Today I am so pleased to welcome Arden Powell to Joyfully Jay. Arden has come to talk to us about their latest release, A Summer Soundtrack for Falling in Love. They have also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Arden a big welcome!
Classic Tropes in Summer Soundtrack
I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me, “Hey, there’s this contemporary rom com floating around, and it’s got SO MANY TROPES in it,” I get interested. Tropes get a bad rap, mostly because, when used poorly, they lead to predictable, stereotypical scenes and characters, which in turn results in lazy writing and a bad book. But tropes don’t have to be that way. At their best, tropes can be subverted to turn readers’ expectations on their heads—or, when played straight, can hit that sweet spot and deliver exactly what the reader wants most. It’s a fine line to balance, but look: you can’t avoid tropes. They’re everywhere, whether you recognize them or not. So, in A Summer Soundtrack for Falling in Love, I leaned into the tropes. I embraced them wholeheartedly. Here’s a taste of some of the biggest ones.
The Fake Relationship: It’s a classic in romantic comedies, and for good reason. Two people pretend to date in order to get revenge on an ex, or gain access to an elusive inheritance—whatever, you name it. Summer Soundtrack has two layers of the Fake Relationship. The first is between Kris, the main character, and his best friend/boss, rock star vocalist Rayne Bakshi. They kiss and make out on stage for attention, leading to fan rumours and speculation about the true nature of their relationship, but they never pretend to be dating. The real Fake Dating comes in thanks to Calloway, a singer from a different up-and-coming band, whose management pushes him on Rayne for the publicity. In this case, the Fake Relationship isn’t between the main couple, which spins the trope sideways and adds a bonus Love Triangle. Does it work? You tell me.
Makeover Montage: There’s a lot of baggage that comes with this one—where the (usually female) character who’s insecure about their plain looks gets a makeover and a new wardrobe and BAM, instant self-confidence! Suddenly they’re attractive to their love interest and everyone thinks they’re hot! I know, it’s problematic. I’m not a huge fan of it either. But in this case, the character getting made over is Kris, and it comes with a side order of crossdressing and gender exploration. He was always attractive to his love interest, even before the makeup and skinny jeans; now he’s just able to express himself the way he couldn’t growing up in a small, conservative town in the Midwest.
There Was Only One Bed: I know, I know. It’s a staple. But listen: I love this trope and you will pry it from my cold, dead hands. I played this one completely straight. They’re in a hotel; the rooms got mis-booked. They have to share a bed and they’re too tired to argue about it. What happens next?? Well, I’m not going to tell you what happens, but you can probably make a pretty solid guess. Will they wake up entangled and finally kiss for real? Will they both have uncomfortably sexy dreams about each other and have to deal with the aftermath? WHO KNOWS! (You probably know.)
While I went all out with the situational tropes, it was important for me to avoid tropey characters. I avoided the Sassy Black Friend trope, for reasons I shouldn’t have to explain. I avoided every effeminate camp gay crossdressing trope I could think of. Summer Soundtrack might be drowning in drunken confessions of love and suffering from limited beds, but the characters themselves I wanted to be well rounded. Basically, I wanted Summer Soundtrack to be populated with characters you haven’t seen a million times before, dropped into situations that are just familiar enough, without getting boring. When you hear “Rock Star Romance,” you imagine certain things, like concerts and hotel rooms and a heavy side order of hedonism and/or substance abuse. Paparazzi, tabloids, a lack of privacy. Sure! I’ve got you covered.
But you probably don’t also imagine a cult of desert-dwelling cultists obsessed with animal mysticism who dabble in kidnapping. Like I said: there’s a fine line between meeting expectations and throwing them out the window. I may have teetered over the edge once or twice, but I had fun writing it, and I think that’s clear in the end result. I hope it’s as fun to read.
What he wanted was a music career. What he needed was love.
When Kris Golding leaves his dusty Kansas hometown for a fresh start in New York, he thinks an apartment and a job are waiting for him. But when he finds neither, rather than admit defeat, he takes his chances busking—and meets Rayne Bakshi of international rock band The Chokecherries. Rayne needs a new guitarist, and gives Kris his first break since leaving home.
Rayne wears makeup and glitter and thinks nothing of kissing Kris in front of twenty thousand screaming fans for the attention. Instantly infatuated, Kris begins to question whether he might have a crush on Rayne—could he be bisexual? But since Kris originally claimed to be straight, Rayne’s wary of getting involved offstage.
As their tour gains momentum, Kris’s sexuality becomes the least of his troubles. Between his conservative brother hell-bent on “rescuing” him from his life of debauchery, a peacock that may or may not be the avatar of a cult god, and a publicity stunt that threatens to upend the band, Kris is definitely not in Kansas anymore.
Arden graduated from St. Francis Xavier University with an Honours degree in English literature and the realization that essay writing is just another form of making up stories. They also came away with an overriding and all-abiding love of semicolons, to the general dismay of their editors.
Arden lives in Ontario with a dog, a fellow human, and an unnecessary number of houseplants.
Connect with Arden:
- Website: ardenpowell.wordpress.com
- Twitter: @ArdenPowell
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/author/show/8053059.Arden_Powell
To celebrate the release of A Summer Soundtrack for Falling in Love, one lucky person will win a $20 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 2, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
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