Category Archives: books

World in My Eyes by Richard Blade

I haven’t given a book recommendation in a long time, but I’m about to offer up a good one!  As most know, I grew up in Southern California, probably about an hour from where I live now. If you really want to look it up on a map, the name of the town is Glendora. I lived in the far-less-than-wealthy, southerly section of the town.

At some point during the summer between fifth and sixthgrades for me (1981), I discovered KROQ 106.7. I don’t really remember much about how that happened, except that it might have been my friend Kristy who kind of led the way.

I had an old clock radio in my bedroom starting in fifth grade.  When I got it, I had no idea about radio stations – so I just turned the dial until I found one that came in clearly playing music. Nearly every morning I’d be woken up hearing “My Sharona” by the Knack. I still twitch funny when that song comes on the radio! Even so, I left the radio untouched because I had so much trouble finding a station that came in, let alone one with music I recognized.

During that summer between fifth and sixth grades though, I started becoming more interested in music.  I asked my friends, and Kristy piped up with “Listen to K-West!”  I didn’t know what K-West was, but I figured she’d know, and so when I went home, I fiddled with my clock radio, adjusting it to the 106-area. It was so hard to fix the dial to get something to actually come in, back then. Move the knob a teensy bit too much and it would be static or you’d not get the button exactly on the right station. It would appear to be on 106, for example, but it would actually be 105 or even 107-something. Annoying.

On that day, something did come in, and it was music I really liked. I had no idea what it was, but I stuck with it. I carefully placed the radio back on my dresser and didn’t touch it, assuming I was on K-West, and that Kristy was right. I never listened for that long, just when I was waking up in the morning. At that point, I wasn’t spending a lot of time in my room listening to music yet. I must have had that clock radio set to that station for a good year before I realized what channel it was. Richard started working at KROQ in 1982, and it is just about that time when I remember hearing his voice on the air. My memory might be a bit faded and mixed up (I’ll admit having to come back and edit this post well after I first wrote it!), but I can remember Richard giving out the call sign for the station like it was yesterday!

From that time on, Richard Blade was a constant part of my life. I listened to him nearly every morning, and he had everything to do with helping me shape my musical tastes. If radio weren’t enough, I watched him on MV3 which became Video One, and later on, once I was 18, if he guest DJ’ed at clubs in Los Angeles, I went. (The Palace in Hollywood, and Fashions on the Redondo Beach Pier to name a couple!)

Most readers might also know that I hold Richard Blade responsible for me meeting my husband. Richard was a near-constant figure at Fashions for years. On his fifth anniversary, I went to the club and met Walt. Sometimes I want to thank Richard for that, and other times—well, being married has its challenges, doesn’t it?! Even so, I have a beautiful family, and my children might not be here had it not been for Richard Blade, which is wild when I think about it! I don’t know that I would have ever known Duran Duran beyond being an obscure band from the UK, and I definitely wouldn’t have had my eyes opened to alternative music. Who knew a DJ could subtly influence the direction of my life?

Since those days, I guess I’ve followed Richard.  If he’s DJ’ing somewhere, Walt and I try to go whenever we’re able. He plays the music my husband and I listen to, and the weirdest thing happens when we are dancing (and yes, he and I LOVE to dance. It is what brought us together to begin with). I forget about the tough stuff, and we both get transported back to those beginning days downstairs at Fashions. It is like we remember what is really important, and get back to the basics if only for a few hours. Those hours have somehow saved our relationship over the nearly twenty-six years we’ve been together! We’ve had the opportunity to meet Richard a few times, have had a photo or two with him, and now my friend Steven works with him quite often, which is really cool to see.

When Richard announced his autobiography, World In My Eyes, I was excited to get my hands on it. Richard markets the book by saying that we’ll read about the bands we all know – including Duran Duran – but the truth is, at least for me, I wanted to read his story. It’s not his knowing Duran Duran or Depeche Mode that makes the book interesting – although for many, I understand it’s a true selling point. I haven’t even downloaded his interviews with some of the bands I know, I’ve been too busy reading! I’m not even halfway through it yet and I can honestly say – the man has LIVED. It is no wonder why he’s so successful, or why he’s been a constant source of inspiration and learning to me personally. He has had a life well-lived.

The book is outstanding so far, and I have just barely gotten to the point where he moves to California. It is easy to fangirl Richard Blade, and I don’t want to seem too gushy. To many in my generation, he is (in a very vague sense) our Dick Clark. We can leave American Top 40 to Ryan Seacrest—we don’t need him. But Richard Blade? He taught me nearly everything I know about New Wave and 80’s music. He’s open, honest, and cares about people and living things. He has no problem arguing his feelings and concerns, and while I might not always agree, I fully respect him.

Richard is the real deal, and I want to congratulate him on such a wonderfully written representation of his life. I know the diligence required with writing a manuscript, much less an autobiography. It isn’t enough to just want to do it, you have to want to do it more than anything. Richard wrote every single word, no ghost-writers involved, which is rare!

I have no problem highly recommending World in My Eyes. As I said, I haven’t even gotten halfway through it, and I would easily put this on the same shelf with Mad World. We are so lucky to have books about our music and the people who influenced us. I hope everyone grabs a copy. With the holidays coming, I think it would make a great present for anyone who loves music, Duran Duran and New Wave/80s alternative, or knows of Richard Blade! At over 500 pages, it’s the best $20 I’ve spent in a long time.

