Hi, and welcome to the blog tour for The Bells of Times Square! This book is close to my heart — if you read the extra front and back matter in the story, you will see that I drew inspiration from my grandparents and their roles in WWII. There was a lot of research involved here and also an unusual romance. I hope you enjoy this stop on the tour, and don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter below for the giveaway of a $10 Riptide Store Credit and a signed copy of The Bells of Times Square! Feel free to comment, or to contact me at any of my links below–I’d love to hear from you!
I Love This “Alot”
My husband and I play Words With Friends ™ all the time. We have two games going, and we complain to each other about our shitty hands or how one of us took the other’s spot. We congratulate each other on good moves and fun words and generally keep contact a couple of times a day playing Scrabble ™ for our phones.
I sort of love doing that—but he’s not the one who taught me how to play.
When I was a kid, after my parents split up, every other weekend I’d be shipped off to my grandparents to visit my mother. It wasn’t always awesome. My mom is not really functional, and she spent a lot of time sleeping, and she was the second oldest of five. My grandparents weren’t sure what to do with a seven/eight/nine/ten year old at this point in their lives, and I watched a lot of television. But when we did do something, we played games. Scrabble ™, dominos, chess—grandpa taught me all of them, and while I was absolutely hopeless with anything that involved math or spatial relationships (so, chess, checkers, dominos—I was a complete wash) I could play Scrabble ™.
In fact, for a little kid playing with two extremely bright adults, I was pretty good.
When people ask me where I get my sense of wordplay, I think back to these games, and of the trivia Grandpa used to give me about word meanings as well as movies and books while we played, and I am supremely grateful.
My interest in Grandma and Grandpa and their involvement in WWII didn’t start until high school, when I put together what my grandparents did in the war with what happened in the history books, and then, as I grew older, it became more and more real. But that didn’t mean my grandfather wasn’t larger than life before that.
When Grandma was away traveling, he taught me how to make potatoes and popcorn with salt and butter, and how you could never have too much of either. He would pick me up from my parents’ house with a sort of taciturn tolerance, and listen to me chatter on the ride, only occasionally swearing at the traffic in front of him. I learned “Oh hell!” and “I am surrounded by incompetence!” and “Dammit!” from my grandfather, and as well as a certain grim sense of humor.
And I learned that movies are literature, and books are important, and that word play is essential to life.
Sometime after my youngest child was born and after my grandpa’s second brain tumor, they drove to my house to visit for the September/October birthdays. (Drove. Think about this. It should terrify you.) After they came to visit, he and grandma toddled off to the car, and grandma said, “Well, hopefully we’ll see you at Thanksgiving!” and Grandpa added, “When we’ll all be thankful if I’m still alive!”
That was my grandfather, right up to the end.
My aunt took me to visit him about two days before he passed away. He was in a senior care home expressly made for seniors who were never going home again—we were all aware that he didn’t have long.
As we walked in, he caught sight of my T-shirt—it was bright orange, from Hyperbole and a Half, and had a picture of an “Alot” on it. There was a character hugging the shaggy great “Alot”, and the caption read, “I like this Alot!” (Get it? The creature is an Alot, because she’s making fun of people who spell “a lot” as one word? I thought it was hysterical. Still do. And so do my kids.) Grandpa’s lungs were filling with fluid and he took one look at that neon orange shirt and his weathered long face lit up with a smile. Oh yeah—he got that joke. He’d taught me that joke. It was all good.
Of course, it wasn’t really. He could barely breathe, and he had less than 48 hours to go. He looked at my aunt and said, “Teresa, I think you’d better call the doctor. I think there’s something seriously wrong with me!”
She said, “Uhm, yeah, Dad. We called the doctor. He, uhm, said you’re dying.”
And that was Grandpa. The grim sense of humor, the word play, the stoicism, and the refusal to make a big deal out of things you couldn’t change. That was him, from beginning to end.
Now, as I’m forced to unearth a lot (two words!) of these memories to talk about this book, I’m pretty sure I can’t replicate his heroism in any sense of the word. I’m not great at flying, and I take the worst pictures on the internet. If, at some point, I was asked to go film a forest fire and found myself in the middle of it as he was, I’m quite certain I would scream, cry, panic and die. I would not let the camera continue to roll and earn myself a documentary award for bravery and nice camera work, which is what he did.
But the grim sense of humor, the word play, and the attempts to take things in stride, even if it’s a really big stride—that I hope I do have. And I hope I do enough with those things to make a difference—even if it’s not the kind of difference he made, as a photographer/secret agent/fighter for the resistance in the middle of WWII.
Blurb: Every New Year’s Eve since 1946, Nate Meyer has ventured alone to Times Square to listen for the ghostly church bells he and his long-lost wartime lover vowed to hear together. This year, however, his grandson Blaine is pushing Nate through the Manhattan streets, revealing his secrets to his silent, stroke-stricken grandfather.
When Blaine introduces his boyfriend to his beloved grandfather, he has no idea that Nate holds a similar secret. As they endure the chilly death of the old year, Nate is drawn back in memory to a much earlier time . . . and to Walter.
Long before, in a peace carefully crafted in the heart of wartime tumult, Nate and Walter forged a loving home in the midst of violence and chaos. But nothing in war is permanent, and now all Nate has is memories of a man his family never knew existed. And a hope that he’ll finally hear the church bells that will unite everybody—including the lovers who hid the best and most sacred parts of their hearts.
About the Author: Amy Lane exists happily with her noisy family in a crumbling suburban crapmansion, and equally happily with the surprisingly demanding voices who live in her head.
She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies.
She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.
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