Archive for September, 2012

Sometimes Reality Slips In

September 26th, 2012 by Terra | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

There’s a question that lots of folks like to ask authors, and that is something along the lines of, “Is anything in your book based on real life/real experience?”

Usually when I am asked a question like this, I go off on a long explanation comparing real life to the seed that turns into the flower of your novel. Or I say real life is like an essential ingredient in a soup, or bread, or maybe cake, that is transformed by the making. (For example, you can’t make a good cake without baking powder, but certainly the finished product neither looks nor tastes like baking powder, thank goodness.)

And it’s not that this isn’t true. Real life is the food that your novel consumes and then turns into energy, or waste product, or whatever. But sometimes, if we authors are honest–well, if I’m honest–there’s a bit more of a direct corellation.

Take the band that Charlotte, Taryn, and Sylvia compete against at Earhorn in Being Friends with Boys. While most of that entire scenario is 100% fabricated, I’ll admit that I did slip a real-life band into the competition. Charlotte describes them this way:

The first group starts, and I’m like a zombie victim getting her brain sucked out. They’re guys–that much I can register–playing this bizarro-but-pretty ambient music. I have never seen the instruments they’re using. One of them is maybe a guitar neck turned to lie flat like a table, and the other one is–I don’t even know. A box with some antennas coming out of it that the guy just moves his hands toward and back. Both are hooked into laptops. The sound coming out is so floaty and hypnotic that it almost shuts up the crazy, freaked-out feeling in my head and my stomach. Still, I must look like I’m about to collapse because Fabian reaches over and takes my hand. I cling to him for the rest of the set, not because it’s sparkly, but because it’s what I need.

In my novel, this happens to be a description of the actual band, Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel, a group based here in Atlanta. Here is a description of them by someone else besides Charlotte:

“Waves of ambiance and dreamy drones weave into one another to form a spectral web of sound.
The music is experimental by design, but easy on the ears…”  –Chad Radford, Creative Loafing Atlanta

And here is some of them performing.

Not to mention a link to some samples of their music.


I’ll let you decide what you think of them yourselves, but I did want to share my little secret.




What Editing Interiors Looks Like

September 19th, 2012 by Terra | No Comments | Filed in Criminal

Believe it or not, it’s time to be putting the final touches on CRIMINAL, before it gets sent to the printer. (We still have a long way to wait–May 2013, but still this is exciting.) I thought I’d show you what it looks like:

That’s pretty much about the last I’ll see of it until it is a REAL LIVE BOOK! Thanks in advance to everyone at Simon Pulse who is working hard to finish and perfect this project!!

Sad Jackal Sees Zammuto

September 12th, 2012 by Terra | No Comments | Filed in Being Friends with Boys

Monday night I was at The Earl, watching Zammuto, a band that was new to me . They were a fabulous combination of poppy rock, musical and cultural intellect, and hilarious videos that were synched to their performance. It was a truly enjoyable show (and I recommend you check out their extensive tour, as they may be coming to a place near you), and we purchased one album, eager to explore them more.

The whole time I was watching, however, I kept wondering what the members of Sad Jackal (the fictional band starring in Being Friends with Boys) would think of the performance. So, for the duration of the show, I pretended they were with me, and here’s what they had to say afterward:

Abe (drummer):  Drummer dude  is a ninja. It was Ace too to see genuine drums instead of manufactured beats. “Greatest Autoharp Solo of All Time” is my hero.

Eli (bassist): This is what I’ve been talking about, man: finding new ways to challenge the audience, mix things up, share the creativity. There’s scores of that dope vintage footage out there, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be exploiting it, to transform the experience for the audience. It’s just another way to take the whole thing to a new level, man. And lemme point out that even they played a cover, right? Dude on bass had mad rapport with the drummer too which you could just feel off the stage. Awesome show. I’m definitely downloading.

Fabian (keyboards): There are interesting things to learn from watching a group using new technologies and effects in a way that still feels organic. I’m looking forward to listening and watching more, and seeing how we might incorporate things in our own way with Sad Jackal, if it feels right.

Oliver (guitar, lead singer): I don’t know. Seems to me that using affects like that on the vocals just creates a barrier between the singer and the audience. There’s no way to feel what he’s singing, you know? It keeps your fans at a distance, if you ask me, making you way less vulnerable, and therefore, in my opinion, a lot less brave. For me, a good live show is all about the purity and the quality. If it’s there, you don’t need bells and whistles and video art and whatnot. That’s all distraction from the real message. Music should be about the listening experience, and all that entails. Not some video game showmanship.

Charlotte (lead singer, lyricist): [Under her breath] Oliver’s just mad he didn’t think of that vocal affects thing first. Don’t pay too much attention to that. [Back to normal voice.] There is a point Oliver has, though, about it being hard to understand the lyrics because of the vocal affects. I thought it was a neat thing to do, but it was hard to get a song’s message at different points. Maybe the entire message was just about fun, though. The videos definitely added to that feeling. I think my favorite visuals were the ones for “Zebra Butt“–I didn’t even need the lyrics included on the screen in that one, really, because all those stripes and contrasts were so dynamic. I think my very favorite of the whole show though was seeing how much fun the guys had playing together. They all worked well as a band and were really paying attention to each other, which came out in their music. It’s always the best when you’re having a fun time, rocking out in the audience, and you can see that the whole band is, too. Admittedly I was shocked though, when Nick the lead singer finally sang without the affects on “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover,” and heard what a great voice he had. He should do more of that, just because he’s so good!


After the show, since the Sad Jackal kids were so curious about Zammuto’s performance, I went ahead and asked the lead singer, Nick Zammuto, a couple of questions, myself:

TMc:  I thought your use of voice effects was fabulous and interesting. Can you talk some about using them versus singing “naked”? What difference does it make for you, as the lead singer?

NZ: I came to singing very late in my life, and at first I was very shy about it, but someone in the band had to sing the lyrics I was writing and nobody else wanted to do it, so I had to step up to the plate.  The vocal effects on this record became a way for me to trick myself into giving more as a singer.  Because what I get back from the microphone is really unexpected and otherworldly, it makes me try new things and sing with more heart without feeling totally naked.  Now that I have more experience singing, I’m starting to feel more comfortable singing ‘naked’, especially during quieter songs.
TMc: You’ve got an extensive tour coming up. What’s it like for you, playing to
out-of-town crowds versus home crowds? Pros and cons of both?
NZ:  When away from home, nobody knows who we are, so we can take advantage of the element of surprise, so on the road we tend to rely more on our ‘surprise attack’ songs… the ones that start simple and eventually go in crazy unexpected directions.  At home, our friends and family like it when we play the older gentler songs, which are ok, but a little boring to play.  We’re enjoying playing loud these days.

TMc:  Lastly, the videos that are a part of your live performance are fantastic. But do you think that incorporating some kind of visual is becoming “necessary” for bands in the 21st century?*

NZ:  Yes, technology seems to be permeating almost every human activity these days, for better or worse.  Yet, we try to use the visuals to humanize the show, focusing on warm, universal themes, like home videos and Zebra Butts.  We use the video almost as if it’s another member of the band, and it is rhythmically synced to our playing, so it dances along with us.  We don’t use it for every song, so people can focus on just the band sometimes.  And sometimes when we play outside during the day we can’t do video at all because it’s too bright, but we always miss it, because it adds a sense of humor to what we do.  I think it’s important not to take yourself or your art too seriously, and the video makes people laugh, which is a rare thing in rock music.
So, there you have it. Take a listen, check them out, and see what you think of Zammuto, yourself!