. Especially since my mom’s a deadbeat alcoholic, and most of my family expects me to turn out just as worthless. Oh, and I’m close to losing my college swimming scholarship, so let’s add “dropout” to the list.
My BFF has invited me to stay at her beach house on the shore of Lake Michigan. That’ll give me one summer to make money and figure out what I want to do with my life. So of course I decide to have an affair with my BFF’s married, closeted dad. Because that always works out.
Now I’m homeless, friendless, jobless. Worthless. Just like my family expects, right? Except there’s this great guy, Jace, who sees it differently. He’s got it all together in ways I can only dream of—he’s hot, creative, insightful, understanding. He seems to think I don’t give myself enough credit. And if I don’t watch out, I may start to believe him.
Can a book kill you, turn you inside out and make you grieve deeply over a cute guy and his lost youth, and make you simultaneously smile with him and jump for joy when you see his burning desire to just live, make his music and be happy? Saugatuck Summer made me feel this way, it took me on a roller coaster ride of deep misery, overwhelming emotions and the blossoming hope that even the most lost souls can find their true love and a happily ever after.
When you first meet the exotic looking twenty-one year old Christopher Carlisle he seems to be pretty, confident, defiant, loud, proud and fabulous (these are his own words) and you actually think that nothing on earth can ever hurt him. He is comfortable identifying and presenting himself mostly as male, but he definitely floats somewhere in the middle of the gender spectrum and he doesn’t mind showing it, swinging from mildly flaming to downright campy. Openly gay, not giving a shit about what anyone thinks and going his own way, coming across as independent and full of self confidence.
After reading a few pages though you realise that Topher’s world is quite different from that. His mother is a deadbeat alcoholic and the rest of his family label him as self absorbed, screwed-up worthless gay trash. Abused and neglected he somehow managed to survive his worthless mother and his shitty upbringing, even when it has taken hours of therapy and tons of pharmaceuticals to get him to the point where he was able to go on with his life.
Out of money he is close to losing his college swimming scholarship, so when his best friend Morgan invites him to stay at her beach house on the shores of Lake Michigan he takes a chance. It gives him one summer to make money and figure out what to do with his fucked up life. Oh, I loved Mo, she’s such a tough girl, she’s Topher’s lifeline every time he’s on the verge of drowning in his self-doubts.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever go through with it. I’m just too much of a perfectionist, I guess. I’d rather be nothing than be middle-of-the-road.”
She hugged me tightly. “You’re not middle-of-the-road, Topher. You’re fast lane, all the way. You just, you know, need to find the right car.”
Mo has a job counselling at a summer camp in Traverse City and can’t stay with Topher all the time so he is grateful that her father keeps him company. If only Brendan wasn’t so hot and kind and sensitive and if only Topher wasn’t so attracted to the man who persuades him to finally unburden his heart. Then there’s Jace, wonderful, creative, insightful and understanding, who seems to think Topher doesn’t give himself enough credit. But just because he is who he is everything he does has to be wrong or dirty by default, right? Or can one summer change everything?
Oh Jace… gorgeous, dark-haired, sassy, Jace, covered with hot tattoos and even hotter piercings. He’s the only one who sees him in a way Topher never has seen himself. He’s exactly what Topher has always needed in his life. It seems like his soul, the depths of his being, is stripped bare in front of Jace,
“I don’t know your story, and I’m not going to ask for any more than you want to give. But I know, I can just tell from the way you act, that people have tried to take things from you, tried to take you from you. They tried to take away something amazing, something that deserves more, something that wants to shine. I see it. I see the part they never managed to steal, no matter how hard they tried…Your soul,” he whispered, answering the unspoken inquiry.
The chemistry between those two… Holy mother of HAWT! They just cannot keep their hands of each other and believe me when I tell you it is HOT! There’s one scene at a bath house… holy hell Amelia, you got me there!
The sex is intense, tender and passionate, the emotion between these two is electric, the intensity and rawness of it is definitely cold shower worthy. But the passion between them is so much more than just the sex… and the love they have for each other truly touched me and left me speechless. I fell utterly and totally head over heels for Jace and Topher.
Amelia Gormley’s writing style is powerful, gripping, and so emotional. You don’t feel like watching from the side-lines, you’re living within the story. You suffer with Topher, you laugh and smile with him, you hug (or slap) him and make it all better. The skill to write like this is a true gift and I’m simply in awe.
What I’d especially like to mention is the wonderful way the book combines and makes connections between the lyrics of the talented musician Casey Stratton. Every chapter is introduced with the lyrics of one of his songs. Marvellously done! Especially his song Cloudbusting which seems to have been just written just for Topher.
