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?
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.
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 filedirectly from Karen’s site at www.karenbooth.net!!!
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!!
Want links to buy Karen’s books? See below!
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
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!