Thursday, June 11, 2015

How to Talk to Rockstars Blog Tour! (+$25 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: How to Talk to Rockstars
Author: Alli Marshall
Series: N/A
Pages: 210
Date Published: 2015
Publisher: Logosophia Books
Format: Paperback
Genre: Contemporary/Literary Fiction
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours

Synopsis:
"How to Talk to Rockstars" — think "Almost Famous" meets "The History of Love" — follows wallflower-turned-journalist Bryn Thompson. She has a dream job: she interviews rock stars. Bryn’s professionalism keeps her on track, but also emotionally removed from the gritty world of back stage, bars and drugs that she writes about. That is, until she meets musician Jude Archer, whose songs haunt her. As an unlikely friendship grows out of Bryn’s obsession with Jude’s album, Bryn begins to rethink all of the carefully-contrived rules that until now have helped her maintain a professional distance.

~The Anti-Theme Song..."Creep" by Radiohead~
Usually I'm not a fan of reality TV — I'm a storyteller so I like a good story. But with the launch of my novel, How to Talk to Rockstars, I've been watching “The Voice” this season. I'm attracted to the spectacle of rockstars-in-the-making, and one part of this process that unfolds in semi-realtime is song selection. I'd argue that once a song makes its way to the mainstream arena of a singing competition, it loses a significant portion of its mystery and innate cool. But then Kimberly Nichole, one of the contestants, sang "Creep" by Radiohead — a songs whose very premise is the polar opposite of cool — and it gave me pause.

Here's the thing. I don't really like the song "Creep." It hits too close. I wasn't popular in high school; I wore my outsiderness like a badge. And there are lines in that song that shake the soul of any outsider: "I want you to notice / When I'm not around / … But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo / What the hell am I doing here?" That, and it's kind of a favorite cover song of geeks-turned-indie-rockers — people who can sing "I'm a weirdo" because the sting of that sentiment is distant but not forgotten.

I get the truth in it. How to Talk to Rockstars plumbs the depths of that poignancy. Main character Bryn, a music writer, is not an outcast but she certainly is a loner. It's in music that she finds community, though even then her community is largely virtual or temporary. A roomful of strangers with whom she shares a concert; the faceless readers for whom she pens reviews and interviews; the rockstars she talks to over the phone — intensely intimate for the length of the conversation and then strangers again. When Bryn finds (or at least imagines that she finds) a kindred spirit in Jude Archer, one of the rockstars she writes about, she dares herself to pursue a real-life friendship with him. Still, much of their interaction is in her imagination, those squirmy, self-conscious conversations underscored by the suspicion, "I'm a weirdo."

The weight of those words is a fist to the gut, a bruise continually pressed.

But when Kimberly Nichole, a powerhouse vocalist, sang "Creep" on network TV, the song morphed. The hot shame of it, the chilly loneliness it, was held up to the all-seeing eye of nine million viewers. Instead of being shunned as any self-professed creep would, Kimberly was voted onto the next round. That version of the song was ranked No. 12 on iTunes and viewed 68,687 times on YouTube during the week it aired. That's not exactly outcast territory.

So what does it mean when a song like "Creep" is embraced by a huge audience? Is it possible that we share, in the deepest recesses of our hearts, a secret conviction that the song was written about us? Or is there pleasure in having that cache of self-doubt excavated? Does "Creep" prevail — 23 years after it was released as Radiohead's debut single — because it's such a masterful rock song … or because it's such an exacting audit of the human psyche?

I do find hope in the iTunes/YouTube mass-embrace of "Creep." Yes, the song has been covered by Amanda Palmer (a poster child for a being a bit of a creep, and not giving a damn) but also by the cast of "Glee." Macy Gray performed it on the "Late Show with David Letterman;" it's been featured in the "Stalker" series and on the film trailer for The Social Network. "Creep," it seems, now bridges the hinterlands and the cozy suburbs.

But ultimately, even if an outlier song becomes a school dance staple, the kernel of anxiety and vulnerability lives on at its heart. You can take "Creep" out of the weird-dancing, nervy-dark Radiohead catalog, but not Muzak nor Broadway nor "American Idol" can take the stuttering, sweaty-palmed weirdo out of "Creep." And it’s exactly that staying power, that soul-deep ache and fathomless echo of universal doubt, that I reach for on the page. Successfully? My inner misfit says no. Not yet. Maybe someday. Maybe, hopefully, fingers crossed, soon.

Learn more about Alli Marshall and How to Talk to Rockstars at alli-marshall.com and facebook.com/allimarshallauthor.

~Try an Excerpt!~
The day that Bryn bought Jude Archer’s album, Fly By Night, online and downloaded it to the playlist on her work computer — that was an ordinary day. It was three days before her birthday. She was working late. She’d just learned that she would have to work on her birthday, and the project was a dull grind. Her coffee had gone lukewarm in its tall ceramic mug.
           
The tracks appeared in order, summoned from some distant world. Bryn dropped the headset over her ears and clicked play. The world outside the headphones stood still. Blood beating in her ears, rivulets of rain streaking the picture window, outside a blurred watercolor. Everything and the absence of everything. A ballet of shapes and shapelessness.

Wanting seems so harmless at first, the way it feels like an old familiar ache, comfortable as pajamas. The way it feels good to return to a previous sadness, to sink into the soft gloom.
           
The way he spoke of love, always losing, always chasing, always wanting.

The songs held her captive from the first. She simply sat and watched the rain and listened. That was all. They were not acquaintances then, Bryn and Jude. They were two people in two separate bubbles. Bryn in her dusk-darkened office, Jude just a voice coming through the headphones. It didn’t occur to her to wonder what he looked like, or his age or where he was from. Usually the back story was at the front of her mind. A journalist’s habit. But Jude was a song first and a man later.
~Meet Alli!~
Alli Marshall grew up in Western New York and has called the mountains of North Carolina home for more than 20 years. She's a Warren Wilson College graduate and completed her MFA in creative writing at Goddard College. She's been named the best arts reporter in Western North Carolina in the annual Best of WNC reader's poll, 2011-2014. She received awards in editorial reporting from the North Carolina Press Association in 2005 and 2014, and from the International Festivals & Events Association in 2004. She also took home top honors in the Cupcakes for the Cure bake-off (local ingredient category) — but that’s another story. And though Alli doesn't like to brag or anything, over the course of her career she's interviewed Yoko Ono, Cyndi Lauper, Chris Robinson (The Black Crowes), Aimee Mann, Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), Britt Daniel (Spoon), Michael Franti, Neko Case, Daniel Lanois, Ziggy Marley, Peter Murphy, Grace Potter, Jamie Lidell, Kishi Bashi and many, many others.
Alli will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host

11 comments:

  1. Really enjoyed reading the excerpt, thank you!

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  2. When did you decide to become a writer?

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    1. Hi Mai, I've been writing stories since I first learned how to write. I think I realized I wanted to be a writer when I was an undergrad, and went on to pursue a MFA in creative writing.

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  3. Great excerpt.. thanks for sharing!

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  4. I have enjoyed learning about the book. Thanks for sharing it.

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  5. thanks for sharing the great excerpt!

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  6. A very interesting and unique excerpt.

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  7. Hi Andra, thanks so much for hosting this guest blog. I'm delighted to share "How to Talk to Rockstars" with your readers. Also, while I'm on this book blog tour I'm offering a special $9.99 rate for the book here: http://alli-marshall.com/how-to-talk-to-rockstars/

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  8. I enjoyed learning about you and your book~thank you for sharing!

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  9. Songs can resonate!! Interesting.

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