Love surprises an aging rock star when he meets his newest fan in his old home town.
I’ve got the world’s best reason for not posting for the last several weeks: I was busy publishing my first novel. I am now officially an authoress!
Surprise, surprise: it’s a rock-and-roll novel. Who’da thunk?
Love and Other B-Sides began five years ago when I started getting into rock-and-roll in a big way. I began to wonder what daily life was like for a name-brand rock musician: like, does Bruce Springsteen pump his own gas? And, if you are at the level of a Bruce Springsteen, what do you aspire to when people will pay you millions to play the hits from thirty years ago? Plus, what happens when a musician falls in love with a civilian girl? Could she possibly keep her day job?
This fueled my story about Stee Walsh, my fictional “seventh most successful American rock musician still performing today.” I had a first draft well underway and was feeling really good about my unique take on a fairly unexplored topic …
After getting out of a long-term relationship with a man obsessed with a reclusive singer, a woman begins a flirtatious email correspondence with that singer.
and then Nick Hornby published Juliet, Naked in 2009, two days before my birthday, no less. My heart nearly broke.
Nick Hornby is one of my favorite storytellers – no surprise there. He is able to put words to the pleasures and pitfalls of being righteously self-absorbed and the desperate need for music like no other. Here’s an example from About a Boy:
But later that night, when [Will] was home on his own and listening to the sort of music he needed to listen to when he felt like this, music that seemed to find the sore spot in him and press hard up against it, he remember the deal Marcus was prepared to strike.
That his books were also the basis of three of my favorite movies – High Fidelity, About a Boy and Fever Pitch – just adds to my awe.
Here I was with a manuscript barely begun and an idol of mine goes and publishes a novel (with a relentlessly cool book cover) that riffs on my premise. And the deluge of rock novels had only just begun. The next year Jennifer Egan won a Pulitzer for the Möbius strip of a story rooted in the San Francisco punk scene, A Visit from the Goon Squad. Jonathan Franzen – who in my opinion spills way too much ink creating characters he despises – had a minor character find some musical success in Freedom. There was Dana Spiotta’s Stone Arabia which made several top 10 lists that year, about a brilliant recluse of a rocker whose only audience is his sister. Then Jonathan Tropper’s One Last Thing Before I Go and Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue (not about rock and roll, but close enough) came out in time to be on my Christmas list in 2012.
Clearly I was not the only writer swept up in the rock-and-roll zeitgeist. I was in good company … good, famous, already published company. Crap.
Then it occurred to me: so what? There is room on the virtual bookshelf for everyone. Hey, a lot of great songs use the exact same chord progressions and we love them in their own ways. (Listen to this mashup of “25 or 6 to 4″ by Chicago, Led Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” and “Brain Stew” by Green Day to hear what I mean.)
So I am proud of my book and I sincerely hope you’ll buy it, enjoy it, write a review and recommend it to your friends … all the while listening to the music you love most.
See you on the flip side …
P.S. Even though Love and Other B-Sides is only available through Amazon, you can download it using the Kindle App onto your Nook, iPad, smart phones (if you like tiny, tiny screens) and even desktops. Hard covers may be available in the near future depending on demand. So, demand already!