This was a long time ago. It was the first year of Portland's Time Based Arts Festival, I think, so call it maybe twelve or thirteen years ago. A friend invited me to one of the festival's after-parties. I went despite not knowing what time based art was. It seemed (and seems) that all art is time based. Anyway. The party took place in a warehouse space. It was jammed with people, a bar, free food and, at one end, a stage. I knew that there's be a show of some sort by a band called The Blow.
After a while, I girl came out. Blonde and tiny. She carried a boom box. She approached the mic and did her best to get the attention of the crowd. It took a while. Finally, when the majority of people had quieted down, she told us all that the band was running late and that they'd sent her out to entertain us until they were ready. She started to tell a rambling story about (I think) going on a drive with a boy and the conversation they'd had. After a while, she said that it might be better if she sang the next part. She bent over and pressed play on the boom box and began to sing.
It was at that moment that I figured out this girl was The Blow and that everything she had said and done from the very first moment had been part of her act. And I was smitten. I've been a fan of hers ever since through a number of incarnations. All because she played so expertly with my sense of expectation
I called her tiny earlier. Well, as the performance went on, she seemed to grow bigger and bigger with each new song. Honestly, I think I've only had one other musical experience that was like it. I felt like it reshaped me.
Right. What's this got to do with anything? I've been thinking about what I want to do with Zomburbia. You know, my debut YA novel which will be out from Kensington Books next year... I've had a couple of conversations lately about including a message in a story. Does Zomburbia have a message? Yep, and I hope I've sneaked it in in such a way that almost invisible. No matter how important your message, no one's going to get it if it isn't wrapped up in a good story. I hope that's what I've done. I hope I've crafted a novel that walks out on stage, presents itself as one thing – a good horror story – and is in truth something else as well.
Have I succeeded? How the hell should I know? I just wrote the thing. I'll have to wait until the book is out and see what people think of it to know how well I did.
By the way, as I write this, I'm listening to the new self-titled album by The Blow. It came out earlier this month, and it's excellent. I can't recommend it enough.
That's all for now.