All Trisha wants to do is create something meaningful. Since she's living in Athens, GA, she brings four other women together and the rock band The Forty Watt Flowers is formed. But making good music isn't as easy as it sounds. From the jock atmosphere of the garage where they rehearse to the beer-soaked bars when they gig, these five young women struggle to find beauty in the mess of notes they try to play and the chaos of their lives.
1) Where did you get the idea for the novel?
I was a fan of the B-52s, then REM. Through an odd bit of luck, I ended up moving to Athens, GA and was pleased as punch. It’s an amazing town, with the culture of a big city but the vibe of a small town. And what a music scene! You can’t swing a guitar without hitting a musician in that town. There’s an indie band for every 100 people who live there. Still to this day, it’s a place where the ground hums in harmony.
While there, I was reading slushpile manuscripts for Hill Street Press, who at that time was publishing stories about the South. They wanted contemporary stories that told of the New South.
One day I was sitting there reading and realized: Hey, wait a second. There’s a story missing about a band in Athens. So, I wrote it.
2) Is there a message in your novel that you want your readers to grasp?
Every day, in every moment, we each have a choice. We can be a critic who tears things apart, or we can be an artist, who unifies.
It’s easy to be a critic. We’re taught that in school, because it’s easier. But it’s harder to be an artist. To find the positive in things, to build on ideas rather than destroy them.
I explored how we find it easier to destroy our relationships with each other than to build on them. That sometimes we destroy ourselves through drinking or bad behavior, rather than find a positive outlet.
It is harder to create than to destroy. But isn’t everything worth having worth working for?
3) Why did you pick this genre? What do you like about it?
The genre really chose me!
What I love about the rock’n’roll novel genre is how it intermixes reality and fiction. You need to include just enough reality and musical reference so people can connect while also creating something new.
The fine line between reality and fiction is a theme I explore quite a bit in the book, from the Tree That Owns Itself, a real landmark just down the street from the fictional band’s rehearsal garage, to the near brushes with Michael Stipe of REM, the venues and local characters.
To carry this even further, for the past year and a half I have been tweeting as the band and currently have 700+ followers. The band is also on Facebook. Since last June, the fictional band has been on a virtual tour of North America, hooking up with “real” bands along the way. You can see the tour from the book/band’s website.
4) Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you?
Every time another writer tells me my work inspired them is a thrill like no other. When someone walks up to me and says, “Oh, this was so great! it was just great! Amazing. I loved it. It was just so great!” It’s not in the words they use, but in the excitement in their voice. Nothing is as amazing as that.
5) What book are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?
I recently finished re-reading Jacob Slichter’s So You Wanna Be a Rock’n’Roll Star. He was the drummer for the band Semisonic, famous for their song Closing Time. His book is a non-fiction account of what it was like to “almost” be a rock star. I wrote a review for the website, DownToJam, a social networking site for musicians to meet musicians.
I’m currently reading Funny Girl by Nick Hornby.
7) At a book signing, do you just sign your name or do you write a note? How do you come up with stuff to say?
I always try to write a note. So far, this has been working:
“Here’s to inspiration in everything you aspire to.”
Or a variation on that theme. Unless I know the person. Then it’s… well… personal.
8) What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I’ve travelled over 1,500 by canoe throughout Northern Ontario and Quebec. It is some of the most beautiful country in the world, but also the most brutal. When the bugs are bad, you’re eaten to death. But when the sun has set and you know that you’re the only group of people for hundreds of miles it is hard not to feel humble. The land and its dangers loom large. The cry of the loon haunts. Fish jump. To be there is both terrifying and stunning. I know that makes it sound awful, it isn’t. It’s quite a beautiful thing, actually. Because you have a cup of hot chocolate in your hands and a fire before you and the smell of the air is blissful. You feel like a part of the earth.
9) How do you react to a bad review?
Every review, good or bad, is more about the person writing it than the book. The book is just the launching pad.
With a good or bad review, I try to take into consideration where that person is coming from. Then I feel around for what is a legitimate point versus the ones that are not.
