I’m Karen, a Midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on 80s music, Judy Blume, and the films of John Hughes. An early preoccupation with Rock ‘n’ Roll led me to spend my twenties working my way from intern to executive in the music industry. Much of my writing revolves around the world of backstage passes and band dynamics.
My first full-length novel, “Bring Me Back”, is a story I had in my head for nearly eight years before my fingers hit the keyboard. Sleeping and eating quickly became a luxury, a plan I have since dubbed the Writer’s Diet. I channeled teenage memories of plastering my walls with posters to weave the tale of music journalist, Claire Abby, and the dreamy British rock-star crush of her youth, Christopher Penman. “Bring Me Back” is a work of women’s fiction, published by Turquoise Morning Press.
When I’m not creating fictional musicians, I’m listening to everything from old-school Cheap Trick to Duran Duran to Superchunk with my kids, honing my Southern cooking skills (I make some mean collards), or sweet-talking my astoundingly supportive husband into whipping up a batch of cocktails.
Music critic Claire Abby is a single mom dreading her daughter’s departure for college and worried that turning forty will leave her career running on fumes. She’s floored when she lands a Rolling Stone cover story on 80s British rock legend Christopher Penman. She spent her teenage years fantasizing he was her boyfriend.
In person, Christopher is everything Claire feared he’d be—charming, witty and unwilling to address the rumors he’s dodged for a decade. Still, she contains her adolescent fantasies and manages to earn his trust, unearthing the truth and the devastating secret behind it. His blockbuster story is her first priority when she returns home, a nearly impossible task when Christopher starts calling and flirting. She knows she should maintain a professional distance. She knows she should focus on the story. She knows it would be best to simply walk away. But how can she say “no” to the man she could never forget?
This scene is mid-way through Claire’s interview with Christopher. He has convinced her to join him while he tries on clothes he’s ordered from a boutique.
He emerged again and turned to face me in a marine blue dress-shirt with a texture like superfine embroidery. He hadn’t bothered with most of the buttons and I could see more than a conciliatory patch of his chest. The lightweight gray wool pants he was wearing looked as if they’d already been to the tailor—the fit couldn’t have been better.
“How many songs did you actually record?” I had to glance away after the first few words. Talking to him while looking at him was a talent I didn’t possess.
“Let me think.” He stared at the ceiling, flaunting his jaw and rubbing his neck while his irresistible smell washed over me. “I went into the studio with easily twenty songs. We recorded fifteen and I believe twelve will end up on the record.” He eased into the chair next to me and finished off the final drops in his glass, setting it on the table between us.
This was all a brand new kind of weird, talking to Christopher Penman while he tried on clothes. I was even getting comfortable with his appearance, but it was more difficult when he’d been out of sight for a minute and reappeared. Then he knocked the breath right out of me.
“So, if many of the songs were about dealing with your divorce, what were the other songs about?”
“The other side of it was dealing with what was my fault. That was more difficult, because it felt horrible to think about what a prat I’d been, but it was ultimately the most rewarding part.”
I nodded, feeling better about my decision to focus on his record at the beginning. It was leading to the other topics and I felt sure it had helped me earn his confidence. The answers seemed to be coming easily now.
“Aside from lyrics, was there anything about the process of writing that contributed to the personal nature of the record?”
He scratched his head. “I had a lot of ‘aha’ moments. They weren’t always thoughts that went into lyrics, but they were part of my state of mind. You can say it any way you want, but the record is the documentary of my mid-life crisis, in feeling and in substance.” He stood and headed back into the dressing room. “This is the last one. Thanks for being such a good sport.”
“Of course,” I called. “Thanks for the private fashion show,” I mumbled under my breath, disbelieving the words.
Mr. Perfect emerged from behind the curtain again, remarkable in his own black t-shirt and a mind-blowing pair of jeans. He peered down at me and swept his floppy hair from his forehead. The only thing that could’ve kept me from holding an impolite stare was his question about the pants, “What about these?”
I sat, dumbfounded. If it was all a distraction technique, it was working.
“Are you hungry?” he asked, before answering his own question. “I’m starving. I know a great place.”