A Wicked Welcome to Clea Simon!

I’m delighted to welcome Clea Simon to the blog today! Clea has a new standalone suspense novel coming out later this month, and I invited her here to talk about it.

Hold Me Down opens with Gal, who used to be a rock star, back in town for a benefit. But when she sees someone from her past in the crowd – and that someone ends up dead, she’s sucked into a mystery that will make her revisit her own past and those of all she loves. Hold Me Down, a standalone psychological suspense, is a departure for Clea Simon, the author of such cat cozies as A Spell of Murder and (most recently) A Cat on the Case.  But in all her books, she believes that strong female characters are key – because who doesn’t want a heroine we can believe in?

Do certain songs bring up memories for you?

That’s one of the questions Gal Raver is facing in Hold Me Down. Back in the day – some twenty years ago – Gal was a rock star, or close enough, with a touring band and songs on the charts. She not only sang and played bass, she wrote those songs, the ones that stick in your head and immediately bring you back to a certain place and time – they just poured out of her like hot lava.  When we meet her, she’s retired, off the road and living a much healthier life, and only strapped on her bass again for a benefit: her former drummer (and dear friend) Aimee has died of cancer, leaving behind a ton of bills for her husband Walter and their daughter Camille. But as Gal rejoins her old bandmates at a local theater, reviving their hits (like “Hold Me Down”), she has to face the fact that she’s not able to do it anymore. Sure, she can play those old songs. But write one? Even though she knows more about music – and certainly about the music business – than she did in her youth, the magic just eludes her.

Of course, that’s not the most urgent problem Gal has to deal with. The night after the benefit, she hears that an old colleague – someone she’d seen in the crowd – has been found dead behind the venue. What’s worse, Walter has been arrested. And for some reason, he doesn’t seem willing to defend himself. At Camille’s urging, Gal gets involved. Camille reminds her so much of her lost friend, and all the questions she’s raising – why won’t her dad fight the charges? What could have happened? – resonate with Gal. Plus, she has some odd, flickering memories of the dead man, some of the few memories she has of that crazy, boozy time.

Clea Simon rocking it!

To save Walter, Gal has to go back to those memories. Reunited with her old crew, she starts asking questions, trying to understand what could have happened – and why. Some of that may be coded into the songs she wrote back then, apparently without thinking. Some of it might be lost forever in the craziness of the rock star life. While Gal is not your typical amateur sleuth, she has a vested interest in uncovering the truth. For Walter and Camille, of course. But just maybe because the truth will help her understand just what happened in the wild time – and figure out where the music went.

While Hold Me Down isn’t a cozy, I like to think there’s some similarity between this standalone and my cat books. For one, Gal – the musician at the center of Hold Me Down – is a very strong, independent woman, just like my Becca or Dulcie or Theda. And when one of her friends is in trouble, especially when he’s accused of murder, she will do anything to defend him and uncover the truth. If that means figuring out what really happened that night, behind the theater, or years earlier, she’s up for it. And, with the music as a guide, she’d love to take you along for the ride.

Readers: Do certain songs bring you back to a place or a time? Is there one song or artist who brings up all the memories for you? Even for those of us who aren’t rock stars, music can have such meaning, touching something deep within. What songs do that for you?


A former journalist, Clea Simon is the Boston Globe-bestselling author of three nonfiction books and nearly 30 mysteries including the new psychological suspense Hold Me Down.  While most of these (like A Cat on the Case) are cat “cozies” or amateur sleuth, she also writes darker crime fiction, like the rock and roll mystery World Enough, named a “must read” by the Massachusetts Book Awards. Her new psychological suspense Hold Me Down (Polis Books) returns to the music world, with themes of PTSD and recovery, as well as love in all its forms. New York Times bestseller Lisa Unger called Hold Me Down “provocative, moving, and suspenseful. Don’t miss it,” while Caroline Leavitt (also a New York Times bestseller) said “Clea Simon’s devastatingly powerful mystery hits you like a punch in the heart.” Clea can be reached at:

Website:  www.cleasimon.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CleaSimonAuthor
Instagram: @cleasimon_author
Twitter: @Clea_Simon

26 Thoughts

  1. So many congratulations, Clea! And so many songs. When I hear Cat Stevens, I am once again wandering the curved paths among the dorms at my university at night, thinking deep thoughts about life. “Come on Baby Light My Fire” takes me to the high school gym for Friday night dances. Joni MItchell’s Hejira and Hissing of Summer Lawns albums puts me in Japan in the mid-seventies. “In Spite of Ourselves”, John Prine’s duet with Iris Dement, reminds me of when I was getting divorced and looking for a different kind of duet. And so many more… I’m looking forward to reading this new book.

  2. Clea, we already talked a bit over on JRW when you had a guest post there.

    But once again, I congratulate you on the book and I’m looking forward to reading it when it comes out.

    For me, since I’m so involved in doing reviews for KNAC.COM and Limelight Magazine.com, I get to listen to a lot of hard rock and heavy metal. And everything I’ve liked in the past or anything new that I come to like tends to bring up memories or create new ones. So its hard to pick any particular song that brings up a memory or feeling…they all do that.

    My series The Cassette Chronicles is built around the notion of writing about not just my thoughts on the music of a particular album but the memories about what I was doing at the time when the album was originally released.

