Today’s special guest is romance novelist Paula Dombrowiak. We’re chatting about her new adult contemporary romance, Blood and Bone.
Paula Dombrowiak grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois but currently lives in Arizona. She is the author of Blood and Bone, her first adult romance novel which combines her love of music and imperfect relationships. Paula is a lifelong music junkie; whose wardrobe consists of band T-shirts and leggings which are perpetually covered in pet hair. Music is what inspires her storytelling.
Paula is currently working on a sequel to Blood and Bone which focuses on Hayley O’Donnell’s music career while living in her father’s shadow.
Welcome, Paula. Please tell us about your current release.
Blood and Bone is an evocative story told in alternating time periods, from the early ‘90s to the present day about deep bonds between flawed people whose only outlet of self-expression is through their music. It focuses on Jack O’Donnell who is a middle-aged rock star who comes in contact with a journalist, Erin Langford, under unique circumstances and Erin learns there is more to a story than just the headlines. Jack recounts the rise and fall of his band Mogo and the irreplaceable bond with collaborator Mia Stone. In telling his story, he might just be able to heal past relationships and spark new ones.
The story deals with drug and alcohol addiction and how the choices of one person can affect everyone around him. It is a journey through love, friendship, family and fame that will impact you emotionally but leave you hopeful.
What inspired you to write this book?
Music really does inspire my storytelling, and in this case, I had watched a popular TV series that was on quite a while ago about a country singer who had such a bond with her guitar player that it inspired such wonderful songwriting, but the relationship was co-dependent and volatile. It made me think about music artists in general and what inspires their songwriting. I wanted to write about these wonderfully flawed characters struggling in the music business and what goes on behind the scenes. I came up with these characters that have such a strong connection with one another helping them to make the most heartbreakingly prolific music of a generation. When you have such creative people together with opposing personalities, it makes for a volatile situation, adding in rock and roll, romantic entanglements and you have the makings for one epic journey. I’m a music junkie and I love stories with flawed people so that was how I started writing Blood and Bone.
Excerpt from Blood and Bone:
One of my favorite things about writing intense scenes is adding a little humor to diffuse the situation. This is an excerpt from one of my favorite chapters, Turbulence.
“You got married?” Wade stared at Cash and Mia.
Adam pursed his lips. “Just so I got this right, Jack and Mia were together, right?” Adam said to Wade. “Then Jack married Amber.” He placed his finger on his chin. “Now Cash and Mia are married.” He then smiled in their direction. Meanwhile, Wade was giving him the look of death and resolved to shrug his shoulders because he was pretty accurate in his assessment.
“This is starting to get a little Fleetwood Mac.” Adam shook his head. Wade gave him a little kick to shut him up.
“When?” Jack asked, ignoring Amber’s question.
Mia’s face went dark.
“A couple months ago. When we had a week off after that long stretch of touring.” Cash took Mia’s hand in his.
Jack couldn’t help but realize they had gotten married not long after he fucked her in New Orleans.
“Why didn’t you tell anyone? We would have been there with you.” Wade looked at Jack for confirmation.
“It was sudden. We just decided to do it at the last minute.” Mia said.
“You’re pregnant!” Amber squealed but not in an excited ‘I’m happy for you’ way, but in a ‘join the club’ kind of way.
Jack held his breath.
“No!” Mia said as if it were something absurd.
“It’s not that sudden. We’ve known each other since high school and it just,” Cash looked at Mia in a sappy way, “felt right.”
“Who’s idea was it?” Jack spoke up, looking at Mia but already knowing the answer.
Cash looked at him in surprise. “We were going to tell everyone once we got back to L.A., have a party or something.” He tried to explain.
“Interesting.” Jack turned away, trying not to think of how nice a drink would taste right now. The plane shifted and he grabbed onto the back of a chair to steady himself. The fasten your seat belt sign illuminated.
“Why is that interesting?” Amber turned towards him.
“Just is.” He sat down in the chair and swiveled it away from everyone.
Amber took the seat across from him. “Seems like you’re unhappy about this.” She blinked at him.
