Good afternoon Friends and welcome. You are in for a real treat today. I am presenting the first of many guest blogs. Today Bold Strokes Books author Kris Bryant is here to share about her new upcoming book, ‘Listen.’
When I first came up with the idea for Listen, it didn’t have anything to do with anxiety. I knew I wanted to write about music, but not the typical rock star falls for a fan or has a love/hate relationship with her new manager scenario. I wanted something different. I love music. I’ve always loved it. I grew up overseas so my choices of musical genres were very limited. The internet wasn’t around so I couldn’t pull up iTunes or Spotify. We had AM radio, 8 track, and some cassette tapes (note: AM radio overseas was worthless). My dad even had a reel-to-reel but finding a particular song on a reel was impossible, so we had to listen to everything until we heard the song we wanted. Elvis, Motown, or country. Those were my options. Let’s just say I know every Elvis song and I’m your girl who can sing and dance to Mary Wells, Martha & the Vandellas, and the Supremes. We didn’t have television, so I read everything I could and listened to music. Music calms me like nothing else. It allows my mind to focus on one or two things only. If my world is crazy, my mind reaches out and finds the sounds I need to hear to feed that part of me. If I don’t have music, sounds like rainfall, a ticking clock, children laughing, the wind blowing, the swoosh of windshield wipers, and even my dog breathing in and out as she sleeps works for me.
My best friend in middle school (junior high when I was growing up) played the piano. I thought she was brilliant at it, but in reality, she was probably average. I’m completely fascinated when musicians play or create music. It never gets old. So, when I thought about the actual storyline for Listen, my best friend popped into my head and I rolled with it. What about a child prodigy who was the best at something in the world? What is the life of a prodigy like? The pressure to be the best has always been a touchy subject in society. I coached YMCA basketball and the parents were out of control. The kids wanted to have fun, but somewhere along the way, fun was forgotten and it was all about winning. I’m guilty at wanting to win, too, but not at the expense of the child physically or mentally. I was called Fun Coach because I tried hard to make it exciting and goofy, while still teaching the importance of teamwork.
Back to Listen. What would happen to a child prodigy if they just broke? Kids are strong, but they are still kids. Life is learned through lessons and time. My godson is a genius. I’m not making it up. He’s so smart that they don’t know how smart he really is. He goes to the University of Tennessee every winter break so they can test him. I asked my friend what it’s like having a genius child. She said he knows so much but has no life experiences to apply his knowledge. How frustrating that must be! The pressure he already faces every day – information swirling in his head with no outlet or way to process it. Pressure leads to anxiety. Anxiety can be a result of dealing with pressure. They kind of go hand-in-hand. Some people are really good at handling both, and some people can’t handle either. I’m somewhere in-between. Anxiety is a very real, very consuming disorder that affects so many people, including myself. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve been on anti-anxiety medication for a few years now and it has helped me tremendously. I have a close friend who refuses medicine, but goes to therapy. There’s no right or wrong way to handle it. When I was growing up, my older sister used to call me Mother Hen because I always worried about everything. My mind went to the worse place every time. Late coming home? Missed curfew by a few minutes? Dead. Had to be. I could never shut it off. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood anxiety. My parents, teachers, friends all thought I was quirky, different, painfully shy, and weird. I am all of those things, but I’m not ashamed because I know the source. It’s a disorder that so many people have and I’m so quick to sympathize and recognize the signs in other people.
Listen is a love story. It is a romance. Everyone has a right to love and this journey is about a woman, Lily, who thirteen years ago when she was a child prodigy, had a complete meltdown on stage and never fully recovered. Her life as an adult is one of isolation. She struggles with anxiety every day. Interacting with people is hard and it’s not that she doesn’t want friends, it’s just that she doesn’t know how. She’s socially awkward and blurts out the wrong thing at the wrong time. But she also has so much beauty trapped inside and this story is about her opening up enough to allow love and a different life in. She has to deal with her past to move forward, to have a future. Music was a part of her past and even though she fears being on stage and performing, it’s still a major part of her life. The ending is realistic and I love it.
I’ve been known to write bubble gum floofy floof romance, and lately I’ve been stepping outside of my comfort zone and writing more heartfelt stories. My last book, Against All Odds co-written with M. Ullrich and Maggie Cummings, is about two women who fall in love after they are victims of a mass shooting. My next book, Falling, is about a woman who survives a plane crash and falls in love with the fiancee of somebody who dies in the crash.
I hope Listen is a success. I hope all of my books are, but Listen is important because it has so much of myself in it. Adding a personal touch makes a writer even more vulnerable. So far, the reviews have been very positive and encouraging. I hope readers enjoy Lily’s journey and understand that anxiety is very real and even if the reader doesn’t experience it, chances are, somebody in their life does.
Thank you for your visit today. ‘Listen’ is now available for purchase. Be sure to stop by next week when I’ll be presenting something new.
Until Next Time,