PONDERING: Meet the Murder City Ravens by Lynne ConnollyFriday, July 20, 2012 1:00
I’m in the process of writing a series about the members of a rock band, and it’s called Nightstar.
I love writing about the rock star – it seems a natural for erotic romance. I’ve done it before with Pure Wildfire, but that was a paranormal romance with shape-shifter heroes and heroines. This time it’s purely contemporary.
Murder City Ravens is a band whose members have gone through a lot in its short existence, and the first book is about one of the casualties. I imagine the band as a sort of cross between Radiohead, Massive Attack, and Nine Inch Nails, with tremendous stage presence, a desire to experiment and take the band to new places, and an edgy image. Pure Wildfire was a straight-down-the-line rock band, already hugely famous when the series started. Murder City Ravens is on that cusp between making a decent living and being a niche band to being world famous. One single shoots them into world dominance, and when the next does the same, it’s obvious they’ve arrived. Their first two albums were good ones, a studio album and a live album, to replace the planned studio piece. But the third, Nightstar, with the new lineup, takes the world by storm. The books are set during the band’s first world tour, which escalates while they’re on it, getting more encompassing.
But what if they don’t want to?
At least the band has a decent manager. “Chick” (Marcellus) Fontaine is based on the legendary Peter Grant, a huge man with a huge presence, who helped a number of rock bands in the seventies into megastardom, notably Led Zeppelin. At a time of crooked managers, Grant loved and worked for his bands with a devotion rarely seen in the rock world. Chick is a mover and a shaker, a manager who picks people and projects he believes in completely, so he has Murder City Ravens on his books, but he also has a juggler and sportspeople.
The first book, In The Mood, is about Matt Scott, who used to be Maxx Syccorraxx. He was Murder City Ravens’s vocalist for the first two albums, but burned out on drugs. When the story starts, he’s in Chicago, running his own recording studio, a small venture as yet. He’s out of rehab and clean, thanks to Murder City Ravens’ guitarist, Jace Beauchenne. Matt meets V when he hears her playing the sax in her uncle’s Chicago blues club. It’s lust at first sight. He offers her work as a session musician at his studio. When Jace hears her, he knows she is the missing ingredient from Murder City Ravens. But if she takes the job, then she and Matt must part. V has her own problem to overcome, but to explain it might be a spoiler!
The second book, Born on the Bayou, features the main guitarist, Jace. He’s half French, half American, and spent a lot of his childhood with his mother in their house just outside Baton Rouge. He sold the run-down place to a big hotel group after his mother’s death, and when he goes back, curious to see what they’ve done, he finds Beverley Christmas. Beverley is an ex-chef, a potential cooking star who developed an allergy to raw flour and had to find a new life for herself. Jace is based on a few people, mostly Jimmy Page, but with a healthy dash of Jonny Marr and Stevie Ray Vaughan. He’s running away from his background and the memories evoked by it. He is Matt Scott’s best friend and had a drug-laden past, but now he mostly stays away. But he gave up drugs because eventually they bored him.
In the third book, Nice ‘n’ Easy, the bassist, Donovan Harvey, a Brit, attends a fantasy convention. In his spare time, he’s drawn and written a novel that is doing very well, even though he published it under a pseudonym. I had to use John Paul Jones and John Entwhistle, but Donovan is tall, dark, and laconic. At the convention he meets Allie, an editor with a rival publishing house. Years of attending RT Booklovers’ gave me the idea for this book, but it’s poor Donovan’s first con, and, of course, with the sudden surge to fame of Murder City Ravens, he doesn’t go unnoticed. Donovan has problems opening up. He doesn’t share easily, but he does his best.
Hunter is the band’s drummer, and, really, all I could do is to start with Phil Selway and end with Taylor Hawkins. He looks more like Taylor, but Hunter is Swedish. He has a deaf mother and he is running from the knowledge that one day he might go deaf, too. He ran away from an affair with Icelandic beauty Sabina, who is working as his mother’s admin assistant. Sabina needs to decide if regaining her hearing through a revolutionary operation is worth losing her friends and her lifestyle. Hunter must stop running, and in Fascinating Rhythm he learns to do it. I love the opportunity to write about people from North Europe, and Hunter is far from the typical drummer the jokes are all about. In fact, the drummer for Pure Wildfire, my other rock band, is an art collector!
We come to Zazz, who is a lost child from Britain. His father was an eminent jazz musician, and they took drugs and wildness to the extreme. He’s now frail so Zazz won’t lose control. He writes and sings, and he is all the charismatic front men you’ve ever imagined, from Scott Weiland (without the drugs, if that’s possible!) to David Bowie. He has that extraordinary femininity that emphasizes his masculinity, an androgyny that drives women wild, and a few men, too. Zazz’s story is told in Sail To The Moon.
And the last member of the group is Riku, a Japanese-American. He’s classically trained but prefers rock. His tutors at the Conservatory he attended told him he’d make a good career playing with orchestras and smaller chamber orchestras, but Riku has been brought up to look for perfection, so he turns his back on the classical world. He never relaxes but has a quirky sense of fun that pulls him thorugh hard times. He’s also into visual kei. It’s the amazing look that many Japanese rock stars go in for. Look at bands like X Japan and Dir En Grey for examples. It’s a look that draws attention. Riku plays guitar and keyboards and most other things that are called for. Years ago he dated Cynthia, a fellow student, but Cynthia was a soprano with a brilliant range and powerful voice, headed for the top of the soprano tree, the Wagner soprano. But when he meets her again in New York, she’s running a junk jewelry shop. Cyn isn’t happy to share, but she loves the new Riku and slowly opens up to him. Born to Be Wild will be their book.
Notice anything about the titles?