(And no, I wasn’t asked to write about his book, and I’m certainly not being paid to do so – this is all straight from me)

I can’t wait to get back to reading – so I’ve got to wrap this up for now.

-R

*edited because as I could have predicted this morning when I first wrote it – I got the dates all wrong. 🙂

Happy Summer Reading: Careless Memories of Strange Behavior!

It is the first real day of our summer (no school), and I’ve already started a project called “repainting the house”.  This week, its my office. I’m excited because right now, it is lavender, and while that’s a lovely color – particularly for the child who once inhabited this room – it’s a little girly for me. So now it is going to be more of a silvery color called silverberry.

So while I do a little of that each day, I’ve also been downloading books to read. I did precious little “fun” reading during the school year, so I’m catching up this summer!  While I was doing that, I ran across a cute little book I bought several years back called Careless Memories of Strange Behavior: My Notorious Life as a Duran Duran Fan, written by Lyndsey Parker, coincidentally – it was released on this very day in 2012!

For the sake of brevity, I’m shortening the title to Careless Memories while I write a little about it. First of all, it’s not long, and it’s not heavy reading. It’s just the type of book most Duranies will fly through, and its perfect beach reading. It’s cute, and it will make you smile, but it’s not the kind of book where you’ll read an in-depth lyric analysis. In fact, there were several parts of the book (it’s only 41 pages) where I didn’t agree with Parker at all. But that’s the joy of reading. Everyone gets something different out of it. So today, we can celebrate that Careless Memories of Strange Behavior came out five years ago!  Happy Summer Reading!

In the meantime, I have some painting to do…and I’m even going to chat with Amanda over Skype! We have some planning to do for a super fun road trip to San Francisco! That’s less than a month from now, and I can’t wait!  Talk about strange behavior— I certainly hope so!! Hope to see some of you up in the Bay Area!

-R

Summer Reading: Young Teacher

Even though I finished writing a couple of weeks ago, I am still trying to catch up. I’m incredibly behind in a few areas (cleaning being one of them).  Amanda and I try to support our fellow Duranies in their creative endeavors. Lately though, we’ve slacked off. Big time.

It’s summer, and if you haven’t given yourself permission to sit outside and do some reading, you really should, and I have just the novella to start. Fellow Duranie Bobbi Ruggiero just had her novella, Young Teacher published as a stand-alone! Originally included in the box set 80s Mix Tape, this is Bobbi’s very first published work.  Congratulations!!

Just long enough to be a juicy read without committing to a third-degree sunburn in order to finish it, Young Teacher is a about a successful, high-strung career woman named Julia Powers who is given guitar lessons as a birthday gift.  Little does she realize that her teacher is none other than Matthew Gordon, her weekday sandwich-maker that she has been drooling over for months.  Sandwich-maker by day, guitarist for the band Joyride by night, Matthew is just as intrigued by Julia.  The age difference is the last thing he notices when she walks into his apartment for her first lesson!

Young Teacher is light, fun and obviously a romance—which I personally welcome after months of academic-heavy research and reading.  There’s just enough tension to make the plot interesting without feeling like the story ends too abruptly.  Another interesting twist is that while the plot is set in the 1980s, it isn’t cliché, which I appreciate.

We are very proud of fellow fans who use the band as a source of inspiration for their creative talents.  We want to champion those efforts.  I’m looking into creating some sort of showcase here on the website.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, check out Young Teacher on Amazon!  (click on image)

Young Teacher Book

-R

80s Mix Tape…Romance Novella Collection!

Hey you 80s fans out there (and I know you’re reading…), I have some new reading recommendations for you, featuring a couple of fellow Duranies turned authors!!

If you loved Bring Me Back and Back Forever, you should pay special attention because Karen Booth is back with another novella to add to her Banks Forest series!  You might even recognize the title…

I’m also really excited to share that Bobbi Ruggiero, another wonderful Duranie-turned-author, celebrates her writing debut with her own entry into this 80s Mix Tape collection with her own novella. Rather than my mindless drivel, how about a taster of each “tune”?

Seven New Adult stories of love in the ’80s, inspired by songs of the decade… 

Save a Prayer by Karen Booth 
Angie Dawson never wanted to see Graham Whiting or his cheating face again, but her dream job at Music Maker magazine has her photographing his band. Angie had prepared to be a grown-up about working closely with him, but there’s one scenario she hadn’t anticipated. Graham wants her back. She wants him to be the guy he says he can be, but the band has massive tours planned and the groupies will always be there. How does a reunion with her ex end up being anything more than a one-night stand? 

Need You Tonight by Gwen Hayes 
Jacob Stone is on the run for a crime he didn’t commit, but when he’s stranded by chance with the only woman he’s ever loved, he can’t deny the need to possess her one last time. Mind, body, and soul. Typical good girl Becky McDonald has loved bad boy Jacob since they were kids, but even as she gives in to the passion only he can ignite in her, she hides the truth. One night of passion. One night of need. That’s all they can have, but it will never be enough. 

Kickstart My Heart by Autumn Jones Lake 
Russell “Chaser” Adams knows he’s destined to take over his father’s outlaw motorcycle club one day, but for now his father encourages him to pursue his music. Raised in a strict family with old-world traditions and their own secrets, Mallory Delov longs for glitter and glamor instead of blood and deceit. Chaser is unlike any man she’s ever known, she can’t help being drawn to him. On the surface they seem like complete opposites. Little do either of them know how much they have in common. 

