LET’S WELCOME SIAN CEINWEN AUTHOR OF: THE ALBUM
Rad-Reader: What made you want to write this story?
Sian: I've always loved telling stories for people. When I was younger, I would spend hours regaling my best friend with tales of people falling in love. Rock stars were often involved in these stories because we were big into music. It was shortly before NaNoWriMo, and I’d always wanted to try writing a novel. So, I signed up, and the rest is history!
Well, long history. I finished NaNoWriMo at about 50,700 words, then didn’t write another word of the book until 7 years later when my friend Becky sent me a message that said, “So, I was going through my emails and found a book called The Album. I want to know WHEN WILL YOU WRITE THE REST!!!! It’s still as good as I remember.”
That’s a pretty good incentive to finish writing the book!
Rad-Reader: Where did the idea come from?
Sian: The Album was inspired by the song "Gives You Hell" by the All-American Rejects. I just loved the idea of the everyday girl who fell in love with a rock star but ultimately left him, causing him to write an album about her. So she goes back to her regular life and what happens then? How do you go back to working nine to five after living in that world? What happens if you find yourself at one of his concerts?
Rad-Reader: How did you go about creating Ariana and Gabriel’s characters?
Sian: As I mentioned, I always knew that Ariana was going to leave. It was always about why that happened. When I write, it's like watching a movie in my head and just typing out what I see. The characters are fully formed people and, I kind of just...know what they'll do in that situation. I very much fit the "I Just Write
The Thing" trope! (https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IJustWriteTheThing)
Rad-Reader: Ariana doesn’t seem to like the rich and famous it seems by the way she feels going to the fundraiser with her aunt. Why?
Sian: Ariana has seen how being rich and famous has affected her family. As a result, she doesn't like that whole world. She never really wanted to be a part of it, but she likes her aunt and sometimes goes to the events if her aunt needs her to. In her experience, a lot of the people at those types of events have been fake and all about appearances.
Rad-Reader: Meeting Gabriel and Sebastian from Cruise Control was the only highlight that night once they performed, she had been following their band. It was until Seb opened his mouth. Is that their norm being crude?
Sian: Sebastian has a very interesting character arc. He is, unfortunately, quite misogynistic and gross. None of his friends really approve of the way that he treats women, but they're guilty of not calling him out on it.
It's not until he meets Lita in book three that he is truly faced with the consequences of his behavior and reputation. She definitely challenges him on that.
Rad-Reader: Ari doesn’t really seem like the girl that would swim in a designer gown. Why this night?
Sian: Ariana has always done the right thing and followed all the rules. She's feeling frustrated and rebellious. She does feel bad about the gown because it was a gift, but she's kind of overwhelmed and starstruck by Gabriel so decides to throw caution to the wind.
Rad-Reader: What is it that Gabe likes about Ari exactly?
Sian: From the beginning, he senses her shyness and it brings out that protective side of him. In a lot of ways, he needs to be needed by her. The sexual chemistry between them is hot but he's always aware that she's got that fear of his lifestyle and that she might leave.
Rad-Reader: When she meets the whole band, it seems like Gabe shared a lot about her. All good or punking her? She didn’t seem sure.
Sian: The band are so incredibly close, they're like a family. They tell each other pretty much everything. So, when Gabriel starting dating Ariana, that was definitely something that they talked about in-depth. In The Wedding, we find out that even Heather heard the story of the night that Gabriel and Sebastian first met Ariana.
Rad-Reader: Seb seemed much nicer at the birthday party. Was it because Gabe had said something or is he a good guy like Gabe said?
Sian: Seb is not a good guy. He is a very good friend. But a good guy? No. He treats women terribly, just has sex with them, and moves on to the next one. His friends have gotten used to it and even though they should call him out on it, they don't, because it's just "how Seb is".
Rad-Reader: Ari didn’t handle the paparazzi well. Do you really think his suggestion will make it any better? About the tour?
Sian: Gabriel was really enjoying those new relationship feelings. He didn't want to give that up when he went on tour and he really did think that being able to spend that time together while traveling would give them a chance to get to know each other even more.
He's very spontaneous, and when she suggests waiting until he gets back from a tour to continue their relationship, it's immediately clear to him that he doesn’t want to wait, and he wants her to come with them, instead.
Rad-Reader: Do you think his real thought is if she’s here she knows I’m not messing around and I’m not lonely?
Sian: That is absolutely a part of it. Had he gone on tour without her, it's unlikely that he would have slept with anyone else, but he would have missed her terribly.
Rad-Reader: What is with Sebastian? Has he always been the two woman guy or is it just him and fame or it is that Harrison and Gabe have brought someone on tour and he feels left out?
Sian: Ahh, Seb. We find out the reason that he is the way he is in The Baby. Lita pushes him hard on why he treats women the way that he does and he eventually tells her. That's pretty much all I can say for now!
Rad-Reader: What’s up with the manager? Not like the girls have really caused any problems?
Sian: Cooper is a businessman through and through. He has a very specific strategy that he wants to use to promote the band, Ariana's presence in Gabriel's life will require a pivot from that strategy. In some ways, he's grateful that she doesn't want to be known because it doesn't force that to happen. He also just has too many opinions on the band's lives and what they should do...but he is good at his job.
Rad-Reader: Now, neither thought they might get caught by a camera of someone’s phone who saw Gabe going into the dressing room at SAKS with Ari?
Sian: The only person who saw them going in was the older lady manning the desk. They were alone in the dressing area. Photos do resurface later in the series of them together on the Cards Have Been Dealt tour, though, so there were photos taken but not that day.
Rad-Reader: When that salesgirl was rude why didn’t she do a Pretty Woman on her? Leave and go shop somewhere else.
Sian: Gabriel didn't spot it, he's pretty naïve in that sense. Ariana didn't want to make a fuss, she never would. To leave and shop somewhere else would've been to ask Gabriel to go to another store when he'd already picked that one to shop at and she didn't want to inconvenience him.
Rad-Reader: Ari gets upset that Gabe buys her clothes at SAKS. Was that the real reason the one she gave at first?
Sian: She knew from the start that she couldn't afford to buy the clothes and she didn't really want them. Gabriel buying them for her triggers those feelings of worthlessness that she holds deep down about herself. It touches a nerve, so him telling her she's being silly makes it much worse and causes her to spiral further.
Rad-Reader: Why does he keep pushing her on the public things like being in the pictures so soon after her being shaky and wanting to leave?
Sian: So, I'm not 100% sure to which part of the book this refers to. The two times I can think of are April Conway's birthday party, at that point he doesn't know about the reason for her fears, yet. Gabriel respects her desire to avoid being photographed, though. So, he tells her how to get through The Gauntlet without being hassled.
The only other time I can think of is The Grammys. It's definitely, a sore point for him, by then, because they've been together for months and he just wants to shout to the world that he's in love but he can't. He's happy with Ariana as his girlfriend, but it definitely causes conflict between them.
Rad-Reader: The declaration to one another was made so special and with so much thought. What is it, do you think about Ari that has stolen Gabe’s heart?
Sian: Oh, their, I love you is so beautiful. Gabriel is drawn to her because she's sweet and kind and intelligent, and she balances out his more outgoing personality. Ariana also fills that need for Gabriel to be a protector. He's definitely not some alpha male (I'm not a fan of that stereotype), but he has natural instincts to be protective towards women, which is part of why the way Seb treats women bothers him so much.
Rad-Reader: What makes Ari like a shaky fawn all the time? Or that just her in general?
Sian: Anxiety does cruel things to your brain. It literally causes the fight, flight, or freeze response to occur when there's no real need for it. She suffers badly from it, but during most of this book is untreated. That’s why she gets all up in her head because she hasn’t yet learned the tools to cope with it in a healthy way.
Rad-Reader: With all the things that Heather told Ari about Cooper doing things in the best interest of the band, that Ari isn’t one. Do you think he will send the press after her to break them up to get him to be more of the rocker image?
Sian: Nope. People knowing about her would cause even more complications for him, he's definitely glad she stayed silent when she left.
Rad-Reader: Why would Gabe bring fans over to their circle to play pool when he already knew Ari is having problems acclimating to the lifestyle? Not to mention she then stands a bigger chance of being caught by the press, fans, or paparazzi.
Sian: This was an incredibly poor life-choice on his part. Incredibly poor. He was kind of in a bind, though. The fans asked to join them and he really is a nice guy and didn't want to seem like an asshole by saying no. A part of him did think "well, this is how Ariana wants it to be," but he didn't intend it to be as cruel as it was.
Rad-Reader: Did Seb stay behind to put doubt into Gabe’s mind about Ari the day of the zoo trip, at the request of Cooper for the good of the band?
Sian: Nope. Once you know Seb more, you'll know that his loyalty lies only with the band, and certainly not with Cooper. Ariana had been avoiding them, and he could tell that it was taking a toll on Gabriel. Sebastian didn't want to overstep but he did want to confront Ariana about it. So, he made his excuses to stay behind and do that, hoping to talk some sense into her.
Rad-Reader: What made you make Ari such a fearful weak character to this point? She drove me crazy. To me, Heather was the more appealing female character. Didn’t you get tired of all her crying and poor me when writing? Did it drain you?
Sian: Poor Ariana, people hate her but I'm determined that my characters be real people with real emotions. You asked about why Gabriel pushes her to do things she wasn't comfortable with? Part of it was to try and help her through her fears but another part was simply because he doesn't understand.
