Hi guys, we have Ava Hayden stopping by with her upcoming release The Timpanist and the Stagehand, Ava also chats about music and we have a great excerpt. So check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
The Timpanist and the Stagehand
Ren Murphy is a stagehand. He’s also a loyal friend, a gifted musician, and an inspiring teacher—but most people don’t see past his job. Ren knows that crushing on the Oilton Philharmonic Orchestra’s principal timpanist, Christoph Theoharis, is a waste of time. Christoph brushes off highly eligible would-be suitors regularly. What chance would a stagehand have? Christoph doesn’t even notice Ren’s existence—until one fateful night when chance or luck or maybe fate gets Ren Christoph’s undivided attention.
Old betrayals overshadow both men’s lives, yet each sees something compelling in the other, something that won’t let either walk away. Ren and Christoph may be each other’s best hope of finding a happy-ever-after, but to do that they’ll have to forgive old wrongs. They’ll have to let go of the pain in their past before it destroys their hope for a better future. Most of all, they’ll have to find a way to believe—in possibilities and each other.
I’d like to thank MM Good Book Reviews for allowing me to guest blog about Dreamspinner Press’s release of my new novella, The Timpanist and the Stagehand, on Wednesday, April 13.
I love listening to music, and writing The Timpanist and the Stagehand made me think about the opportunities we have to experience music today that didn’t exist in our parents’ lifetimes or, for many of us, earlier in our own lives.
In some ways, music is more accessible to us today than in any previous time. You want a song? You can buy it online in seconds. Want a copy of a master performance by a famous musician? You can find it on the internet. I can watch Leonard Bernstein conducting and Grace Slick singing at Woodstock on YouTube.
It hasn’t been that long since getting our hands on a favorite band’s new album meant we had to drive to a store to buy a physical item—record, tape, CD—or hope that the local library bought it so we could check it out. If you lived in the country the way I did, finding music was a challenge. Since I didn’t belong to the Columbia House mail-order music club, I had to drive thirty miles to the nearest town with a record store (or a Walmart with a record department) and two hours to the nearest city big enough to have music stores with serious classical music selections.
Seeing live music hasn’t changed that much though. You must go somewhere—festival, concert, jazz bar—some place real people are playing. I’m lucky to live in a city that has a wide range of live music on offer. I can go hear jazz, see a band playing at the local Legion or arena, or attend a performance of a philharmonic orchestra in our beautiful downtown concert hall.
In one scene in The Timpanist and the Stagehand, Ren’s band feeds off the energy of the audience and sends it right back through the music. Live performances do that—good ones anyway. There’s something energizing about being surrounded by people cheering and clapping after an awe-inspiring performance. And once in a while—if we are lucky—we get an encore. A recording can’t do that.
MAESTRO BEZRUKOV strode past Ren after the final curtain call. The thunks of seats popping up and the babble of hundreds of voices drowned out the last splatters of applause.
Ren headed on stage as the house lights came up, dodging the members of the orchestra going in the opposite direction, and stacked chairs while another stagehand placed music stands on a rolling cart for transport.
“Ren,” said Jos on headset. “You’ll need to help Christoph until I can get loose.”
Ren toggled his headset control. “Will do.”
Christoph Theoharis, the principal timpanist of the Oilton Philharmonic Orchestra, crouched at the edge of the stage as he signed a program for a boy with his mother. Probably one of his students.
A man with tousled brown hair and a brilliant smile pushed forward to take the boy’s place. He leaned against the stage, gestured at Christoph’s socks, and laughed along with him.
Oilton, Alberta, was a young, vibrant city of over a million citizens, many of whom flocked to often sold-out concerts. Oilton had the reputation of being a redneck town, but the OPO was well-loved and well-subscribed. Talented, personable musicians like Christoph attracted a following, and in his case, many of them were hopeful, single gay men.
Christoph shook his head no to whatever the man said next, but with an apologetic lift of the shoulders. Another rebuffed admirer. Ren had seen this one around before, attending OPO functions.
By the time Ren fetched the timpani trolley from backstage and wheeled it over to the percussion section, Christoph was placing head covers on the kettledrums. The two men lifted them onto the trolley, and Ren fitted the custom drop cloths over them to protect the sides.
“Bella called in sick tonight,” said Ren, explaining his presence.
“Sorry to hear that.”
Christoph, twenty-eight, was a trim man with black curls and dark brown eyes. He was always courteous to concert hall staff but in an impersonal way. Ren wished Christoph would look and see him—Ren Murphy—not just black pants, black shirt, and headset.
But who noticed stagehands?
They waited at the bank of elevators, Christoph’s foot propped on the edge of the trolley platform. Ren checked out his socks. Black with pink music notes. Incongruous with the tuxedo he wore the same casual way Ren wore his favorite old jeans.
“I haven’t seen those socks before,” said Ren. They maneuvered the trolley into the freight elevator, and he punched the button for their floor.
Christoph’s lips quirked. “We haven’t performed Shostakovich in a while.”
Ren gave him a sidewise look. “You only wear those for Shostakovich?”
“Of course. They’re my lucky Shostakovich socks.”
“I guess they work, because you were amazing tonight.”
A beat too long before Christoph spoke. His expression was cooler than it had been seconds before. “Thanks.”
Ding. They pushed the trolley out of the elevator. Ren jabbed at the number pad beside the secured storeroom door, and the two men rolled the timpani into the corner space reserved for them.
“I appreciate your help,” said Christoph with a polite nod, not smiling.
Ren frowned as Christoph slipped out past a percussionist wheeling in a bass drum. What just happened?
Ava Hayden lives and writes in Canada but grew up in the southern United States. When not working the day job or writing, she loves reading, baking, seeing plays, going to the symphony, and hiking. Her favorite places to hike are Banff and Jasper National Parks, Kananaskis Country, and Vancouver Island.