Today the lovely Berni Stevens joins me on my blog to talk about her new book – It’s Only Rock and Roll.
Berni lives in a 400-year-old cottage in Hertfordshire, with her husband, black cat, an ever-growing family of goldfish who think they’re piranha, and occasionally her son when he needs feeding up!
She trained in graphic design and has worked as a book cover designer for over twenty-five years for both publishers and many self-published authors. Any ‘spare’ time is taken up with jazz dance and Zumba (she’s a licensed Zumba instructor), going to as many rock concerts as she can, and hiking canyons every summer in the stunning Utah desert…
Dance Until Dawn, Berni’s UK debut was a paranormal romance, and followed by the sequel, Revenge is Sweet. Laughing all the Way on the Jingle Bells Express was Berni’s third festive RomCom, following One Magical Christmas and Izzy’s Christmas Star. All books published by award-winning publisher Choc Lit.
Hello Berni thank you for joining me today. I love the title by the way. Thank you for continuing Izzy and Seth’s story. It was lovely to meet them again and to see how their relationship is developing.
It’s Only Rock and Roll
Being the girlfriend of a rock star isn’t all glitz and glamour – at least that’s what Izzy Grant has found since she started dating Seth Roberts of Scarlet Gryphon fame; it’s actually a lot of waiting and wondering and worrying as Seth travels the world whilst she’s stuck in London. Can she ever rely on Mr Cool to settle down?
But rock gods get insecure too, and whilst Seth is jetting off to far-flung locations to perform sold-out shows, he worries that Izzy will find a “Joe Normal” and opt for a more ordinary life. Plus, he could do with some support when a certain entitled rock star girlfriend gets too big for her Jimmy Choos and threatens to break up the band.
There is a solution, but are either of them willing to take the plunge?
So, Berni, the book opens with Izzy, a redhead – can’t think where you might have got that idea from – in a blue taffeta bridesmaid dress that she’s really not keen on. What would be your perfect idea for a bridesmaid dress?
Anyone who knows me is aware I don’t wear colourful clothes. It must be working with colour all the time that keeps me monochromatic. Although I have been a bridesmaid three times. The first time was a Christmas wedding, I was thirteen, and my dress was dark red velvet. I’d just read Dracula, so I felt blood red velvet was pretty cool. When I was bridesmaid to my cousin, my dress was purple velvet and full length, and I felt that was OK too. But you’re right. blue taffeta – never. And before you ask, we were married in a local register office and there were no bridesmaids!
Music seems to be a very important part of your life, have you ever played or sang in a group?
Sadly no. I don’t have the talent for either, although I used to sing along to music in my bedroom, holding a hairbrush as a mic – which I’m sure lots of girls have done over the decades. But I’ve always danced … and I attended a small stage school (part time) from the age of seven to eleven. Even now I still have the ‘dance bug’, and I was an addicted member of Pineapple Dance Studios for many years. I teach Zumba locally just for fun.
What was the first instrument you learnt to play? How did you get on?
It was the recorder, which quite frankly is an awful instrument to practice solo (for everyone). It sounds dreadful on its own. I did miserably. And I was thrown out of the school recorder band for squeaking! I think my parents were relieved, in fact, they might even have preferred my ‘prog rock’ albums to the squeaks of a recorder.
Would you be happy in Izzy’s place going on tour with a band?
I think it looks more glamorous from the outside looking in, then it ever is in reality. As Seth explains in the book; it’s a lot of travelling from place to place without having the time to see the different locations properly – or even remember where you are from one day to the next. If the band is internationally acclaimed, it makes a difference of course, as they’re whisked everywhere by helicopter, plane or chauffeur-driven cars, making the travel part a lot easier. Otherwise, it’s the tour bus with the crew for the really famous, or in my husband’s band’s case, a beaten up old transit with all the band members, equipment and girlfriends squished in together!
(We went to see Saving Grace in Dorking last December, and Robert Plant said he was in Woking for two hours before he realised he was in the wrong place!)
Go on then which band?
Well, who wouldn’t have wanted to tour with David Bowie? Not in his heroine years of course, that wouldn’t have been any fun at all. But perhaps in the noughties when he made a startling come-back with the Let’s Dance album – even if it’s not a favourite album of mine – he was thankfully drug-free. We were lucky enough to see him six or seven times from 2003, and he never disappointed.
Unfortunately, most of the rock bands I’ve loved over the years behaved really badly on tour, I’m surprised any country ever had them back. John Bonham (Led Zeppelin drummer) famously rode a Harley Davidson around the corridors of his New York hotel, causing thousands of dollars of damage. He wrote a cheque to the hotel to cover the damage, and then parked the Harley outside, leaving the keys in it, and said the first person to come along could have it. Never a dull moment with Led Zeppelin (allegedly!)
Wives and girlfriends usually choose to stay home and let them get on with whatever they want to get on with … but it takes a strong, confident person to do that, I don’t think I could. Alice Cooper’s wife, Sheryl, always travels with him and their marriage has lasted at least forty-five years, so travelling together clearly works for them.
Seth’s bassist and keyboard player leaves them in the lurch, I hope that’s not a spoiler, so if Seth could choose two musicians to replace him from any age, alive or dead, who would he replace them with and why?
I always think John Paul Jones is the unsung hero of Led Zeppelin. He’s an amazing bassist, keyboard player and producer. An incredible talent and the quiet gentleman of the band.
Then there’s Rick Wright (Pink Floyd), sadly no longer with us, but a fabulous keyboard player.
And how about Keith Emerson? Also no longer with us, but he used to play every keyboard going, from a church organ to the Moog synthesiser (and everything in between). I only saw him live once, but I was deaf for a fortnight afterwards!
What does the next leg of Seth’s tour look like?
I think the band will spend the next year or so in the studio working on the new album. But I suspect a North American tour will be next on the cards. And maybe a festival or two …
For Seth’s next album, the band can sing a cover of a song, which one would they choose?
So many songs … Kashmir … Trampled Underfoot … maybe an updated version of Child in Time or just for fun, Ace of Spades! And I’d quite like to hear Seth sing Heroes or Ziggy – a good old rock favourite would be the best. (Although you might have to ask Seth himself, because he’s not a huge fan of doing cover versions).
Actually come to think of it, what will Scarlet Gryphon’s next album be called?
They haven’t decided yet, the jury’s still out! Watch this space …
I really hope this isn’t the last we see of Scarlet Gryphon, I think there are some other stories just waiting to be written, but what are you working on now?
I’m working on a new Christmas book and hoping to arrange a wedding for Izzy too at some point.
Do you have a writing routine?
Not really … I should have, shouldn’t I? I tend to write in the evenings and at weekends – whenever I can, but it’s not really a routine as such.
And finally, I have to ask, there are those annoying “earworm” songs that get stuck in your head, aren’t there? If I hear ‘You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille’ I know I’m doomed to it being stuck in my head all day. If you had to choose one, which song would you not want to hear first thing in the morning?
Let Me Entertain You by Robbie Williams for a start. Not that I don’t like him, but when I worked at Little, Brown we were pitching for his autobiography and one of the other designers was trying to put music to the pitch – with that track. His desk was outside my office and he nearly drove me insane with it – for a whole week. (And now it’s in my head …)
Some great answers. Thank you for coming on my blog today Berni.
Thanks so much for having me, Anni. It’s been a lot of fun.