Thank you so much for having me here today, Amanda.
“You’re my soul, and my heart’s inspiration…” I sing Bobby Hatfield’s part into a wooden spoon. I am not in tune. I am not thin or beautiful or “all that” in any way. I am not musical.
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun…” I am in church—or not, but when “Amazing Grace” plays, I sing right out loud and out of tune. I am enthralled and I give new meaning to the term “a joyful noise.” But I am not musical.
“I’ve heard there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord…” The song is Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and no, I don’t sing this because I can’t keep from crying long enough. I move, though. I, whose lack of rhythm is matched only by my terrible voice, sway and ache and weep with the emotions of the song. But, no, I am not musical.
My husband is a musician. He plays guitar and sings and occasionally writes songs. I have a picture of him when he was in Vietnam in 1970, a Polaroid he didn’t know was being taken. He’s playing the guitar, not wearing a shirt. I love the picture, and when I look at him now I still see the boy he was then, still hear that smoky voice. He can make my knees wobbly if he’s of a mind to and sometimes he is. I dance so badly I can’t bear to watch myself in a mirror, but occasionally he and I will two-step, laughing, around the island in the kitchen, and our hearts will beat a heated, steady rhythm close against each other. But I don’t hear the music even if he’s singing it.
My office is in the garage largely because I need silence to write. I don’t know when it happened, because when we first had an empty nest years ago, I used to call a kid and ask him or her to make some noise because I couldn’t write—it seemed they’d taken the words with them when they left. Yes, and the music, too.
So, though I’m not musical, though I need stillness to write, though I have two very, very left feet, it is music that is my inspiration. The Eagles, the Righteous Brothers, the Beatles, Wilson Pickett, and—oh, yes, and Duane Flaherty.
The people in my stories listen to music. They dance in their kitchens and their back yards. Sometimes—with the addition of a little alcoholic incentive—they even sing into their wooden spoons. There are pianos in some of their living rooms and guitars standing in corners, but mostly they trip over their own feet. When they sing with the car radio, they are a beat behind. Because they can’t hear it. Even if they have the mommy kind of audible range that knows a baby is crying from three blocks away, they can’t hear the heartbeat of music.
But they can feel it. So can I. And it is my most fervent wish, as a romance writer, that whoever reads my books can feel it, too.
Liz Flaherty thinks one of the things that keeps you young when you quite obviously aren’t anymore is the constant chance you have to reinvent yourself. Her latest professional incarnation is as a Harlequin Heartwarming author and she is enjoying every minute! Her next Heartwarming is scheduled for 12/17 (she hopes) and tentatively titled It Was Written in the Stars. She’d love to hear from you at: firstname.lastname@example.org or please come and see her at: