There’s something that fascinates me about rock stars and musicians, something that doesn’t seem to want to go away. They crop up in just about everything I’ve written so far. Being a musician myself, using the theme of music isn’t so mysterious; it’s just one of the go-to methods I use for my characters express themselves. But people who choose to build careers around music — and those who are captivated enough by them to emulate their ways — are entirely different creatures from the rest of us. I’ve been trying to figure out why this strikes me as something worth writing about, other than the obvious road stories and rags-to-riches fable of it all. The world just seems to love its rock stars, regardless of how faulted and flawed they might be.
And I actually think I might love them because of the faults and the flaws.
I think I understand a little better how it is now that I’m on the other side of the new book.
What contemporary character better personifies the mythic god-hero figure at the heart of every epic story ever told? One of humble birth who overcomes a youth fraught with obstacles and challenges to ascend and become seen as something more than mortal. One who sings the songs of us all, whose voice resonates with the pain and triumph of whole of the human experience, who has seemingly reached into the void and filled the chasm between the sacred and the mundane.
Rock stars and musicians are voyagers between worlds, traveling the channels where mere folk cannot hope to set foot, capturing the life essence in words and sounds and giving it to us as a gift. Right or wrong, we exalt them for it.
And then, when they screw it all up and fall right back into the gutter with the rest of us?
Holy whoa…is that ever a hotbed of storytelling material right there!
So far, though I’ve tried to make them all relatable, none of my rock stars or my musicians have been simple souls, and none have turned out to be literal heroes—not in the vampire books (there’s another one coming in Joe 3…he’s more flawed than just about any of them, and I’ve never had more fun writing a character than I’ve had writing him), not in Starstruck (probably the most “rock star” of the rock stars, actually) and not in the new book (in which the rock star is actually the most human of any I’ve written). They’ve all been nothing so much as wayward souls in search of themselves, yet they end up empty and shallow and humble again —and, ultimately, thoroughly self-aware.
Maybe that’s what makes them so write-able for me: if I can give them enough knowledge of their own hopelessly-flawed existences, maybe they emerge at the bottom more heroic than they ever were at the top.
Whatever it is, I’m sure there’s more of it to come.
Next book, though? No rock stars, and no musicians. Not a one.
I don’t know how I’m gonna handle it.