I finished the first draft of my second novel Heartworm two weeks ago. Why the name Heartworm? Here's the lowdown. I had been working on a sequel to Wivenhoe Park this spring with the working title of Portholes For Bono, which is a lyric from the 1995 Whipping Boy album Heartworm. The novel is set in '95-'96 so it seemed natural to listen to music from that era, especially since Heartworm is one of my top ten favorite albums of all-time. There's also an Irish angle to the story, based on two years I spent living in Dublin, making Whipping Boy a natural soundtrack to my creativity. Bono even makes a cameo!

That said, I felt like there was something missing from that earlier version of novel #2. At this time, Bloomsbury Academic announced a call for entries for their music book series 33 1/3. Most of the books in that series are standard rock criticism, but several, such as Joe Pernice's Meat is Murder and John Niven's Music From Big Pink were written as novels. I came up with an angle on how to incorporate Whipping Boy into a fictional narrative and make it a sequel to Wivenhoe Park. Not so far fetched when you think of it. The protagonist of Heartworm is a rock critic and I interviewed Whipping Boy for my old magazine Vendetta so I already had plenty of source material in the archives.

To cut to the chase, Heartworm didn't make the final cut for 33 1/3, but the book will come out and I'm already looking forward to promoting it -- I'd love to do a reading in Dublin next year on the 20th anniversary of Heartworm the album.

If you've never heard Whipping Boy, below are two of their best known anthems performed live on the Jools Holland show:


Wivenhoe Park Soundtrack

Music plays an instrumental role in my novel Wivenhoe Park. Paul Rayson of Muso's Guide writes, "It's a celebration of Psychocandy and all else great about the scene, with details from Sister Ray Records to Spacemen 3. It has style notes that reveal the time and the people, from the cheesy GQ fashions of 1980s mainstream Italians to the tired spiky-haired punk costumes of a disenfranchised English subculture. Wivenhoe Park is the most loving kind of novel about growing up, and in the best setting: a revolution of musical experimentation against 1980s drabness."

This revolution against '80s drabness -- Michael Jackson, Miami Vice, Live Aid etc. -- is perfectly captured in my wife Arabella's book trailer:

The Jesus and Mary Chain are our protagonist Drew's favorite band. They are mentioned throughout the novel, including a discussion with some new wave kids from Iowa at the airport on his way to England; a JAMC concert scene at Norwich University where he bonds with a girl; watching the "Just Like Honey" video on television with some Italian friends while on holiday in Rome.

Another band that plays a key role in Wivenhoe Park is the young Primal Scream. The singer Bobby Gillespie is someone that Drew looks up to as the epitome of cool when he first encounters the group in a London club and hears a new song called "Velocity Girl." He later hears the song again in a girl's room when she plays him the now legendary C86 cassette.

Older music is also essential to Wivenhoe Park. In the first chapter, which takes place the year before the other events, Drew is at a party sporting a Psychedelic Furs T-shirt. His favorite bands at this point in his life are the aforementioned, along with the likes of Echo and the Bunnymen, Sisters of Mercy,and the Cure. The dark and moody stuff. Later in the book, Drew and his best friend Johnny hear a DJ play "The Killing Moon" at goth club in Florence, Italy. Here's a cool live version!

Another old song that soothes Drew's soul is "We Could Send Letters" by Aztec Camera. The song is about a long distance relationship on the fritz and one that Drew thinks about a lot when he is reminded of his first love Christine, who is back home in Michigan.

At one point we learn that the gateway to Drew's love of 'alternative' music stems from an older friend, Richie, who was once a semi-famous rock star in the seventies and is now a neighbor of his parents in suburban Michigan. Richie introduces Drew to all the cool Detroit legends like the Stooges and MC5. If you read the novel, you should be able to figure out who the real life Richie is. One of his songs ended up getting covered by Motley Crue in the late '80s!

This is just a small sampling of the music mentioned in Wivenhoe Park. I have added over three hours worth of music mentioned in the novel in a newly-created Spotify playlist. Note: there a few bands mentioned in the novel such as Meat Whiplash and Aztec Camera who are not on Spotify but this playlist is pretty complete and mostly in the order that the songs are mentioned in the book.


Back From Tour

Had a blast for the last two weeks, doing reading/signing events in seven different cities. I'll put together a more extensive tour report soon, but wanted to add some photos. This is just a small snippet. Many more forthcoming! Oh yeah, and I'd be a lousy salesman if I didn't tell you that I am selling signed copies of Wivenhoe Park direct from the Elephant Stone website.