“I’m not unhappy.” He could feel his body vibrate as if he’d had too much caffeine. If he could just have a drink, it would put him at ease and the fact that he couldn’t right now made it worse.
“Then what is wrong with you?” Amber was pissed.
“What’s wrong with me?” Jack shot up out of his chair. “You don’t find this insane.” He turned towards Wade and Adam who were enthusiastically congratulating Cash and Mia.
“We got married.” Amber said to him.
“You knocked me up.” Amber finished for him.
That’s not what Jack meant but that’s what it sounded like.
“You sound jealous.” Amber sneered at him.
“I’m not jealous.” Jack scoffed.
“This is getting good, babe.” Adam said to Wade before he got up to inspect the mini bar. “Is there any popcorn in here?” He scrunched his nose.
“Who the fuck is this guy?” Amber pointed at Adam.
Adam looked like he was about to speak but Amber interrupted him. “You know what, I don’t fucking care.” She waved a hand as if to dismiss him.
Just then, Amber slapped Jack across the face. The sound of her palm hitting his cheek echoed in the Jet.
“Asshole!” Amber yelled.
“What the fuck, Amber?” Jack felt his cheek sting.
“Amber?” Mia whispered, placing her hand over her mouth.
Amber confessed. “You didn’t choose me, Jack. You got stuck with me.”
“That’s not what it was.” Jack said quietly. He could feel his life slipping away just now, like a mudslide taking him down.
“Anyone can see the only person you care more about than yourself, is her.” Amber pointed at Mia.
“Amber, that’s not fair.” He followed her as she stomped towards the back of the plane.
“You can lie to yourself all you want, Jack, but I can see it and everyone else can too.” Jack reached for her but she pushed him away. “Stay the fuck away from me.” She cried.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently working on the sequel to Blood and Bone which I have titled, Bound to Burn. In this book, I am focusing more on Hayley O’Donnell, the daughter of the main character in Blood and Bone, who is just starting out in the music business while living in her famous father’s shadow. Hayley is the product of a rock star and a model which leads to a very interesting upbringing. She didn’t have the best relationship with her father and her mother was not the best role model either. Bound to Burn deals with the aftermath of Jack’s story being told in Blood and Bone. While the first book goes back in time to the ‘90s grunge scene, the focus in this book will be music of the present, a more indie vibe. Characters from Blood and Bone will reappear in Bound to Burn and I hope to tidy up a few loose ends with those characters as well as bringing in a few fresh characters, especially a love interest for Hayley that proves to be quite the match. It will be another wild ride and I am looking forward to telling Hayley’s story.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve been writing stories since I was in high school, but I never considered myself a ‘writer’ until I actually published a book. It just became so real and tangible in that moment.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your workday like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I have a fulltime day job in the finance industry which is such the opposite of being a writer. I have the logical side of my brain constantly competing with the creative part of my brain. If I could be a full-time writer, that would be ultimate dream. I write mostly at night and on the weekends when I have free time. I’m a single mom with two teenagers that keep me busy, but they are both super supportive and allow me the time I need when I’ve got a good streak going. Sometimes that means having to wait for dinner a little longer or popping in a frozen pizza. My favorite time to write though is in the evening when everything is quiet, and I can have some time to myself.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I get easily distracted so I need to have everything quiet in order to concentrate. Music really does inspire my storytelling, but I can’t listen to music when I’m writing. I listen in the car, on a walk or around the house and usually I get an idea or a mood in my head for the story I’m writing but I compartmentalize it to be used later when I’m writing.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a famous singer, but I was so shy that I could never sing in front of anyone. I remember calling my house once and waiting for the answering machine to pick up so that I could record myself singing White Christmas, just so that I could replay it to see how I sounded. White Christmas was probably the only song I knew by heart at the time. I had to have been around 13 years old.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I don’t think you can be a writer without being an avid reader, or maybe that’s just me. I love discovering and supporting new authors and find my next read. If there is a book you love, hit me up on social media because I love getting recommendations. I also love connecting with readers about anything book or music related so don’t be shy and reach out. We can be book nerds together.
Thanks for being here today! Happy writing!