The best part of running the Featured New Book spotlight is learning new things about casual acquaintances. Jessica Topper is one such lady — she dropped into my inbox with the news that she’d been hiding the fact that she and I are soul sisters!
Read on… you’ll see why.
I’ve had a rock and roll day job for the past decade, and I’ve spent my evenings over the last five years writing this novel, so you could say that I eat, breathe and sleep music! LOUDER THAN LOVE features a recluse guitarist as one of its main characters (I call him my “heavy metal hero with a heart of gold”) and music weaves through the entire story, but if I had to pick just one song that makes me think of my book, it would be “Times Like These” by the Foo Fighters.
Most people are probably familiar with the electric version from the radio and album, but lately I cannot stop listening to this amazing acoustic version, featuring just Dave Grohl, a mic (along with a little bit of piano) and a guitar. I just love his slow and soulful treatment of it and the way it builds up to that powerful, passionate rock finish before dwindling down gently one last time. If I may be so bold, I think it perfectly parallels the way my story unfolds!
The chorus of “it’s times like these…you learn to live again” and “it’s times like these…you learn to love again” certainly resonates throughout the story as you meet Katrina Lewis, a level-headed librarian who has lost her husband in a freak train accident, and Adrian “Digger” Graves, a recovering and reclusive British rock star living quietly under the radar on Manhattan’s tony Central Park West.
Kat’s life has always had order and she is very focused; she’s like the “one way motorway” described in the song. She can’t make sense of staying where her husband Pete existed one day and not the next, so she has fled Manhattan with her infant daughter Abbey to the place where she existed before she knew him. In the sleepy suburban home of her childhood, she begins to heal through the comfort of a close-knit group of girlfriends.
Before being literally and figuratively burned by the music industry, Digger Graves had had the 80s rock world by its spandex-clad balls. In typical rock and roll fashion, he had seen it all, had done more than his share, and had lost almost everything. I definitely see him as “the white light blinding bright, burning off and on” as the song goes. He was a wonderful character to write: very raw, very genuine, and humble yet complicated. I hope he surprises people, as he turns out to be quite a contradiction in terms of what people may expect from his cocky, shock and doom rocker roots.
Librarian and rock star meet by chance in a chuckle-worthy case of mistaken identity four years after the wreck. The chemistry is undeniable, not only between Kat and Adrian, but between Adrian and young Abbey as well. Admittedly, his relationship with his own daughter Natalie is strained, but Adrian delights in getting to know Abbey, as well as her mother. It’s the second chance he hadn’t realized he’d even wanted in life, and he’s not totally sure he deserves it.
Although Adrian defies standard classification, Kat finds herself falling for him. She makes peace with his intimidating past…but she still has her own to wrestle with. To Adrian, Kat is like a desert flower; thorny but will hopefully some day bloom. But as more time goes by, the larger the ghosts loom…testing the stability of their newfound love and relationship. There is definitely a delicate balance between hope for the future, and heartbreak from the past, that brings this verse from the Foo Fighters’ song to mind:
I am a new day rising
I’m a brand new sky
To hang the stars upon tonight
I am a little divided
Do I stay or run away
And leave it all behind?
If you are in the mood for a love/loss/love again story and a good rock and roll read, I hope you will check out LOUDER THAN LOVE when it drops on September 17th! (And if you’re jonesing for the original Foo’s “Times Like These” after hearing my tale, here it is)
Nice, huh? I don’t think we even need the official blurb after that, but in case you do, here it is:
In this powerful debut novel, a young librarian grieves the loss of her husband…and discovers a love that defies classification.
It’s been over three years since a train accident made a widow of Katrina Lewis, sending her and her young daughter Abbey back to the suburban town of her youth…the only place that still makes sense. Lauder Lake is the perfect place to hide and heal.
Recluse rocker Adrian “Digger” Graves survived the implosion of his music career, but his muse has long lain dormant. Until Kat hires him to play at her library—not on the basis of his hard rock credentials but rather, because of the obscure kids’ TV jingle he wrote years ago. In a case of mistaken identity, Adrian stumbles into the lives of Kat and her comically lovable daughter.
Using tattoos as a timeline, Adrian unfurls his life for Kat. But as the courtship intensifies, it’s unclear whose past looms larger: the widow’s or the rocker’s. Will their demons ever rest, or will they break these soul mates apart?
Ooh… can’t wait. Jessica, how about a review copy? Pretty please?
Need more of Jessica? I sure do (see that comment about soul mates..)