The Fixer by Jenny Holiday 
Jenny Fields is a crusader. The editor of her college newspaper, she never met a cause she couldn’t get behind. So when the administration announces it’s tearing down the historic art building, she’s on the case. All she needs to do is get Matthew Townsend, the art department’s most talented student, on board. If she could just get the moody genius to answer his phone… 

Drummer Girl by AJ Pine 
Sam Walsh is done—done with college, done with guys, done with the whole scene. But her roommate coaxes her out for an epic last night to see an up-and-coming band. Ben McCarthy is the sexy drummer, the would-have-been valedictorian who dropped out three years ago to follow his dream. Tomorrow he and the band leave for London, but for one unforgettable night, it’s just Sam, the music, and him. Can a girl with her feet planted firmly on the ground fall for the boy who reaches for the stars when the only result is a broken heart? 

Young Teacher by Bobbi Ruggiero 
Control freak Julia Powers hates surprises. With the skills of a ninja, she keeps her ad business and personal life in perfect order. Matthew Gordon wants nothing more than for his band Joyride to go national. While he waits for his big break, he spends his days working in a sandwich shop—a job he loathes—and teaching guitar on the side—a job he loves. His days get a bit more interesting when a mysterious woman comes in for lunch. Imagine his surprise when she shows up at his door for guitar lessons. Unfortunately, Julia can’t play guitar to save her life, and her frustration threatens to ruin any chance of her finding happiness. Will he ever be able to teach her that she’s perfect just as she is? 

Just Like Heaven by Rachel Cowell
As a premed student, college junior Sarah Lattimore’s life is a carefully calibrated system of studying, studying, MCAT prep courses, and more studying. But when she walks into the first day of anatomy lab and sees her gorgeous TA, Sarah’s brilliant mind is suddenly racing in new directions. Grad student Josh has future aspirations toward cancer research. But the unbelievably cute, nerdy Sarah is in his section, and she’s…distracting. When admiring from afar turns to up close and personal, both their academic lives begin to fall apart. Will Sarah realize in time that being with Josh was the smartest choice she’d ever made?

80s Mix Tape

Available at the following online retailers:
The best part? You can grab your own copy…available for a very limited time…at just 99 cents!! Cheaper than a trip to iTunes, and a lot less work than putting together an 80s mix tape, besides!  Support a couple of fellow Duranies (hey, they’ve got a habit to support, too!) and get a great collection of 80s themed love stories at the same time.
-R

Paper Gods, The Book

I needed a diversion from reality last night.

So, I cracked opened the Paper Gods book that my ever-fearless partner-in-crime-and-everything-Duran-Duran sent me for Christmas!

cover

When I opened this particular present, I was delighted because I’d heard it was well-worth the £20, and I hadn’t ordered it myself because I just wasn’t sure I needed it. I own a few of their tour books from the past, and while they’ve always been a sort of “Oh, that’s really nice to have”, I wasn’t positive about this one. All I could think of was that it was 120-pages of photos, and did I really need a book of photos in my collection? I wasn’t sure. I wanted to see more of it in person before making a decision and I didn’t know when or how that might happen. Sometimes, a book like this needs a little previewing, you know? (It’s too bad DDHQ doesn’t know a fan website that could do that kind of thing for them every once in a while…..) So when I opened the gift and marveled at how big the book really is…and then began thumbing through it, I realized just how much I needed a book like this in my collection!

And…it’s not really so much of a tour book, although there are certainly a plethora of pictures in there (even some of Dom, Anna, Jessie & Simon W!). I would describe this book as being sort of the Encyclopedia-of-Anything-You-Wanted-to-Know-About-Paper-Gods-But-Figured-You’d-Never-Be-Able-to-Ask.

First off, the book is big. It’s not your basic 30-page tour book that’s mostly pictures (although yes, there are plenty and I mean that).  At 120 large format pages (13.25″H x 9.5″W), it’s a bit of a monster…and I mean that in a fantastic way!

bookwidth

There’s actual writing in this one, and not just a welcome note from the band or anything like that. There are interviews, thoughts, feelings…lists of words or phrases I can’t quite figure out yet (but trust me I am enjoying the process of trying!), and I’m not even halfway through it yet! Each of the band members gives a full-length interview about the book (and believe me, these are not short answers to questions), and they also interviewed Nile, Ben Hudson and Josh Blair. They even talked creative with Nick and Alex Israel, the artist who did the front cover of the album!!  I AM IN HEAVEN AND I’M NOT COMING BACK!!

I love that they took the process of recording this album and thought to have a book made for people like me.  People who basically dreamt of being a fly on the wall during the entire painstaking process: everything from those first jamming sessions at Dom’s studio down to seeing their reactions to the art for the cover.  The book is really something very special, indeed.