Don't get me wrong, Ariana clearly needed therapy, but there are a lot of people living with mental health issues. Quite often, unless you experience those same issues, it’s easy to do what Gabriel did and push the person well out of their comfort zone.
I also don't believe that a heroine should be a perfect cookie-cutter person just because she happens to be in a romance novel. ;)
Believe it or not, I found it more draining to write The Wedding, which is Heather's story. That one has so much drama and tension in it. I wrote it in five weeks and for two of those, I was literally depressed by writing it. I would cry the whole time and dreaded having to write.
Rad-Reader: Do you really think guys in a rock band on, tour is going, for two weeks or years no less, are going to call this chick?
Sian: Gabriel is a man of his word. He told her that he wouldn't call, and he meant it. The others respect his wishes when he asks them to leave her alone. That being said, he promised it, expecting that she would come around and contact him. When she didn't, he started to get bitter that she hadn't.
He never stopped loving her, but he was also incredibly hurt. His pride was wounded by her leaving and not responding to his messages, which is why he never tried calling her. In order to move on, he lied to himself a lot, told himself that he hated her, and didn’t want to call her. We’ve all been there, right? No? Just me? Carry on, then. As I was typing that, I was forcefully reminded of The Corrs’ song, “I Never Really Loved You Anyway”!
Rad-Reader: So, how long after she got her drunk on did, she starts working and seeking out a therapist? Which I give total kudos for it's a hard first step to take. Anxiety or phobias are no joke.
Sian: It happened about six months after she left the tour. She was really struggling and was wracked with guilt about it all. Her career was taking off and she wanted to get her anxiety and depression in order so it would stop controlling her. It's not mentioned in the books, but she's definitely on medication by the time she wins the tickets to the concert.
Rad-Reader: When she wins the tickets why didn’t she tell her boss the situation or just give them outright to Charlotte?
Sian: She might have had therapy, but she's still Ariana. She didn't want to seem ungrateful when she'd won the competition and worked hard for it. Also, she really does miss them all a lot and there's a little part of her that thinks that she'll get to see them again. That thought terrifies and excites her in equal parts.
Rad-Reader: What did the band members and Heather think at the meet and greet after Ari ran out and Charlotte all left?
Sian: They were mostly in shock. They could all tell that he was going to try and connect with her again. Heather and Sebastian were both furious because neither of them had forgiven her for the way she left, though. We get to see the fall out of all of that in The Wedding.
Rad-Reader: Why did Gabe show up at Ari’s work just to shoot her down? Was it a form of payback for hurting him?
Sian: Not at all. In a lot of ways, Ariana is Gabriel's drug. She's his one weakness. He tried hard to move on after she left and he even told himself that he had. We've all been there, right? You see your ex and suddenly you remember all those feelings you shoved deep down into a box.
When he sees her again he hyper focuses on the information he has, where she's currently working, as the way that he can see her again. To the point that he doesn't even think to try and call her old phone number. He just wants to get another fix.
Rad-Reader: When she goes for a movie night and finds out that secret, I thought that was pretty chickensh*t and telling about the character of the person very Seb like. What do you think?
Sian: Yup, that is not Gabriel's finest moment. He justified it to himself that they were just old friends hanging out again. To be honest, he crossed the line from the moment he went to her work. Some of the stuff he said during that conversation was definitely not okay. When Ariana stops it from going further, that was a big wake-up call for him. It's part of why he was so honest and really did try to see if they could work it out.
Rad-Reader: If your book was made into a movie who would you have play…
Ari: Lucy Hale
Gabe: Chord Overstreet
Sebastian: Matt Ranaudo
Hayden: Wolfgang Novogratz
Harrison: Nick Bateman
Heather: Elizabeth Olsen
Charlotte: Italia Ricci
Ari: Zoey Deutch, I adore her, and she just embodies Ariana for me.
Gabe: Okay, now, in my defense I started writing The Album in 2011. So, keep that in mind with this choice. It’s Chris Hemsworth, specifically from the first Thor movie. Specifically, this picture.
Sebastian: Again, this is who it’s been from the start. Ian Somerhalder. Those eyes. *swoon*
Hayden: Okay, for Hayden, I’m going to pick another Hemsworth because I’m Aussie, and we breed them sexy over here! Liam Hemsworth, oh, yes.
Harrison: I swear to god, I almost died when I Googled Nick Bateman. I was checking out your choices for casting, and when I saw the pics, I was, like, “that’s not…wait…it can’t be…”
So, when I was writing The Wedding, I Googled “hot man” (I’m creative!), and I was scrolling through and came across this picture. As soon as I did, I immediately knew it was Harrison! I never looked for his name or anything.
Heather: Taylor Swift has always been Heather in my mind. I’m a huge Swifty and I use a lot of her outfits as inspiration for Heather’s wardrobe, as well.
Charlotte: Kiernan Shipka for Charlotte, just with black hair instead of blonde.
