I wanted to share an update with you all on Heavy Metal Symphony. Sadly, Kaledena Press, the publisher who published the book, will be closing its doors at the end of this year. Therefore, at that time Heavy Metal Symphony will unfortunately no longer be available.
This was heartbreaking news to get, to be honest, since as those of you who read my blog posts and follow me on social media know, Heavy Metal Symphony is very much a book of my heart, and I was so thrilled to have it out in the world. But sometimes this is just how publishing goes, and so we move onward!
I can promise that I WILL make Heavy Metal Symphony available again in some form, though as of right now I don’t know when that will be or what it will look like. My agent and I are currently discussing options for the book, so it may be some time before it is available again. All this to say, if you have been wanting to get a copy and haven’t yet, definitely do so before the end of the year. E-book versions are available on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and Amazon has physical copies of the book as well. Those listings will be taken down at the end of the year. The bookstores that have physical copies, Talking Leaves Books and Author’s Note, will still have copies until they sell out.
Thank you so much to everyone who bought, read, reviewed, and/or posted about Heavy Metal Symphony. I appreciate it so much. And I wish my very best to my colleagues at Kaledena in their future endeavors, and thank them for all their work on behalf of this book.
I look forward to sharing news in the future about the next incarnation of Heavy Metal Symphony. Stay tuned!
So you have read or are reading Heavy Metal Symphony (and if that’s you, yay! Thank you!) and since Handel’s Messiah is, sadly, not a real a band, you may find yourself wondering: what do they sound like, exactly? What is symphonic metal? What should I listen to in order to get a feel for Handel’s Messiah’s sound?
Well, you’re in luck, because I have aaaallll the recommendations for you! (Shout out to Piepie Baltz, who gave me the idea for this post!)
First of all, a definition: symphonic metal is one of the many subgenres of heavy metal (other subgenres include power metal, death metal, black metal, doom metal, progressive metal, and so on, and often bands can fit into more than one subgenre). Symphonic metal is when a metal band incorporates elements of classical music into their sound: choirs, strings, a full orchestra, classical singing styles, and so forth. Bands can use one or all of those elements to be considered “symphonic metal”, and different bands approach it differently: some bands use samples of choirs or strings on their songs, while others (usually bigger bands with the financial ability to do so, like Epica and Nightwish) will work with actual choirs and orchestras. For me, a classically trained musician and lover of classical music as well as someone who loves heavy music, this fusion of classical and metal is my absolute favorite thing. It appeals to all parts of my musical brain, and I just adore the drama and grandiosity of the sound. At the end of the day, there are more similarities than differences between classical and metal music (and indeed, a lot of metal musicians are classically trained, as are some of the band members in Heavy Metal Symphony), which is why they go together so well.
So, since you can’t actually listen to Handel’s Messiah, what are some symphonic metal bands you CAN listen to? Read on to find out!
Nightwish is one of the top bands in the symphonic metal genre (and they are my personal all-time favorite band). Formed in Finland, they’re a bit more international these days with members also from the U.K. and the Netherlands. They’ve been plagued by several lineup changes over the years, and have had three lead singers since their inception. Their current lead singer, Floor Jansen, is absolutely one of the best metal vocalists on the planet. She can do it all: belt, growl, and sing in a classical style. I drew a lot of inspiration for Ava and her singing style from Floor. Below are a few songs to get you started on Nightwish’s extensive catalogue.
“Dark Chest of Wonders”, off of Nightwish’s blockbuster 2004 album Once (and their final album with original lead singer Tarja Turunen), is one of the first songs I would recommend to someone looking to get a taste for what symphonic metal is. It’s got it all: orchestral elements, a choir, and the band going HARD throughout it all. This clip is from the band’s performance at the Wacken Open Air metal festival in 2013, shortly after Floor Jansen joined the band. This particular performance is immortalized on the band’s live album and DVD, Showtime, Storytime (which is honestly a favorite album of all time for me; this performance is flawless).
Nightwish is, in my opinion, notoriously bad at choosing singles from their albums, but this song, “Storytime” from 2011’s Imaginerum (the second and final album with the band’s second lead singer, Anette Olzon), was the exception. It’s a great song, upbeat and catchy but still with their signature epic sound. And as a writer, this song very much as a special place in my heart!
“Shudder Before the Beautiful” is the opening track from Nightwish’s 2015 album Endless Forms Most Beautiful, their first studio album with Jansen. This is one of my favorite songs of all time, and is a good encapsulation of their sound.
Another one from the Wacken Open Air show in 2013 – “Song of Myself”, another all-time favorite song of mine. This song is a bit bigger than the other two I’ve shared: longer, and divided into multiple movements.
Another all-time favorite song! This one is also epic but catchy (Nightwish is SO good at that) and, as the title suggests, is the song the band usually plays to close out their shows. And why so many live clips? Because this is a band that is truly exceptional live, and in the spirit of Heavy Metal Symphony being very much about live music and performance!
Okay, one more by Nightwish! This song is, you guessed it, another all-time favorite (hence why Nightwish is my favorite band!). “Shoemaker” is off of their most recent album, Human. :||: Nature., which was released in April 2020, just after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (and BOY did I need a new Nightwish album just then). The end section of this song is, in my opinion, flawlessly beautiful and some of my favorite measures of music ever.
Dutch band Epica, fronted by classical mezzo-soprano Simone Simons, take all the grandeur and bombast of symphonic metal to the absolute top. Their songs tend to be longer and are quite elaborate. This is a band that is still on my list to see live someday!
“Unleashed” was the first single off of 2009’s Design Your Universe, and I was completely obsessed with it when it came out: once per commute to college or back, I was blasting this song and singing along. This song is a bit more accessible if you’re new to Epica or to symphonic metal, and I love the lyrics about reaching your full potential.
I think “Once Upon a Nightmare”, from 2016’s The Holographic Principle, is just gorgeous. Epica does EXCELLENT ballads and power ballads, and this one really showcases the range of what symphonic metal can be. (Also, is “Once Upon a Nightmare” not the greatest title??).
“The Skeleton Key” is from Epica’s most recent album, 2021’s Omega. Again in the spirit of live music, the clip above is from the band’s livestream concert from earlier this year, which they’ll be releasing in DVD form. I love the instrumentation in this and the eerie vibe of it.
“Rivers” is another gorgeous Epica ballad, also off of Omega, and is one of my favorite songs that has been released in 2021. It’s just beautiful!
Kamelot is technically an American band, founded by Floridian and guitarist Thomas Youngblood, but, like Nightwish, now has members from different countries: lead singer Tommy Karevik is Swedish (but now lives in Canada with his wife, Kobra Paige of Kobra and the Lotus fame) and keyboardist Oliver Palotai is from Germany (and is also the husband of Simone Simons from Epica). Kamelot has also been through a few lineup changes, the biggest being the departure of lead singer Roy Khan in 2012, after which he was replaced by Karevik. Kamelot falls more onto the power metal end of the spectrum, but they do make use of symphonic elements as well. (Fun fact: Kamelot’s music features HEAVILY on the playlist for The Borgia Confessions).
“Falling Like the Fahrenheit” is from 2012’s Silverthorn, the first album with Tommy Karevik as lead singer. This mid-tempo song has an absolutely gorgeous melody that suits Karevik’s voice extremely well.
Oh, look, it’s an all-time favorite song of Alyssa’s that isn’t by Nightwish! This is likely my very favorite Kamelot song, from 2015’s Haven, and hey, we get a little choir action on the bridge (which is my VERY FAVORITE part).
Time for another live clip! “Phantom Divine” is off the band’s most recent album, 2018’s The Shadow Theory, and is absolute banger. This clip is from their live DVD, I Am the Empire – Live from the 013, which was released in 2020 and was recorded at their show at the 013 in Tilburg, the Netherlands, in 2018.
Dutch metal band Within Temptation has been around for a long time, and they are excellent. Sometimes referred to as “gothic metal”, their sound has evolved and changed quite a bit over the years as they’ve added new elements in, from 80s synth-pop to techno and hip-hop. The constants, though, are always their big sound, chugging guitars, and lead singer Sharon den Adel’s voice.
