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Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Wednesday Whine & Wine with Heidi Cullinan
The Real-Life Choir
That Inspired Fever Pitch
The Saint Timothy Chorale, the Ambassadors,
and Salvo are all fictional choral groups in Fever Pitch. They are all based, however, on my experiences in my
own real life choir, the Wartburg College Choir.
is what the choir looks like now. My director, Dr. Paul Torkelson, is
absolutely the basis for Nussy in the story, but he’s no longer at Wartburg. In
fact, almost none of my favorite professors are, which will make my 20 year
reunion next year a bit bittersweet.
This is what the choir looked like in my
a soundtrack? Try this on. This is us singing “Ave
That girl on the far right, a few rows
back? That’s me. I was an Alto I, total part voice. You don’t want me singing a
solo. I loved choir, though. The energy and craziness described about the Saint
Timothy Chorale? That was us. The family, the excessive drinking? Also us. The
part where they talk about getting drunk and walking up a mountain? Us too.
Here’s the picture as proof.
I often think the choir was one of the
greatest anchors for my sanity in college. My personal experience was somewhere
between Walter’s and Aaron’s. The day Aaron loses it and can’t stop crying? I
had one of those. The professor who lost his job? Ditto. The fighting parents,
the anxiety, the swirling sense of what
the hell is going on here? Me, me, me.
But the choir was always the bright spot of
my day. Every day from 4:50 to 6PM, I sang my heart out. In November and
December everything in my life revolved around Christmas With Wartburg, which
was as intense and poorly timed a tour for us as it is for Saint Timothy in the
story. No matter how bad my day, though, for an hour and ten minutes, Monday
through Friday, everything would be okay.
We did tours as well. Every spring we’d
take a week to tour somewhere in the United States—my first year in choir we
sang at Carnegie Hall—and once every four years, the choir went on a five week
tour of Europe. That’s where we ended up hiking drunk up a mountain in evening
wear. That’s where I married my choir husband (don’t ask). That’s where I
stayed with charming, wonderful host families many of whom I kept in touch with
for years after we left.
This is me with my roommate and our host
parents outside of Bamford, England. They made us lovely meals, washed our
clothes, and took us to all manner of local touring sites, including a clog
factory. I will never forget the quiet peace of their house, and I often call
it up in my mind when I’m low. The tour was full of stops like that.
We did drink a lot, in choir. We drank
bars, breweries, and wineries dry on tour on a regular basis. There were always
parties at the White House—and yes, there really was a White House—and if you put
more than three of us in a room, we would end up drunk.
is me getting choir married.)
We passed things during concerts too, just
like they do in Fever Pitch—and the
couch cushion really did happen. I never got many because I stood on the end,
but the strangest crap was passed around, including peeled bananas, which
always pissed people off.
Choir was family. Choir was where we cut
loose. Choir was where everything and everyone was okay. And yes, a whole lot of the guys were gay, though
very few were out. I remember, in fact, the stress one young man had over his
coming out. This was 1993, after all. A very different world than the one my
fictional boys inhabit.
I’ll close you out with one last song: “Witness,” which was
always one of my favorites. May you enjoy your choir tour with my fictional
chorale. And may everyone be able to know the kind of community I found in my choir. There can never be enough of that
in the world.
Follow the rest of the blog tour for more guest posts, excerpts, and chances to win a copy of the
novel. Check out the end of this post for the Rafflecopter Grand Prize Drawing too.
Available from Samhain Publishing
Fever Pitch Book
Two of the Love Lessons Series
you have to play love by ear.
Seavers is a pathetic mess, and he knows it. He lives in terror of incurring
his father’s wrath and disappointing his mother, and he can’t stop dithering
about where to go to college—with fall term only weeks away. Ditched by a
friend at a miserable summer farewell party, all he can do is get drunk in the
laundry room and regret he was ever born. Until a geeky-cute classmate lifts
his spirits, leaving him confident of two things: his sexual orientation, and
where he’s headed to school.
Mulder can’t wait to get the hell out of Oak Grove, Minnesota, and off to
college, where he plans to play his violin and figure out what he wants to be
when he grows up. But when Aaron appears on campus, memories of hometown hazing
threaten what he’d hoped would be his haven. As the semester wears on,
their attraction crescendos from double-cautious to a rich, swelling chord. But
if more than one set of controlling parents have their way, the music of their
love could come to a shattering end.
Contains showmances, bad parenting, Walter Lucas, and a cappella.
Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending.
She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy,
romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren't enough of those
stories out there. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading,
knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and
ten-year-old daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud
to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out
more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.