Note to the reader from the Editor:
While you're reading Susan Helene Gottfried's story, put your computer speakers up to maximum and click play on Black Sabbath's War Pigs below!
This post begins with a simple question and ends with it, too. It's what's in the middle that's so very cool. Who is Susan Helene Gottfried? Susan Helene Gottfried is a wife, a mother, a writer, a rock and roll chick, and all sorts of other good things. I'm also lousy at talking about myself in the third person, so let's fix that and get down to business. Let's start with the rock and roll stuff.
I'd be a lousy rock and roll writer, indeed, if I didn't perpetually have rock and roll on in the background. Or, in my case, hard rock and heavy metal. If I'm using my desktop, I generally have Sirius/XM's Octane on in the background, but if they play something lousy, I'll flip to either Boneyard (classic metal hits - think Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath) or Classic Rewind, which is more classic rock. It makes me think back to high school - something I've finally learned how to do without shuddering.
Have you listened to lyrics from bands like Slipknot, In This Moment, Tantric, and Three Doors Down? Really listened? Try it. Tell me YOU don't get inspired. (Well, no. Don't. I won't believe you.)
Music is omnipresent in my life. I lovingly blame it on my sister, who would spend hours when we were little playing her flute. Yeah, she played classical music, but it was the constant presence of melody and tune that got into my brain and wouldn't leave. How that brought me to rock and roll, I can't say, although a surprising amount of heavy metal is influenced by classical music. And then there's bands like Apocalyptica, which is comprised entirely of men who are classically-trained cellists. See? It really does make sense, underneath that leather and those spikes.
For me, the marriage of rock and classical began with a friend I made when I worked in the record store. (I say "the" record store even though there had been four by the time I got done with record stores.) This friend and her husband educated me: Zeppelin, Sabbath, Maiden, Priest. And then one day, this band called Metallica. That did it. Those two albums, one with the red cover and one with the blue. I never looked back. I was hooked.
I spent most of my college years scheduling classes to fit my rock-and-roll lifestyle. As the heavy metal DJ of the university's radio station and under the guise of doing an interview, I got to hang with bands. Working in a record store has perks, but mixing with the talent isn't one of them. Being the city's cool metal radio chick, on the other hand... THAT was golden. It set me up with a lifetime of passion for the music business - and an awful lot of material that can easily be turned into fiction.
Would you believe me if I said sometimes, I'll come across something in real life and have to do a double-take because I'd already written it into my fiction? Trevor Wolff, however, is an original. It's funny that Trevor wound up being the main character, not just in Trevor's Song but in the two (soon to be three) Demo Tapes anthologies (Year One and Year Two) - as well as at my blog, the Meet and Greet at West of Mars. I never intended for him to be the main character. Heck, I'd originally intended for him to be dead. But... a great character is one who storms into a scene, steals it, and then erects a book around himself without any help from us authors. How very rock and roll of him. But, then, that's Trevor.
Trevor Effing Wolff, to be exact. He's the bad-boy bass player and founding member of ShapeShifter, rock and roll's current darlings. He's ugly, he can't play to save his life, he's cranky and arrogant, and he takes no prisoners. He's also got a string of women and ten more waiting in the wings. Trevor is, despite his flaws, irresistible.
One thing I did to get to know him - and his supporting cast, who were originally supposed to star in the book - was to envision scenes in my head. What would Trevor, Kerri, or Mitchell do in this situation? Best of all, it couldn't be a typical rock and roll situation. My challenge lay in taking something as simple as a teenage date, a candy bar, or a night out with friends and making it rock and roll.
It's for this reason that people often comment on how my fiction doesn't follow the usual cliches you encounter when you see someone writing about a rock band. To me, there is no higher praise than that. I created a set of characters who transcend stereotypes.
Not following the usual cliches, putting out one short story anthology (let alone multiples) that can stand alone but is essentially a novel's companion piece... you got it, boys and girls. How very rock and roll of me. After all, rock and roll is a Do It Your Own Way mindset. And most certainly, that's what I've done in my writing career so far. A very wise man once said, "Motorbreath/It's how I live my life." He got it right. Very, very right.
Who knows. Maybe at some point, I'll be a good girl and conform. I wouldn't hold my breath, though. Conformity has never fit me terribly well.
Which brings me back to that initial statement: Who is Susan Helene Gottfried? Maybe I should have said instead, "Rebel, non-conformist, and rock and roll mom and writer who refuses to drive a minivan or SUV." Except, isn't it more fun to discover those sorts of things for yourself?