“Stand My Ground”, from 2004’s The Silent Force, is one of Within Temptation’s most popular songs. This version is from their Black Symphony show, a concert they did with The Metropole Orchestra and a choir in the Netherlands in 2008, and which they recorded and released a live DVD and CD of. (Epica has done similar performances as well). Talk about the ultimate symphonic metal experience!
“The Howling”, like Nightwish’s “Dark Chest of Wonders”, would be one of the first songs I’d recommend to someone looking to get a feel for symphonic metal. It has it all: the choir and orchestra, the bombast of the full band, and a killer lead vocal. This song is from 2007’s The Heart of Everything, which remains my favorite Within Temptation album
Another Black Symphony live clip, this one of another favorite song of mine, “What Have You Done”, which features guest vocalist Keith Caputo. I love the interplay between the two singers in this song, and the story that takes place within it. (Fun fact: this song maaaayy have helped inspire an entire book I wrote? That I hope you all get to read someday?). This song is also from 2007’s The Heart of Everything.
“Iron” is an absolute banger of a song, good for driving with the windows down. This song is from the band’s 2011 album The Unforgiving, which had an accompanying comic book.
“Shed My Skin” is the band’s newest song. While they haven’t announced a new album, they have released a few new songs since the COVID-19 pandemic started, so hopefully a new album is on the way soon.
While Italy’s Lacuna Coil is more straight heavy metal than symphonic metal, but as they were the first metal band I really got into, I felt I had to include them here. With two lead singers, Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro, the band has a lot of versatility in their sound and has been going strong since the 90s.
“Spellbound” is off Lacuna Coil’s 2009 album Shallow Life, and one of my favorite albums of theirs. This song is hard rocking but catchy at the same time (which is no doubt why it was the first single off this album).
“Swamped”, off the 2004 album Comalies (the album that got me into Lacuna Coil), was one of the first songs of theirs that I fell in love with. This live version is from their 1.19 anniversary show in London in 2018.
I hope you enjoyed this (brief) guide to symphonic metal, and found some songs you liked! Hopefully you’ll explore some of these bands’ catalogues in more depth. There’s nothing I love more than introducing someone to their new favorite band.
I’m excited to have teamed up with five other authors for a giveaway of books perfect for Halloween! ‘Tis the season for things that go bump in the night. The lucky winner of this contest will receive all six of the novels pictured here in paperback format. But be warned: you may stay up all night reading these thrilling and addictive novels!
ABOUT THE BOOKS:
The Lost History of Dreams is a “sensual, twisting gothic tale…in the tradition of A.S. Byatt’s Possession, Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights” (BookPage). In this reworking of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, a post-mortem photographer unearths the dark secrets of a famed poet’s marriage. (Psst! The ebook is currently on sale for $1.99 thru Halloween!)
The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel. In this feminist retelling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to Ichabod Crane when he arrives in the village as the new schoolmaster. They embark on a secret love affair, sneaking into the woods after dark together, praying they don’t catch sight of Sleepy Hollow’s legendary Headless Horseman. Until All Hallow’s Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears…
The Curse of Morton Abbey. A young woman solicitor accepts a suspiciously lucrative offer of employment to prepare the sale of a crumbling Yorkshire estate, but when she arrives, the mysterious occupants of the house seem to be trying to drive her away. As she is drawn deeper into the dark secrets of the family, she can’t be certain she’ll escape Morton Abbey with her sanity—or even her life—intact.
John Eyre is a gender-reversed retelling of Jane Eyre (and one other Victorian classic that can’t be revealed without spoiling the story) in which a former schoolmaster encounters mysterious happenings at Thornfield Hall, alternating with Bertha Mason’s earlier travels where she falls under the spell of the increasingly dangerous Mr. Rochester.
A Lullaby For Witches. Two women. A history of witchcraft. And a deep-rooted female power that sings across the centuries. “A Lullaby for Witches weaves a spell of darkness that’s mysterious and magical, and binds it with a knot of deathless love.” —New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Susanna Kearsley
Nocturne is a haunting, deeply romantic tale of forbidden love about a woman who’s snowbound for days with a mysterious stranger. As the sexual tension builds, she discovers that her host is hiding a terrifying secret that threatens her very life. “The kind of book that makes you want to turn off the phone and the television so you can do nothing but read.” —Barnes and Noble Romantic Read of the Week
AND NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY:
Grand Prize: Print copies of all six of the novels pictured and described above.
