Dixie Lark hasn’t had it easy. She lost her parents in an accident when she was young and grew up in a ramshackle house on a dirt road in Amarillo with her ailing grandparents and overprotective older brother. Thanks to her grandfather, Dixie learned to play a mean fiddle, inspired by the sounds of the greats—Johnny and June, Waylon, and Hank. Her grandfather’s fiddle changed Dixie’s life forever, giving her an outlet for the turmoil of her broken heart and inspiring a daring dream.
Ten years later, Dixie and her brother, Dallas, are creating the music they love and chasing fame with their hot band, Leaving Amarillo. But Dixie isn’t enjoying the ride. All she can think about is Gavin, the band’s tattooed, tortured drummer who she’s loved since they were kids. She knows he feels the connection between them, but he refuses see her as more than his best friend’s little sister.
Convinced that one night with Gavin will get him out of her system, Dixie devises a plan. She doesn’t know that her brother has forbidden Gavin from making a move on her-a promise he swore he’d always keep . . . a promise that once broken will unexpectedly change the future for Dixie, Gavin and the band.
The Evolution of Dixie and Dallas Lark
Dixie and Dallas Lark are the brother and sister duo who make up the band Leaving Amarillo along with their mutual best friend, Gavin Garrison. These characters have been some of the most interesting and three-dimensional that I’ve written in my career and I found it particularly interesting that they didn’t end up how I originally pictured them. Sneaky characters went and evolved a bit on me!
My first Dixie and Dallas were quite tame and actually kind of blurry in my mind. He was a sexy, rugged guitar playing, protective big brother and she was a fiddle player caught between life in the orchestra pit and freedom on the open road. As their story progressed, though, I began to see them more clearly. They were that band you get lucky enough to catch playing a late night gig at The Stage or Crossroads in Nashville. That one that you decide to stay and have one more drink just so you can listen to them a little longer—the one you know you will see hitting it big in the very near future because you can’t bring yourself to leave until they finish their set!
I initially pictured Dallas as a slightly more muscular Jensen Ackles type but that evolved a bit due to the ways in which Dixie evolved. She became edgier and grittier than I originally imagined due to her backstory and so Dallas had to toughen up a bit, too. This happens sometimes—I picture a character or story one way before writing and then that changes as I get deeper into it. It’s such an amazing experience—that moment when my characters become “real” and show me who they are versus who I’d originally imagined or expected.
Caisey Quinn!! You… you… what the world, woman?! Leaving Amarillo wasn’t supposed to make me cry and FEEL like it did! I so wasn’t expecting that! And what a great book makes, when that does happen, yeah?
Ok, so Dixie Lark (Bluebird, but only to Gavin), Dallas Lark (Dixie’s brother) and Gavin Garrison are childhood friends with pasts that joined them. Their friendship was brought on by the devastation of their circumstances and built upon something that no one could break through – they’re sure of it. Their road to Austin Music Festival has not been all sunshine and rainbows but one constant they all knew they had? Each other. Their devotion to one another is incredible, if not almost heart breaking.
Dixie is this 19-year old dark haired beauty of a fiddle player that struggles to see herself as anything but the little sister and tag along to her brother and his friend. Dallas is this intense, fiercely dedicated musician who has his sights set on making it big – planning for Leaving Amarillo, their band, to go all the way. He’s the lead singer, guitar player and sexy as everything. The siblings have suffered together and are protective of each other. (I’m sure you can see where that is going.) They’re loyal and love each other with abandon. Gavin is this crazy broody, broken drummer. Can I just say how much I LOVE drummers? It’s a weakness. Gavin is tatted up, strong and uses that drum kit for his anger. He’s broken from his childhood but there’s been two people who have always been there for him – two constants. Dixie and Dallas.
When another band has to back out of the Austin Music Festival, Leaving Amarillo has the break they’ve been dreaming of. Each of their dreams are something unique, stemming from a different place and part of them that only they can understand – but in the end, their dream is the same. For music to be a forever part of their lives. They’re each putting their hearts on the line, fighting against temptations and struggling to maintain a sense of normalcy in a crazy mixed up world – the world of country music. Between their own hearts’ desires and a new manager who they’re trying to put their trust in, they’re discovering the truth in their own hearts.
Leaving Amarillo was beautifully and poetically written, it broke into my heart and tugged on those strings – hard. There’s something to be said about reading about a group of people who don’t have it all together, or have all the money in the world, who live a life of struggle but persevere and power through. It’s refreshing, actually. It’s different and I loved it!!
I really truly enjoyed reading Leaving Amarillo – it was steamy, intense and all around a read full of feels.
**I was provided with an early copy for my honest review.
Caisey Quinn’s Inspiration for the Neon Dreams series
Not too long ago (barely over a year), I took a trip to Nashville with some friends. It was one of those last minute “oh my gosh, we have to see this super big artist doing a concert in a tiny venue because they just Tweeted that they’ll be there” type road trips. Unplanned, beef jerky, big gulps, and random road mix cd style adventure. My favorite kind.
However, by the time we arrived at the venue it was packed. Literally. Wall to wall crammed, people spilling out onto the sidewalk, full to maximum capacity packed. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who caught word that a big name artist was going to be there.
We decided to just check out a few local spots instead. In a bar called Crossroads we got comfy, ordered drinks, and started chatting about how bummed we were that we didn’t get to see the original artist we intended to. I can’t even remember now who it was. Here’s why.
As we’re ordering a second—okay, maybe a third—round and deciding if we’re going to just call it a night and get a hotel room or head home (Birmingham is only about three hours away), this glorious sound fills the air. No, it pierces the air, rips through it and grabs everyone in hearing range by the eardrums.
Our conversation—along with many others—ceased instantly. Chill bumps ran up my arms even though it was quite warm and I was wearing a jacket.
Most of the patrons gaped in awe as this young woman played the fiddle as if she’d been born to do that and only that. It was the solo from “Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels band and she was rocking it beyond comprehension. Pretty sure even the bartenders stopped what they were doing. The rest of the night was a little blurry, but I know we didn’t leave until that band had played their entire set.
We ended up getting a hotel room but none of us slept. All we could talk about was that band and how amazing they were and how we were kicking ourselves that we didn’t get their name so we could check them out online and hear more. I still look for them when I’m in Nashville and one day I fully expect to hear them on the radio. Whoever they are, they will forever be the band that inspired the Neon Dreams series.
This isn’t the exact band but they’re pretty close! The search continues!
Top 5 Most Played Songs on Dixie Lark’s Playlist
- I Want You to Want Me – Cheap Trick
- One Night – Christina Perri
- Dream – Priscilla Ahn
- Love Runs Out – One Republic
- Bluebird – Christina Perri