If the interviews and writing doesn’t grab you, the photos certainly will. This book is art…and if you needed to have large format photos of each of the band members, here they are for you to gander at will. I really love how each of the band members has a black and white full-page headshot, along with what I can only describe is a sort of silver “giclée” shadowing overlay printed on a heavier, plastic-like sheet. Way cool. And if you like stickers – they’re included too!

stickers

As I said, I haven’t even read through it all yet. I had to stop myself at 11:15 last night because I needed to get some sleep, and even after I put it down I kept thinking about what I’d read. In many ways that Amanda and I will get into later as we dissect this book from cover to cover on the blog (oh yes – it’s happening), I think the book makes me see the album with a completely different set of eyes, and I’m curious if my ears will pick up anything different too.

My only problem with this book is simply that they really should have marketed it differently. It’s such a great piece of Duran-memorabilia, you’d think they would have gone to more trouble to alert the fan base to it, you know? Seems like they could have used a resource…such as this very website, thankyouverymuch…to get some enthusiastic words out to the fan base and beyond. Amanda and I have a certain knack for grabbing the attention of the fan base when it comes to things like this, and let’s face it..the book is also a freaking steal at £20. (That is $28.91 USD as of this morning)

Let’s just talk about that price for a second before I settle back into my chair and read a bit more: for less than $30.00 US, you can have a large format, coffee table-sized book on Duran Duran (It is paperback). Everything from what some  might describe as “lickable” photos (I certainly wouldn’t say that..,coughs…but hey… I may have heard the term used before somewhere…) to in-depth discussions of the music and process. For the more abstract-minded amongst us, there are poems and lyrics and lists to read and ponder, as well as the aforementioned photos, both posed and from live shows (from the last year). I can’t really get over the value on this one – it’s the best bang for your buck I’ve seen in quite a while.

Like nearly everyone reading, I own a lot of Duran Duran books. I’ll go one further and say I own a lot of books period, but particularly within the realm of fandom and music history of this particular band  – I own a lot. This is a book that any fan of Duran Duran should have in their collection, and I’m thrilled (and shocked!) that they’re not charging the $50 or $60 that the book is really worth, even as a paperback.

Run out and grab a copy while you can! As I said, in coming weeks Amanda and I plan to do several blogs about the interviews and other writing within the book, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who is running off to order their own copy right now…so go get it!

Meanwhile, I’m going to settle back in my chair and read Nile’s thoughts on Paper Gods…

-R

Come Undone with Kerry Adrienne

We decided to go with something a smidgen different on the blog today for our fellow bookworm friends out there. A few weeks back Rhonda stumbled upon a new box set entitled, Come Undone. The name alone probably sounds a bit familiar. Contained within are  novellas titled after, and perhaps a bit inspired, by Duran Duran song titles. We contacted Kerry Adrienne, one of the authors involved in the box set, and to our delight, Kerry agreed to a quick Q&A for our readers!

Kerry Adrienne
Kerry Adrienne – author of Before the Rain, photo courtesy of Barclay Publicity.

What made you decide to be involved with the Come Undone box set?

I was talking to one of my very good friends, Louisa Bacio, and she told me about the set. Being a huge Duran Duran fan, I practically begged her to let me participate. I can honestly say it was one of the most fun box sets I’ve done!

Did you listen to several of their songs before choosing the title?

I did. I came in late to the set and many of the most popular songs were chosen, so I started listening to other songs, including the later albums.

Can you give a little more background as to why you chose “Before the Rain” and how you incorporated that theme into your story?

As soon as I saw the video for Before the Rain, I fell in love with the song.  (Rhonda’s note: Kerry is referring to the GeneroTV video contest winner for Before The Rain…in case our readers had forgotten. Check out the link for a refresher!!)  I had not listened to that album—it’s newer (All You Need is Now released in 2010). The song is so haunting and melodic—and the video captures that essence so well. Though the video shows a world that needs rain, I flipped it so the story is set in a world where the rain doesn’t stop. Of course, we couldn’t use lyrics, so I implemented images of the lyrics. One of the most obvious provided the crux of the plot:

“For all I carry, are murdered secrets”…

If you’ve read my story in the set, you’ll see how that line plays out. The heroine is an assassin—with secrets. That’s all I’ll say, haha.

How long have you been writing, and is this the first time you’ve used Duran Duran in your writing?

I’ve written stories since I was a child but I didn’t get serious about publishing till 2011. I’ve not used Duran Duran specifically in a story before, but some of my main inspirations for stories come from music. I’m a huge concert-goer and music lover.

Kerry, your writing covers a number of genre/topics/etc. Do you have a particular favorite type of writing? (i.e. Romance, Sci-fi, Historical Romance, etc.)

That’s a difficult question because I try not to ever write something I don’t enjoy. I think the best answer is that I am in love with whatever the current project is—whether it is contemporary romance, male/male, historical, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction…even horror!

Each book had a brief explanation for the title chosen. Your own title choice, “Before the Rain”, is from Duran Duran’s album, All You Need is Now. While the album did well, it is not necessarily the 80’s music that most people recognize. Were you always a Duran Duran fan?

Absolutely!!! I was an 80s teen, so of course I loved Duran Duran. I remember how their videos would transport me out of mundane life with their drama and beauty plus music!

Kerry and a friend, circa 1980s - photo courtesy of Kerry Adrienne
Kerry and a friend, circa 1980s – photo courtesy of Kerry Adrienne

So, do you have a favorite member??

Simon! Always.

Have you had the opportunity to see any of their concerts?

