Why the world needs more rocker romances
Hello! I’m Avon Gale and I’m here to talk to you today about my new book, The Love Song of Sawyer Bell! It’s about a badass rocker chic named Vix, whose band picks up a new fiddle player for their summer tour – a Juilliard-trained violinist named Sawyer. Through the course of the tour, Vix and Sawyer go from friends to lovers and Sawyer has some tough decisions to make about her future.
One of the things I wanted to do in this book, as well as the second Tour Dates novel (about Racer frontman Jax Elliott), was write about bands that hadn’t necessarily “made it” commercially. My absolute favorite musical genre is Americana/Alt-Country, and most of these bands play a grueling tour schedule every year – driving their own vans, hauling their own gear, you name it. Tonight, in fact, I’m going to see one of my favorite bands of all times – Lucero – and they’ve developed a loyal following of fans simply through years of hitting the road and playing their hearts out everywhere they go.
It’s similar to my reasons for wanting to write about hockey players in the ECHL, a double-minor league, instead of the NHL – these are people who do what they do because they love it, and fame and success are far from guaranteed. Of course I’d love it if my favorite bands made it big, even if it made the concert tickets a little pricier (which has happened in some cases!), just like I hope my favorite ECHL players one day make it to the NHL. But I also love the simple joy of people doing what they love, even when it isn’t easy.
I think a lot of the time, when people hear “rocker romance” they immediately think of big-name bands who pack the seats of stadiums or larger concert venues, with band members who are celebrities. And I love those stories, too – believe me – but I also want to see stories about the smaller bands, the ones who are trying to make it, the ones who are driving all night to play in clubs where they still let you smoke cigarettes, dealing with audiences that won’t always be quiet or where maybe there’s only a handful of people there at all. It makes for such an interesting story, adding a different kind of tension to the relationships between band members that I find fascinating.
In this book, Vix has to navigate having a new relationship with a bandmate with an ex who is still there – and Sawyer has to deal with her relationship on display 24-7 in front of these people she can’t escape. Sure, they get along, but no one can go that many weeks together in a van without things getting a little tense, you know?
I think another one of my favorite things about rocker books is that, like hockey/sports romance, it offers the opportunity to read about the found-family trope. And that is one thing I will never get tired of reading – or writing! – about. Also, I love seeing these types of books with queer characters making music, finding family and friends, support and success, and just being happy doing what they love.
The Love Song of Sawyer Bell, by Avon Gale
Series: Tour Dates, Book One
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: September 25, 2017
Victoria “Vix” Vincent has only two weeks to find a replacement fiddle player for her band’s summer tour. When classically trained violinist Sawyer Bell shows up for an audition, Vix is thrilled. Sawyer is talented, gorgeous, funny, and excited about playing indie rock instead of Beethoven. Their friendship soon blossoms into romance, even though Vix tries to remember that Sawyer’s presence is only temporary.
Sawyer’s parents think she’s spending the summer months touring Europe with a chamber ensemble. But Sawyer is in dire need of a break from the competitiveness of Juilliard, and desperately wants to rediscover her love of music. Going on tour with her secret high school crush is just an added bonus. Especially when Vix kisses her one night after a show, and they discover that the stage isn’t the only place they have chemistry.
But the tour won’t last forever, and as the summer winds down, Sawyer has to make a tough decision about her future—and what it means to follow her heart.
Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and she never gets tired of people and their stories—either real or the ones she makes up in her head.
Avon is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary Agency.
This wasn’t one of those shows Vix would remember fondly for the rest of her life or anything. Except, as she caught sight of Sawyer in the greenroom fresh from the stage . . . maybe that wasn’t true. Sawyer was standing in the center of the room, clutching her violin in one hand and smiling at nothing and no one. Smiling like everything was right with the world, like she’d won a million dollars, like . . . fuck, like she’d played in front of fifty thousand people instead of a little more than a hundred.
She met Vix’s eyes and grinned, then touched her violin to her chest like she couldn’t speak. There might have been tears in her eyes. Whatever drove Sawyer to want to play music, whatever that hidden source was that lay quiet and deep within her soul, she’d clearly tapped into it on the stage. Vix smiled back, because she understood that sometimes, even for a songwriter, words weren’t enough.
The girl who walked in for the next audition looked like she’d gotten lost on the way to band practice, with her summer dress; long, straight brown hair worn past her shoulders; and perfect-length fringe bangs. Vix envied girls who could pull off bangs. She looked like she was ten when she tried having them, even with the purple hair.
“What’s your name?” Vix thought that the girl looked vaguely familiar—but that might be because she looked wholesome enough to be in a soap commercial, or maybe a Cover Girl poster at Target.
