Hello, everyone, Cecilia here. Lots of cool stuff to share with you today about Daron’s Guitar Chronicles, including news about Audiobooks, news about the paperback omnibus, a fun list of GLBT celebrities, and I answer reader questions solicited in the previous liner note!
There are now Audiobooks of Daron’s Guitar Chronicles! They are narrated by an actor named Teddy Hamilton, whom the production company at Audible.com found and whose audition I chose. The first narrator they tried was way too serious and his diction was way too good for Daron, so I nixed him, and then they found Teddy. Daron can be kind of loosey-goosey, as you may have noticed, so it was much more fun to hear someone who could read him that way.
I’m very psyched that these are now out and ready for download! I’m new to the world of audiobooks, so I’m really looking forward to hearing what people think of them. Volumes 1, 2, and 3, which correspond to the DGC ebooks, can be downloaded from the Audible.com series page: http://www.audible.com/series/?asin=B009NS8XPY
You can hear the samples of the first 4-5 minutes of each one at Audible.com, too.
In somewhat related news,
on Monday I should be getting I just got the first bound printed sample copy of the Daron’s Guitar Chronicles Omnibus, the book that you all Kickstarted! Ahhh can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait… but I have to. T-shirts and tote bags will supposedly be finished on Friday and I can go pick them up, since I had them done at a place about a mile from my house. I heart supporting my local economy.
The proofcopy that arrived is gorgeous! BUT… has one error in the way the graphics reproduced, as you can see:
The image of the jumping guitar player shouldn’t be knocked out white, it should be black. My graphics expert, Gilly Rosenthol, will fix it up Monday and we’ll resubmit it. And so in about a week we SHOULD have real finished copies of the book!
Amusingly, since it is over 300 pages one can refer to it as a “phone book” and the yellow cover only adds to that impression. Grin.
Now, if I had been planning ahead a little more, I would have tried to time this Liner Note for National Coming Out Day (which is October 11 every year). But I was concentrating more on the story than on the real world. So instead we’ll have our coming out talk a little late, haha.
It’s almost hard to remember how thick and deep the closet walls were in the 1980s. The only celebrities people could point to who were gay were those who were in some way so outrageous as to defy norms anyway: David Bowie, Elton John, Divine. Some you could guess about but not substantiate (Liberace?) Rock Hudson had died of AIDS and yet people were still very much in denial that the entertainment industry could be, actually, quite crowded with closeted queer folk.
George Takei was in the closet in those days. Since coming out “officially” in 2005, he has spoken often about what it was like. I saw him give the keynote speech at the Popular Culture Association conference this past April, and he talked about going to gay bars in Los Angeles. “You’d see another actor, and you’d recognize each other, and then you’d both have to play the part of pretending you didn’t know each other,” he said. At first, no one in the Star Trek cast knew about him, but people gradually figured it out. (Takei says probably the only one who was oblivious was Bill Shatner.) After Takei came out, millions of people went back and re-watched the “Amok Time” episode where Sulu goes bonkers, shirtless, with a fencing foil. It suddenly seemed obvious, didn’t it? A little like how after J.K. Rowling said Dumbledore was gay people went back and read that very first description of Dumbledore from the books: and he’s swishing around in purple boots, a description that is highly coded “gay” in every way. But people hadn’t noticed it the first time around.
I stumbled on this slideshow on the Huff Post site, 41 celebrities who have come out as LGBT. I was amused to find that lately there are so many people coming out I haven’t even kept up. I knew about Adam Lambert but not Gillian Anderson. I knew about Ellen and Rosie but not Cynthia Nixon from Sex in the City. And this list doesn’t include tons and tons of other folks. Like Joan Jett or Ian McKellan.
Back in 1989, the point we have reached in Daron’s story, NONE of these people were out, except Elton. Elton had come out in a 1976 Rolling Stone interview, but people didn’t really pay attention. Confusing the issue (for those who are confused by bisexuality, which I’m not…) he also married a woman in 1984… then divorced her in 1988. He had to come out all over again in 1988, saying he thought it was “common knowledge” that he liked men.
And the thing is, the plethora of gay celebrities out there now doesn’t always make it easier for individual people coming out. Here in the United States we’ve still got a high rate of suicide among queer folk–and not just teenagers, either. For some folks, living life going uphill against constant hostility is too much. (Not to mention there are countries where it’s illegal to be gay, including those where being gay can incur the death penalty like Sudan and Mauritania.)
The fact is, though, that things are different now. The closet isn’t universally accepted as necessary for public figures (even politicians) as it once was. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons why Daron’s Guitar Chronicles remained a period piece of the 1980s, instead of being “updated” to the modern day when I decided to try to self-publish it. Like a spy novel that relies on Cold War tensions, DGC relies on that pervasive culture of silence and homophobia as a backdrop.
And now, on to your questions. (Bart promises to answer the question about his favorite bass players next time, btw.)