I was quite poor growing up and I also lived in a very rural area. Most concerts that came near me were country music, which I didn’t like. I remember lying awake in bed till eleven pm when I could pick up the radio station in the nearby big city—it always played the best British music. I was also a huge fan of the show, The Young Ones. I would have given anything to have the chance to go to a concert, or to London. I was convinced that London was the most wonderful city in the world and England was where all the cool bands came from.

Since you’ve been a fan since childhood, what is your favorite Duran Duran song/album/video, etc?

That is a tough question. I like different songs for different reasons. I love Ordinary World and Before the Rain because both touch me deeply. Rio makes my heart sing. Hungry Like the Wolf has such a melody to it—pure and magical. Reflex and The Wild Boys were also fun.

Not only were we lucky enough to have Kerry Adrienne complete a Q&A for us, she also was able to get questions answered for each of the other six authors included in the Come Undone box set!

We gave the authors a few questions to choose from, ranging from their inspiration behind participating in the box set, their choice in song title for their novella to their favorite band member. Their answers only serve to continue to prove that Duran Duran permanently imprinted themselves in the hearts of teens worldwide back in the 80s with a love that continues to this day.

KC Burn:

Favorite video – Planet Earth. I just love the surreal look of it. 

Favorite song – It is probably Last Chance on the Stairway, or Anyone Out There. 

 Duran Duran is 100% responsible for my love of guy liner, and John Taylor was my first teen crush. 

C Margery Kempe:

Favorite Video: I did Wild Boys because that is definitely my favourite video. I loved that Russell Mulcahy thought they should try to film the William Burroughs novel in a million-dollar video, an unheard of amount at that time which shows you just how far things had gone in the age of music videos. Mulcahy fought to get some interest in the feature-length film but found few to support the idea. The band appeared in costumes and scenery reminiscent of the second Mad Max film but the video got curtailed for a shorter radio edit of the song. It’s such a shame. It’s got a much tougher vibe in some ways even though it seems so incredibly homoerotic now (and even then, though I don’t think I knew there was a word for it).

Kim Carmichael:

Favorite Song: My favorite song from the band has always been New Moon On Monday, there was something about the beat and the words that simply spoke to me.  Every writer has a different process to crafting their stories.  As a kid of the 80’s, I write a lot to music, and everything is always a music video in my mind.  I always had this vision of a club and the hero looking for the heroine every time I heard the song so it was that little snippet coupled with the fact that Duran Duran has always been a fashion icon that created my story.

Alyssa Breck:

As a longtime Duran Duran fan, I was super excited to be included in the Come Undone box set. What better way to pay homage to the band that stirred my imagination and kept me company back when my record player was my most valued asset.

Favorite band member: At the wise age of 13, I was sure I would someday marry their bass player, John Taylor. Alas, that wasn’t to be so instead I wrote a paranormal dark erotic romance inspired by and titled after their song Love Voodoo. I hope they would approve.

Solera Winters:

Favorite song: I chose Ordinary World because the song has always haunted me. It just seemed sort of like a ghostly theme, but I chose not to do a ghost story but to have the couple have a unique relationship in the form of their dreams. It’s one of my favorite DD songs and I hope my story did the song justice. 

Linnea Alexis:

Favorite song: Girls on Film has always been one of my favorite Duran Duran songs. Whenever I heard it, I imagined how fun and challenging it would be to write a story about the movie industry and the pitfalls of fame. I got my wish when I became part of the anthology.  

Louisa Bacio:

Teen Beat Magazine. Tiger Beat Magazine. As a teen in the ‘80s, I subscribed to them all. The boys in the band of Duran Duran captured my heart, and my love of music.

About a year ago, I threw out the idea, wouldn’t it be great if… The response was tremendous. The love for Duran Duran never waned, and especially with the revival of the ‘80s, it’s actually surged.

Favorite song: Because it was the starting point, I was fortunate enough to grab my favorite song Hungry Like the Wolf to write about. The song possesses a varied beat, kicked off by Simon’s signature, recognize-anywhere vocals. It mixes sensuality with that hunger. Back then, I probably thought it was fun to dance to. Now, as a writer, who often focuses on paranormal aspects and the world of shifters, the lyrics made a perfect tapestry for my storyline.

Come Undone Box Set

We would like to thank Kerry Adrienne and all of the authors included in the Come Undone box set for being such great sports with our questions!

If we’ve whetted your appetite for fiction and you’d like some more, grab yourself the set: Come Undone

Happy Reading!

-R

Today in Duran History – Glasgow and a bit of Mad World

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

On today’s date in 2004, Duran Duran played the SECC in Glasgow.

Do you want to know what I remember about Glasgow, and the SECC in particular?  It was bloody FREEZING in there.  I remember sitting and waiting for a show in December of 2011, complete with my down ski parka on…continuing to shiver.  I don’t think I completely thawed out again until I touched down back in California, a day and a half later.  Naturally, that was in the month of December…and this show took place in April.  So there’s that, right?  Who was there in 2004??

Also, today is officially MAD WORLD day!  That’s right, the release of Mad World – the book that all New Wave 80s music lovers should have, hold and caress fondly (but never nostalgically….no. We can’t have that…because we, my friends…are not old. We’re not nostalgic. We just know good music.), has been released today!!  If you haven’t already pre-ordered your copy and you’re not waiting by your front door to tackle the mailman or UPS guy, I urge you to rectify the situation immediately and order it from Amazon!!  Why, you ask?  I’m reviewing it.  Later today.

