Guest Post: Antony John author of Thou Shalt Not Road Trip

Welcome back to Author Antony John!

Antony John was born in England and raised on a balanced diet of fish and chips, obscure British comedies, and ABBA’s Greatest Hits. In a fit of teenage rebellion, he decided to pursue a career in classical music, culminating in a BA from Oxford University and a PhD from Duke University. Along the way, he worked as an ice cream seller on a freezing English beach, a tour guide in the Netherlands, a chauffeur in Switzerland, a barista in Seattle, and a university professor. Writing by night, he spends his days as a stay-at-home dad—the only job that allows him to wear his favorite pair of sweatpants all the time. He lives in St. Louis with his family.

Music Guest Post

Here’s a funny thing: If you had asked authors for their “book playlist” about ten years ago, they might have thought you were crazy. It’s not that authors didn’t listen to music while they wrote, just that the notion of long and carefully scripted playlists didn’t exist in the same way back then.

Well, that’s all changed now. A lot of authors I know write in coffee shops, which almost forcesan author to listen to something, if only to drown out all the background noise. And since songs can affect one’s mood, even transport one to a different place or time of life, selecting just the right mix has become almost an art form.

Fortunately, when I was writing ROAD TRIP, I had a great starting point. I’d recently watched the movie, “Into the wild,” which as well as inspiring my already abundant wanderlust, also boasted an extraordinary soundtrack by Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam fame). It was atmospheric and eerie, melancholy and moving, much like the movie itself. To this day, I can’t get that movie out of my head, and 90 percent of that is because of the music.

I used Eddie’s soundtrack as the basis for my mix, and built around it. That way, even though there were almost one hundred songs in the mix, I was periodically pulled back into Eddie’s world. Those songs were like anchors. I never got too far from my vision as long as I was listening to them.

As for the rest of the songs on the playlist, I mostly went for pop and rock, because I wanted to go for a realistic, contemporary feel. (In contrast, I mostly listened to classical music while writing my new fantasy novel, ELEMENTAL, which comes out this fall, because I was trying to evoke something mysterious and atmospheric.) I concentrated on upbeat, almost humorous songs in the early stages of writing: “Do-Wah-Doo” by Kate Nash; “One of the boys” by Katy Perry; “Extraordinary” by Mandy Moore. Then, as the novel progressed, and the situations I was depicting became increasingly fraught, I preferred darker songs: “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed; “Back to black” by Amy Winehouse; “Mad World” by Gary Jules; “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead. (These are some seriously depressing songs, by the way. Don’t listen to them without a friend nearby, okay?)

But every now and then I just needed to imagine how it felt to be in that car. Just driving, thinking, arguing, dreaming. And then I’d turn to the road trip classics, from the bluesy (“Hit the road Jack” by Ray Charles) to the rockin’ (“Born to be wild” by Steppenwolf) to the nostalgic (“America” by Simon and Garfunkel) to the downright peculiar (“Road to nowhere” by Talking Heads).

I like to think that Luke, Fran, Matt, and Alex would have approved of my selections!
Thanks for having me along today, Kathy. And a big hi to your readers!

Title: Thou Shalt Not Road Trip 
Author: Antony John 
Series: None 
Publisher: Dial Books 
Released: April 12, 2012 

Book Summary: 

Sixteen-year-old Luke Dorsey is sent on a cross-country tour to promote his bestselling spiritual self-help guide accompanied by his agnostic older brother and former girlfriend, Fran, from whom he learns some things about salvation.

Be sure to enter my signed ARC giveaway by 4/26/12: