I have two very special guests on the blog today – Christopher Penman and Claire Abby from Back Forever, the new book by Karen Booth. One might say, “Rhonda, have you lost your mind?” (I write a blog. Daily. About being a fan of a band. What do you think?) ”They are characters. Fictional characters….from a BOOK.” True. They are characters. However, aside from the obvious: that they agreed to a short interview and they’re the closest things to celebrity this blog has had as guests in a VERY long time…I would ask that readers think of this: doesn’t EVERY celebrity play a part for the public? Their “public image”? I think that for the most part, it is probably incredibly naive to assume that the person we see in interviews on TV or on screen or even on stage is the same person that goes home and takes out the trash. That alone is a great discussion topic…I digress, because I can’t leave my guests waiting, can I?
Back Forever is a sequel to Bring Me Back, the ultimate rock star/fangirl fairy tale novel. I’m writing to particularly our female audience here: this duo of books is truly our fantasies come to well, almost life. Everyone should read them – give yourself permission to stow away for a bit from real life. Let the laundry and workload pile up around you a bit while you tuck away into the back corner of your mind where you’re secretly dating John Taylor, Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor…or maybe a guitar player. (Not Dom though. He’s taken. *cough cough cough*)
I asked Karen if it would be alright if I picked through Christopher’s and Claire’s brains a bit, and Karen agreed, which is very special. I’m sure that as their creator, her connection to Chris and Claire is very special and private, so I appreciate that she’s sharing them with us like this.
As a member of the Christopher Penman fan club, I felt as though we just don’t know enough about CP (as we like to call him)…and really, what makes Claire Abby tick? How did she get so lucky as to attract Christopher? Does she pinch herself daily???
I’ll begin with Claire, because let’s face it – we all wish we were her. I grew up wanting to be “That Girl”, and even now – I’m married, I have kids of my own, but yet there’s something special about that rock star fantasy that is difficult to completely put behind me, since I write this blog and all…. So I have to ask you Claire, do you ever stop looking at Christopher as though he was the rock star you grew up admiring? When do you think he became “human” for you?
Although there are always those “pinch me” moments and I doubt they will ever completely go away, Chris actually became human to me the first day I met him, when he told me about losing the pregnancy with his first wife, Elise. I knew then that he was just as real as I was, just as capable of being hurt as any other person.
This is something that I think can be difficult to reconcile in our heads as fans, that for these guys – being a rock star is their job. It’s their career, and while it’s not quite a 9 to 5, they still have private lives off stage and they’re human. They’re not caged animals…but that idea should work in the reciprocal as well. There are moments when I see bands look at their fans as just dollar signs with faces attached. They don’t really seem to know or care about us as people. Maybe we ask for that when we scream for them or because of the way we treat them, and maybe that relationship is really only meant to be transactional, I’m not sure. They can’t obviously know all of us, and it’s unfair to request otherwise. What about for you, Chris. Was it difficult to move past the idea that Claire was once a really big fan who had posters of you on her wall?
Have you ever met someone that you were drawn to from the word ‘go’? Because that was the way I felt around Claire. She was so determined at her job, prepared and professional, but I saw this very sweet and vulnerable woman beneath all of that. Taking that into account, part of what helped us click was that I had no idea she was a fan. I had no concerns about ulterior motives. By the time I discovered her astounding vinyl collection, I was knee-deep in infatuation. This might be difficult to understand, but there are times when I can’t imagine her being that teenage girl, hanging pictures of me on her wall. I think the disconnect is that I don’t see myself as that guy in the first place.
Fascinating. I can’t really imagine what that is like since I’ve always been on just “THIS” side of it – I’m simply a fan. There are times I wonder how I’ll feel when my favorite band decides to hang it up. As I grow older, I suppose I recognize somewhere down deep that the band is growing older too – and as time passes between albums, I wonder when it will all just stop and how I’ll feel. For me, I’ve been a fan for over thirty years now. I can’t really remember life before Duran Duran, and now that I blog about being a fan every day – it’s an integral part of who I am. I think at least part of my anxiousness about the next album is that maybe I worry there really won’t be another one. So, I can imagine just how thrilled Banks Forest fans must be with the idea of the band getting back together and touring once again. Claire, how are you handling the adjustment? I mean – you’re looking out at thousands of fans, just like me, screaming for your husband. Does part of you want to go up on stage and scream “He’s mine!!”?
I won’t lie. The fan thing is weird. I know exactly what those women think because I was one of them. His music is so important to him and it’s important to so many people. If it didn’t exist, I might never have met him—think about that for a minute! I guess the bottom line is that he needs to be doing what he does and the world is better off because of it. We’ll deal with the other stuff that comes along with it if we have to.
The fan thing IS weird, I’ll certainly be the first to say that. If I’d only understood when I was ten what it would feel like at thirty or even forty *cough cough*…I’d like to think I’d have talked myself out of it completely. What about you, Christopher? How are you feeling about the band now? Do you see it all through a different lens now than you did in your 20s?
I love getting back together with the guys and trying to make a go at it, but I know it’s not permanent. I’ll continue to do it as long as we’re making good new music and it’s fun. I don’t want us to turn into a band that knocks out the hits every night and that’s it. We have to keep creating or there’s no point in it for me. I think the rest of the guys feel the same way.
I know of a band that feels the same way….oddly enough. Might I be the first to suggest that sticking to the hits, while wonderfully nostalgic for many, can also be the thing that drives you crazy in the end? Sometimes it’s good to switch it all up, just to keep everyone on their toes. Not that *I* really know. After all, I’m just a fan!
Alright, last question and then I’ll let you go in peace, I promise. What about Karen? How will you both feel about leaving her? Will you miss working with her?
“You know we’re just going to make Karen cry if we answer this. Let’s just say that we hope she decides to keep us around, at least in her head.”
Isn’t that the truth? As a fan of not only Chris and Claire but of Karen and her work – I really hope that when and if she ever feels that there’s a story to tell about these two, or even of Banks Forest, that she shares it with the rest of us. I know I’ll miss reading about Christopher Penman, Claire Abby and even Banks Forest – because for me, reading the book has been a perfect escape from reality at times, and I look forward to reading whatever comes next for Karen!
Thanks so much, Karen!!
To buy copies of Bring Me Back, the prequel Claire’s Diary and Back Forever, you can click on the pictures below!
Claire’s Diary is also available as a FREE downloadable file directly from Karen’s site at www.karenbooth.net!!!