In the meantime, check out the Reddit AMA with Lori & Jonathan: Mad World Reddit

Need a link to grab the book?  Fear not, my friends.  I’ve got you covered: Mad World.

-R

Q&A with Christopher Penman and Claire Abby (from Back Forever By Karen Booth)

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!!

-R

To buy copies of Bring Me Back, the prequel Claire’s Diary and Back Forever, you can click on the pictures below!

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Claire’s Diary is also available as a FREE downloadable file directly from Karen’s site at www.karenbooth.net!!!

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Q & A with Karen Booth

My name is Rhonda and I do not write fiction.  (Sorry Heather, I just couldn’t resist that opening line!) Unlike Heather, and my other good friend that I’m about to introduce, I really cannot spin a good fantasy tale. I can’t put words together to tell a story, and I really cannot use words to fully explain what is going on in my head. (that might be a sign that the world just doesn’t need to know what’s going on in there!) I stand in complete awe of people who can create entire new worlds, characters, plot lines and novels that are so real in their imaginations that they become real for readers.  It’s fascinating to me that within this fan community I have run into more published authors than I did the entire time I was in college.  The creative “gene” runs very, very thick in this extended family of ours, and I’m proud to be able to support the brilliant creative geniuses amongst us.

If you’re a Duranie that enjoys a good book and you haven’t checked out Bring Me Back by Karen Booth yet; first of all I have to wonder why you’re taking the time to read this blog when you could be diving into THAT – but secondly I need to ask if you’ve been living under a rock?  Do yourself a favor: grab the book.  Sit down and read it in one sitting.  It is the fantasy of all fantasies, whether you’re a Duran fan or a fan of any other musician out there.  But after you’re finished with that book – and I know you won’t be completely sated, because no Duranie worth her salt is EVER completely sated – you should pick up THE SEQUEL.  (and if that’s not enough, there’s even a prequel named Claire’s Diary that you should absolutely read – you might even recognize yourself in there, I know I did!)

Yes, you read that right. One book about a rock star is never enough, so why not read two?  My good friend Karen Booth brings Christopher Penman and Claire Abby together again for Back Forever, and readers are in for a great treat as they tuck into this novel. Bring Me Back answers the question of what might happen if a once-upon-a-time teen fan met the rock star of her dreams  twenty years later; Back Forever answers the question of what might happen next.

So it is with great pleasure that I welcome Karen Booth back to  the blog today, where I plan to pummel her with questions about writing, life, and even being a fan.  If that weren’t enough, I even had the nerve to ask if I could interview Christopher Penman (cue squeeing from the Penman fans out there) and Claire Abby in a blog I will be posting tomorrow because let’s face it: it’s the closest I’m going to get to interviewing an international rock star.  (No offense Dom…but this IS Christopher Penman I’m writing about here.)

There are really few people on the planet that I value the opinion of more than Karen. She’s smart, she gets the whole fan-thing (likely because she’s been on both sides: in a previous life – aka before she became a fiction writer, she worked in the music industry!), and she doesn’t judge me for writing a blog about being a fan of a rock band…and I still blush when I read her romantica novellas.  So we’re a good pair. I like to think of Karen as the person I could be if I were at all brave, and to me, writing a sequel to Bring Me Back is pretty darn brave.  Knowing myself, I’d be thrilled to finish ONE book, much less dare to write another – and yet there Karen goes, writing a sequel.

“More than anything, I wanted to find out what would happen to Christopher and Claire. Believe it or not, an author doesn’t always automatically know these things. Once Bring Me Back started to reach readers and they responded with questions of what happens next, I knew I had to write one. ”

 I think this must be what is meant when it is said that the best writers allow the story the room to breathe on it’s own.    The characters have a life of their own, and they become real.  So how do you end that relationship then? Is it tough to say goodbye and know you’ve finished that story?  

“This is a tough one! It’s really tempting to give in, especially when people want more, but the truth is that I don’t have a clear vision of what’s next for them. That doesn’t mean I never will, only that I don’t see it right now. As far as missing them goes, I miss them terribly. Some aspects of finishing this book felt like a goodbye, which was heartbreaking. The connection I have with Chris and Claire is very real. They are not characters to me, they’re real people, which might sound crazy, but it’s true.”  

Having never written fiction, I don’t have any idea what it is like to know when a story is really and truly finished.  I’ve read Harry Potter and I still find myself wondering what could possibly come next.  I suppose the real test is knowing whether or not there really is actually a story to tell.  It would seem to me, even as a reader, there has to be a sense of closure or else it will never feel finished…which leads me to ask, is there anything that you would change now that it’s all said and done and published, or do you feel that you have to just put it down, walk away and move on?

“A lot of writers would say that no book is ever truly finished and I definitely put myself in that category. I could revise until I’m blue in the face, but you have to find a way to let go. For me, it comes when I can read it beginning to end and experience a full range of emotions and most importantly, have a smile on my face when I read “The End”. There might be individual words or sentences I would change, but nothing about the meat of the story.”

