Monday, June 1, 2015

How To Talk to Rockstars by Alli Marshall - Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Alli will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Welcome to It's Raining Books!  Tell us, why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?

My novel, “How to Talk to Rockstars,” is literary fiction. I also call it lyrical fiction, because it takes some cues from poetry. My MFA is actually in poetry, but almost as soon as I finished my degree I started writing fiction.

My earliest attempts at writing a novel were in the chick-lit genre, which was fun but it never felt genuine. Finally one day my husband suggested that I write something artistic that I felt passionate about — and that led to “How to Talk to Rockstars.”

What research is required?

“How to Talk to Rockstars” was inspired by my day job. I’m an arts writer and editor for an alternative newsweekly; for the past dozen years or so I’ve been interviewing artists of all mediums, but especially musicians. So in a way, this book has more than decade of research behind it. But it’s also organic and evolved from my own imagination.

Name one thing you learned from your heroine.

My main character, Bryn, is shy and a loner — I can really relate to that! But she comes to a crossroads in her life where she has to choose between sticking to the routines and self-imposed rules that keep her secure, or taking a risk and open herself up to adventure and love. The great thing about Bryn is that, even though she’s going through these changes, she insists on doing it on her own terms. That means that the reader gets to share in all of Bryn’s self-conscious and self-effacing inner dialog. It’s awkward at times, but also endearing and often funny.

I think that Bryn is a great reminder, to me, that above all else we have to be true to ourselves.

Do you have any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?

I love this question! My writing routine feels pretty straight-forward to me, but I image it would seem eccentric to someone looking in from the outside. I have a bad habit of writing in front of the TV. Most of my writing takes place in the evening, after work, because that’s when I can fit it in. But after an eight- or nine-hour workday, I have to trick myself into writing sometimes. So I turn on a TV show and pretend like I’m just going to veg out. Then I start writing and pretty soon I’m completely engrossed in my work.

Are you a plotter or pantser?

I think I’m somewhere in between plotting and flying by the seat of my pants. I don’t work from outlines, even though I like the idea of that kind of organization. I have to just start writing and see what comes. But I’m constantly working on the story, planning and revising in my mind. I also carry a small notebook in my bag so if I get an idea when I’m away from my computer, I can jot it down.

Look to your right – what’s sitting there?

There’s a pile of laundry. I’ve been washing clothes in between other errands. Weekends are always busy around here, but this weekend is especially so. My book tour begins next week, so I’m getting ready for that, but I’m also trying to squeeze in some fun.

I went to LEAF today — a wonderful art, culture and world music festival. While I was there, I saw a performance by a 17 year-old singer-songwriter named Indigo DeSouza who is just getting started in her career but is such a remarkable talent. If only Bryn, from my novel, could have interviewed Indigo!

Anything new coming up from you? What?

I recently completed a YA novel and am currently shopping it to agents. Fingers crossed! It’s set in upstate New York in the 1980s and has lots of music, too. And vintage fashion. I can’t wait to be able to share it with readers. I’m also working on an early draft of a work of historic fiction. But my main focus right now is the book tour for “How to Talk to Rockstars.”

Do you have a question for our readers?

Yes. I’m curious — when you’re looking for a new book in a book store, the library or on a bookseller website, what draws you to an unfamiliar author? Which is more likely win you over — a great title or a well-designed cover?

"How to Talk to Rockstars" — think "Almost Famous" meets "The History of Love" — follows wallflower-turned-journalist Bryn Thompson. She has a dream job: she interviews rock stars. Bryn’s professionalism keeps her on track, but also emotionally removed from the gritty world of back stage, bars and drugs that she writes about. That is, until she meets musician Jude Archer, whose songs haunt her. As an unlikely friendship grows out of Bryn’s obsession with Jude’s album, Bryn begins to rethink all of the carefully-contrived rules that until now have helped her maintain a professional distance.

Enjoy an excerpt:

At the edge of the stage, in the limbo between darkness and spotlights, between anonymity and fame, Jude Archer knows two things: That he is a rare genius. And that he is a complete fraud.

Sometimes he turns these dual realizations over and over like a penny in his fingers. Sometimes he lets them alternately punish and soothe his soul, these words. One a barb and one a balm. The devil and the angel on his shoulders, but which is which?

Sometimes he lets the needles of knowing fill him with doubt, with hope. With fear, with excitement. And sometimes he just turns away from the knowing, tucks the coin away into a pocket for later.

Or for never.

Just off stage, Jude Archer is no one. It’s the moment of the day he hates most, those few seconds of not being. And then he hears his name.

For one night only —

And he’s already in the light, bathed in it, blinded by it. Soaking it in and becoming. Not just someone, but the one.

All eyes are on him, and he’s reflected back in their fevered glow. The one he’s become. But which one? The genius or the fraud?

Fame, fame. Remember my name.

Alli Marshall grew up in Western New York and has called the mountains of North Carolina home for more than 20 years. She's a Warren Wilson College graduate and completed her MFA in creative writing at Goddard College. She's been named the best arts reporter in Western North Carolina in the annual Best of WNC reader's poll, 2011-2014. She received awards in editorial reporting from the North Carolina Press Association in 2005 and 2014, and from the International Festivals & Events Association in 2004. She also took home top honors in the Cupcakes for the Cure bake-off (local ingredient category) — but that’s another story. And though Alli doesn't like to brag or anything, over the course of her career she's interviewed Yoko Ono, Cyndi Lauper, Chris Robinson (The Black Crowes), Aimee Mann, Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), Britt Daniel (Spoon), Michael Franti, Neko Case, Daniel Lanois, Ziggy Marley, Peter Murphy, Grace Potter, Jamie Lidell, Kishi Bashi and many, many others.

For more information:


Follow Alli on Twitter and Instagram @alli_marshall

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

    1. Wow, interesting question! There are probably many ... I'm not into violence at all (can't stand scary movies), and I'd steer clear of subjects that don't interest me, like conspiracy theories, politics and the lives of the super-wealthy. But all sorts of topics capture my imagination and inspire me to so a little research or at least a little Googling.

  2. Thanks so much for hosting! I'm delighted to kick off my blog tour on It's Raining Books (great blog title, BTW).

  3. looking forward to reading this book :)

    1. That's awesome! If you're on GoodReads, I've love to connect with you there and know what you think.

  4. I really like reading the excerpt.

  5. I really enjoyed your comments.

  6. Thanks so much for the comments, everyone. What are some of your favorite music-themed books?

  7. Thanks for the giveaway! I like the cover and excerpt. :)

  8. You sound like you have a very interesting day job.

  9. I really enjoyed this excerpt.

  10. I enjoyed reading the excerpt. I also enjoyed the interview questions and answers.
    Thanks for the giveaway! =)

  11. Great excerpt.. thanks for sharing!


So... inquiring minds want to know: what do you think?