Photos 1-3: The tour kick off at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC

Charlotte at Snug Harbor, with our gracious host Andy! He's a true rock star.

Sign from the amazing Brickhouse in Meridian, Mississippi, which is owned by my old friend from high school, Bill! I had the most book sales at this event.

More Brickhouse! Robert Johnson poster. Damn straight.

With my friend Graham at the Bottletree in Birmingham, AL where I did a signing

R Bar in New Orleans after the party. In an almost Spinal Tap moment I opened for a Crawfish Bake!

At R Bar in New Orleans, which is owned by Greg Dulli from Afghan Whigs.They created some amazing cocktails for the event (see below).

Black and pink is the new black.

Three Sheets to the Kevin Shields. R Bar drink special.

Guinness in New Orleans!

Howlin' Books in Nashville. They have a seriously amazing selection of music books. Can't wait to come back there next year when my second novel is out.

Signing books in Nashville.

Pit Stop on the way to Cincinnati


Dixie Narco Tour to commence

The Wivenhoe Park southern book tour -- AKA Dixie Narco Tour -- begins next Saturday, April 25 in Chapel Hill, N.C. Full dates are listed on the image below. If you're nearby, please come out. The events are all going to have cool stuff going on like drink specials and giveaways, including product from Elephant Stone Records. R Bar in New Orleans is creating a cocktail called Three Sheets To The Kevin Shields.

In other news, my proposal to write a novel based on Whipping Boy's Heartworm album did not make the short list for 33 1/3. I've written 35,000 words thus far and I'm really happy with it. It's written as a sequel to Wivenhoe Park, taking place ten years later, and only needs a few minor tweaks to make it less 33 1/3 specific. Whipping Boy play a prominent role in the story as the protagonist Drew navigates his way through London, Dublin, Boston and Belfast. Other bands/artists that appear include Oasis, Richard Ashcroft, Lush, Luke Haines of the Auteurs, and Bono.

Since this blog is also about running, I'll just say that the training has been a little inconsistent. I'm in decent shape and once I'm back home from the tour on May 10, I'll dedicate the summer to getting back to race fitness.

Last but not least, the Kindle edition of Wivenhoe Park is on sale for $2.99 for the duration of the book tour.


Book Tour and more

The Southern Book tour has been lined up (see image below). The venues are all really excited about the book -- some of the bars, who  are hosting events are even creating special drinks. R Bar in New Orleans is going to have something called a Swervedriver and Three Sheets to the Kevin Shields! In other news, I've been working hard on my next novel, which may be finished sooner rather than later. Bloomsbury, the folks who publish the super cool 33 1/3 series have just announced a call for entries. Most of the books are standard rock criticism/analysis of the classic album in question, but a few of the books in the series such as Joe Pernice's Meat is Murder and John Niven's Music From Big Pink are short novels. I've decided to submit a proposal for a novel centered around Whipping Boy's legendary Heartworm, which came out in October 1995. The thing is I've already written a good chunk of this as a sequel of sorts to Wivenhoe Park. In fact, my working title had been Portholes For Bono, which is taken from the lyrics of one of the songs on Heartworm. Coincidence or what? On top of that I did an extensive interview with Whipping Boy back in the day for my magazine Vendetta -- pure gold for this book! The proposal is due in early March and the Bloomsbury site will provide a link to all the submissions after that time. I'll provide an update when available. I won't get an answer for 2-4 months, so I pretty much have to write this even if it does get rejected. The series is very competitive. In any case this book will come out either via Bloomsbury or Cooperative Trade (Wivenhoe Park publisher).


Happy New Year!

Just a few updates as I haven't really been posting too much.

1) Running is actually going very well. I haven't raced since August (pretty busy this fall with book release stuff) but I'm in pretty good shape. The legs seem to like me for taking a redshirt season. I've been doing some slightly different types of workouts right now (Hanson's inspired) that are more strength oriented. See my running2win log link above if interested. I want to get in a few fast 5ks this Spring before embarking on my book store, which brings me to:

2) Writing. Wivenhoe Park is doing well. Really happy with the press so far as well as customer reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I'll be doing signing events in Charlotte, Meridian, and New Orleans for sure and possibly Oxford, Miss. and Birmingham, Ala.


1) Keep my sub 18:00 5K streak going another year.

2) Finish my second novel and aim for an early 2015 release date. I'm about 15,000 words into the new one -- working title is Portholes For Bono. Darker vibe to this one. If Wivenhoe Park was my Psychocandy, this is most definitely Darklands.

3) Read more -- I've taken up a reading challenge on Goodreads.

4) Listen to more music by newer/younger groups.


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