Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Interview with Author Clea Simon- her new book is out today!

Hello again- today we have an interview with author Clea Simon, who has a new book out- to join her many others. 

Here's the description of Hold Me Down (out TODAY!):

In this riveting work of dark suspense from acclaimed author Clea Simon, Gal, a middle-aged musician, is back in Boston to play a memorial for her late drummer/best friend, when she finds herself freezing on stage at the sight of a face in the crowd. The next day, she learns that the man she saw has been killed – beaten to death behind the venue – and her friend's widower is being charged in connection with his death. When the friend refuses to defend himself, Gal wonders why and, as the memories of begin to flood back, she starts her own informal investigation. As she does so, she must reexamine her own wild life, her perception of the past, and an industry that monetizes dysfunction in a dark tale of love, music, and murder.

Clea, a former journalist and rock music critic, is the author of three nonfiction books and 28 mysteries. A native of New York, she lives in Somerville, MA. 

Let's find out more about her work.

Q. So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.

A. To be honest, I’ve been working on HOLD ME DOWN for so long, I’m no longer exactly sure how it started. In many ways, HOLD ME DOWN follows in the footsteps of my Massachusetts Book Award “must read” “World Enough,” in that it takes place in the Boston rock club scene and centers on the subjectivity of memory. I also wanted to explore how the music scene, which I dearly loved, monetizes some forms of dysfunction. After all, nobody cares to see a well-adjusted, happy rock star.
 I also know that I was inspired in part by an interview with Chrissie Hynde I read in the Guardian several years ago. In that interview, Hynde, the lead singer of the Pretenders, talked about being raped when she was in her early 20s by a gang of bikers. What got me was that she blamed herself for being stupid. I’m a rape survivor and this hit a nerve for me. I recognized an element of denial that I held onto for decades and the essential truth behind it: that it is easier to accept culpability than to acknowledge the psychically terrifying truth that you had no power.

Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?

A. I knew from the start what one of the story arcs would be, but as I wrote it, I realized there was another, deeper arc. And, of course, as I wrote some of the characters went off on their own tangents. So I had some ideas, but basically I just sat down and wrote.

Q. What do you feel is the main theme(s)?

A. The subjectivity of memory, how we recover from as well as remember trauma, and the lasting nature of love and family, of any sort.

Q. Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book?

A. I hope it’s a good yarn and emotionally involving! I like to think that even people who have never been to a grungy basement rock club will enjoy taking the trip vicariously, and that even non-musicians will relate to my fading rock star of a protagonist.

Q. What makes a good book or engaging story?

A. Good characters and a plot that grows organically out of those characters.

Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you?

A. I really loved David Hajdu’s “Adrienne Geffel.” Hajdu is an award-winning music writer and this is his comic novel sending up the whole musician/criticism world. Hilarious. As far as themes go, I’ve always appreciated how Valerie Martin makes unlikable characters sympathetic – and I love how Hilary Mantel makes the past feel contemporary.

Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?

A. A book has to stand on its own as a work of art. That means it should hit on all levels, but also that it shouldn’t be a tool in a larger agenda.

Q. Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?

A. I want to keep stretching. I want to improve my writing.

Q. Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise?

A. I write pretty fast but then I have to revise extensively. I wish I didn’t but whenever I read my first few drafts, I realize that I’ve left too much in my head and not put it on the page.

Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

A. Do the work. Writer. Re-read. Find readers. Revise. Do it again. Set it aside. Do it again. Do. The. Work.

Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling?

A. I’d love for my work to be optioned, but then it wouldn’t be my book. I’d love the money and exposure, though!

Q. What's the next step in your writing world?

A. I’m working on two very different projects now. One is drafted, so I’ve put it aside to re-read later. The other I’m still drafting.

Q. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

A. I went to high school with a serial killer, Joel Rifkin. I have never been tempted to write about him, though, despite my brother-in-law’s urging.

Q. Any other information you'd like to impart?

A. I feel like I should warn readers that HOLD ME DOWN is very different from my cat cozies. I adore those and hope to return to them, but I don’t want anyone to be taken aback or feel deceived!

My website page has more info on the books, including links to outlets, including indie bookstores (Indie Bound): 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

A Great Outdoor Event

Well, after the last two years of hunkering down, we finally had a terrific outdoor event to sell books! 

We were part of Art on the Brook in downtown Chelmsford. Lots of local vendors hawking wares. 

First off, it was a perfect Fall day- warm and pleasant. We couldn't have got any better.

We had a steady stream of book buyers, met some new fans, and made connections.

So here's my setup:

And my fellow authoresses: Kameryn James and Sara Marks

We were visited by fellow SIPA member Laura Fedolfi

Many thanks to the volunteers and to The Shack coffeeshop for sponsoring.