AUTHOR

Connie Hampton Connally

I am a writer who loves good music and good stories.
It’s been my privilege to combine these loves by writing fiction that honors the creation of beauty, even in the bleakest of circumstances, through the creation of music.

About

Connie

Connie Hampton Connally has loved music and the written word all her life, and many of her adult years she’s spent working in those fields as well. She holds a BA in English from the University of Washington and an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University. She’s published magazine stories and newspaper articles, worked as an editor, taught high school English and elementary music, and is currently a respected presenter at writing conferences. Through teaching music Connie discovered the work of Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály, who uplifted his nation through decades of war, political oppression and social upheaval. Connie couldn’t resist this theme of creating beauty amidst hardship. She wrote her novels Fire Music and The Songs We Hide as a result. Connie is currently writing a third novel, set in Peru.

Connie and her husband live in Tacoma, Washington. They travel frequently, since they have family members living abroad. Because of her family and her characters, Connie has set her heart—and often her feet—in faraway places.

Books

Fire Music

To be published by Coffeetown Press, April 9, 2024

Antal Varga, a Budapest violinist, is 78 years old when a young American stranger places a yellowed music sheet into his hands. With shock he recognizes his own teenage handwriting, for he himself wrote this piece in 1945, when his city was under siege. Desperate to talk with this American woman, Varga enlists his grandson Kristóf to translate; and he finds that the woman, Lisa, shares his family’s painful heritage.

Now his grandson and this young American press him for the story behind the music, and especially behind its shattered ending. For decades he’s hidden this story of war, love, jealousy, and loss. Can he bear to tell it now? Can they bear to hear it?

Cautiously Varga, Kristóf and Lisa open the music and its hard secrets, hoping that although pain has extended over generations, perhaps love will extend further still.

To order the book:

[A] moving story of music, family, faith and survival . . . highly recommended.

Historical Novels Review

What sets Fire Music apart is its exploration of the universal themes of love and connection that transcend time and place. . . . [A] moving and unforgettable tale that resonates long after the final note has faded away.

Shelf Unbound

Fire Music is an emotional, historical and musical gut-punch.

—Lisa Bergman, Classical KING Radio Host and Collaborative Pianist

Fire Music is a powerful read about a dark time in Hungarian history.

—Julia Wilson, Christian Bookaholic

Fire Music is alternately wrenching and beautiful, and you know from the first page that you’re in the hands of a compelling writer.

—Lawrence W. Cheek, author of The Year of the Boat

A sensitive, deeply touching story, masterfully written.  

—Don Pugnetti Jr., author of A Coat Dyed Black: A Novel of the Norwegian Resistance

Connally’s descriptions on the page almost make the music—fire music—audible. This vivid, heartbreaking, and healing narrative is finely tuned, showing the power of the human spirit. 

—Iris Graville, author of Hiking Naked: A Quaker Woman’s Search for Balance

Fire Music gives goosebumps to those of us whose families experienced that painful pre- and post-WWII and socialist era first hand.

Katalin Pearman, Honorary Consul of Hungary for Washington and Idaho

The Songs We Hide

Published by Coffeetown Press

In 1951, a grim hush has settled over Hungary. After a lost war and a brutal transition to communism, the people live under constant threat of blacklisting, property confiscation, arrest, imprisonment and worse. In this milieu of dread, the best land of Peter Benedek’s peasant family is seized and his life upended. Moving to Budapest for a manual labor job, Peter meets Katalin Varga, an unwed mother whose baby’s father has vanished, most likely at the hands of the secret police. Both Péter and Katalin keep their heads down and their mouths clamped shut, because silence is the only safety they know.

But the two have something in common besides fear: they are singers. When Katalin starts giving Péter voice lessons, they take an intrepid step out of hiding by making music together. Little by little they tell each other what they cannot tell others. In their bond of trust, they find relief and unexpected happiness.

Yet the hurts and threats in their lives remain, waiting. As harsh reality assaults them again, is hope even possible? Facing their hardest trials yet, Peter and Katalin learn to carve dignity and beauty out of pain.

To order the book:

“Enriching and evocative, Connie Hampton Connally’s historical The Songs We Hide is about the redemptive potency of beauty, love and music . . . [It] resounds with grace and poignancy. It is a captivating masterpiece of historical fiction.”

—Starred review, Foreword Reviews

“Like a pristine blossom in a devastated landscape, The Songs We Hide affirms the power of beauty and art in the midst of oppression. Connally convincingly recreates 1950’s Hungary with a story as timeless as love.”

—Bruce Holland Rogers, author of The Keyhole Opera, Fulbright Professor to Hungary

“Connie Hampton Connally’s historical novel The Songs We Hide is a beautifully written, well-researched page turner. I simply could not put the book down. The Songs We Hide fills a great gap in American literature, describing a horrific era that is out of the experience of most Americans.”

—Helen M. Szablya, Hon. Consul Emerita of Hungary

“Connie Hampton Connally builds a realistic, captivating setting and the strong voices she gives her narrators are certain to stay with her readers long after they set the novel down.”

Reader Views

“This is a beautiful and haunting book…  [Connally] portrays the frightening reach of petty tyranny as well as the surprising power of simple acts of kindness…”

—Eric O. Jacobsen, author of The Space Between: A Christian Engagement With the Built Environment

“The Songs We Hide is a tender triumph: a book about the insidiousness of oppression, the strength of shyness, …of choosing risk wisely…. I loved Peter and Katalin from the get go. They’ll stay with me for a long time.”

—Ana Maria Spagna, author of Uplake: Restless Essays of Coming and Going

“In The Songs We Hide, Connie Hampton Connally evokes stunning emotions… the reader will wonder, and hope—Can people withstand, can they be stronger than the hatred and betrayal around them?”

—Wendy Kendall, sydicated columnist

“Who can you trust when your own government betrays you? Connie Hampton Connally takes us into Hungary shortly after World War II and the bonds that form when old rules no longer apply. Meticulously researched and written, The Songs We Hide brings us face to face with this little explored chapter of history…”

—Kathleen Alcala, author of Spirits of the Ordinary

Events

May 20, 2020 — 7 pm — Podcast Interview

May 20, 2020 — 7 pm — Podcast Interview

Podcast interview on A Novel Talk with co-hosts Wendy Kendall and Carl Lee. Discussion of The Songs We Hide. I'll share what compelled me to write the novel, and how the characters developed as I wrote. We'll also explore the novel's bleak setting (Stalinist...

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