Not every book gets two birthdays, but sometimes life happens. Since I’m a huge fan of authors who face adversity and come back swinging, I’m pleased to host an interview with author Rebecca Halsey on the occasion of her novel’s re-release. I previously read and reviewed Notes of Temptation last year, tearing through it while on vacation and loving every moment of this historical romance with a touch of magic.
I hope this interview with the author and the snippet below provide their own temptation for you to check out this awesome book.
ABOUT THE BOOK
When Carrie Cooper leaves her small gold-mining town to seek her fortune, it’s not until she arrives in L.A. that she learns her college certificate is a fraud. The only work available is in a less-than-respectable speakeasy. The job comes with the opportunity to take the stage with Oz Dean, the club’s captivating bandleader. But rivals out for her blood along with her place in the spotlight lurk behind the curtain. Oz Dean has the rare ability to “see” music as brilliant colors, but nothing has ever dazzled him like Carrie’s pure, choir-girl voice. With a mob debt hanging over his head like a guillotine, he organizes a revue that will launch them all to stardom. Unfortunately, his bold move attracts exactly the kind of criminal attention he would like to avoid. Mired in Hollywood’s underbelly, caught off-guard by their growing attraction, Carrie and Oz are forced to consider the cost of success. Or their one chance to make beautiful music together could be their last. Together they take the stage. Together they must defend it to the death.
Writing an historical novel means a ton of research. What was the coolest thing you learned while gathering information to craft the world of this book?
I wanted to set this story at the end of Prohibition and the beginning of the Depression when things were starting to change. So I picked the year 1931. As I was investigating the time period, I discovered that demand for coins dropped off in these years. No quarters were minted in 1931, so if you find one, it’s surely counterfeit.
Would you live in Los Angeles in the 1920s? Why or why not?
Absolutely. I was born in Los Angeles, and have always loved Southern California. The 1920s were a great time to invest in the city. The region was growing. I like the 1920s and 30s because it’s just far enough into the past. You get the feeling of a historical without losing too many modern conveniences.
Though this book could have easily “worked” as a traditional historical romance, what made you decide to add in the cool bits of fantasy?
A romance is such an otherworldly experience already. For Oz, his love for Carrie starts with her voice, and the synesthesia—his ability to see the music—was a way to describe his infatuation with her in an interesting way. The entire inception of this story started with Oz’s synesthesia, and the rest of the setting and characters fell into place when I decided to focus on Jazz.
I know that you work from home full-time. How do you balance you “day job” with carving out time to write?
Deciding to work from home meant gaining at least an hour of travel time back. I also find that I have less distractions. I know some might think this is crazy because the internet is everywhere. BUT…I’m an extrovert, so going to an office means socializing with coworkers. I write the best between 9 and 11 in the morning, so whether I’m writing for my day job or writing fiction, I try to write then and edit in the afternoon.
Do you see yourself writing more about the main characters in this book, or will you be exploring other parts of the world you’ve created instead?
Both. I have completed a novella following Ruby, Carrie’s friend. I have stories planned for some of the other members of Oz’s orchestra, particularly Ellison, the piano player. I can’t wait to write Ellison’s story. As far as exploring other parts of this world, I finished the first book of a separate-but-connected series about LAPD detectives in the same era/world as Notes of Temptation.
And finally, leave us with a short excerpt from Notes of Temptation that shows us why we should check out this novel!
One of Carrie’s knees turned in self-consciously. Her skirt flared across the arch of her hip. Those curves in sequins backlit on the West Edge stage… Oz stopped himself, but the image wouldn’t leave his mind. What could a spotlight reveal about her that wasn’t already written across the candid features of her face?
As a young man of less than twenty, he’d loved flirting with cocktail waitresses, minxy regulars, any woman really, even the older ones with pockmarked faces and long, sad tales of broken hearts. But it’d been at least a year since he had considered taking a woman. He was no giggly, bunny-boffing sap. Not anymore. This sudden attraction to Carrie Cooper must be an extension of the music he saw inside of her.
Someone—a cheeky patron, perhaps—had stuck a red carnation in her hair, but it hung limp over her ear. He took the flower out, and her hair fell forward over her eyes. He hooked the wayward piece behind her ear again, and she smiled.
“I still owe you lunch,” he said.
“You mean I owe you coffee,” she said.
“Forget the coffee,” he said. “Give me a song, and we’ll be even.”
“A song?” she said. She fingered the hem of her skirt. “I’m just a choirgirl.”
“Not just a choirgirl,” he said. Her soft gasp brushed his thumb as he ran it across her red lips. “Not sure this shade suits a choirgirl,” he said.
Carrie put her hand on top of his and held it to her cheek. Closing her eyes, she sang.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Halsey writes Jazz Age romance set in Hollywood. Her debut novel is Notes of Temptation.
Ms. Halsey holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Georgia.
When not writing, she works as a cybersecurity analyst and reporter. She resides in Maryland with her husband and three children, all of which tolerate her immersion into Jazz music and black-and-white movies.