Prologue of TORN
Connections #2 by Kim Karr
© 2013 by Kim Karr
Published by the Penguin Group
Release date: October 1, 2013
Close your eyes and you can imagine what it was like. Hot, sticky, crowded. Smoke, flashing screens, and lighters flickering. Fans screaming, laughing, clapping, and crying. Bodies pushing, shoving, trying to catch a glimpse. Everyone wanting to see the stage—the lights, the equipment, the musician himself.
He was running back and forth singing, headbanging, and playing his guitar. The lyrics were jumbled. His movements out of sync. The sound of the bass thumped through the crowd so loud my body vibrated with every wrong note played. I just wanted it to end.
Nick Wilde had opened for the Counting Crows at the Hollywood Bowl. It was his second chance— and he blew it. The crowd was exhilarated at the start of his first song and he owned the stage but it didn’t last long. By the third song he was improvising, pulling notes, and forgetting words. He was lost in his own trance, soaked in alcohol, and no one could help him…not Xander, not my mother, and definitely not me. “Mr. Jones” started playing before he even finished his fourth song…and he never played onstage again.
Music was his soul. Music was in all of our souls. When we were younger he taught us everything he could…how to play, to sing, the right way to command a stage. We knew every song by every artist. We traveled to concert after concert. Music was his life and it became ours.
But he wasn’t happy just playing. He had a dream—he wanted to be famous. And somewhere along the way his dream became an obsession. I’ll give it to him, he got further than most do. By the age of nineteen he had been signed by a label and cut his first album. But after a disappointing run they released him. He spent the next fifteen years working the circuit—clubs, churches, weddings, birthday parties, as he waited for another big break. And then, just like that, he blew his golden opportunity.
Everything in our life changed after that. The drinking got worse, Grandpa came around more to check on us, and Mom went back to work. Every day left another kink in his chain as he lived in his own world. I was sixteen when his plan A became my plan B and, just like him, at a young age, I cut my first album. But unlike him I had Xander. He wasn’t going to let me fail. The band’s album had a slow start but after a year of touring, it started to gain popularity.
I remember the first time the Wilde Ones graced a real stage. We were restless. We had been sitting around for hours waiting. When we were finally up we strutted confidently across the stage like we had in rehearsal, but, really, we were nervous as hell. The lights were much brighter and the audience so much bigger than we were used to. When the guys started to play, soft, barely audible words flew out of my mouth so fast I forgot to breathe. The band was drowning me out and I knew it. Looking around, I adjusted the microphone height and took in the crowd. They were cheering me on with such enthusiasm that my voice finally soared over them. It was the same voice I’d grown up with, the one my dad had fostered. It was raw and present and soulful, and, in that moment, my music came alive. The crowd went crazy and just like that my life changed again.
Xander struck while the iron was hot. He arranged to go on tour. That was the beginning of the end for me. We started out small. Smaller venues, shitty hotels, crappy food, and a lot of drinking. We opened for band after band and the relationships I made…they kept me going, that and being up on that stage doing what I loved…it kept me going, wanting to make my dad proud…yeah, that, too.
But touring was a constant infringement on my personal space. I hated the cramped quarters, lack of privacy, constant strict schedule, never being in the same city for more than two nights, people following you everywhere, people always wanting something from you. Even the girls throwing themselves at you got old. It was the longest year of my life, but I did it for him because somewhere along the way his dream morphed into mine. What I came to realize was that his dream wasn’t mine—my dad thought being on tour meant you had made it. His dream was about being famous. Mine is about the music.
As the venues got bigger so did the crowds, the fanfare, and I could see how you could get lost in it, caught up in it—but I was determined not to end up like my father. He was addicted to the fame. I’m addicted to the creative process. I hope that difference between us is enough. The tour ended and we wrote, we played around LA, and as time passed life was good. But I had managed to put off cutting another album long enough. This time I was doing it for the band and for my brother and for me—because I love the music. Cutting the album—that’s the fun part. It’s the promoting I dreaded, at least until the day I saw her through the glass. The girl who inspired our song “Once in a Lifetime,” the girl Xander always referred to as my muse, the girl who stole my heart one night and then crushed it at the very same time.
She was as beautiful as I remembered and with one glance she took my breath away. She walked my way, pulling a suitcase behind her, and my heart skipped a beat. I knew immediately she was the one sent to interview me and suddenly any negativity I had about doing press was gone. I couldn’t help but watch her. I wanted her unlike anyone I had ever wanted before. I had to stifle a laugh when her briefcase fell off the top of her suitcase and she glanced around to see who saw. I wanted to yell, “Only me and don’t worry because everything about you is sexy as fuck.”
I rushed to grab the door for her, but she pushed it forward and fell into me—not that I minded in the least. I’d catch her over and over. There wasn’t a thing about her that I didn’t remember from the first time we met and even the awkwardness of the moment brought me to full attention. When her body pressed against mine, I knew in that instant…this time I wasn’t letting her get away so easily. I’d go on a thousand tours to have her in my life—there was just something about her, a light in her eyes that made everything wrong feel right. And just like my dad, I got a second chance—it was her. But unlike him, I wasn’t going to blow it.
When she extended her hand and said, “Hello, I’m Dahlia London from Sound Music. I’m so sorry I’m late,” I knew she had to be mine.