Giveaway is open to all U.S. residents 18 and older. Open until 11:59 pm Pacific Time on 11/01/21. Winner will be drawn at random and announced on this post as an update on 11/02/21.
OF COURSE I have a playlist for Heavy Metal Symphony! And OF COURSE it is chock full of heavy metal, though there are plenty of non-metal songs on here as well! Most of these songs were chosen because, as usual, they fit the story or what is going on at a certain point in the story, but a few are there just because I think they are a good example of what Handel’s Messiah sounds like. They’re there for the vibes, more or less. Which are which? You’ll have to read the book, have a listen to the playlist, and decide for yourself 🙂
Today’s the day! After so long of working on this book when I was able and wishing and dreaming that it would someday be published, Heavy Metal Symphony is officially out in the world today.
It’s been seven years coming, in fact. It was a little over seven years ago that I first started writing this book because the idea wouldn’t leave me alone. I found that I couldn’t stop writing it once I’d started, even though I was on deadline for another book that I was supposed to be writing (the book that became The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence). In a way, I think Most Beautiful only exists because of Heavy Metal Symphony. I struggled so mightily to write that book, my first under contract (and I blogged quite a bit at the time about the dreaded “second book syndrome” that I was experiencing). By setting it aside and writing Heavy Metal Symphony, I proved to myself that I could write another book. I opened the floodgates and let the words come. And when I finally went back to Most Beautiful, it scared me much less by then, this idea of writing another book.
But I also wrote Heavy Metal Symphony for the purest reason that anyone writes a story, I think: because I needed to. Because I loved it so much, because it wouldn’t leave me alone until I got it all out. After that first draft was done, I would come back to it and revise here and there over the years, in between other projects. I just couldn’t leave it alone, even as there were several moments along the way when it seemed like it might never get published.
But I never gave up on it. And today, that book is out in the world for anyone and everyone to read. It’s a real book that I can hold in my hands. And it gives me great, immeasurable pride to be able to say that not only is this one of my favorite things I’ve ever written, it’s also one of the best. It has some of my most beautiful, lyrical writing in it. It’s a song I wrote for myself, with all my favorite things in it: heavy metal, a touch of classical music, live music, creativity, a woman finding her voice, romance, friendship, the artist-muse relationship, and of course my hometown of Buffalo, New York.
I’m also excited to announce something very cool. Because what’s the point of writing about a metal band if you can’t have MERCH? Well, now everyone can get the Handel’s Messiah 2017 tour t-shirt! The shirt was designed by Jennifer Hark-Hameister, who also designed the book cover and the album covers. The front has the Handel’s Messiah logo, and the back has a list of cities the band hit on their 2017 North American tour for Messiah Complex, the album they’re working on throughout the book.
All proceeds from the shirts will go to the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) in support of #SaveOurStages, an initiative to help small music venues stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. So you can rock the t-shirt of your new favorite (fictional) band, and support a good cause at the same time!
Tomorrow is the day that, in many ways, I have been waiting for for seven years now. Tomorrow Heavy Metal Symphony, my love affair project, a book of my heart, will be published. I’ve dreamed of this day for a very long time, but of course, like every author who has had a book come out since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the world I am releasing this book into looks very different from what I’d imagined.
When I first sold Heavy Metal Symphony to Kaledena Press back in early May, I thought, like many of us, that the pandemic was on its way to being over. I had just received my second dose of the vaccine, and was the last of my circle of friends and family to complete my vaccine series, so I figured we were good, and that we’d be out of the woods soon. That the summer would be a celebration, after which life would return mostly to what we’d previously considered “normal”.
Obviously, that isn’t what happened. And while life has, for me, regained more balance and “normalcy” – I feel comfortable going out more, and have gone back to spending time with my family and friends – we are certainly not out of the woods with the pandemic.
And so when I first sold this book and learned that it would be releasing in the fall, I figured, okay, I can have a big book launch party like I always have, and get everyone together and celebrate this book in the way I’ve always wanted to, the way it deserves. It’ll be perfect, timing-wise.
Again, that isn’t what ended up happening. And as I worked through the various rounds of edits on the book, as the disappointment sank in that I likely wouldn’t be able to celebrate the book the way I wished I could, larger questions began to arise. What difference did any of this make? What was the point of writing a book, or publishing a book, when the world was in such turmoil? What did any of it matter, when people were dying and suffering and losing loved ones? What was the point of any of it?
I had gone into yet another pandemic depression spiral, which have come and gone for me for the last almost two years, and I know the same is true for many people. I was so excited, SO excited, to finally be publishing this book, but does it ultimately matter in this strange and phenomenally difficult time in which we’re living?
Now, of course, here I must give the caveat that, while the pandemic was been pretty rough for writers and people in publishing for various reasons – book promotion all going virtual, people not being able visit bookstores for large chunks of time, supply chain issues, and the constant and persistent difficulty of trying to create when the world is continuously on fire – this is nothing compared to what those who have lost loved ones and livelihoods and their health have gone through. I myself have been lucky during this pandemic, and I absolutely realize that. But I know that I speak for many writers out there when I say that the difficulties above have been real too, and it’s been a weird time to care about your work and your book sales when it feels like you shouldn’t. So add all of this on top of the bigger existential questions I was struggling with, and it made for a very strange and very tough stew of emotions.
So I did the only thing I could do, and what I tend to do when the outside world gets too big, too hard, too scary: I lost myself in my work. I threw myself into all the various rounds of edits that had to happen before publication, really lost myself in the story and the characters and the music. I looked forward to every session when I would sit down with the book, eagerly anticipated my next visit with these characters and with the story that has always meant so much to me.
And you know what? It pulled me through.
One of the other strange effects the pandemic has had on me is that for a long time – most of 2020 and the early part of 2021, in fact – I didn’t really feel like myself anymore. And I know I’m not alone in this. Isolation and losing many of the experiences we value forced us to ask ourselves: who are we without the people and places we love, the experiences in which we take the most joy? I still don’t know that I have an answer to that question, ultimately, but it was a question I was feeling HARD. I felt like I faded over the months to a shadow of myself, whose joy in life had been mostly sucked away, who couldn’t remember what it was like to hope for things anymore, to get excited, to be enthusiastic. And yet, in working on Heavy Metal Symphony, from the moment I began my first read-through before starting to revise, I felt like I was sitting down with an old friend – both the book and the me who had written it and labored over it for so long. Oh. Hello. I remember you. You’re pretty rad, actually.How did I go without you for so long? I won’t make that mistake again.
And I realized that that version of me wasn’t gone. She was still there, after all. She’d been asleep, maybe, but finally, finally, I’d woken her up. This book woke her up.
It wasn’t until my final read-through was done and the book was turned in and out of my hands for the last time that I really realized it. That for all my doubts, for all my fears that the book didn’t matter, that I was shortchanging it by publishing it during a pandemic, that no one would care and that I shouldn’t care so much about it either, the truth was that I had needed this book right then. Heavy Metal Symphony is without doubt one of my very favorite things I have ever written, and getting to work on it, to immerse myself in it, to lose myself in it, when I was struggling and most needed something to hang on to, saved me. On top of that, working on a book in which a band spends a lot of time touring and performing live was a balm to my soul in an era when live music, one of my favorite things on earth, had mostly disappeared. It reminded me of the power of music, of how songs can speak to us in different times in our lives and mean different things, how a lyric you’ve heard a thousand times can suddenly, one day, take on a whole new meaning that you never thought of before and that transforms the world for you, ever so slightly. And how a favorite song is always there, waiting for you, to curl up inside it when you need to.
And once I realized all that, I felt much more at peace with everything. Maybe no one will read the book. It’s very likely its release will pass unnoticed by the wider world, as is, after all, the hard truth about the majority of books that are published.
But that’s okay. It’s all okay. I love this book, deeply, and it was there for me when I needed it. It pulled me through. I was working on it and preparing it for publication at exactly the time that I most needed to be doing it, so in the end – even though I tend to dislike “everything happens for a reason” platitudes – I think that this was how it was meant to happen. And my hope for this book, as it makes its appearance in the world tomorrow, is that one person loves it as much as I do. That one person takes solace in it during these difficult times; that it provides a refuge and escape for just one person as it did for me, that it maybe gives someone a little shot of live music that they’ve been missing. That will be enough.
Heavy Metal Symphony is a book of my heart because the me that created it is the truest version of me, I think. And I’ve learned now how to better hold on to her. I don’t think I’ll forget again.
I hope you’ll all join me for my virtual launch party tomorrow to hear more about the book. I’m really excited for this virtual format, as I have some friends joining who wouldn’t be able to come to an in-person launch party, and I know it’s going to be a lot of fun. And I hope you’ll consider buying a copy of Heavy Metal Symphony and giving it a chance. If you do, I hope you enjoy it.
Welcome to the world, book of my heart. To quote Nightwish, as I am wont to do: “The beauty of this ride ahead/Such an incredible high.”
I’m very excited to announce two upcoming events promoting Heavy Metal Symphony, one virtual, and one in person!
Virtual Book Launch
On Tuesday, October 19th I’ll be holding a virtual release party for Heavy Metal Symphony, hosted by local Buffalo bookstore Talking Leaves Books! I’ll be in conversation with fellow Buffalo author Janet McNally at 7 p.m. ET over Zoom. Click here to sign up, and don’t forget to preorder your SIGNED copy of the book through Talking Leaves!
In-Person Event at Author’s Note
On Wednesday, October 27th, I’ll be talking about Heavy Metal Symphony live and in person at Author’s Note bookstore in Medina, NY. Please consider coming out if you’re in the Western New York area; it’ll be my first in-person event in eighteen months and I’m VERY excited about it! We’ll talk about writing, rock stars, and all things heavy metal (and maybe about spooky season too?). More information available at the bookstore’s website.
Hope to see you either in person or virtually this month!
We’re less than two weeks out from the publication of Heavy Metal Symphony! Want a SIGNED copy? Simply preorder the book through Talking Leaves Books (or buy from them online on release day) and I’ll be going in to sign all the purchased copies! Click here to preorder!
Also, ANYONE who preorders the book, from any outlet and in any format, can get some free Heavy Metal Symphony bookmarks, pictured below! These were designed by Jennifer Hark-Hameister, who also designed the book cover. The front features the lyrics to the chorus of the song that Ava writes in the book.
To claim your bookmarks, simply email proof of purchase to email@example.com, along with the mailing address you’d like them sent to, and I will put those in the mail to you. Note that if you are preordering from Talking Leaves there is no need to email me your receipt; I will be sticking bookmarks in each copy as I sign them.
Also, stay tuned for details about the virtual launch party coming very soon!
I am SO excited to be revealing the cover for my first contemporary novel, Heavy Metal Symphony, coming October 19th, 2021 from Kaledena Press!
Without further ado, here is the cover!
I knew that, for the cover of this book, I wanted the cover to have some sort of live music vibe, as the band spends much of the novel on tour, and performing live is one of Ava’s very favorite things in the world. And my wonderful publisher was good enough to take that into account, with this as the absolutely gorgeous result! I love that we see Ava in her performance zone; I love the blue color palette; I love the crowd completing the live concert vibe. And, while this is a smaller detail, I also really love Ava’s hair, since she is, like me, a fellow curly girl.
Heavy Metal Symphony is so very much a book of my heart, and every step of bringing it to publication has been an absolute dream come true. What has made this process and this cover even more special for me is the fact that the cover was designed by my best friend, Jennifer Hark-Hameister. Jen is, as you can see, an incredibly talented graphic designer, and a brilliant photographer as well (she also took my current author picture, which you can see on the About Me page!). She’s also done some promotional graphic design work for me in the past, including my bookmarks for The Borgia Confessions. It’s been so wonderful and meaningful to work with her on this book! You can (and should!) check out more of her work at her website: https://jenharkdesign.com/
I hope you all love this beautiful cover as much as I do! And you can now add Heavy Metal Symphony to your Goodreads to-read shelf. I cannot wait to share this book with you all soon!
“I hope you never reach a day where you have to choose between your band and your relationship.”
