Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stealing Fire Review...

Title- Stealing Fire
By-Susan Sloate
Expected Publication Date- late August 2013 

“How do you recognize your soulmate?

In glittery 1980’s Los Angeles, Beau Kellogg is a brilliant Broadway lyricist now writing advertising jingles and yearning for one more hit to compensate for his miserable marriage and disappointing life.

Amanda Harary, a young singer out of synch with her contemporaries, works at a small New York hotel, while she dreams of singing on Broadway.

When they meet late at night over the hotel switchboard, what begins will bring them each unexpected success, untold joy, and piercing heartache ... until they learn that some connections, however improbable, are meant to last forever.

STEALING FIRE is, at its heart, a story for romantics everywhere, who believe in the transformative power of love.”

STEALING FIRE was a 2012 quarter-finalist in the amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.


     The phones were ringing off the hook, and it was after three.  And Amanda was tired.
     She disposed of all the calls; she didn't think she could be bright and bubbling tonight. As she started to put down her headset, she realized she'd left one call on hold; the red light winked tantalizingly at her. She pushed the button, and was startled to hear a light, clear whistle delicately sounding one of her favorite old songs.

     For a moment, she just listened. Then she started to hum along, filling in the words where she could remember them.

     The whistling stopped, and the voice she'd come to recognize and dread pushed out at her.  "So you know it."

     "It's one of my favorites." She hummed a few more bars, hesitatingly. "I've known it for years."

     "Remember the title?"  It was a challenge.

     "`Bursting Bubbles'."  That was easy.  She remembered the scratchy old record that Josie had broken years ago. Even now she felt a small pang at losing it. "From a show called The Life and Times."

     "Well, well. I'm impressed. Two points for you."

     "And for you, 704.  Are you into trivia games?"

     He chuckled.  "So you know who I am. That makes you one up on me. I don't know who you are."

     "Why do you want to know? Gonna complain to the boss?"

     "I wanted to thank you. I don't often have a chocolate shake for breakfast, but it really hit the spot this morning. I never get service like this, not even at the Lorelei."


Actually, I’m one of those writers who doesn’t listen to music while writing. (I keep thinking of Kathleen Turner in ROMANCING THE STONE, typing madly away on her romance novel while listening to the soundtrack of HOW THE WEST WAS WON, but that’s never been me.) I always concentrate better in a quiet place, and truthfully, I love certain music so much that if I tried to ‘get in the mood’ by listening to it, I’d end up too distracted to write at all! That’s happened to me before, and it became very clear after awhile that I wasn’t going to produce a lot of pages if I had music playing. So I stopped even trying it.

But since STEALING FIRE is in part about the musical theater, I WAS thinking about certain music while writing it. There are a lot of show scores mentioned, including WEST SIDE STORY, CATS, LEAVE IT TO JANE and many others. Some are very well known, others less so. I wrote in a guest blog post recently that I could sing over 100 show scores, and after writing it I wondered if it was accurate, so I sat down with paper and pencil. Twenty minutes later, I had a list of 76 shows for which I could sing virtually every song. Another 20 or so, I know at least one or two songs in the score. Scary, huh?


It would be lots of old romantic songs (think movie soundtracks, like BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S) and plenty of Broadway show music!

Since the novel is set in the 1982-83, the soundtrack would only have music that was available at that time. (This would eliminate a lot of music that we associate with the ‘80s, like the soundtracks from TOP GUN and FLASHDANCE, which weren’t released till years later.) We might JUST be able to use Marian’s Theme from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, since it came out in 1981. But I’m really finicky about historical details and not sticking anachronisms into my work, so if it wasn’t publicly available in 1982, I wouldn’t use it.

There’s one song, though, that I’d throw in just for sentimental reasons. STEALING FIRE is based on an incident from my life, and while it was occurring, I had just heard the song “Back on the Chain Gang” on the radio. I got it and played it again and again, and to this day, when I hear that song I think of that time in my life. Needless to say, I’ve always loved it.

Also, Andrew Lloyd Webber, the composer who wrote CATS and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, among many other shows, is mentioned several times in the story, because his shows and their big production values made it almost impossible for Beau, my hero, to return to Broadway writing the kind of shows he used to. Consequently, Beau hates him, and so does my heroine, Amanda (not just because of Beau but because she doesn’t like glitzy productions either - she’s all about the music and lyrics). So though his music certainly fits into the era, we would have NO Andrew Lloyd Webber songs on this soundtrack!