Rad-Reader: What song or songs best describes your characters, their relationship, or your book as a whole?
“Never Have I Ever – Danielle Bradbery”
When Ari meets Gabe, she was not sure about him. It was disappointing since she is a fan of ‘Cruise Control’. He redeems himself by going to seek her out ask for forgiveness. Forming his instant connection with Ari.
“Piece of Me – Britney Spears”
Because of what Ari and those she loved dearly in her family suffering dearly at the hands of the paparazzi. She at nine said she would never live in the public eye. Causing a phobia over it. To the point of anxiety attacks. Gabe knew still asked her on tour.
“Conversations in the Dark – John Legend”
Gabe knew and understood Ari’s phobia about her having her picture taken and he said he was willing to do everything to protect her. Yet, her hearing the pressures on him, then add her low self-esteem eating at her and wow.
“Pain and Misery – The Teskey Brothers”
Bad press after an awards show the calling out a crying whiny girlfriend by the name of “Ariel” caused the band problems. In turn, Ari panics when her family starts calling and texting. Already homesick and hating the rift in the band she felt she was causing out of love for Gabe she needed to go.
Sian: So, this is tough because I know exactly what all of the songs on Heart Wide Open actually are. I always intended for people to be able to pick their own songs, though. I wanted people to be able to listen to a song and go, “oh, wow, THAT is the sixth song!” In fact, during the break-in writing, my own Heart Wide Open changed, as new songs were released that fit better.
That being said, I’ll go with three songs here…
"Gives You Hell – The All-American Rejects"
As I said, this is the song that inspired the entire book, so I have to put this one first. It’s the only track on Heart Wide Open that is obvious (though, I had to reword it because nobody wants a copyright lawsuit!)
"For Your Love – Hanson"
This song…it’s mentioned in the book, but it’s not on Heart Wide Open. There’s a very specific lyric change in my head, too. Instead of “now that I have you beside me”, it’s “and when I have you beside me”. Every other lyric and the entire song is perfect.
The writing of this song will probably be a part of Gabriel’s Album, which is the first of the companion hero novels and will come out on March 14th, 2021.
"Blank Space – Taylor Swift"
So, this isn’t entirely Ari, and it’s not one of the songs on the album, either. When I had that long gap of not writing, this was one of the songs that got me back into it. Specifically, the lines:
“So, it’s gonna be forever,
Or it’s gonna go down in flames.
You can tell me when it’s over,
If the high was worth the pain”
Those last two lines…oof. Ari doesn’t intend to hurt anyone, and she’s just trying to protect herself. Her brain is a scumbag to her and convinces her of a lot of stuff that isn’t true. But, yeah, those lines definitely struck me with inspiration when I was writing.
Rad-Reader: If you could be any superhero which one would you be? Or would you create a new one? If so, what would be your superpowers?
Sian: Captain Marvel, she's badass and has the best powers in the MCU. This is the hill I will die on!
Rad-Reader: What is your favorite dessert?
Sian: Crème Brûlée. Delicious!
Rad-Reader: What is your favorite genre of music?
Sian: Pop or rap. If I could only listen to one musician for the rest of my life, it would be Taylor Swift. I got that top 1% of listeners worldwide notification from Spotify lol. Probably because my sons go to sleep to a playlist of entirely Taylor Swift songs every night!
Rad-Reader: What is your next project and when is it coming out?
Sian: My next book is The Wedding, it comes out tomorrow, the 6th of June! Fun fact, all of my books are being released on the hero's birthday.
Gabriel's is March 14th, Harrison's is June 6th, Sebastian's is November 17th, and Hayden's is October 22nd.
I've almost finished writing The Baby, which is Sebastian's book, so it'll be out in November. Then Hayden's book will be October next year.
Rad-Reader: Where can our readers buy your books? Links
The Album can be purchased here:
and The Wedding can be purchased here:
The Baby is not currently available for pre-sale, as it’s not out until the 17th of November 2020.
Rad-Reader: Where can our readers find you on the Web? Links
Sian: I'm most active on my website blog and I have a newsletter that I send out regularly with links to books and updates on Cruise Control, but you can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.
I also recently added writing a Young Adult Cruise Control novel on Wattpad about the band meeting in their teens, as well. Because I didn't feel that writing eight books (including the companion hero books) about them in two years was going to be enough time spent in their world, apparently!
I have had so much fun working with you. The book was one that had me going, that is for sure, but sharing and talking with you while interviewing you was such a pleasant experience. You were willing to answer all my fangirl questions, I really do write them all down as I am reading all the books I read. Some can be crazy questions, but you can't learn if you don't ask. It is a fifty-fifty shot, right? I can't wait to get started on The Wedding and let me know when The Baby is ready. Your characters are addictive. Maddening but addictive. LOL!Char
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