Hi everyone! Today I am SO excited to welcome author Rowan Speedwell to the blog.  I love Rowan’s writing and just adored her latest book, Illumination (review coming tomorrow but mini review: Read it!).  She is here to chat with us more about her book and to share a great giveaway. So please join me in giving Rowan a big welcome!

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Come to the Cabaret!

Wilkommen, bienvenu, welcome to my guest blog post, and Danke, merci, thank you to Jay for letting me take over this cabaret stage for a little while. I’m excited to announce a new book from my admittedly recalcitrant pen (or keyboard):  Illumination, a romance between two very mismatched men who still manage to find the strong links between them. One of them being a love of musicals, and in particular, the dark, moving Kander and Ebb Cabaret, directed by the amazing Bob Fosse. Without further adieu, Damen und Herren, mesdames et messieurs, ladies and gentlemen, may I present a little tale of Illumination.

When I first threw the movie (and play) Cabaret into the story of Miles and Adam, it was just a way of giving Adam a bit of backstory. Before he became the rock star we all know and love, Adam had had a career in theater, with his chief accomplishment playing the Master of Ceremonies in the stage play version of Cabaret. His love of the play and Miles’s of the film was one of the ways that they clicked when they first met. It was a link between them.

Gradually, though, some of the themes of loss and redemption that are in that story sort of started filtering into my story as well. Adam doesn’t only want to play Sally Bowles; in many ways he is Sally. He loves life. He’s enthusiastic about things. He’s a bit wild, but he has a good heart. He has a tendency to party too hard, but in the end, he still loves his people. He hasn’t been completely jaded by his wild living.

Miles is in many ways like Brian. He’s more repressed, more stuffy, more reserved. His is a life of the mind. He has a bit of a stubborn streak. He’s dazed by Adam the way Brian is dazed by Sally. Neither knows quite what to do about the other.

Cabaret has darker twists and turns than Illumination does, and ultimately an ambiguous ending. In the film, Brian is beaten when he picks a fight with a group of Nazis; in Illumination, Adam nearly dies when he takes a dangerous drug. One is from a conflict, the other from too much “going along.” Sally longs for a better relationship with her absentee father; Miles mourns his own losses. Both ultimately affect their decisions and their personalities.

In the end, Sally stays in Berlin, while Brian leaves for England and home. Their rocky romance ends. Adam and Miles have their own rocky road to happiness, but in the end, they do end up happy.

I reference the movie rather than the play because, frankly, I’ve never seen the play. I’ve only actually seen the movie once. But there are some movies you only need to see once, because their impact is so powerful. To this day, while I can’t remember details of the book I just finished reading, I can still visualize scenes from the movie—the candlelit Jewish wedding scene between the side characters Fritz and Natalia, the beer garden scene with the Hitler Youth, the number with Emcee and the person in the ape suit, the series of increasingly tense scenes as the Nazis rise to power, and, of course, the transcendent beauty of Sally singing the title song. In fact, the working title for Illumination was “Going Like Elsie,” from the line in that song. Adam’s rendition of it is based on Liza Minnelli’s. (Check it out on You Tube.)

Cabaret haunts me. It’s dark and human and vibrant and frightening and ambiguous. But then again, life is kind of like that, isn’t it? And maybe, in the end, that’s why it haunts me.

IlluminationIllumination: Available from Riptide Publishing September 30, 2013

Adam Craig is burned out. Lead singer of the hard rock band Black Varen, he’s tired of the empty life of groupies, paparazzi, and hotel rooms. Worse, a life in the closet. After the final concert of their latest tour, he flees the afterparty, pursuing memories of lost summers and carefree days, until he passes out on the patio of a shuttered lake resort.

Miles Caldwell is a brilliant artist, tied by agoraphobia and social anxiety to his family’s lodge. Alone but for his parrot, he spends his days illuminating manuscripts and hiding from the complexities of life. When he discovers Adam asleep in a deck chair, he’s furious but intrigued. Adam soon charms his way into Miles’s bed, and they lose themselves in a summer idyll, safe from the compromises and claims of reality.

But Adam’s life, with all it demands, is waiting for him. And Miles, uncertain of Adam’s true feelings, is battling demons of his own. Somehow, the man who’s never home and the man who never leaves it must find the strength to fight for a future together.

You can read an excerpt and/or purchase the book from Illumination at Riptide Publishing’s website, here.

Rowan Speedwell lives in a tarpaper shack in the North Woods, without so much as cable TV to keep her warm. Compared to her, J.D. Salinger is an extrovert. She is allergic to publicity and loathes marketing, so her books only sell one or two copies. If you have one, she thanks you, as your purchase enables her to buy cat food for her diabetic feline companion, Kimball O’Hara.

She does have internet, when she hikes to the top of the mountain and fires up her PC Jr., so visit her website or follow her on Twitter at @rowanspeedwell if you need to request a refund for the one book you did buy.


Rowan is offering up one of her backlist books to one lucky winner! Just leave a comment to enter.  The contest closes on October 6th at 11:59 pm EST. 

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win.  The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
  • Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Readers may only enter once for each contest.  Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
  • Void where prohibited by law.
FILED UNDER: Giveaway, Guest Post