Visiting us today is author and rocker Susan Helene Gottfried. Reading about her fictional band ShapeShifters is like being handed a backstage pass with unlimited access. Her characters are fun and gritty and love to rock!
Let’s get to know Susan:
Susan Helene Gottfried walked away from a career in the music industry in order to write books, so it makes sense that most of her fiction revolves around rock bands. Once you get those record stores, radio stations, and fellow roadies and promoters under your skin, they never leave.
When not writing, Susan captains the team at Win a Book, a promotional site for authors and book bloggers — and readers like yourself.
Visit her online at http://westofmars.com
Just in case anyone is wondering, yes, that’s an octopus in Susan’s hands! She tells me it belongs to uber-literary-agent Janet Reid.
Now a little about Susan’s new book Trevor’s Song:
ShapeShifter band dynamics will never be the same with this new woman on the scene, and the distractions of two girlfriends and a world tour aren’t enough to keep Trevor from feeling like his carefully constructed world is crumbling around him. The pesky little illness he’s been hiding from his bandmates isn’t helping, either.
Trevor is determined to drive Kerri away so life can run properly. He’ll do whatever it takes, or die trying, and not just because if he doesn’t get well soon, time might be up for old Trevor. The last person he expects help or sympathy from is Kerri herself, but he may have to make common cause with his enemy if he’s to survive the fallout from the secrets he’s been hiding.
Susan took a little time out from her crazy life to answer my questions. Here’s how our chat went:
The story of Trevor’s Song began as blog posts. Those posts are now within two short books titled The Demo Tapes. Can you tell us a little about that?
Actually, the novel came first. I began the blog (The Meet and Greet at West of Mars) to help build my readership for the novel. I was convinced that I’d have this huge following and that publishers and agents would come knocking on my door, demanding to publish the novel.
Unfortunately, along the way, I learned that agents and publishers were steering clear because (according to them), books about rock stars historically don’t sell well, no one wants to read about a man, and a couple other reasons that may or may not have been valid.
Yet at the same time, I had this readership — granted, only a couple hundred, not the thousands I’d dreamed of or that the publishing industry demanded — who wanted to read this background stuff I was filling the blog with. They wanted it in perspective. On a timeline, starting with the day Mitchell and Trevor meet and going forward from there.
My original intent had been a total vanity thing for The Demo Tapes. But my readers demanded I make them into something more and to work to build my audience even more. I’m glad they wanted this. It’s been a great ride.
I don’t agree with the assumption that books about rockstars don’t sell. Then again, I don’t agree with a lot of the assumptions made my mainstream publishing companies. I, for one, love to read about rockers. My two favorite things, music and books, in one place!
Will people need to first read The Demo Tapes in order to understand the characters and plot in Trevor’s Song?
Heck, no! The Demo Tapes books are meant to be supplements. Food for the groupies who can’t get enough of the boys.
Frankly, I wish more authors would do this sort of thing. With self-publishing what it is these days, when a reader connects to a character or a set of characters they simply love, why deny them the chance to spend more time together?
I agree and love the idea!
Where did the band’s name – ShapeShifter – come from?
Trevor, of course. His name is Trevor Wolff. He’s a man who, as a kid, used to dream of shapeshifting into a wolf and ripping his father’s throat out. Dad could be a bit… abusive, you see.
Trevor seems to be the heart of ShapeShifter. He’s a complicated character, at times difficult to love which makes us love him even more. Is his character based on anyone you know/knew?
If Trevor’s based on anyone, it’s me! He’s my hidden inner core, the part of me who always knows how to one-up someone, who knows how to point out the truth and make you stop and think. He’s terribly ugly (or so HE says, although I’ve got to admit he’s not the pin-up boy his bandmates are) yet he gets all the girls.
And I do mean he’s my HIDDEN inner core. I can’t do half the things that Trevor gets away with. I’ve tried.
I won’t ask exactly which of the things you’ve tried, though I’d love to know!
Who is your favorite character and why?
Ooh, hard to pick between Trevor, Mitchell, and Kerri. You don’t see as much Kerri in The Demo Tapes as you will in Trevor’s Song. Trevor’s the bad boy everyone loves. Mitchell is handsome, moody, sexual, tender. He’s the ultimate romance hero. And Kerri? She’s cool incarnate. Nothing flusters her, as you see in Trevor’s Song (repeatedly, in fact). She’s this amazingly supportive spouse who manages to maintain her own career. Yet she makes sacrifices, big ones, for Mitchell and his life — and never regrets a single one of them.
What are you working on now?
Well, Demo Tapes: Year 3 is in the works. I’d been hoping to get it out around this time, but the summer intruded and I wound up spending an incredible amount of time with my kids. We had a blast, too. Talk about sacrifices you never regret!
I’m also working on the follow-up to Trevor’s Song, as I do leave the reader hanging a bit at the end (of course, common sense will tell you what happens, at least in a general sense). And I’ve got another book in the works that’s set in the fictional city of Riverview, where the band comes from.
Not enough? I’m also working on something totally, completely different. But have no fear. ShapeShifter will make a cameo, although as the plans are right now, if you blink, you may miss them!
Before I sign off, let me thank you for having me here today, Darcia. I love meeting new readers and spreading word of the Trevolution.
Want to get to know more about Susan and her books? Her website/blog has all sorts of craziness going on. But it’s crazy in a good way and you won’t ever get bored! Here’s the link: http://westofmars.com/
You can contact Susan directly via email at: Susan@Westofmars.com
You can find all 3 of Susan’s books – The Demo Tapes, years 1 and 2, and Trevor’s Song on Smashwords in paperback format on Lulu.
All 3 can be downloaded in various e-book formats on Smashwords.
Trevor’s Song should be available on Amazon soon! Also, Susan has a message for anyone interested in purchasing her books: I have print copies of all three books here in the house for anyone who’d like an autographed copy (they make great gifts!) — and would like to point out that I’ll sell anyone in the US or Canada a print copy of Trevor’s Song for $20, postage included.
A huge thank you to Susan for hanging out with us today! Feel free to post comments for Susan here and/or visit her website!