Ava Tomei seems to have it all: she’s the lead singer of Buffalo-based metal band Handel’s Messiah and is in a committed relationship with the band’s keyboard player and brilliant composer Killian Sterling. But as the band hits the studio to record their fifth album, Ava and Killian can no longer hide the cracks in their relationship from their bandmates—or from themselves.
What started as an artistic collaboration between Ava and Killian six years before quickly bloomed into a passionate romance. Then, when the lead singer of Handel’s Messiah—and Killian’s ex girlfriend—leaves the band right in the middle of the band’s world tour, Killian calls on Ava to step in. Ava is plunged into the pressures of stepping in to front one of metal’s biggest rising bands amidst fan disappointment, skepticism from her new band mates, the physical demands of a world tour, and sexism in the metal scene. But she also has the chance to fulfill her wildest dreams. Still, as Ava’s desire to express her creativity comes to a head with Killian’s artistic dominance, they are forced to confront whether what they have can be repaired—and what will happen to the band if not.
Told in alternating storylines that show Ava and Killian’s seemingly fairytale past and their fraught present, Heavy Metal Symphony is a novel of jealousy, competing talents, rock stars, ambition, creative control, and, of course, heavy metal.
I am SO thrilled to announce that my fifth novel and first ever contemporary novel, Heavy Metal Symphony, is going to be published by Kaledena Press!
Here is a synopsis of the book:
Ava Tomei seems to have it all: she’s the lead singer of Buffalo-based Handel’s Messiah, the metal band of which she was a long-time fan – and is also in a committed relationship with Killian Sterling, the band’s keyboard player and brilliant lead composer. Yet as the band hits the studio to record their fifth album, Ava and Killian can no longer hide the cracks in their relationship from their bandmates or from themselves as Killian’s artistic dominance and Ava’s desire to express her own creativity come to a head. They are forced to confront whether what they have can be repaired, and what will happen to their band if not.
Introduced by a mutual friend over six years before, classically trained singer Ava and budding rock star Killian found that what started as an artistic collaboration quickly bloomed into a passionate romance. When the lead singer of Handel’s Messiah and Killian’s fellow founding band member – and ex-girlfriend – Celeste Perinot leaves the band after a heated disagreement in the middle of the band’s world tour in support of their second album, Killian calls Ava to replace her. Ava is immediately plunged into the pressures of stepping in to front one of metal’s biggest rising bands amidst fan disappointment, skepticism from her new band members, the physical demands of a world tour, and sexism in the metal scene – but also has the chance to fulfill her wildest dreams, and to do it at the side of the man she loves.
Told in alternating storylines that show Ava and Killian’s seemingly fairytale past and their fraught present, the novel follows their relationship from its start and into its uncertain future. Through it all Ava is forced to grapple with what she wants from her career and from her relationship and whether those two things are mutually exclusive, and how to find her own voice when she’s so used to singing the music of others. Daisy Jones and the Six meets A Star is Born set in the metal scene in Heavy Metal Symphony, a novel of jealousy, competing talents, rock stars, ambition, creative control, and, of course, heavy metal.
Being able to publish this book is truly a dream come true for me. Those of you who have followed me on social media and/or receive my author newsletter will have seen me refer to this book as my “love affair project”. That’s because a) the book is about an actual love affair and b) I wrote the first draft while I was deep in second book syndrome and was SUPPOSED to be writing The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, aka I was cheating on the book I was supposed to be writing with this one XD This is truly a book of my heart, as they say, and I’ve often felt that Heavy Metal Symphony and The Violinist of Venice are the two halves of my music-loving soul: classical music and heavy metal.
I am also SO thrilled to be working with Kaledena Press to publish this book. Kaledena is a Buffalo-based indie publisher, and they are absolutely the perfect home for this Buffalo-based book. That’s another reason this novel is so close to my heart: it is my first one set in my beloved hometown, and I get to show you some of my favorite places in this wonderful city.
There will be more news to come in the next few months (release date, cover, all that fun stuff) and I am so excited to share it all with you. Until then, I’ll be diving back into edits of this book, and I’m so excited to be hanging out with my heavy metal friends once again 🙂