+ = total awesomeness
About four years ago, I got to read onstage at the Metro, my favorite concert venue in Chicago (or really anywhere). They were hosting a literary event for Irvine Welsh. I'd taken a class with him, and me and my classmates were invited to open for him. Obviously, wanna-be rock star that I am, I was thrilled to read on the same stage at a legendary venue where just about every musician I love has played and I've seen so many amazing shows (including this one from October 1994, my number-one favorite show ever.)
I was also petrified. It was the biggest audience I've read in front of to date (the other time I read with Irvine being a close second). I read a scene from the first chapter of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE. I really wanted to be gutsy enough to read a section where I got to sing a line from "Gimme Danger" by the Stooges, but even though the line was supposed to be sung off-key I was too freaked I'd screw up. As it was I totally lost my voice after I read as part of some strange extension of my stage fright. My friend Jenny read a piece where she got to sing a Metallica song and she got some of the loudest applause of the night.
It was a rush, one of the biggest rushes of my life, and even though it involved so much anxiety. Like a roller coaster I want to do it again and again and again. Now I may finally have a chance to.
Since I sold IWBYJR everyone has been telling me I should do events with bands. Awesome, definitely, I've always thought. Um, but other than approaching my friends in bands, I wasn't really sure how to go about it. So I've been planning this West Coast tour. MTV Books is not sending me (it is very rare that any brand new author would be sent on a tour), I'm doing it on my own dime mostly because I want an excuse to see my friends out West and, well, getting a book published has been my dream, who knows if it will happen again, so I plan to celebrate it and live my superstar author fantasy to the max. I'd been trying to arrange unique events for myself outside of the typical bookstore reading/signing. Other than finding a fabulous reading series in San Francisco, I hadn't had much luck. Then I met my new favorite person, Alexa Young.
Alexa and I are both a part of a yahoo group for YA authors and she posted on there that her first book, Frenemies, is out May 13th and she wasn't really sure about doing appearances or bookstore events or anything. I saw that she was from the Los Angeles area and sent her an email with some advice about what I was planning. I also mentioned that I would be in L.A. and would love to do some sort of event with her, maybe a bookstore thing, but I was really interested in doing something more creative, like a literary rock 'n' roll event with bands and authors. After expressing her initial doubts about how me and my book were too cool for her and her book, which I immediately squashed with assurances that I'm really a big dork and not at all a pretentious hipster type, Alexa got super excited about actually doing the kind of event I mentioned, which she dubbed ROCK AND READ.
Finally, I'd found a like-minded, adventurous soul to play literary rock star with and one who has some pretty good connections in L.A. for getting us a venue and maybe some bands. So we're doing this. We've set a date, Sunday, July 13th (which happens to be my 29th birthday, what better way to ring in the last year of my twenties!), we've contacted a few authors and bands and are hoping to score our ideal venue this week. We're dreaming big, thinking this could be the book world's Lollapalooza. Maybe it could be a yearly thing, or we can bring it to other places like Chicago (where I can work my connections) and New York. Maybe we can raise a lot of money for great literacy charities. Maybe we can get a reunited Sleater-Kinney (whose song I got IWBYJR's title from) to headline or Social Distortion or the Foo Fighters... Okay that is totally me dreaming, but hey...
However, in order for ROCK AND READ to really happen and be as amazing as Alexa and I are hoping, WE NEED YOU! If you're an author (hello, fellow MTV Books authors!!!) or in a band in the Los Angeles area (or one who thinks this is such a cool idea that you will pay your own way to get there) and you're interested, you should get in touch with me by leaving a comment or sending me a message on myspace. If you can suggest authors/bands, please do or better yet, put me in touch with them. And if you live near L.A. and love books and music, save the date for ROCK AND READ on July 13th.
Thanks for letting me share my enthusiasm and I'll be sure to keep you updated.
PS. For anyone near Monterey, California, I'm also totally thrilled to announce that Kelly Parra and I will be doing a signing at the Borders Express in the mall on July 16th. I'm soooo excited to meet Kelly and if you would like to meet Kelly and me, please come!