About the Prodigal Band Trilogy–Main Characters-Part 2: the Band

The fictitious rock and roll band that is on a journey to either choosing a good vs. evil path that ultimately all must take at some point called–for a very good reason–Sound Unltd, consists of six musicians of worthy talent, ambition, drive, and goals, with an instrument make up resembling most rock bands regardless of origin: guitarists–in this case, two–bass, percussion, keyboard-synthesizer, and lead singer/frontman. Since the time of the Beatles, this has been the usual configuration, more or less. Some of the six can play other instruments, as well, and some also have classical or operatic training. Three of the six come from musical families.

Descriptions of the band members:

I will offer physical descriptions two ways: one by actual overall description in word, and also a comparison to actual rock musicians or singers that should be well known…that is, character A looks like or plays his instrument like “so-and-so.” The word description of each band member comes from the beginning of the Prologue of ‘The Prodigal Band’, and I will name the character within the description:

“A lead singer (Erik) with dark brown shoulder-length hair accentuated by sensuous bangs on a baby-face was slender, thin-lipped and of medium height. Voice a Godly gift. Yet, some said, the devil’s tool.”  Within The Prodigal Band I compare his looks to Elvis Presley, but a lot skinnier; plus he has a Nordic complexion. His mother is from Norway, thus his name is spelled with a ‘k’ and not the usual ‘c’ ending. His voice is also similar to Elvis, deep and rich sounding.

“A tall, angular-faced guitarist (Jack) possessed dirty-blond hair now growing on once-shaved sides of his head. Now without the screaming instrument he fired into immortality.” I don’t really have an actual guitarist he resembles, but as for his playing style, it is not quite Hendrix, but still innovative, and has various qualities one would expect from Clapton, Page, Townsend, Walsh, or Prince.

“The dark, strapping bass guitar player (Keith) with bushy black hair and dark-coal eyes walked without his trademark gold chains.” The closest comparison to a renowned bassist is Jack Bruce of Cream, who, in my opinion, is the best bassist in rock history. And, for the sake of diversity which is rampant in England since the 60s, Keith’s grandmother is African, from Nigeria. I made Keith part-black while I was writing ‘Battle of the Band,’ but I did not stress this change until ‘The Prodigal Band’, where I bring up the issue or racism–I hate racism of any kind! As for looks, he certainly isn’t as dark as Hendrix! He and Erik call each other ‘bro.’

“The tall, lanky, beak-nosed, ringlet-haired album producer and master of many guitars (Mick) worried over his past perversions.” Mick is a cross physically between Jimmy Page, Alice Cooper, and Ozzie Osbourne, but much taller and skinnier (his nickname is ‘Skinny’). As with Page, he is an occultist, more or less. Jimmy Page bought occult cult leader Aleister Crowley’s Loch Ness occult estate, while in the books, Mick lives in an ancient occultist castle in the Cambrian Mountains of Wales near a burial site of an ancient Celtic occult high priest. The supposedly satanic memes of Page’s Led Zeppelin also provide a comparison for my fictitious band.

“The pot-bellied, biker-esque keyboard-synthesizer player (Bryan) famed for red hair wild as the wind, fiery as his brew, bore a downcast of regret.” I really cannot think of a keyboard-synth or piano player in rock music that has a similar description, but he does look like a typical Hell’s Angels biker. His nickname is ‘Bry’ or ‘Redbeard.’ As for playing style, his style reminds me of the keyboardist for Dire Straits, but the keyboardist of the previously referenced 60s group the Animals, Alan Price, is also a reference here, if you remember back to those days. Plus, he also plays Northumberland bagpipes and some horned instruments.

“A short, curly-blond percussionist (Tom) once angered by lost love approached with the others to an unknown destination, glad with a full life behind him.” The closest resemblance here is to Ginger Baker, rock and roll’s version of the greatest drummer of all time, Gene Krupa, who was the drummer for Benny Goodman’s Orchestra, an icon of the ‘big band era’ of the late 1930s and 1940s. Plus, Tom also looks kind of like Baker, with blonder and curlier hair, and shorter a well. Tom’s nickname is ‘Shorty.’