AMANDA HARARY is my heroine. She’s 25 (this is 1982) but she’s not your typical twenty-something, not at all. She was raised with her mother’s thwarted dreams of singing on Broadway, and she’s carrying on her mother’s dreams. She loves old show music and really yearns for the kind of courtship and romance that existed years before - or at least, that her mother told her existed. She’s the assistant manager at a small New York hotel--that’s her day job, while she’s working on her singing career--and she’s very efficient and even-tempered on the job. Among her co-workers is a girl named Cherry, who’s about Amanda’s age, but they’re as different as night and day: Cherry is clearly a child of the ‘80s, while Amanda is a girl out of the ‘50’s. She’s the kind of young woman you can depend on--she’s honest, very hard-working and responsible, and terrific with the hotel guests. So it’s no surprise that she attracts Beau, who is high-strung, sensitive and has had a mostly unhappy life.

BEAU KELLOGG is my hero. He’s spent many years as a brilliant lyricist and librettist in the musical theater. (A librettist is the person who writes the story and script for a musical show.) So Beau is not just a poet who sets words to music, he also understands building story and characters and how to fit songs and story together to build an integrated whole. Beau has been in the theater since his 20’s, during the Golden Age of musicals, but he intended to retire years before, when it became clear his kind of musical was dying out. Unfortunately, his investments were lost in a stock-market crash, so he had to go back to work--and now he’s writing advertising jingles for L.A. ad agencies. He’s been successful at it, though he hates it, and when the story opens he’s being asked to meet with an agency in New York. A lyricist friend of his, also a Broadway show writer, got sick and dropped out of a big job, and recommended Beau for it. So Beau is coming to New York for meetings about a job he doesn’t want but knows he has to take, because the money is too good to turn down. His marriage is unhappy but inexorable; he can’t bear the thought of walking out on his wife, though his life with her is miserable. He’s a romantic as well, though it’s been many years since he’s allowed himself to think about that side of his life. He doesn’t know it, but he’s been waiting all his life to meet someone like Amanda.

By Kayla:

I was given this book for an honest review. I really enjoyed this book. The beginning started a little slow. I felt the joy and pain of Amanda’s emotions when they finally came alive. It was her beginning, her life as a child of a bitter mother that was so hard to take. Amanda was born in the wrong time and never the same as others.

Beau was a jerk. In Amanda’s eyes he was charming and for her, he tried to be a better man. Life and his choices made him, who he was, an egotistical artist with a family he hid from everyone even Amanda. When they began to talk at night, they started to feel things for one another. When they met in person, there was a spark and there conversation was easy. A long romance, Beau backed away from Amanda so she could have a better chance without him. He felt he wasn’t good enough for her. So he left and it hurt Amanda. That part broke my heart. Stealing Fire was a wonderfully written story and it gave me quite the book hangover. It was awesome and I would definitely recommend it to others.

 I give it 5 out of 5 stars! 

Thank you Susan for such a wonderful and emotional story, I love books like that.

Susan Sloate is the author or co-author of more than 20 books, including Realizing You(with Ronald Doades), a recent self-help novel, and the 2003 #6 Amazon bestseller, Forward to Camelot (with Kevin Finn), which took honors in 3 literary competitions and was optioned by a Hollywood company for film production.

She has written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, including the children’s biography Ray Charles: Find Another Way!, which was honored in the 2007 Children’s Moonbeam Book Awards. Mysteries Unwrapped: The Secrets of Alcatraz led to her 2009 appearance on the TV series MysteryQuest on The History Channel. Amelia Earhart: Challenging the Skies is a perennial young-adult Amazon bestseller. She has also been a sportswriter and screenwriter, managed two recent political campaigns, and founded an author’s festival in her hometown outside Charleston, SC.

Stealing Fire was a Quarter-Finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and combines autobiographical experience with her lifelong love of the musical theater. She is proud to be distantly related to Broadway legend Fred Ebb, the lyricist for Cabaret,Chicago, All That Jazz and New York, New York.


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