Overall, Saugatuck Summer is one brilliantly written book, about learning to put a shitty past behind, it’s about accepting oneself and not giving up hope. It’s about making peace with one’s family, getting rid of guilt and embracing life in all it’s glorious colours. And…that was so emotional to watch… it’s about making dreams come true, finding the perfect guy and building a future with him. It’s a true coming of age story. Highly recommended! I really look forward to reading the next instalment of the Saugatuck universe. Scratch that! I can’t fucking wait!
Btw, Topher was first mentioned in The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams, Amelia’s Love Has No Boundaries freebie for the Goodread’s M/M Romance Group’s Don’t Read in the Closet event last year. That short story isn’t necessary to read Saugatuck Summer, but for those of you who enjoyed Matt and Chris from The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams, be aware that Amelia will be continuing the Saugatuck universe and giving them their own novel in the near future, so go ahead and check that out!
I want to finish my review with one my of favourite quotes. Did I mention that Jace is my newest book-boyfriend crush? Oh girls and boys… what a guy!
“I don’t need you to be perfect. I don’t need you to never make mistakes. I just need you to let me give you as much of myself as I can, and to trust that I will try as hard as possible never to hurt you intentionally. Can you do that? Can you just let me love you?”
AMAZON US | AMAZON UK | AMAZON CA
The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams by Amelia C. Gormley
Chris Boyden loved Matt VanderVeen since junior high. But growing up gay in the Bible belt of west Michigan was difficult, and unlike Matt, he wasn't brave enough to face the prejudice head-on. Especially when his family told him over and over that he wouldn't be able to attend college without a scholarship.
Back in high school, he worried that coming out would get him kicked off the baseball team or make recruiters reluctant to scout him. Eventually, Matt broke up with him when he couldn't handle being Chris's secret boyfriend any longer, but college has given them a second chance -- if Chris has the courage to take it.
When a terrible injury puts Chris's baseball scholarship in jeopardy, it reminds Chris of all the reasons he stayed in the closet to begin with, and his ultra-masculine father's expectations and thoughtless homophobia aren't helping. Baseball has always been Chris's hope for the future, but now that dream could cost him Matt's love.
NOTE: This eBook novelette is a re-release. It was originally published by the Goodreads M/M Romance group as part of their Love Has No Boundaries event in June 2013.
Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her son is at school. When she’s not writing in her Pacific Northwest home, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into an everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else
Her self-published novel-in-three-parts, Impulse (Inertia, Book One; Acceleration, Book Two; and Velocity, Book Three) can be found at most major online book retailers, and be sure to check Riptide for her latest releases, including her Highland historical, The Laird’s Forbidden Lover, the The Professor’s Rule series of erotic novelettes (co-written with Heidi Belleau), and Strain. Stay tuned for her upcoming Riptide releases, which include the final two books in The Professor’s Rule (coming the first week of March) and Saugatuck Summer, coming in May.
Contact her by email using the form at http://ameliacgormley.com/
Connect with Amelia
HOW TO WIN YOUR CHOICE OF ANY SINGLE BOOK FROM MY BACKLIST (all-in-one volumes not included):
At each stop along the blog tour I’ll be asking a trivia question from Saugatuck Summer. Yes, this means some familiarity with the book is required, whether you purchase a copy, have an ARC, or employ the Kindle or B&N lending programs. If you visit some of the other blog tour stops, you might also find the answer in some of the excerpts.
PLEASE DO NOT ANSWER IN THE COMMENTS. Instead, send the answer to me privately by using this contact form. Each response will enter you into the drawing and three winners will be picked. The more questions you answer, the more entries you get. You can choose from any of the following titles:
Inertia (Impulse, Book One)
Acceleration (Impulse, Book Two)
Velocity (Impulse, Book Three)
The Laird’s Forbidden Lover
An Inch at a Time (The Professor’s Rule #2)
Inch by Inch (The Professor’s Rule #3)
Every Inch of the Way (The Professor’s Rule #4)
To the Very Last Inch (The Professor’s Rule #5)
(Note: Giving an Inch (The Professor’s Rule #1) is already available free at Riptide, and my pre-Saugatuck novella, The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams, is available for free at Amazon, All Romance eBooks, and elsewhere.)
Again, please do not post your answer in the comments, but submit it to me privately.
To give people time to read and respond, the contest will remain open for one month after the release of Saugatuck Summer. It will close on June 19, and the drawing will be held on June 20.
Today’s Saugatuck Summer trivia question:
Chapter 36, what surprise visitor attends the memorial service?