Music style–One reason I named them ‘Sound Unltd’ is that they can play virtually any rock and roll style, from fifties throw-back to progressive-psychedelic-late 60s to heavy metal to punk to new wave to grunge to rock-rap to even orchestral and rock-aria and operatic. There is a scene in ‘The Prophesied Band’ where the narrator, a fictitious ‘Rolling Stone’ reporter, imagines lead singer Erik on operatic stage while performing a rock aria he wrote. Their stage performances resemble the gigs of the 90s, with all the pyrotechnics, raunchy stage-mic stand-sex antics, guitar-bashing (first performed by the Who’s Pete Townsend in the 60s), faked amp burning, and other attention seeking behaviors.

Music influences–The Beatles, certainly, but also Mick Jagger’s notorious stage antics, and Led Zeppelin’s supposedly occultist influences as well. Other influences include Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, Prince–who is one heckuva musician–Michael Jackson even, with his dancing on stage, and, of course, Jimi Hendrix…there will never be another guitarist like him!

That’s all I’m going to say about the characters and their personalities. If you want to really know their personalities, read the books! Hint: my own daughter loves these guys! Maybe so will you.

About the Prodigal Band Trilogy: the Main Characters, Part 1

In the previous post and other various posts, I stated that my main characters morphed from a gang or clique of boys in the area I grew up, Long Island and New York City, to rock musicians from England–a decision influenced by, first, the fact that I actually made it into a local band; second, rock music was my main connection to youth culture of my generation (60s and 70s); third, my fave bands of that era–and the most influential bands of that era–were Brits, and I had visited England as well as attended the 1970 Isle of Wight Rock Festival which featured the Who, Traffic, ELP, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix (who died in London a few weeks later) and others of note (some whom I missed since we had to leave early to get the flight back to the States).

That the most influential rock bands of that era were from England was a major reason my fictional band, Sound Untd, is from England. And what band from that era had the most influence on how I constructed my fictional band? Why, the Beatles of course! The so-called Fab Four–whom many claim are the greatest rock band of all time…basically re-invigorated the genre leading the so-called ‘British Invasion’ in 1963-64 as rock music in the States had been, IMHO, flat-lining since the plane crash of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens in 1958. One doesn’t need to read the ‘Rolling Stone History of Rock and Roll’ books to know that from 1959 until the Beatles, rock was tripe, was cutesy-wootsey, was just ‘boy meets girl, boy ‘dances’ girl’ stuff (and you know what they mean by ‘dance’–having sex, right?), with a few true rock outfits to keep the genre alive (Del Shannon, Dion and the Belmonts, Beach Boys and a few others). Folks, it wasn’t until the Beatles came around–and the groups that followed them–that I had any interest in rock music at all. With the arrival of the Beatles, my world–and the world of my friends–became consumed by listening to the radio and records, reading ‘fan magazines,’ including the British one called ‘Melody Maker,’ and even getting together and pretending we were the Beatles on stage as the Beatles records played on victrolas or stereos (and not just the Beatles, either) in bedrooms or basements. It was this “pretending” to be John or Paul or George that would later give me the idea of learning guitar.

It was the Beatles and the other groups that helped me to grow up amongst my peers and not just be the loner, sort of, that I had been before. Finally, I was able to ‘fit in.’ Finally, I became interested, somewhat, in boys–it would take several years, however, before boys became interested in me. I wasn’t exactly a ‘hot date’ if you know what I mean. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I even thought I was good-looking enough (despite my acne) and finally landed a boyfriend of sorts (whose acne was even worse, but anyway…). Oh, as for my friends–most were better looking than me, and one of them, who looked like the model ‘Twiggy,’ (remember her? And she appeared in the movie ‘Blues Brothers’ as well toward the end), actually had a rock musician boyfriend–lead singer and lead guitar, of course. Another friend also dated once or twice another band singer who graduated the year before I did. And another friend had her band and she could sing like Janis Joplin! So, folks, since I knew I had writing talent since I’d been writing since the age of 8 or so, what better way to get the ball rolling than to write fiction stuff about an imaginary rock band?

But from England…but where in England?

