I’m hosting an interview with Dave O’Leary, author of literary fiction “The Music Book”. Welcome to my blog, Dave.
1) Have you been writing for a long time? What inspired you to start a writing career?
I did a lot of writing back in high school and college, and though some of it was pretty good, I knew back then that it wasn’t quite good enough. I felt that I needed more life experience so after I graduated college in 1995 I moved to Seattle and then I spent eight years in Seoul, South Korea teaching English. I traveled a bit over there. I owned a recording studio for a while and started a web programming business. When I came back from Korea in 2005, I spent some time in Ohio and then moved back to Seattle in 2007 at which time I started a blog. I felt ready finally to get back into writing so I forced myself to post something to my blog every day, and after a while I got some readers and the blog actually grew into my first book, which I guess is a long way of saying that my writing started in earnest with my blog in 2007. Since the first book, I’ve had a short story published in The Monarch Review and an essay on Slate.com, and of course, finished my second book.
2) Is The Music Book your first book? If not, please tell us a little about your first book.
My firat book is called Horse Bite, and it grew out of my blog. It’s a semi-autobiographical novel about efforts to find a bit of permanence in the balance of the things we create and the things we do to sustain ourselves. The story jumps between morning pit stops in the ubiquitous coffee shops of Seattle and the evenings of beers and bartenders and music clubs where some bedrooms are longed for, some found. It’s a tale of monster G chords, poetry, booze, goodbyes, and the chance at that which matters most of all, the heart of a woman.
3) Why did you choose literary fiction as genre for your book?
It’s just the kind of writing I do, and really, the only kind I want to do. I’ll read all kinds of things of course. When I was growing up, I quite admired Tolkien’s writing for its imagination and how he was able to create whole ne worlds and cultures, even down the songs they sang. I admire George R.R. Martin for the same reason, but I don’t want to write in that kind of genre. I guess for me there’s enough magic and terror and love in this world for me to write about.
4) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
What I’d say is just write. Don’t wait for the light to be right, or the mood, or for the stars to align just so. Write. Get it down. Charles Bukowski is one of my favorite writers, and one of the things I admire about who he was is that he just wrote and wrote and wrote. It wasn’t all great, but he got it down, and he kept on getting it down. I have one of his poems taped to the wall in my writing room, and I read it often, especially when I’m having trouble getting motivated to write. It’s a great reminder that the only way to do it is to do it, and that sometimes doing it will not be easy.
if you’re going to try, go all the
otherwise, don’t even start.
if you’re going to try, go all the
this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.
go all the way.
it could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
it could mean freezing on a
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,
isolation is the gift,
all the others are a test of your
how much you really want to
and you’ll do it
despite rejection and the worst odds
and it will be better than
you can imagine.
if you’re going to try,
go all the way.
there is no other feeling like
you will be alone with the gods
and the nights will flame with
do it, do it, do it.
all the way
all the way.
you will ride life straight to
perfect laughter, its
the only good fight
5) Do you have any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?
I have a few short stories that are based around holidays although they aren’t holiday stories in any traditional holiday sense. The main one of these is called Condoms on Christmas. It was first published in the Monarch Review in May of 2012, and I’ve begun reworking it a bit. As I’ve done such, the story has grown so much that it might turn into a short novel. It could end up being its own thing or it could be like part two of Jumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth. The first part of that book is five unrelated stories, and part two is one story in three parts and is about one third the length of the book. Condoms on Christmas might be like that, the longest story in a collection of short stories. We’ll see. As for what it’s about, it isn’t really a Christmas story, of course. Such holidays just give heightened awareness to the feelings of being alone and the reasons we do and don’t let people into our lives. It’ll weave in and out of the differing perspectives of five people on a single Christmas day. There’s desperation, joy, sex, booze, loneliness, and redemption. Most of all there’s possibility. That’s one of the things about holidays. They remind us of all that was and that we’ve lost, but they also remind us of all that is possible.The other thing I’m doing now is bringing the bands from the book into the studio of a Seattle-based record label called Critical Sun. Whet we do is then record a session in which I interview the band and they play a few songs. These interviews are being released as podcasts, and the first few are already online here: https://soundcloud.com/criticalsun/sets/the-music-book-interviews
We’ve also put together a CD of the music in the book. There are physical CDs that will be available online soon, but for now there is a page where all the music can be downloaded. The cool thing about the CD is that it is a benefit for a charity called the Wishlist Foundation, which is a Pearl Jam fan nonprofit, grassroots 501(c)(3) fan organization dedicated to supporting Pearl Jam’s charitable and philanthropic efforts.
About The Book
Author: Dave O’Leary
Genre: Literary Fiction
What does music mean? Can it be more than the sum of its notes and melodies? Can it truly change you? Rob, a musician turned reluctant music critic, poses these questions as everything important in his life appears to be fading—memories of lost love, songs from his old bands, even his hearing. He delves into the music of others to find solace and purpose, and discovers that the chords and repeated phrases echo themes that have emerged in his own life. The music sustains him, but can it revive him?
The Music Book is a story of loss, of fear and loneliness, of a mutable past. But most of all it’s about music as a force, as energy, as a creator of possibility. What might come from the sound of an A chord played just so? Rob listens. And among other things, he finds surprising companionship with a cat; another chance at love; and the courage to step on a stage again and finally, fully comprehend the power of sound.
Dave O’Leary is a writer and musician living in Seattle. His second novel, The Music Book (Booktrope, November 2014), is a collection of the writings O’Leary has done about Seattle bands for both Northwest Music Scene (http://www.northwestmusicscene.com/author/davemusic/) and the now defunct Seattle Subsonic. It is a fictional narrative wrapped around and within the actual music, a story about live music in Seattle and, more broadly, about the power of music in our lives. A CD of the music experienced in the book will be released by Seattle indie label, Critical Sun Recordings.
His first book, Horse Bite (Infinitum), was published in 2011.
Photo by Stacy Albright. http://www.stacyalbrightimages.com
The Music Book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Music-Book-Dave-OLeary/dp/1620154625
Author’s Website: http://www.daveoleary.net/
Author’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/dolearyauthor