Today we are excited to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff. (See our review here!) Be sure to keep reading to learn more about the book, the author & a great contest. But first, here is our exclusive guest post from author Michelle Falkoff.
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On Patience, and Work
A Guest Post by Michelle Falkoff
When I was a kid, I thought writers were people filled with magical ideas who just sat down whenever they felt like it and wrote them down. In one draft. With a pen. (This was a while ago.) Because that seemed impossible to me, I decided I would never be a proper writer; I’d have to settle for remaining a very committed reader who sometimes wrote for fun, on the side, just for myself.
In college, I focused mostly on the reading part, with an eye toward my future career, which was in a field I considered more practical than writing: law. I took some fiction workshop classes to keep the whole “on the side” thing going, and they were fun, but they made me realize that I still didn’t have it—there were no magical ideas, no sitting down at a computer and having the words just flow out (I updated my imagination here). So I headed off to law school.
Fast forward a few years, and being a lawyer was starting to wear on me. I missed writing, even if I didn’t think I was very good at it, even if it wasn’t effortless. I decided to take some night classes, just to give myself something to look forward to at the end of a long workday.
You know how they say that when the student is ready the teacher will appear? I introduced myself in my first night class as a lawyer who’d always wanted to be a writer, and my professor basically said, “Yeah, I did that too.” It turned out he’d gone to law school and decided he’d rather write, so he’d skipped practicing and went straight to get an MFA in fiction writing. Because writing was something you could study, and get better at, with work.
Work! I could do that. Was he sure magic wasn’t necessary, though? He was. As were my other teachers, one after the next, all of whom were all about work. With work, they said, the magic would come. Not the other way around.
With that, I quit my job and went back to grad school and worked. And worked and worked and worked. I realized quickly that I was too old to be a wunderkind—some of my colleagues had just graduated from college—but I could fix that, I thought. I’d just write a book while I was in school and get it published and it would still be fast! I could make up for lost time! No “novel in a drawer” for me.
Except that wasn’t how it went. There’s no skipping the work, and I needed more of it. Many years have passed, and there are a couple of novels in the drawer now, but I’m finally seeing the thing happen that I never even thought it was reasonable to dream about: pretty soon, I’ll be able to walk into a bookstore and see something I wrote. (If they carry it. Fingers crossed!) Because I kept working.
Which I need to go do now. I’ll let Axl have the last word: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErvgV4P6Fzc
A teenage boy tries to understand his best friend’s suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.
Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand.
As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.
Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now, Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that’s always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it’s about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.
Michelle Falkoff’s fiction and reviews have been published in ZYZZYVA, DoubleTake, and the Harvard Review, among other places. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently serves as Director of Communication and Legal Reasoning at Northwestern University School of Law. This is her first novel.
Giveaway ends on February 10th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific
Here’s a look at the rest of the blog tour schedule:
- 1/26/15 Novel Novice – Guest Post
- 1/27/15 Me, My Shelf and I – Review + Excerpt
- 1/28/15 Such a Novel Idea – Review
- 1/29/15 Fictitious Delicious – Review
- 1/30/15 Once Upon a Twilight – Interview