Title: Leaving Amarillo
Author: Caisey Quinn
Series: Neon Dreams #1
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Some promises are made to be broken…
Music is my everything.
After my parents died when I was a kid, moving into my grandparents’ ramshackle house on a dirt road in Amarillo seemed like a nightmare. Until I stumbled upon my grandfather’s shed full of instruments. My soul lives between the strings of Oz, my secondhand fiddle, and it soars when I play.
In Houston, I’m a typical college student on my way to becoming a classically trained violinist headed straight for the orchestra pit. But on the road with my band, Leaving Amarillo, I’m free.
We have one shot to make it, and I have one shot to live the life I was meant to. Leaving Amarillo got into Austin Music Fest and everything is riding on this next week. This is our moment.
There’s only one problem. I have a secret…One that could destroy everyone I care about.
His name is Gavin Garrison and he’s our drummer. He’s also my brother’s best friend, the one who promised he’d never lay a hand on me. He’s the one person I can’t have, and yet he’s the only one I want.
One hotel room.
I don’t know if I can do this.
I just know that I have to.
Leaving Amarillo is easily my favorite Caisey Quinn book to date. Her writing has never been so exquisite nor has it ever elicited as much emotion from me. Dixie, Dallas, and Gavin are an unstoppable trio that stole my heart instantly. Their voices were genuine and gritty and full of life. Their story brought on an endless wave of feelings that held me hostage until the very end. I loved the idea of seeing a band being built from the ground up. Experiencing their struggle to catch a break was inspiring and left me feeling hopeful. Leaving Amarillo perfectly exemplifies the new adult genre that I have grown to love so much. As her characters venture out in the world and learn how to stand on their own, Caisey Quinn demonstrates the importance of chasing your dreams, accepting love when it finds you, and holding onto to the family you’ve built for yourself.
“The bumps and the bruises, the memories of everything gone wrong, of playing through the hiccups – that’s part of what I love about it. Music is an experience. It’s alive. Untamable. You can try to plan it out, pin it down, and bend it to your will, but it can’t really be done.”
The complex, well developed and easy-to-love characters brought this story to life. Dixie’s voice was truly something special. Her history of loss, uncertain future, and uncontrollable feelings connected me with her. I could see echoes of myself in this character and that made sharing her journey that much more significant. The love that swirled between Dixie, Dallas, and Gavin was breathtaking in its unapologetic honesty and unconditional permanence. Caisey Quinn gave her characters unbreakable ties that hold everything together even when the storyline sees everything falling apart. Gavin and Dixie are truly on fire from the moment the book begins. The heat between them crackles in the air, threatening to incinerate their worlds completely if left unattended. The connection Caisey created between these two characters was absolutely stunning in all of its heartbreaking brilliance.
“You’ve wrecked me, Bluebird. I. Am. Wrecked.”
The storyline intertwines the personal and professional lives of our characters as they try to reconcile their dreams with their reality. While there were certainly many opportunities to turn back, Caisey Quinn held true to the message of this story. Never stop dreaming. Never stop chasing your dreams. And never let anyone diminish them. She brought light and hope to a sometimes dark story, filling me with a renewed sense of wonder at life’s possibilities. To say that I’m anxious for the second book in this series would be a severe understatement. These characters have somehow become a part of me and I’m desperate to continue on this journey with them. The road ahead of Dixie, Dallas, and Gavin promises to be just as bumpy and overcome by detours, but it also promises to be worth the pain. Caisey Quinn has certainly outdone herself with this stunning new adult masterpiece and I can’t wait for more of these inimitable characters.
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
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’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!
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Stay tuned for the rest of the Neon Dreams Series:
Loving Dallas (Neon Dreams #2)
Missing Dixie (Neon Dreams #3)
Caisey Quinn lives in a suburb outside of Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, daughter, and other assorted animals. She wears cowgirl boots most of the time, even to church. She is the bestselling author of the Kylie Ryans series and writes New and Young Adult books about country girls finding love in unexpected places.