    I will say that the Tori Amos song “Happy Phantom” does bring up a sad memory for me. I was listening to that song at work one day and she had just song the line “And if I die today, I’ll be a happy phantom” as the phone rang and it was my mother telling me that my grandfather had died. Not a happy memory to be sure but the song always keys the memory..

    And then we have Beth Hart. For those that don’t know who she is I always describe her as “Imagine Janis Joplin, if she’d survived all the drugs”. Anyway, I’ve always loved her music, a mix of blues, soul, R&B, gospel and rock and roll. For a cranky, grumpy SOB like me, I don’t typically deal with the more fuzzy wuzzy side of the emotional scale. But her music does make me experience them depending on the particular song. And when I saw her in concert for the first (and so far only) time, it was an experience like no other. I wrote one of my better concert reviews ever about that show: http://classic-rock-bottom.ning.com/forum/topics/a-night-at-the-wilbur-beth-hart-live-in-concert

    And then there’s bands like Savatage who created some of the most amazing symphonic rock concept albums, Queensryche who recorded my all-time favorite album (Operation:mindcrime) and many other rock and metal artists who form the primary soundtrack to my life both then and now. And there’s a new band (to me) called Illusory. They are a Greek metal band I discovered only this year when I got to review their new album ‘Crimson Wreath’ and found myself simply blown away by its immediate greatness. Most new bands just don’t cut it for me but the music was so all-encompassing that it is probably the best “new-to-me” band’s music I’ve heard in YEARS. I was so taken with the music that I even did an interview with the band, and I’m usually loathe to do those.

    So yes, despite my various love and fandom for a lot of different things, music remains a key and vital part of my life by constantly reminding me of not only why I love it but for bringing back memories whenever I hear a song that I know and love.

    1. Thanks for jumping in here, Jay! And everyone – I recommend the Casette Chronicles!

      1. Thanks for the shout out recommendation Clea and for taking the time to read some of my articles in the series.

  3. Oh yes, so many songs bring up memories! One in particular, “Down on Main Street” by Bob Seger, reminds me of hanging out on Main Street in high school, waiting for my high school crush to come on by.

  4. First I must say, “Hold Me Down” sounds like a wonderful book and is not on my TBR list. I’m anxious to read it!

    Yes, there are many songs that transport me to another time and place – some happy and some that remind me of sadder times. I think music is a trigger for most folks. Some songs remind me of my childhood when rock ‘n’ roll was finding its place in the music world. Some remind me of a person I was with or things we did during that time. Some bring back memories of someone that’s gone on making the thoughts happy for that time, but sad that they are gone.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Songs do really bring up emotions, don’t they? And yes… that happy/sad nostalgia! Thank you for reading!

  5. I mentioned the 80s on the JRW blog, but another artist who “takes me back” is Billy Joel. I listened to a lot of Billy Joel in my college years. His “Only the Good Die Young” always transports me to walking back to campus with my roommate my freshman year. We were coming from an off-campus party and just might have had a little too much vodka-soaked watermelon.

    1. Billy Joel! Growing up on LI he was EVERYWHERE! And yes… did you “plug” the watermelon and pour the vodka in? Ah memories….

  6. Congrats on the new book, Clea. Sounds fabulous!
    Thirty-five years on, I can picture the time and place I heard R.E.M.’s “Fall on Me” for the first time. My musical interests were never the same after hearing that song. Cheers!

    1. OMG, REM is so evocative of a time and place for me. Partly, it’s because I was in the club scene when they were coming up. Partly, it’s just the dreamy sound of those songs, don’t you think? What a great song from such a great band.

  7. This sounds so good, Clea and I know it’s been getting great reviews! I can’t wait to read it! The Broken Road That Led Me Straight to You is the song that seems like it was written for my husband and me. But there are many others — Annie Lennox’s album Diva reminds me of the time when my daughter was a newborn because I’d listen to that album when we were up in the night.

    1. Who did “The Broken Road…” Sherry? I don’t know it! It is funny how certain songs just bring us right back to certain incidents, though, isn’t it?

  8. Welcome back to the Wickeds, Clea! it’s so great to have you here. Two weekends ago my husband and I were at a fall festival in Virginia with our granddaughter. As we walked across the picnic area in search of the cider tasting shed the band was playing “Love the One You’re With.” Not even a favorite, but I was struck by how enduring the music of that era is. Not just old boomers performing and listening, though there’s plenty of that, but appreciated by my kid’s generation and my my grandkids. I was there, back then, but I don’t think I had any idea. The lyrics of so many of those songs are imprinted on my lizard brain. They’ll probably be the last thing I remember.

    1. A well-crafted song is kind of timeless, isn’t it? And can be translated into different styles – I’m now imagining “Love the One You’re With” in bluegrass, but maybe I’m just being fanciful,

  9. I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You by Elvis Presley. It is our favorite song and we had it sung at our wedding. Every time I hear it I am sent back to the day I started the best chapter in my life story.

    1. That’s such a romantic song and such a wonderful memory! (Ours was “Such a Night,” by Dr. John). Thank you for sharing it!

  10. Congrats on your new novel, Clea! It sounds like a great read! I am always taken back to life when my children were babies whenever I hear Down in the Valley. I used to sing or hum it to them when they awoke in the night and hearing it never fails to remind me of the creak of an antique rocking chair and the heavy warmth of a baby in my arms.

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