If a review is extremely passionate and pointed, I console myself with the knowledge that at least my work elicited passion! At the same time I know that when someone reviews a work, what they are doing is trying to make the book into what they want to see. They are trying to make the work their own.
Probably the worst reviews, the ones that really hurt, are the ones not written. When you send the book out to someone who has promised to read it and give you feedback and you never hear back, that really hurts.
A ranting review means you made them angry. A glowing review means there was a connection made. Hearing nothing means that how you feel, all the work you put into it, doesn’t matter.
10) How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
The moment that mattered more to me than the first sale was to see the book in print for the first time. To feel the firm binding, open the pages, see the beautiful type and know that every word in here (other than the copyright page and the blurbs) was mine. My baby was born.
First Rehearsal, Aline & Trisha
Trisha sat on the curb beside her. "Aline, I’m not an experienced musician or anything. I have no idea what we’re doing. I’m just—"
"You’re going to do very well at this, I can tell," Aline said.
"I just can, that’s all."
Their gazes met. Aline’s smile was so open, like a warm bath.
Trisha asked, "When you write a poem, how do you do it?"
Aline bit her lip. "A poem for me …" She shook her head, started again, "The first thing I do is I get all quiet and I listen."
Aline nodded. "I start with something that resonates with me," she said. "It’s like I’m looking for the seed. That seed has to shake, like all of inside me is just going B-O-I-N-G-! B-O-I-N-G-!"
Trisha repeated, "Boing."
Aline sang, drawing it out, "B-O-I-N-G —I-N-G!"
Trisha repeated, "B-O-I-N-G —I-N-G!"
Aline smiled. "You got it." Then with eyes intent on that interior space of hers, she continued, "Well, that boing gives me a beat. Some days, there’s nothing there. Other days, there’s ten or twelve ideas screaming and it scares me. And then I—"
A thought rang like a chord, high and clear in Trisha’s thoughts. She wasn’t sure if it was because of what Aline had said, or if she’d just needed the space to let it appear. But there it was. She jumped up.
"Aline?" she said.
"We need to get back in there."
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Colleen is award-winning editor who started her writing life as a playwright. She has had 7 plays produced across Canada and worked with the likes of Samantha Bee (yes, from The Daily Show) and Leah Cherniak.
Her plays include Back Alley Boys about the hardcore punk scene in Toronto, Eye am Hear which tells the tale of a luddite teenage squatters at some undetermined punkish time in the future, A Brief Case of Crack Addicted Cockroaches about the relationship between the media and politics featuring a city councillor who smokes crack (which was never produced because it was too off the wall) and Interbastation about the beauty in ugliness and the ugliness in beauty. Her novel Public Image tied for second in the Anvil Press International 3-day Novel competition.
In addition to her work as a playwright, Colleen puts on the dramaturgy, editor and script doctor hats for a range of publishers, producers and writer clients. She has a Master in Creative Writing from the prestigious UBC Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing and has taught play writing at the university level. She's also done the Board of Directors thing with the Playwrights Guild of Canada, The Playwrights Theatre Centre in Vancouver and other arts organizations.
She was managing editor of Taking the Stage: Selections from plays by Canadian Women which was selected as the "most saleable dramatic publication of the year" by the Canadian Booksellers' Association. She has also been awarded Arts Council grants by the province of Ontario and Nova Scotia. She has served on the judging panel of several internationl novel awards. Her one-person play Interbastation was selected as one of the top-10 best shows by CBC Winnipeg in 1998.
She lived in Athens from 1999 to 2001 and, while there, reviewed and edited manuscripts for Hill Street Press.
Colleen currently resides in her birthplace, Toronto, with three grey cats and a drawer full of lint brushes.
Smashwords Author Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/colleesu
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Forty-Watt-Flowers-Subasic/dp/149937299X
BN buy link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-forty-watt-flowers-cm-subasic/1113036136?ean=9781499372991
The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a print copy of The Forty Watt Flowers (US/Canada only) to 2 randomly drawn hosts.
The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:a Rafflecopter giveaway