I am thrilled to introduce to the Inkpot Adi Rule, whose debut STRANGE SWEET SONG mixes magic, music, and gothic secrets!
STRANGE SWEET SONG is about a singer and takes place in a music academy -- and you yourself are a singer for the Boston Pops! (The Pops at Tanglewood was the last concert I went to before my first child was born, so this made me squee.) Can you tell us about how your training and career as a singer influenced the book?
The Pops are always fun, but Tanglewood is extra fun! I see classical singing as an embodiment of the pro music world itself. On the outside, it may seem easy, it's very expressive and free looking. (And the best singers make it look the easiest!) But it's not enough just to feel it. There are a hundred calculated, technical, physical things that are happening, too. You could say that about a lot of artistic disciplines, but singing is the one I know best so it was the easiest for me to write about.
I have no trouble believing that - it's certainly true about writing!
This line in the book description made me laugh: "the artistry and politics of classical music." My sister-in-law is a professor of music, so I know it's just as political as the rest of academia! Did any real-life political incidents or maneuvering make it into the book?
The only slightly real life incident in the book is a single line that's something like, "For every soprano on stage, there are twelve more waiting in the wings for her to die." This is something that occurred to me one time when I was singing a leading role and started to get sick around dress rehearsal. I just had this sense that my understudy was gearing up for me to collapse and roll off the stage so she could kick my carcass aside and go shine.
In a larger sense, I think it's fascinating that music, which is one of the ways we explore and express humanity, has this intense "business/politics" side. To make it in classical singing, you have to be tenacious and ferocious. But at the end of the day, you also have to captivate an audience, and there's a certain sensitivity -- and vulnerability -- that goes along with that. It's a very strange double world for musician creatures to inhabit.
STRANGE SWEET SONG also features an intriguing icy forest. Did anyparticular forest or forests inspire this?
I'm very entrenched in the land I grew up in, rural New Hampshire and Maine. So while STRANGE SWEET SONG is set in a fictional town, in my mind it's vaguely northern New England. We have some spectacular ice storms here! I don't like going for days without power (you do NOT want to sample my nasty woodstove-baked gingerbread), but snowy forests are gorgeous. And I definitely didn't have to do much research, other than going outside, for that aspect.
Your main character is named "Da Navelli" - does that reflect the country/time period your world is based on?
Not really. It's just an Italian last name that means "from Navelli" (Sing's dad is Italian). Although I did just look up Navelli on Wikipedia, and apparently they're known for their saffron. Fun fact of the day! :)
That is fun. I love saffron!
Thank you so much for visiting the Inkpot and for your fascinating answers!
You can find out more about Adi and her book at her website, http://www.adirule.com/.