Sunday morning, 72°F and sunny Listening to The Allman Brothers, Jessica
I take my writing inspiration from a lot of different places, but mainly from music and musicians. While I’ve talked about Pearl Jam quite a bit because my first published novel was inspired by their music, I think it’s time I mention Rush and how their album 2112 inspires me.
It’s a story any Rush fan knows, so here’s the short version. Rush’s first, self-titled album was a brilliant work of accessible hard rock that went gold. Their second album, the more progressive Fly By Night, went platinum. Caress of Steel, their third album effort, contained a 12-minute progressive piece, The Necromancer, on side A and the entire B-side was a conceptual suite called Fountain of Lamneth. That album “only” went gold, disappointing Rush’s label.
The label instructed Rush to head back to the studio and produce a rock album more like their first. No more of this 12-minute long progressive experimentation. We’re in this to make money, boys. Now step in line. But Rush believed in their progressive direction and hit back hard with 2112, a concept album that begins with a 20-minute, 7-song suite based on an Ayn Rand novella. (Oh look, novelists inspiring musicians. I love it!)Continue Reading Why 2112 Inspires Me
Ellie Rafferty’s story in State of Love & Trust was predicated in part on the question, What would happen if a character took Pearl Jam as seriously as a religion? I thought aPearl Jam religion was a fun concept. What does it look like? What are the tenants? How would a worshipper of Pearl Jam practice her faith?
Sunday afternoon, 75°F and cloudy Listening to Steppenwolf, The Pusher
One of my most treasured writing tools is the novel playlist I build specifically for each story I’m working on. It helps me get back into the characterizations, moods, situations, and settings for a particular book. Because I worked on State of Love & Trust off and on over the course of several years, its novel playlist grew, changed and shifted significantly over that time.Continue Reading A Novel Playlist
[UPDATE: When I wrote this post on using copyrighted lyrics, I was doubtful that I’d be able to obtain the proper permissions. Happily, Pearl Jam and music publisher Hal Leonard came through, granting me permission to include these lyrics in my novel. Lesson: If you want something, it’s worth asking for.]
In the first chapter of my novelState of Love & Trust, the character Saint Wozniak peels up his Mother Love Bone tank shirt to reveal the entire first stanza of Whipping inked in a neat typewriter font on his shoulder blade. Those lyrics, which he says are his favorite, matter to the novel. Yet they are not included anywhere in the text, and for good reason.Continue Reading Saint’s Whipping Tattoo
Thursday night, 88°F Listening to Nice as Fuck, Angel
My love for Pearl Jam led me to write a novel that’s unapologetically not for everyone. The first time I saw the Eddie Vedder swinging from the rafters (3:41) in the Even Flow video on MTV was the moment I became sold on this band. I’d spent the entire ’80s retreating into Led Zeppelin, Hendrix and The Who because I just couldn’t get with the whole hair metal/Spandex vibe. My reaction to this video was “that sounds like … real rock ‘n’ roll. They’ve brought it back from the dead.”
From that moment on, I was hooked on Pearl Jam. I’ve seen them live multiple times and their shows are incredible. I have a Ten Club membership, a Yield vanity plate, some framed show posters, all of their studio albums (except Riot Act, oops), too many bootlegs to count, and I don’t know how many T-shirts or pairs of Docs. Which means, as Pearl Jam fans go, I’m a total lightweight. (I’ve even shamelessly posted a popular video just now instead trying to polish my creds with something stunning, like Wash.) Gosh you guys, I don’t even have a Pearl Jam tattoo like Saint Wozniak or Ellie.Continue Reading Not for Everyone
This is a brilliantly crafted book set in the early ’70s about a band and its 16-year-old front-man, Robin Chelsea, and (not a spoiler) his disappearance right before the release of their third album. The story unfolds with detail that is wonderfully imagined (such that I often forgot it is totally fiction) but never bogging down the pace.
Smokin’ and Cryin’ kept me on my toes like a 70s rock band. Every memory, news article, album review and snippet had me wondering what was next. I devoured this novel almost immediately upon opening it up. The twists and turns in this were excellent, and I found myself desperately missing an era I hadn’t even been a part of.
Ms. Ombry does a terrific job of developing the characters and unfolding the twists and turns of their funny/tragic lives. I found the book intriguing and hard to put down! Probably because at its heart the book is about resilience, love, and our common humanity more than rock music.
This book was so horribly written, I had to stop after the first 20 pages. She may think she’s Vonnegut, but a child could write better than her. It’s unfortunate that any publishing company would take her seriously and waste our time.
Grace takes sensitive and painful topics and intertwines them with humor. She skillfully develops her characters, and the reader comes to accept (and maybe even like) all of them (even the ones that have terrible flaws.)
Grace has a knack for portraying the music genre and the 70s in a truly engaging manner. I loved everything about this book. She makes the music come alive through the characters and the story. The music is almost another character in the story, and it shines. The characters and their conflicts and quirks make… Read more “Truly Engaging”
There’s something a bit familiar about The Odette Brothers. I had fun recognizing some of the real-life elements she modified and incorporated into this novel. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did!
Ombry conjures (and occasionally skewers) characters with stunning efficiency. Better than just about any writer I’ve read, she knows how to shine a light on most important truth about them, how to bring whole, complex humans to life using short strings of words. She also writes young children better than anyone I’ve ever read. The relationship between the young rock god and his baby half-sister makes me tear up again just thinking about it.
On Facebook, Ms. Ombry revealed she had gotten her first bad review & she shared it. It was sooooo bad, I wanted to understand why. OMG what a gift for Ms. Ombry! She is an amazing author! I was hooked from page one. Obviously the last laugh is with this very talented author!
This book is about Robin Chelsea, a fairly normal teenager who ends up becoming the lead singer of American rock band Smoky Topaz in the 1970s. The language and writing style are also very simple and smooth, which make this book feel young, laidback and fresh.