My fictitious band absolutely could NOT be from Liverpool because that’s where the Beatles are from, and because they spoke with one of the weirdest accents on God’s green earth–Scouse. Sing-songy, to the point of crazy (and yes, folks, out here where I live a recent property owner just happened to be from Liverpool). And anyway, no way was my group going to be from where the Beatles were. London? Nope. Several bands, especially the Rolling Stones, were from London and, as with the Beatles, the Stones were prominent enough to where they, too, would be a serious influence on how my band was created. Manchester? A group that hit it huge for about a year, Hermann’s Hermits, was from there, but after a while they just did what I thought was tripe. And it seemed to me that most of these British Invasion groups were from either Liverpool, London, or Manchester.

Another group from another part of England hit it big in the summer and fall of 1964, and this group did some very interesting–and different–music, more bluesy, and with a really, really good keyboard player that really titillated my ears–the Animals, whose first hit was a remake of the Bob Dylan song, ‘House of the Rising Sun.’ Later songs had a bluesy style, such as ‘Boom Boom’ and ‘Bo Diddley.’ I saw them one night on the Ed Sullivan Show, and, after performing, Sullivan started to interview them, and–well, talk about weird accents! Neither I–nor by the looks of it, Sullivan–could understand about half of what they said, but it turned out they were from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which is way up north and close to Scotland. In fact, the accent had a Scottish lilt to it–and that was the fascinating part. Their music, and their accent.

Then, in 1970–and I’ve stated this in a previous post as well–the night before taking the ferry from Portsmouth (I think, or South Hampton) to the Isle of Wight, I just happened to meet three guys from Newcastle, and while one of them was hard to understand, the others were easier–but still, they spoke with that fascinating accent, called Geordie. Several years later after meeting some folks from Scotland, they told me the Geordie accent (and there is a dialect, as well, but I won’t get into that) was very similar to and actually derived somewhat from Scottish. Historically it makes sense: Hadrian’s Wall, which the Tyneside town of Wallsend is named for, was in fact the old time border between England and Scotland. The portion of the county of Northumberland (or Northumbria) north of that wall was part of Scotland off and on for centuries, and was finally incorporated into England in 1744, the days of ‘Bonnie Prince Charley” and that war. And, the more I hear Geordie (YouTube videos and the like), the more I’m glad I chose that area and that accent for my characters in the band.

They come from the fictitious city of Walltown (south of Wallsend on the Tyne river where they build boats and stuff, and east of Newcastle), and the main tourist attraction of this fictitious city is an angelic statue called The Tooters (referencing the horn-blowing angels in the Book of Revelation). Well guess what? Across from Newcastle is Gateshead, and it just so happens that the main tourist attraction in Gateshead is–and angelic statue! (The thing is, it looks more like a bird, but at least it has wings, if not horns). And bear in mind I didn’t know ANY of this when I started writing my book(s)!

Finally, why did I call my group ‘Sound Unltd’? The original name for the group was the actual original name in my books, the Smash. Later, I changed it to ‘Smash Unltd’ (you do realize ‘unltd’ is short for ‘unlimited,’ right?). Two things caused me to change it to ‘Sound Unltd’–one, the fact that a group called ‘Sounds Incorporated’ existed in the 60s (of course, they never made it here), and that spiritual inspiration that came to me in the early 90s. Further, the name Sound Unltd is so ‘pretentious sounding’ that I figured no one would ever call themselves by that name, and so far, no one has–and they better not, since the name exists in copyrighted manuscripts! I do hope I never to lay out a couple o’ hundred dollars to trademark it!

Being a ‘Non-Conformist’ Author: You Don’t Always Have to ‘Follow the Script’

In the mid-1990s I joined a local far west Texas writer’s group called ‘Texas Mountain Trail Writers.’ While working on the first printed novel I would call Battle of the Band, I needed ‘tutoring’ so-to-speak on absolutely what had to go into the novel to make it a legitimate novel, to market and sell the thing–that is, get some literary agent to ‘sell’ it to a big time publisher. No literary agent came a-calling, so I had to do it myself.

