Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Guest Post: Susan Helene Gottfried author of The Demo Tapes

Our friend Susan Helen Gottfried from West of Mars, author of the books The Demo Tapes, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote just for us!

Thanks to Beth for having me today. I love dropping by other people's blogs to write the sort of post I'd never put up at my own place. It's like turning the whole world into my sandbox. Best of all, it lets me meet new people -- and lets new people meet me.

The funny thing about this is that I'm a writer. I gladly spend days on end here in my house, without interacting face-to-face with a single soul. I'd be a modern-day hermit if I could. But there are kids to shuttle about, exercises that can only be done in the Hoity-Toity Health Club... Really, how's a girl supposed to be a hermit when faced with pro athletes who can sit in a straddle and touch their noses to the floor (especially when I can't)? Not to mention the challenge that certain instructors lay at my feet. I love challenges.

And really, if you think about it, being a hermit is no way for a writer to live. Okay, sure. We need our space to sit, write, and let scenes unfold behind our eyes. We need the lack of other people for our characters to come to life.

But you know that old maxim to write what you know? How can a writer do that if all she knows is the inside of her house?

I am best known for writing about a fictional rock band -- ShapeShifter. That's something you can only learn about by being there. And yes, although I am not musically inclined enough to make music, I spent a number of years in the biz. I almost took any number of jobs in the industry; being part of that world is, quite simply, in my blood. That's why I have to write about it. It's my way of combining my two greatest loves (after the Tour Manager and the Opening Acts, of course).

I can't live the rock and roll life anymore. The time constraints don't play nicely with my writing schedule, and I'm in the wrong part of the world for it. Heck, I don't even have the right clothes anymore, although you who see me outside of my hermit's nest and at conferences and conventions may not agree. (Hang around me long enough, you'll see how limited the wardrobe has become!)

That doesn't mean I don't miss it, though. Sometimes, I miss being out in the world, interacting like any other person does. Going out to lunch, driving to work, having adventures even if they are fraught with frustrations and irritations.

Oh, wait. I don't miss those parts. Those are what made me become a hermit in the first place.

And yet, it's conflict that's the lifeblood of fiction. How a character handles stress -- that famous Hemingway trait of grace under pressure -- tells a reader an awful lot about who that fictional person is, down at the core. And again, I can't write it if I'm not experiencing it first-hand.

I'm a lousy hermit. People say I'm a good writer, so I guess it all balances out.

Besides, hermits can't play in other people's sandboxes. And didn't I say at the get-go that I like sandboxes? All those castles, the cakes and pies... and the people. People I'll never write about -- I'm too self-conscious for that -- but who shape my fictional world nonetheless.

So. Good to meet you. Come on over to my sandbox once in awhile. I promise I won't steal your shovel and beat you over the head with it.


About the books:

The Demo Tapes were born out of the demand of the groupies who hang around the Meet and Greet. They are collections of short fiction that introduce you to Trevor, Mitchell, and the rest of the fictional band, ShapeShifter — as well as the world in which they inhabit.

About Susan:

When I was six, I remember asking my father what the New York Times Bestseller display in the front of our local B.Dalton store was. When he told me, I remember nodding and saying, “That’s what I’m going to do one day.” I haven’t made it yet; too many interesting routes along the way and how can I write what I know if I don’t know anything?

Among those interesting detours have been my BA and MFA in creative writing. I’ve worked for a literary agent, as a freelance copy editor, and I’ve done some freelance writing. Keeping with the literary stuff, I’m a member of Sisters in Crime, Pennwriters, and Backspace — for now. I fully expect that list to grow. I also hang at sites such as Romance Divas and the Absolute Write Water Cooler, although I lurk more than post.

Other things that have cropped up and caught my interest have been the wonderful sport of ice hockey, as a player and coach of all ages, from 5-year-olds to collegiate-level. I’ve thrown pots on a potters wheel. I love to trade books online and I was voted my book club’s Leader for Eternity. Oddly, trading books online has led me to buy more than ever.

My other passion is music, and to that end, I’ve worked in record stores, at college radio stations (three to be exact, although I was at one particular one for four years), in the front office of two different concert promoters and as stage crew. I interned for an ad agency that writes concert ads, and for awhile there, I was the head organizer of the MetalliBash, the unofficial Metallica fan convention. I am proud to say I played hostess to Lars Ulrich twice (2001 and 2002) and Kirk Hammett once (2001).

Now, I’m a blogger and an author. The success of the blog has led me to publish a collection of short fiction that you can check out via the Susan’s Books link. My passion for rock and roll literature continues to expose me to some wild fiction. And daily, I’m inspired by the people who hang out at my blog, who have shaped my world. Come join them.

If you'd like to pick up a copy either of Susan's books The Demo Tapes click on the cover images below.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hey, babe. I've... uhhh... posted about this at Win a Book for You. Us. Me.

Something like that.

And thanks for having me!

brizmus said...

Awesome guest post!

Pam said...

I love music! These books sound like such fun.

The funny thing is, a good friend of mine is a musician and he would gladly be a hermit if possible. He always jokes that if he ever makes it big, we'll never see him again as with all that money, he'd buy himself an island and cut himself off from the world.

melacan at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I'd love to be a hermit. But then...I suppose I'd lose touch with everything funny and day to day to blog about. Ah well.

Adelle Laudan said...

I'm so glad I stopped by. I now have a better understanding of you and how your mind works lol Yes, it's a little scary *wink
Great post. Happy Writing!

Alice Audrey said...

I decided long ago that "write what you know" can include all the worlds created in my head by other writers. Yeah, it's good to get out and see the real world now and then, but if I'm writing a Fantasy, it's ok for me to not know about the inside of the Alliant Energy Center' concert hall.

Kaytee said...

These sound like really interesting books!!!

Calico Crazy said...

I think I could be a modern day hermit if I didn't have a child. She on the other hand is a social butterfly. Thanks for the peek inside your life and mind.

Donna [Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings] said...

I bet you have some stories to tell about the music biz days, huh? Wow, Susan! Looks like you've already done so much at such a young age.

I really need to check out your books, plan on doing so very soon.

Janel said...

Oh how I wish I could have played a hermit today. Alas, real life had me running errands for most of the day.

I really enjoyed the guest post!

Julia Smith said...

More great Susan info. If I have to follow you around from guest blog to guest blog, I'll do it!

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