Michael asked: I’ve got a question for Cecilia: where do you find time to write, and do you get anyone else to edit? Do you have a bunch of Daron episodes written a week in advance and keep writing way before posting to stay ahead?
I gave the quick answer in a comment, but here’s a bit more. When I first started the website, I had 200 posts already written, because it had been a giant, novelesque manuscript I was trying to sell. But as soon as I started posting it, I began making tweaks and rewriting. It wasn’t quite as much work as completely starting from scratch, but there were things I knew I wanted to do that I had cut out of the later drafts while trying to make it small enough for a publisher, and I went back and restored them. Most of them were things like the flashback about Courtney and piano lessons. That was cut from the manuscript I sent to publishers because Courtney never got a chance to show up in the story to that point. But I knew she would be coming along if I let myself continue on beyond the fake ending I had, which wasn’t so much an ending as where I forced myself to stop writing in the 1990s.
Once I got to chapter 201, though, the “fake ending,” in the posts, though, I knew by then I wanted to continue. It helped a lot that by then the site had many readers clamoring for more. I also looked back at my original notes from the 1980s and realized how much more there was that I intended to do. So that’s what you’re seeing now–all new chapters that are being written week by week. I usually write a rough draft of 2-3 posts at one sitting, but then I go back and fix up, polish and tweak each one in the day or two before it posts. Posts average between 1000 and 1500 words each, and they take about an hour each to write, plus another half hour to an hour to proofread and fix up for posting. I also often go back and re-read 3-4 posts leading up to what I’m writing to try to keep the flow seamless. About the most I can get ahead is two weeks… and sometimes I’m writing the post due to post at 10am… at 2am, mere hours before. That’s rare, though. Usually I’ve had a whole week to mull over a post before it goes live.
Sometimes the thing that takes the longest is picking the post titles, though. Which leads to the next question:
Jeanie asked: Where do you get all the awesome song titles? How do you choose which songs to use?
Back when I thought this was going to be “just” a book, the song titles were one of the only ways to get a “rock and roll” feel into it. Quoting actual song lyrics, even just a partial line, is expensive and requires written permission from the songwriter or music publisher. Unlike fiction, where quotes of a certain size can be used under ‘fair use,’ song lyrics are like poems. But the titles aren’t protected the same way.
Once I started the blog-style posting, I realized I could embed Youtube videos. That would be helpful not only in reminding people what song I was thinking of, but what the music sounded like, not to mention what the hair-styles were like!
When I first started out, I made a list of several hundred of my own favorite songs from the 1980s and before. There are a couple of sections where there’s even some classic rock thrown in, at a time when musically Daron’s got that going through his head. To augment that list so there is a better chance of finding a song title that fits the theme of the post, I listen to the two eighties channels on SiriusXM Radio a lot (the 80s on 8, and First Wave). From time to time I’ve also Googled various lists of greatest hits to look for songs I’ve forgotten.
I always write the chapters first and look for the titles and songs last. This means that once in a while the title I end up with is only related sort of slant-wise, or is a pun, or is an ironic or sarcastic statement (as in the recent Tell That Girl to Shut Up). Usually, though, as I’m looking at the song list, an obvious one will jump out at me.
When it comes to which Youtube video to choose, I often “audition” a few of them. I often opt for the “live” versions of things instead of the more theatrical “MTV” videos. One reason is sometimes the “official” video isn’t embeddable, though that’s happening less and less. The other is that in the over-produced eighties, you can actually hear the musical instruments better on the live ones than the album versions. Daron prefers those.
Lyra emailed this question: “I just spent three straight days reading everything I could until now I’m caught up and have to wait like everyone else! Augh! My question is do you know how it’s all going to end?”
Hm, this is a tricky one to answer without giving away spoilers. I’ll put it this way. I see a lot of glimpses of Daron’s “present” and “future.” I know there are some specific events that will be included in the Chronicles. I also have a point in mind that could possibly be a stopping place. But my characters have told me I’m wrong about what I think on other books of mine, so I try to keep a healthy dose of skepticism that my conscious plans will remain intact. Daron knows what he’s doing and he has a specific story to tell–it’s just a very slow-developing story. I’ll keep posting for as long as it takes him to do that, and I trust it’s all going to make sense in the end. Whenever that is.
Steve G. asked a very meta question: “Does Daron know Corwin? I forget the exact series of links that led to the question originally, but once it arose in my mind it took on a life of its own. I mean, Daron lives in your head, right? And there is a version of Corwin that lives in your head. Have they met there?”
Interestingly enough, Daron and corwin have not met in my head, but they have met in real life. Around the time corwin and I met (1991), Daron was in the “driver’s seat” a lot, and various friends of ours have (knowingly) had real life conversations with him. (Others probably not so knowingly… and quite possibly at your house. Daron likes your parties, Steve.)
That’s it for this time. Oh, and the THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF THE SITE is coming up in November! Thank you all for being part of an amazing three years, with more to come!