And this was what I picked up in all of these discussions and even annual writer conferences, which I will now list:

  1. ‘Show, don’t tell.’ Anyone who writes novels or books knows what this means. And I believe in ‘show, don’t tell,’  but there are times the ‘tell’ part has to be used perhaps  more than some would find acceptable, as I discovered finishing up my first book.
  2. Your setting must be a setting one is familiar with. After all, aren’t most of Stephen King’s novels set in Maine, where he is from? (And why do I always use Stephen King as an example? Because other than literary genius Kurt Vonnegut–from Ithica, New York (quite a few of his books are set in that part of New York state)–no writer has influenced me to write than the best suspense-si-fi-horror novelist in US history.
  3. Your characters must be from the setting you use that must be one you are familiar with.  Not all, but many of King’s characters are from Maine, or at least New England.
  4. Your characters, because you must know your characters–especially the main ones–must be part of you and even as you are. (Characterization)
  5. Dialogue–your characters must speak in a way that characters from a particular setting would speak, thus you must know how these characters would speak, which is why they ought to come from a particular familiar setting. Further, you characters must speak in a way that it is obvious for that character and the reader knows that is how the character talks. Use catch-phrases as well.
  6. Genre–this is the item that has and will give me the most headache. My books are not genre specific, but a mix of spiritual/satire/adult-rated R not X/horror/suspense/fantasy, so that could be why no literary agent touched my books–literary agents tend to be genre specific, or at least that’s what I was told by the first published author I ever met, a romance novelist (with plenty of the required ‘sexual tension.’)
  7. Theme–The only way I can describe any theme in my books is this: good triumphing over evil. If it isn’t ‘good vs. evil’ in fiction, then I am not writing it-ultimately, good vs. evil is the only issue that matters to me.
  8. Plot–Within the realm of the physical and mental and real and spiritual worlds, the plot revolves around an 80s-90s rock and roll band that, upon achieving great success, must choose their good vs. evil path, with triumphs, trials and tribulations along the way. Because they are ‘rock stars,’ they are ‘gonna do what a rock star is gonna do.’ Which is why these novels are adult–sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll–and not young adult or Christian or rated G. Sorry about that, but if my characters are going to be real, they’re just gonna have to cuss every now and then, or engage in free sex–and one of my characters is bi-sexual, by the way.

Did I miss anything?

So, here is where I ‘go off the reservation’ so-to-speak. ‘Show, don’t tell’? Who gets to decide if you I don’t show enough and tell too much? Folks, I have NEVER read a novel without some ‘tell,’ okay? Read JRR Tolkein’s “Silmarillion’ some time…there is so much ‘telling’ in that book that one would think one of the greatest novelists ever couldn’t write a novel to save his life! But of course, he has to ‘tell’ about how the elves and what not came to be, from what heavenly spirits, and the rest. Then you have books loaded with dialogue–in fact, one friend-turned-book-critic once told me that my two printed books had too much dialogue! “Too much telling,” she told me. After all, dialogue is kind of like telling, right? In my opinion, however, nothing SHOWS a character like his or her dialogue, and how he or she says it!

Where I really go off the reservation though is setting, for actual setting and in terms of where the characters are from and how they speak. I intend to fully explain the whys and what-fors of this issue in posts I have already written and just need the right time to post (since I am busy re-typing/re-writing my two printed books for e-book formatting purpose for sale on Kindle, Nook, Lulu, etc). But for now I will sum it up–since my characters are in a rock band of the 80s and 90s, and since I grew up in the 60s and 70s when British rock reigned supreme for the most part (beginning with the Beatles), and since I spent about two months there in mostly the southeast (Brighton area) and also met three twenty-somethings from Tyneside (Newcastle, of course) and I just loved hearing that Geordie accent… Okay, you get the idea. But just to make it a bit easier for me to deal with creating these books, roughly half of the settings in all my novels are in the US, either New York City or California between LA and San Fran. I grew up on Long Island and lived in NYC. I have visited southern and central California and know several folks from there  (and my brother and his family used to live near Silicon Valley). A number of supporting characters are Americans. Finally, for the most part, my Brit rocker characters spend most of their time in the most affluent part of England, which just happens to be the part of England I am most familiar with–the southeast, including the affluent county called Surrey. Thus, one really cannot accuse me of not knowing the settings and the ways of speaking (though I do use slang words every now and then that are more American than Brit, and one big mistake I made originally in the printed books was listing the dates American style instead of Brit style: instead of writing ‘the 15th of July’ I wrote “July 15.’ Or used the term ‘called’ instead of ‘rang’ on occasion…any slang terms I screwed up in my first two books will be rectified, I hope, in the e-books.

Finally, as I will explain in my posts that will be posted as soon as possible, my entire life generally does not ‘follow the script,’ and I’ve been for the most part a non-conformist my entire life.