As a devoted reader of Bring Me Back, when I first heard that you were writing a sequel, I nearly frothed at the mouth in wonder as to what direction the story would take.  I think that many fans, regardless of whether it is a musician like John Taylor or an actor like Benedict Cumberbatch, want that complete fairy tale. We all want that “Happily Ever After”, riding off into the sunset with a guitar (or a bass) playing…and never a cross-moment following.  The trouble of course is that real life doesn’t work that way.  “Happily Ever After” is mixed in with a whole lot of well, less-than-fun times…and let’s be honest, if it was all roses and champagne without a little friction, the tale would get boring very, very fast, no matter how much I’d love to say otherwise.  So I wondered how you would continue Chris and Claire’s story.  What gave you the most challenge?

“Writing a sequel was so much harder than I thought it would be. The biggest challenge was deciding how to include Christopher’s point-of-view. You don’t get that in the first book and I knew that I wanted to spend some time digging around in that mind of his. I tried writing ‘Back Forever’ in third-person, which is the universally accepted way to handle two points-of-view, but it felt off because it was so out of step with the first book. I ultimately went with a two-character first-person point-of-view, which is a little unusual. So far, everyone’s embraced it quite well. “

I know that when I read the book, I was delightfully surprised by just how normal their story really did read. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t an element of fairy-tale fantasy, because in my opinion that’s what makes a good love story, but there was plenty of “real life” going on.

 “I still feel like the new book explores the same concept as the first—how do you take a fairytale and make it real? Despite the very real-life, non-glamorous situations facing Christopher and Claire in this book, they’re still living a fairytale. They’ve both waited a lifetime to find each other, their work lives are far more exciting than for most people. The reader is still immersed in a fantasy at times—it’s just wedged into reality. “

Blogging is definitely not the same as writing a book.  Over time, I’ve gotten away from feeling as though the blog is my shared private journal (which is both good and bad), but I continue to learn and take lessons from both the process of my writing as well as the comments we’ve received over the years.  On a personal note, that has been the singularly most unexpected and rewarding side-path on this journey for me. I’m wondering if you’ve found the same – a lesson learned – from writing the sequel?

“It’s funny—I feel like I’m just now seeing the gift that the sequel is. It was really difficult to write. It didn’t spill out of me like the first book did, but the reaction to it has been so rewarding. I questioned myself so much with this story, which I can now see was a good thing. Sometimes you have to tear yourself apart to get to the essence of what you hope to achieve. I suppose that’s the lesson I took from this book. ” 

That is a perfect lesson to take away, and one that I won’t forget.  I feel very much the same with this blog as of late, so thank you for putting it into words.  I don’t think it is too much of a secret that I’ve gone through a continual catharsis as I’ve blogged, and lately I’ve taken a huge step back away from this blog altogether. I needed to gain perspective, and I’m not ashamed of that.  Every day I put a little bit of myself on display here for the world at large to pick apart, and it’s no secret that I have trouble with the constant criticism.  I have a tough time letting it roll off my back. I wonder how you handle bad reviews as an author…does it ever get easier?

“Every author gets poor reviews! One person on Amazon gave Bring Me Back two stars and titled the review, “No depth”. Just stab me in the heart, why don’t you? I wanted to write this person and explain that I spent months at my desk crying my eyes out when I wrote the book, that she wasn’t looking very hard if she couldn’t see the emotion. Then I took a deep breath and remembered one great piece of advice a friend gave me—it’s just someone’s opinion. There is no way to satisfy everyone. So, I handle poor reviews by reading them and promptly doing everything I can to forget them. “

 I probably should bookmark, print, and cross stitch that last sentence and hang it on my wall for future reference.  Duranies are a tough crowd. They are hard to please, slow to forgive unless you’re a band member, and extremely critical of one another…but they’re the most creative bunch I’ve ever crossed paths with.  Nearly every single published author I know personally is a self-pronounced Duranie at heart and they follow the band as closely as I do.  I know fans who have gone from doing fanzines and/or trading posters with friends back in the 80’s to huge careers in the magazine, publishing and PR world.  It is stunning to see so many creative fans amongst us.  How did we all gather in the same place?!?

“There’s no question that Duran attracts a wide variety of talented, creative, vibrant people as fans. No dullards like Duran Duran! (Yes, I know, the 1950s called and they want their insult back.) I think it’s the whole art school approach the band began with—a sense of collective creativity, something I think is still at the core of what they do. It attracts people who approach life with an open mind. Those people are always the most creative because they see beauty and possibilities all around them. ” 

So that brings me to my last question for you, Karen.  Do you have any advice for the non-published out there?

“It would go the same no matter where your creative interests lie—keep creating, explore crazy ideas, don’t be afraid to do things that make you really nervous. The art is well outside your comfort zone, not in it, and focusing on what you create is the most important part. You can stumble through the rest of it with sheer perseverance.”   

I just want to thank Karen for being such a great supporter of this blog and of our vision for Durandemonium.  As much as she thinks we’re helping her out, she continually returns the favor.  Thank you.

And to the rest of you, grab your copy of Back Forever and get reading!!

-R

Want links to buy Karen’s books? See below!

