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Wednesday 3 June 2015

ℚ How to Talk to Rockstars - Alli Marshall

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author Alli Marshall to find out a bit more about her and her début novel, How to Talk to Rockstars (, Logosophia).

Music is a universal language. But sometimes it needs an interpreter.
That’s the idea behind How to Talk to Rockstars - an exploration of love, loneliness and music.

“The phrase ‘star-crossed’ comes to mind, as does the promise, ‘written in the stars.’ …Marshall consistently displays a nimble fiction-writing talent.” — Rob Neufeld, Asheville Citizen-Times

“Marshall’s How to Talk to Rockstars pays melodic homage to all those who have ever tried to find themselves in the artists who move them. … This novel captures the magic of the perfect song that we hear at the perfect time, and it imparts a sense of the known even as it opens windows to worlds unimagined.”  — Forward Reviews

Trailer | Synopsis | Teaser | Q&A | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops
Hello Alli and thank you for joining us today at BooksChatter to talk about your novel, How to Speak to Rockstars.

What was your inspiration for this book?

"My novel, How to Talk to Rockstars, is fiction but it’s inspired by my day job as a arts and entertainment writer and editor at Mountain Xpress, an alternative newsweekly in Asheville, N.C.  For the last 12 years or so, a major part of my job has been interviewing artists of all genres, but especially touring musicians.  That gave me a lot of fodder for the book"
Sample cover of the Pitchfork ReviewHow much of yourself is reflected in this work, and how?
"My main character, Bryn, is a music journalist at a magazine kind of like Pitchfork.  She and I definitely share some similarities, though she’s younger and single.  The novel does borrow from my own experiences and ideas about music and the special place that touring bands hold in the world.  I would say the book is, in many ways, my love letter to music.  But it’s definitely not autobiographical!"
Glowingg by Joshua Spiceland
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover — why you chose that concept and who the artist is?
"The cover for How to Talk to Rockstars was designed by Susan Yost with artwork by Joshua Spiceland.  Susan came up with the design concept and I just adore it.  The painting, “Glowingg” (yes, two Gs), is a favorite of mine.  I’ve been a fan of Joshua’s work for years — he also lives in Asheville — and was so thrilled when he agreed to let me use the image."
What makes your book unique?
"How to talk to Rockstars is neither a how-to book nor a tell-all.  It’s definitely for music fans, but it’s a backstage story in a very different way.  This is a glimpse into the quiet and rarely seen relationship between interviewer and interviewee — a short-lived though intensely intimate conversation that has as much to do with what’s revealed as with what’s obscured."
Brian Eno
Can you tell us something quirky about the book / story/ characters?
"There are characters in the book who are based on musicians I know or have met.  But the only “real” person is Brian Eno (composer, producer, Roxy Music artist).  I met him during a press conference at MoogFest several years ago and incorporated that experience into Bryn’s world."
Who would you recommend your book, "How to Talk to Rockstars", to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"No warnings or disclaimers (except: Hi Dad! Sorry about the occasional f-bomb), and I suspect the book will appeal on some level to any music fan; anyone who’s ever loved a band and wanted to know the musicians offstage as well as on.  I do think it’s geared toward readers of literary fiction and those with a taste for a quieter narrative.  There’s a whole lot of internal dialog here; a lot of soul searching, self-doubt and self-effacing humor."
If you could turn the book into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"I would love to work with Wes Anderson in any capacity.  Even just having coffee and composing haiku (Wes? Call me!).  So I’d choose him as the director.

I think Carey Mulligan would make a perfect Bryn and I’d love to see Jared Leto as Jude Archer, the rockstar with whom Bryn becomes obsessed and eventually befriends."
What do you like to read and write about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I like to write about identity — the search for identity, the development of it and how personal identity is both maintained and shifted.  That theme seems to carry through various projects for me.  I do stick to literary fiction, but that’s a loose and broad category.  As far as what I like to read — really, anything that grabs my attention!  I’m currently reading Unfinished Desires by Gail Godwin, a masterful author from Asheville."
What is your writing process?
"My process is different for different projects.  Because I’ve worked for a weekly paper for so long, I’m comfortable in 500-1,000 word segments.  I usually write for a set word count and then stop when I reach that goal.  When I’m writing a draft, I like to work on my iPad (I use it with a small keyboard).  It’s so light and mobile that I can take it anywhere which makes it easy to write a little bit here and there."
What is in store next?
"I’ve recently finished a LGBTQ-friendly YA novel that’s set in upstate N.Y. in the ‘80s and I’m currently shipping it to agents.  I’ve also written a draft of a historical novel set in New Orleans, Charleston and Paris in the late 1800s.  I’m really looking forward to getting back to that project.  But right now I’m busy with promoting and touring How to Talk to Rockstars!"
And talking about promotion...
Learn more about How to Talk to Rockstars at and .
Read an excerpt of the novel at (look for the "Peek Inside" link)

Once again many thanks for being here with us and giving us so much insight into How to Talk to Rockstars.  I can definitely relate.   I must also look into Wes Anderson as, I am ashamed to admit, I have never seen any of his work despite it appearing to be my kind of genre!  Also apologies for not including a picture of Wes (sorry, Wes!)... Jared kind of took over that segment...

How to Talk to Rockstars  is available NOW!

UK: purchase from     US: purchase from purchase from Barnes & Noble purchase from Logosophia find on Goodreads


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

svannort said...

Always enjoy reading books about rock stars!

Victoria Alexander said...

Love the interview.. I always like to know where the ideas come from for books! :)

allimarshall said...

The post looks fantastic — thanks so much for hosting it. And the photos are perfect. I'll be dropping back by later in the day in case anyone has questions. Or just wants to gossip about rockstars!

BooksChatter said...

Thank you for popping by!

BooksChatter said...

BTW as I was reading the excerpt on SPDBooks all I could picture was Joey Ramone... (altough he had brown eyes)...

allimarshall said...

Ah Joey Ramone. I used to phone up the college radio request lines, late-night, and request "I Want You Around," the least-punk of all the Ramones songs. But Joey Ramone was actually kind of a romantic character in "Rock n Roll High School."

Unknown said...

Great interview! I enjoyed learning about you and your book~thank you for sharing!