Hello, Darien, and thank you so much for having me!
My paranormal novella Devil at the Crossroads was just released by Riptide Publishing, and I’m really excited to have the chance to chat a little about how this story was born. And, at the end of the post, there’s also a juicy giveaway for all lovely readers...! I will be making a few stops over the next few days – you can keep track of the blog tour here :)!
The Italian Blues
My first love, when it comes to guitarists, was my dad.
One of my first memories is him sitting on the couch with a cherry red electric guitar in his lap, with a small amplifier at his feet. There was a pair of giant headphones plugged in, as well – we lived in an apartment block and he couldn’t play out loud – but I could hear the music filtering through the headphones. Mostly, though, I could hear the strange, clinking notes of the not-amplified strings. I grew to like that sound a lot.
My dad had very curly, frizzy black hair (he used to have an Afro in the seventies!) and wore it longer at the back, in what I recently learned is called a mullet in English, (I still remember how disappointed I was when he cut it) and sometimes played acoustic guitar as well. He had a metronome and white plastic picks; a thingie with green and red lights to tune the guitar and a metal cylinder to put over his finger when he played (the slide). The black guitar case had a grey fluffy interior, and a secret compartment with spare strings, red plastic pick-holders and a brown tube of lubricant to pass over the guitar strings every time he finished playing. He let me play with all these things, let me touch the strings, tweak the silver knobs to tune the guitar, lock the case, pull the spring cables and observe the silver jacks, touch all the buttons and knobs on the amplifier.
I didn’t know how to use any of that stuff, and I still don’t; I didn’t even know the names of most of it. But I still recognize all those items with the precision and fondness with which we recognise something we were familiar with as children.
My dad also had a vast collection of rock videotapes, so my next crush was not a guitarist, but a skinny guy with ginger hair who ran like a madman around the stage wearing a kilt. (Hint: when I was old enough to know what’s what, my preference shifted to the dark n’ handsome guitarist, shirtless, in a corner hiding behind a bush of black curls. I’m sorry, Slash, I swear I didn’t know what I was doing!). My mother introduced me to the Doors, with their odd and sometimes scary videos, and to Queen. Eventually, I grew old enough to appreciate music without pictures to go with it, and that’s when I discovered my dad’s seemingly endless collection of rock, blues, and jazz CDs.
My father used to tell me stories about musicians in lieu of fairytales (later on we would switch to making up our own adventures, whose atmosphere still is at the very core of my writing; but that’s a story for another time), so I grew up holding, for example, Robert Johnson and his crossroads legend near and dear to my heart, like the adventure of a beloved character. Eventually, the blues atmosphere mixed with other stories, of hardened rockers on Harley Davidsons, with faded leather jackets and long hair (my next crush, right about that time, was Lorenzo Lamas from Renegade!).
Bear in mind that we were Italians living in a small industrial valley between the woods; these stories and atmospheres were so far away, so distant from our reality, that they felt even more like adventure tales. When I was a teenager, my father and I drove aimlessly around in his aqua green Fiat Panda, up and down the hills that surround our town, dodging the occasional tractor and blasting Steppenwolf and Nirvana and the Creedence Clearwater Revival on the stereo. We made up stories as we went, our crazy adventures in strange worlds; we talked a lot about the places we would visit sometime soon, the concerts we would go to as soon as I was just a little older.
Unfortunately, my father passed away prematurely before we had the chance to attend a concert together. But the love for rock and blues that he taught me remained, even though, despite his attempt at teaching me bass guitar (miserably failed – if you want to know more about that, check out my next post!) I never got around to playing any instrument myself. Listening to a blues album still brings me back to the peaceful hours we spent together, talking and making up stories, and going back to that place makes me feel close to him – and at the same time, I feel the bittersweet longing of missing his company. That was why finally writing a story about the blues meant a lot to me. I think he would have loved to read this story and, even though at times it makes me a little sad, I’m glad to have written something he really could have appreciated, really could have understood. It makes me feel as if our connection is still there.
Nowadays, I’m living with my boyfriend, who is also a guitarist – and my definitive guitarist crush, at that! – so I’m again surrounded by all the little things pertaining to guitars. It’s funny, but pleasant, to see how they haven’t really changed. Sometimes he finds me sitting next to his guitar case, fiddling with the picks and the slide and the jacks, and he never complains. And sometimes, he sits next to me on the bed as I write, and plays his guitar plugged in the laptop, with his headphones on – we live in an apartment building, so he can’t play out loud. The sharp, clinking notes of the unplugged electric guitar still sound the same, and that private, secret music still remains one of my favorite, and makes me feel peaceful as can be.
Attention, dear readers – this release comes with a trivia contest, and the winners will receive a free ebook of their choice from my backlist!
There are three easy questions, whose answer can be found reading Devil at the Crossroads. Keep an eye for the answers as you read the story, then email me the answers at corneliagrey [at] yahoo [dot] com – do not leave them in the comments, remember, you don’t want to make life too easy for the competition ;)!
The deadline for the contest is September the 30th: I will randomly select two readers among those who emailed me replying correctly to the three questions. The winners will be officially announced on my blog (as well as emailed!) and they will receive a free ebook of their choice from my backlist!
Ready for the questions? Here we go...
1) What is the model of Logan’s guitar?
2) Throughout the story, three spider tattoos are mentioned. Where are they located?
3) Farfarello happens to mention a future birthday of Logan’s. Which birthday is that?
Good luck! And remember, email me your answers by September the 30th to be entered in the contest :)!
Cornelia Grey is a creative writing student fresh out of university, with a penchant for fine arts and the blues. Born and raised in the hills of Northern Italy, where she collected her share of poetry and narrative prizes, Cornelia moved to London to pursue her studies.
She likes cats, knitting, performing in theatre, going to museums, collecting mugs, and hanging out with her grandma. When writing, she favors curious, surreal stories, steampunk, and mixed-genre fiction. Her heroes are always underdogs, and she loves them for it. You can find her at www.corneliagrey.com
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Devil at the Crossroads Blurb:
The devil covets more than his soul ...
Six years ago, Logan Hart sold his soul to the devil to become the greatest bluesman of all time—and now the devil has come to collect.
The irony is that Logan squandered his gift. High on fame, money, and drugs, he ignored his muse and neglected his music. And despite managing to escape showbiz in a moment of clarity, it’s too late to redeem himself. All that’s left is to try to go out with some dignity. Alas, the prospect of an eternity in Hell isn’t helping much with that goal.
But Farfarello, the devil who bought Logan’s soul, isn’t ready to drag him down to Hell quite yet. He’s just spent six years working his ass off to whip a bluesman into shape, and he refuses to let that—or the opportunity for more sinful pleasures with Logan—go to waste.
You can read an excerpt and purchase ‘Devil at the Crossroads’ here!