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Other books by Karen Booth as well as a free downloadable copy of Claire’s Diary can be found at Karen’s website: www.karenbooth.net

I turned on the lights, the TV and the radio

Now that kids are back in school – I just know that at least some of you are looking for books to read while waiting in the “pick-up” line at school, or maybe you’re even lucky enough to have fifteen minutes of peace and quiet somewhere so that you can retreat to fantasy life in a book. Lucky are the few…

It’s not often when I have not one but TWO book suggestions that I’m willing to throw out there, and both books should find incredible audiences amongst Duranies (particularly female fans)..because in both cases, you’ll be seeing yourself in the stories, I promise.  I’ve already read both books, and they are both fun and easy reads. I’ll give a short review for each book, and I really hope you check them out – the best part is that if you do, you’ll be supporting fellow fans, as the authors are in fact Duranies. Even better? They are both appearing at the convention in our author panel session on Saturday morning. They will be reading a selection from their work, and then having a moderated discussion and question/answer session. I believe the authors will both have books for sale at the convention, and I’ll bet if you ask – they’ll even sign them for ya!

Click HERE to go download

The first book I’ve got for you is actually a novella by Karen Booth. Novella is a fancy word authors like to use for “short book that will get you sucked into the storyline super quickly and end before you’re ready to stop wondering what happens next”. This novella is actually the prequel to another one of Karen’s novels, ‘Bring Me Back’. Let me be clear: Bring Me Back is the fantasy for every music fan brought to life. Fictional “life” maybe…but life, darn it!  Before I digress further, I should probably explain Claire’s Diary – and I can do that best in this way: Do you remember writing a journal when you were a kid? Mine went a little like this: “Dear Diary, When are you going to bring Roger Taylor to me?  I have been really, really patient, and I’ve tried watching all of their videos and even reading their interviews..and sometimes I even stare into his eyes for each of the posters on my wall. Mental telepathy just doesn’t seem to work…but I know he’s the right one for me….” Yeah.  Remember those? Well, that journal IS this book. It is like getting a good glimpse of ourselves at the age of 13 or even 14 or 15. Funny? Absolutely. Did it make me cringe at times, seeing how silly I, uh…I mean Claire…was back then? Not in that sense. It just made me remember how tough being a teenager really can be. Then I went into my 16 year olds bedroom and reminded myself of how tough it is to be the parent of a 16 year old. The beauty of it all is that if you’ve never read ‘Bring Me Back’, ‘Claire’s Diary’ is an excellent place to start. Interested potential readers do not need to have read ‘Bring Me Back’ in order to feel anything for this one, and I really recommend ‘Claire’s Diary’. Another amazing thing about this novella? Brace yourselves, bookworms: IT IS FREE. That’s right, the link takes you to Karen’s site where you can download it, read it and maybe even spill a few tears for teenage Claire, all for FREE. Personally, I think Karen is psycho not to charge for it, but then again: she’s a published author of more than a couple books…and I’m a blogger who writes a daily blog about a rock band and it’s fans. For free. Interesting comparison when I think about it that way…..  Anyway, ‘Claire’s Diary’ is a light, yet very-well constructed and thoughtful read that kind of leaves you wanting more…whether that’s another book, or a damn world tour.  Just saying.

And in case you need to find ‘Bring Me Back’ because you’re desperate for more…here’s a link (opens in new window). On the horizon in February of 2014 there’s a third book coming to the series…so you won’t have too terribly long to pine over Christopher Penman…probably just in time to read that book with some new Duran Duran music playing in the background…

Next on the suggestion list is Elisa Lorello’s freshly released memoir, aptly titled ‘Friends of Mine: Thirty Years In the Life of a Duran Duran Fan’. Where to begin with this one? First of all, Elisa has been a fan as long as anyone, and the band has been as much of a soundtrack for her life as it has been for mine…or yours. We all have history. We all have had experiences that have led us to become the people we are now. The difference is that Elisa took the time to tell her story. She shares her life history, all the while explaining how much the band meant to her along the way, and continues to mean to her today. How many of us really fantasized (and some of us might even still continue) about getting past the whole “fan” thing and becoming friends with the band? Which of us can remember a specific song that somehow “saved” us when we needed it most? Who amongst us had a best friend that shared the glorious moments of watching videos, singing songs in our bedrooms, and fawning over the newest articles, interviews and pinups of the band? My point, of course, is that most, if not all Duran fans, should be able to see at least a glimmer of themselves in this memoir…and some might even recognize similar themes in their own life story. I don’t want to give too much away, so I won’t. I will only merely direct you to getting a copy for yourself here.
 
Today I walked my little Kindergartner to school with her dad. It’s funny, because ten years ago, I thought I’d walked my last child down the block and through the gate into the Kindergarten playground. (Never say never, right?) This time, it was much more poignant, and although I held my ground and refused to allow even a single, teensy tear to bridge the corners of my eyes (I didn’t want my daughter to be confused by my bittersweet feelings) – I don’t think my house has ever seemed quieter. I joke on Twitter, saying life is good (and of course it is), but there is a part of me that knows as of today, everything has changed. Again.  My little girl might always be my little girl, but the days I spent with her cuddling on the couch as the older kids were off at school and we were here alone for the day have at least been slowed to a minimum, and I can’t help but feel at least a little melancholy at the thought. I know she is going to learn to love school – she’s always liked a challenge, and she’s got enough spunk and spirit to fill an entire classroom. I wish her Kindergarten teacher luck reigning that huge personality in! I think my own nerves have finally settled, and I must say, having all three kids start new schools on exactly the same day is not very easy. I joke, but I am indeed a late-night worrier, and my stomach has been in knots for a week now. I’m hoping that after today, they’ll settle back into the crazed sense of normal to which I am accustomed.

-R