My brain is a bit hazy from the drinks I’ve had tonight but it’s not in the least bit clouded when it comes to this—I know what I want. And I know he wants the same. At the covered archway with the sign poolroom above it, he looks around then lifts the sheet of plastic and motions to me to slip under it. He quickly follows.
Once we’re on the other side he takes my hand and leads me down the hallway. It’s pitch-black and he has to hold his phone up to guide the way. Once we enter the room, I look around, but the only thing in here is the pool table covered by a white sheet. He sets his phone on it, and quickly hoists me up onto the table.
“You sure about this?” he asks with his heavily lidded eyes studying me.
Pulling in a shaky breath at the smoldering look in his eyes, I lean in to kiss the corner of his mouth and purr, “Absolutely.”
With a soft groan he slides between my legs and the feel of him pressed against me makes me tremble. My breath hitches and my pulse quickens. Cupping my face in one hand, he traces the seam of my lips with the other. Not wanting to wait another minute, I wrap my hands around his neck and our lips move against each other with fervent need, and a soft moan escapes my throat. I can hear the band playing “Feel This Moment” and I lose myself in the music.
Something almost primal overcomes me. I moan in his ear loud enough that he can hear me. Sliding my mouth back to his, we consume each other as our lips move faster, harder, deeper against each other’s. I don’t care if I fuck him on the floor, the pool table, or against the wall when he rocks against me. I squeeze my eyes shut, just needing to feel his skin against mine; trying not to dig my fingernails into him, I want him so badly.
1. What inspired you to write Connected and Torn?
The night The Voice premiered on NBC in April 2011, I watched it and fell in love with the show and Adam Levine. I started to think about his journey with Maroon 5 and the number of years it took him to gain fame. I had been thinking about writing a book but hadn’t come up with a storyline that intrigued me enough. For some reason, that night the story of Dahlia, River, and Ben came to mind. The name of book was different as well as character names, but the plot never veered. I always intended for these two books to be a duet and the ending of Connected was the very first thing I wrote.
2. Discuss your inspiration for Dahlia, Ben, River. How did they transpire?
Character inspiration for Connected evolved as soon as the concept of the book came alive in my mind, I knew I wanted a strong heroine and two heroes that loved her but in different ways. I created the characters from within, who they were, and then conveyed their personalities and appearances to the reader.
In my head, Dahlia had to be strong to weather the circumstances life threw her way, but I wanted her to be funny and loving with quirks and habits.
Ben’s personality, as well as his name, actually transpired from a character on a TV show I used to watch years ago. The character on the show was an avid basketball player and swimmer, but since Dahlia and Ben lived near the beach, I decided he should be a surfer. A surfer who has difficulty expressing his feelings, hasty in decision making, temperamental, and contemplative, somewhat of a contrast to Dahlia. But, Ben has true depth and sensitivity that Dahlia admires.
River’s character didn’t transpire as much—he just happened. He is who I would consider to be the perfect guy. I took all the traits I love and admire about men and lumped them into him.
3. Did you plan for your first book to turn into a series?
Yes I did. Just as I planned Connected and Torn to be a duet, my original plan was The Connections Series would consist of three duets for a total of six books. I have since changed my mind and the remaining books in the series will be stand alones. Of course they are part of a series and all characters will appear in all books.
4. You left Connected hanging with a major cliffhanger—will you do that in your next books?
Since I wrote the end of Connected before I wrote the beginning, I don’t regret the ending. Would I do again—absolutely! Would I write another book with a cliffhanger hanging—that I’m not sure about!
5. Do you have a specific writing style?
I think all writers do. We have a certain flow and sentence structure that rarely varies book to book. I have already plotted out the remaining books in the Connections Series and I’ve written the endings for each one.
6. What book are you reading now?
I try to keep up the latest releases as well as read releases in my favorite series. When I’m writing it’s hard to read but I try to set aside at least an hour a day.
7. What current project are you working on?
I am writing Mended. This is Xander’s Wilde story and his brother does make an appearance.
8. What can readers look forward to in the future?
My plan is finish Mended then decide if The Connections Series will consist of 5 or 6 books. I am considering cutting one. The book after Mended is Frayed and I have already started that story. It was actually suppose to be released before Mended but I changed my mind.
9. Please explain the importance of music to you in books. You said something in your Author's note about how important it was to you in writing and that the chapter titles have significance.
All chapters in my books are named after songs that inspired me. Bob Marley said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” As a listener, I couldn’t agree more. As a writer, I think it’s better to say music is what feelings sound like when those feelings are written in print.
Music and writing are different, yet similar arts. They both tell a story. They both convey emotion. Yet, one can be heard and the other seen. If you can write a story and put music behind it, I believe you can convey feelings in a more impactful, raw, and emotional way. When trying to express written emotions, the tone of a certain song can allow the reader to feel the sentiments that the character is feeling.
I chose to have each chapter be titled by a song that best represented the events occurring within. My goal is that the reader will listen to the song before reading each chapter so they will feel the full impact of the scene.
In the words of Billy Joel, “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” I couldn’t agree more. Listening to the lyrics of a song and truly understanding them tells such a beautiful story. So, combining this with an emotional novel just helps bring it to life.
10. Do you have any advice for other writers?
My advice to new writers: plan out your story before you begin. It is so much easier to fill in the chapters than sit there with a blank screen trying to figure out what to write. Also, reach out, make friends, share your work, find a support group, and always have faith in your work.