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John Vance Interview

Welcome to Ink & Magick. I'm your friendly neighborhood witch. What kind of spell can I get for you (or your character) today?

Thank you for having me! I ask that you cast your spell widely and awaken each reader’s need for humor as well as romance, mystery, and adventure. Have each reader crave literary meals that include on the menu laughter along with tears, screams, gasps, gulps, and sighs.

A spell for all of humanity? How kind and compassionate of you. I will certainly send the energy out to the universe. So tell us, what is your #romance Samantha's Silent Song.

She’s thirty-two, musically gifted, vivacious, and in love with Patrick Harrold, the voice teacher who hired her to play piano for his collection of off-kilter vocal students.

Indeed, Samantha Eliot has long dreamed of devoting her life to music and song, but there’s a problem. She can’t speak, let alone sing. And she hasn’t been able to since a terrible accident took her voice at the age of seven.

Truth be told, she has two additional problems. She’s never met—but is presently searching for—her birth mother. And the man she loves may, in fact, give up teaching voice, therefore no longer requiring her services. Can she rectify the second and third of these three problems, even though she must live with the first?

Also featuring a collection of hilarious voice students with issues of their own, Samantha’s Silent Song speaks to those who have made an honest attempt, but failed, at fully realizing their dreams.


Carol whirled into action—touching her hair, wetting her lips, brushing some imaginary lint off her blouse, sliding one foot in and out of her shoe, quickly beginning her rapid breathing, staring at an object on the wall—as if she were recalling some kind of Lamaze training. She asked if she “looked" all right. Sam’s elbow added keyboard cacophony to the question. Carol shrugged bravely and jerked her head twice toward the piano. When she arrived at the instrument, she seemed hesitant as where to stand. Patrick gently pushed her to the left edge of the piano, and he sat on the arm of the sofa. “Okay, Carol. Here we go.” He was looking at Sam’s lovely back and the hair that rested so wonderfully on the top of it; accordingly, he did not see the rapid expansion of Carol’s brown eyes. “Something mid-low Sam. Carol, we’ll begin with the vowel ‘Ah.’” Sam played a lively scale.

Carol extended her arm, pleadingly. “Patrick, will you stand close to me? You know, for support?” Patrick couldn’t see Sam’s face, but he knew the grin was likely the width of half the keyboard. Finally, she raised her head and played the first and lowest note over and slowly over again. Carol grimaced. “Do you want me to sing it like that?”

“Carol, just give me an ‘Ah’ on that note.” Carol opened her mouth and made her maiden musical offering. Incredibly, she had discovered a new key.

A book about musicians, eh? Do you have a background in music?

At various stages in my life, I have played percussion, French Horn, and guitar, and I wrote over twenty songs during one period. More important though, are my experiences as a singer. Choir when I was

young, but solos and duets in my maturity. I’ve sung major roles in Broadway musicals and musical revues (as a lyric baritone). I’ve performed several operatic pieces, as well as the songs of Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber, among other noted composers. I’ve studied vocal music on my own—both the mechanics and the history of voice.

Wow. I would say, yeah. You certainly do have a musical background. I'd love to hear you sing. Does the story have a playlist, or did you listen to certain music while writing it?

There are a number of songs mentioned, many short snatches of others are played, and one is listened to while it plays on a CD. The music varies widely, including operatic and classical, Broadway musicals, and popular songs from Stephen Foster to Elvis Presley. Because the songs were in my head, I didn’t need

to listen to them while I wrote.

Writing a character who cannot speak must have been quite difficult. How did you approach it?

First, I have Samantha speak through her gestures, facial expressions, notes, and little snatches on the keyboard, which reflect her opinions and wit. But the most significant way in which she communicates with the reader is through her thoughts, which are depicted throughout the novel. Through these internal monologues, we learn the most about what she thinks and how she feels.

Which one of your characters surprised you?

Mrs. Korngold, the “aristocratic” mother of a gifted boy soprano on the doorstep of puberty and a voice change. I intended her to be a doting and older mother type, with suspicions and complaints about

how well voice teacher Patrick Harrold instructs her precious boy. But she refused to be simply that. She evolved into a fully-blown hilarious character in the mold of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell—complete with

boundless vanity, extraordinary snobbishness, and an active and biting wit.

Oooo, intriguing! Who is your favorite (or least favorite) character and why?

My favorite is of course Samantha. I love her heart, her wit, her spirit, her patience, her talent, her integrity, and her loyalty. I believe she’s a character the reader will find impossible not to root for.

Nothing like a likable heroine! What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Please mention it to friends—especially those who are singers (especially if they have taken or given voice lessons)—to anyone who enjoys varied and hilarious characters, and to those who like “underdog” romances.

What can we expect from you next?

My next scheduled book is a Washington D.C. Mystery Thriller titled Touched Back. To be published by Black Rose Writing in April of 2019. I am presently working on an adaptation (fiction) of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem Christabel. Mine is in the vein of a Victorian Gothic

Wonderful! I hope you will stop in again and tell us what you're up to. Good luck!

During his career as Professor of English at the University of Georgia, John Vance was the author of six books and numerous articles devoted to literary biography and criticism. He also began indulging his love of theater as actor, director, and playwright, with thirty-five of his plays staged. Now he has turned exclusively to fiction and is the author of thirteen novels, including the humorous memoir Setting Sail for Golden Harbor and the recently BookBub featured In Mind of the Vampire. He lives in Athens, Georgia with his wife Susan.

You can connect with John on his website, Twitter, and Facebook.

You can get a copy of Samantha's Silent Song on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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    D. Lieber has a wanderlust that would make a butterfly envious. When she isn’t planning her next physical adventure, she’s recklessly jumping from one fictional world to another. Her love of reading led her to earn a Bachelor’s in English from Wright State University.

    Beyond her skeptic and slightly pessimistic mind, Lieber wants to believe. She has been many places—from Canada to England, France to Italy, Germany to Russia—believing that a better world comes from putting a face on “other.” She is a romantic idealist at heart, always fighting to keep her feet on the ground and her head in the clouds.

    Lieber lives in Wisconsin with her husband (John) and cats (Yin and Nox).

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