I met Selah Janel at Fandom Fest this year, and loved her as soon as we met. She’s a truly awesome person, and then she submitted one of the best vampire stories I’ve EVER read for The Big Bad. This is her new book, which you should all check out as soon as you can. You won’t be disappointed, she’s amazing!
Cute, too. 🙂
When In the Red was still a vague short story I still knew one set-in-stone fact. It was a story about a guy who wanted to be a rock star, and it was going to be set in a rock n’ roll world. It pains me that this genre has been somewhat forgotten, kicked around, and who knows what else in favor of pop, dance, dub step, and whatever other new subgenres show up every five minutes. I get it. New times, new tastes. Yet many musicians today always seem to cover or pay tribute to those awesome rockers who have come before. Concepts like backstage hijinks, trashed hotel rooms, super-fans, groupies, and interesting substances are a part of every music genre in the performance realm, but they seem to be forever linked with a rock n’ roll world. Besides, there’s something instinctively soul-wrenching about a really great guitar riff, a really killer bass line, a badass drum solo, and a singer who can really wail. For many of us, these are things that get an immediate, visceral reaction. There are idols in every area of music, but since the story also deals with a sundry deal with dark forces, rock music felt right. Not only is it the genre I grew up with (I love all music, but I’ll always favor classic rock and eighties metal), but it has the best stories.
At some point everyone has seen or heard some ridiculous story about some rock star livin’ it up. Whether you’ve been on Snopes.com, read books like Rock n’ Roll Babylon, or get your kicks from movies like Almost Famous, you probably have somewhat of an idea of what I’m talking about (and how hard of a guest post this will be to write without describing some of the better incidents). In my book, Jeremiah signs on with Jack Scratch and Voland Entertainment and instantly, easily becomes a superstar, supposedly destined to bring rock music back from the dead. He’s encouraged to play hard because he’s worked so hard for what he wants (or so he thinks). And he definitely plays hard. He’s in good company, too. Whether it’s The Who trashing hotel rooms, Led Zeppelin discovering new uses for fish, or Mötley Crüe discovering new uses for telecommunications devices, stories about decadence and debauchery have long followed rock. It’s almost expected at this point.
Sure, a lot of these (like the Rod Steward rumors) are very much inflated, and probably not even about him or any other person in question (you can substitute at least five people into that story, and the same anecdote has been told about all of them). It’s probably a failing of mine that things like this amuse me so much, or maybe it’s because I’m a very boring person, myself (All those who know me can stop laughing at that one, thanks). It was fun to make up my own rock urban legends and put Jeremiah through that sort of hazing, especially since shyness is one of the few qualities we share. It was also a little nerve-wracking, knowing that people I know would actually read this book and discover that part of my imagination. At the end of the day, though, I decided to suck it up and get past the nerves, because those little asides and vignettes really make the first part of the book for me.
However, there were other stories that I wanted to touch on that were just as much fun as thinking of what a bassist could hide under a bar table or what kind of hijinks a band could get up to during a recording session. We’re at the point where rock n’ roll and its earlier forms have a long and rich history, and with it comes its own brand of folklore. I didn’t want to directly include the Robert Johnson story in the book, but I did want to allude to it and use elements of it. For those who aren’t aware, the basic story is that Robert Johnson went out to a local crossroads and met a stranger there (the Devil), who taught him how to play guitar better than anyone in the entire world, and he ended up dying to fulfill his contract. Now, in real life there are quite a few holes in that story, but it’s an interesting concept. There are also a number of stories of more recent rockers who supposedly sold their souls for a chance at fame and fortune. After all, everyone has something that they’d give up everything for. A lot of people would do a lot for that kind of attention…and to have security of that position to go with it? Priceless.
In the Red translates things a bit differently. There is a shady deal, though it takes a while for Jeremiah to realize just what he’s gotten himself into. There are magical objects, demons, and plenty of groupies and fans to encourage Jeremiah to play up his alter-ego J.K. Asmodeus to the fullest. There is a crossroads, but it shows up at a different point and ends up being more of a battle of wits than a learning opportunity. There’s plenty of decadence and bad behavior floating around the pages, plenty of questionable activity, and plenty of occurrences that may or may not be real…it just depends on what you believe in.
And thankfully, there’s also plenty of stage time and good ol’ fashioned rock n’ roll to go with it all, because really, it’s the music that makes everything else possible.
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