The Only Good Musical is About Actual Musicians

Eddie and the Cruisers, from 1984.

Although music forms a huge part of many of my novels, I don’t, as a rule, like traditional musicals. People bursting into song, unless it’s played for laughs (as in Cannibal: the Musical, an early film by South Park’s creators), overwhelms my suspension of disbelief. Even something as monumentally clever as Little Shop of Horrors stops dead (and never recovers) … Read More

Don’t Get Rock Blocked

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“On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.” –Hunter S. Thompson When I was a teenager–and I suspect this is true for most people reading this–music was incredibly important to me.  I didn’t play an instrument, … Read More

Nurturing creativity and doing a job of work

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Last week, stuck for ideas for upcoming blog posts, I put out the call for questions from fans. I got this one from poet Eileen Sullivan: “In what ways do you think you nurtured your creativity as a child, wittingly or not? What remains of that life in your and your work? And in what ways do you seek to … Read More

Book Review: Paperback Writer by Mark Shipper

“Rock and roll is a joke and the joke is on anyone–performer or audience–who ever takes it for any more than that…” (p. 11) Writing about music, as I’ve said before, is tricky. The ones who do it well–P.F. Kluge, Sheila Kay Adams, Lee Smith–take it very seriously. So it follows that writing a parody about music, one that’s simultaneously … Read More

Guest Blog: Jennifer Thomas on Balancing Art and Parenting

Jennifer Thomas is an award-winning pianist, composer and performer. In 2012 alone, she was nominated for thirteen various award, winning five. She is also, like me, the parent of two small boys. She was kind enough to share her thoughts on balancing an artistic career with the demands of parenthood. *** When I was a little girl, I had dreams … Read More

Film Review: Over Home: Love Songs from Madison County

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Way back in the early years of this century (being able to say that makes me smile), the spark of the idea that would become the Tufa struck me at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Also at that festival, I first heard Sheila Kay Adams at one of the midnight sessions, in a huge tent on a warm … Read More

Who are the honorary Tufas?

Jennifer Goree, who composed the song "The Hum and the Shiver."

How does one become an honorary Tufa, you may wonder? The criteria is really pretty simple. You must have a song that you’ve written quoted (with your permission, of course) in a Tufa story. So far, there are three honorary Tufas. The first was Jennifer Goree. You can find out more about Jennifer and her connection to the Tufa here, … Read More

The apocryphal soundtracks to some of my books

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It’s no secret that music is a big part of many of my novels, from inspiring the titles to influencing the plots to being part of the story itself. I’m not alone in this, I’m sure. Recently my friends at Facebook’s Heroic Fiction League, Nathan Long and John R. Fultz, posted “playlists” of YouTube videos, songs that either their heroes … Read More

Interview: Andrew Brasfield, songwriter of Cold Wind

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When I began planning Time of the Season, my holiday-themed e-book chapbook, I already had two of the stories. Both the title story and “A Ghost, and a Chance” had been around for a while. But I wanted to write something new, and I’d gotten such a good response from my novel, The Hum and the Shiver, that I decided … Read More