“Sawyer Bell,” she said.
“Cool name,” said Vix. “Nice to meet y’all.” Sawyer cleared her throat and held up the violin case. “Should I play?”
“Wait, you do understand this tour runs through August, right?” Vix asked, because in addition to looking like she should be working at Ann Taylor LOFT, Sawyer had to be a college student.
Sawyer nodded. “I don’t have to be back at school until September.”
“Where do you go to school? University of Tennessee?” That was where Vix assumed people from around here went to college. Most everyone she’d gone to high school with had moved from Germantown to Knoxville, if they’d done the whole college thing.
“Um.” The girl ducked her head like she was embarrassed. “Juilliard, actually.”
Juilliard . . . as in, the performing arts school? Whoa. Vix waved her on. “Okay, well, show us what you’ve got.”
Sawyer opened the violin case and took out her instrument, which was a lot nicer than anyone else’s—including Bryant’s. The wood on the body was shined to perfection, gorgeous in the flickering fluorescent light of the basement. Sawyer moved so she was standing in the little audition space they’d arranged by moving the furniture. “Any requests?”
“Something good?” Connor offered, and Vix snorted a laugh.
“Whatever,” said Vix. She didn’t want to get too excited. Just because Sawyer was talented enough to get into Juilliard, didn’t mean she’d be any good at playing their kind of music. Okay, no, it probably did, but damn it. Vix didn’t want to get her hopes up that this sweet, polite girl was somehow also a violin virtuoso.
Except she totally was. Sawyer started to play, and it became quickly apparent that she was not only better than everyone else who’d shown up to audition by a country mile . . . she was better than their actual fiddle player. Sure, she was playing something classical and boring, but the technique was undeniable. She had that spark too; the one that said, I know music, I love music, and I will play the shit out of it.
Not only that, but performing turned Sawyer from a shy girl with too-long hair and a summer dress into . . . well, a musician. She closed her eyes and swayed with the notes, her body falling into the rhythm of the bow moving across the strings. The music was pulled out of her in the same way Vix felt when she was singing, when all the words tumbled from her like a storm. Sawyer bit her bottom lip between her teeth as if losing herself in the music, and it was beautiful.
It was one thing to sleep with Sawyer. It was another thing to, like, have a crush on her or something. Vix should not do that.
“I like them,” said Sawyer, leaning in closer. Her hair fell in a soft curtain that also, goddamn it, smelled delightful. She was tapping her fingers on her PBR tallboy along with the song. “He’s got a good voice. The singer.”
Vix nodded. “Yeah, he does.” She pushed her hair off her face and took a drink from her tallboy. They were playing in the basement of Blueberry Hill, and while it was nice and cool, Vix felt like she was going to be sweaty forever thanks to the summer heat and the van. She looked over, feeling Sawyer’s eyes on her. Sawyer gave her a small smile, intimate and a little shy. Vix had the strongest urge to lean over and kiss her, but she didn’t.
They both watched the stage, but Vix dropped a hand and laid it gently on Sawyer’s knee. She was wearing one of her cute, short summer dresses and the boots again. Her skin was warm beneath Vix’s fingers. Vix leaned in close. “So, you had fun, right?”
“Duh.” Sawyer looked like she did when she came off stage, eyes bright, skin flushed. “You too, right?”
“Right.” Vix’s stomach was fluttering with something that she might have thought were preshow nerves, if she ever got those. “Does that mean you’d want to do it again, or . . .?” Vix wasn’t sure why she let that trail off. What other response was there but “or no”?
Sawyer tipped her head down, hiding her face and sipping from her beer. But she dropped a hand and took Vix’s in her own, squeezing it. “Oh yeah,” she murmured, and then slid Vix’s hand up her thigh.
Vix blinked in surprise. “You’re naughty,” she whispered in delight. She glanced around to make sure they were mostly unnoticed, and let her fingers drift higher. “And you’re a tease.”
“Oh yeah?” Sawyer’s knees parted and her legs fell open. There was no way anyone could see beneath the table, not with the stage in the way. “Who’s teasing? I think it’s you.”
Vix inched her fingers up the smooth skin of Sawyer’s thigh, wondering if she should do what she was half an inch away from doing. Giving their surroundings one more quick survey, she went ahead and pressed her fingers against Sawyer’s cunt through her panties. The fabric was damp. She raised her eyebrows.
“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it a lot,” said Sawyer in a low voice. She was gripping her PBR tallboy in one hand, eyes very wide.
Vix had no idea if she could get Sawyer off there at the table, but what the hell.