Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Moving Historical Fiction Through Time:

Recently, fellow Henderson Writer's Group Author, Anna Marquez asked me to post something on her blog pertaining to Seven-Inch Vinyl. I came up with this, explaining how I used real-life events to move the story-line along through the years:

Moving Historical Fiction Through Time:
By: Donald Riggio

When I wrote my Rock and Roll novel, Seven-Inch Vinyl, I knew that I would be spanning a period of sixteen years as seen through the eyes of various fictional characters, traveling along several different storylines. I had to come up with some device to propel the narrative ahead through time, sometimes chapter by chapter.
I decided the way to do it was to incorporate some significant event in history where I put the reader down in a future point in a character’s story. I also tried to find events that could be tied to the music of the times.

By doing some research I was able to find out that the song that was playing on the top-40 radio station in Dallas, Texas on the morning President John Kennedy was assassinated was “I Have a Boyfriend,” by the Chiffons so I used that to open a chapter.

In 1965, New York disc jockey Dan Ingram was playing a song called “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon.” The speed suddenly slowed down and a minute later the entire east coast was thrown into a massive blackout. I used this to end a chapter where events had my protagonist experiencing of the darkest days in his career. It was a perfect metaphor.

It’s important for writer’s to keep their audience anchored in the time frame depicted in the book. Occasional reminders of the time and place will do that. Throw in a morsel of history for your reader to chew on.

…On this night,(December 15, 1954) viewers watched the image of Walt Disney behind his desk. In the background, a bouncy tune began to play. Disney’s image
faded into a series of hand drawn sketches that resembled the panels of a comic book. The lyrics of the song described the illustrations. They told the tale of Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier…By the time the second and third episodes of the Davy Crockett saga aired in February of 1955, the entire country was caught in a “Davy Crockett” marketing frenzy. Consumers spent millions of dollars on toys, books, clothing, or anything linked to the television show…

In just a few short sentences, the above passage moved the narrative ahead three months in time.

I found that this device works more often than not. Its keep your readers focused on “when” and “where” they are. They trust you, the author, to keep them rooted in your world. If you don’t, your work will go back on their shelf or worse.

Donald also shares daily rock and roll trivia every on his Donald Riggio page on Facebook where he has 2800+ friends. Come by and party like it’s 1959.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Seven-Inch Vinyl expands to a trilogy!

As the creative juices flow over me and I turn things up a notch in writing the sequel “Beyond Vinyl: The Saga Continues” a whole new set of ideas, characters and events propelled me beyond the planned parameters of book two. What choice do I have but to plan for a third, “When Gold Turns To Gray.”

The title was determined by the results of a poll conducted on Facebook recently. By way of explanation, it exemplifies the GOLDen tunes of the past as they and their fans turn GRAY. I want to thank those who participated in the poll. The book will take readers into the new millennium but will remain faithful to the music of the fifties and sixties as the baby boomer generation start to collect Social Security.

But let’s backtrack to book two.

Chapter one begins sixteen years after the events depicted in Seven-Inch Vinyl into the year 1986. Chapter two will flashback to the very minute when Book one ends to follow the life of Joseph Rabinowitz as his amazing journey continues. Flash backs and flash forwards will be the essence of the saga as we return to characters and events we merely touched upon before. We’ll learn more about Chanticleer and his young adult life. Janet’s travels through England will be explored with more in-depth detail. Surprising new characters will be introduced to carry the narrative forward. Other musical genres will come on the scene, Progressive Rock, Hard Rock, Southern Rock and Disco just to name a few will take their place on the record charts but the oldies revival era will continue to grow and flourish both with live shows and on radio and television.

As we did in the first book we’ll traverse the years using real life events that demonstrate how Rock and Roll impacted history and vice versa. The chapter “John and Tricky Dick” will deal with the way the Nixon administration waged war on former Beatle John Lennon when the latter sought to become a spokesperson for the anti-war movement. “Greetings From the Children of Planet Earth,” will continue our fascination with space travel. And in “.44” we’ll see how a deranged killer almost single-handedly destroyed the New York nightclub scene in the seventies.

There will be moments of great joy and sadness within the pages of “Beyond Vinyl,” another treasure trove of emotional memories for those who lived it. The ending will leave readers clamoring for more.

Look for “Beyond Vinyl: The Saga Continues” coming in early 2012.

In case you haven’t caught on to the Seven-Inch Vinyl experience you can order your copy today by using the instructions on the right-side scroll of this blog. Take a look at prior blog posts to see what critics and readers alike have to say.

Much Love,
Donald Riggio

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Entertainment Consumers’ Exchange Spring Newsletter interview and review of Seven-Inch Vinyl.

The Entertainment Consumers’ Exchange’s President, Zee Matulonis met with author Donald Riggio about Seven-Inch Vinyl. She called the book: “…a great read…the love of the music comes through the writing of Donald Riggio. It acts as his tribute to his favorite music and fans can share in that enjoyment.”

Zee’s husband Dale wrote this review which also appears in the newsletter:

“This is a fictional book covering purported events in the recording industry between the end of the Korean War and 1969. It features several characters from singers/musicians to executives involved in the recording industry during that time period. It is spiced up with references to current events in that time period such as: the hippies, sputnik, and the moon landing.
Overall I enjoyed the novel and found it so gripping that I could not put it down until I finished reading it.”

My sincere thanks to Zee and Dale for their interest and coverage of the book.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Four Star review in Coldmine Magazine by Todd Baptista and Readers Comments:

Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel
By Donald Riggio,
Outskirts Press, Inc., 362 pages, softcover

By Todd Baptista

As an author, historian, and music bibliophile, I must confess that I’m rarely drawn to works of fiction. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I opened this tome, set squarely in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The author, a native of the Throggs Neck corner of the Bronx, undoubtedly relied on many experiences of his own upbringing to create the vivid characters that come to life within its pages.
This engaging, realistic account of the music business during rock’n’roll’s first generation takes readers on a journey from rural north-central Kentucky to New York City, introducing the ill-fated Elvis-Buddy Holly-inspired Teddy Boyette and his cigar-chomping “Colonel Parker” stereotypical manager, Cap Stewart, the Bronx street corners singers Johnny Seracino and Bobby Vitale who rose to international fame as members of the Du-Kanes, and wiseguys Richie Conforti and Phil Gambetta who graduate from small-time street hustlers to rulers of Alexis Records (thoughts of Morris Levy’s Roulette empire should immediately come to mind).
The central focus of the novel however, is Joseph Rabinowitz, the son of a classical pianist who we first meet in 1953 as an 18-year old stationed at Fort Knox. Riggio’s well-thought out tale introduces the principal characters in individual chapters building up to the formation of Chanticleer Records, which grows from a basement studio-retail shop to a Brill Building powerhouse.
Along the way, we are introduced to Leo Klein, who gives Joe his first job and eventually becomes his partner in the business, the female gospel-R&B trio, the Pixies with vixen lead singer Evie Rhodes, Chanty, the kind black guitarist-service station owner who inspires the main character, and Janet Cavelli, who becomes Joe’s confidant, lyricist, and wife, sharing his dreams, triumphs, and tragedies. Eventually, “Mr. Rabin’s” success and the pressures of the business compromise his priorities and principles, driving a wedge between the pair. We also experience the effects that the British Invasion had on the American music scene of the mid-1960s in detail. A few minor grammatical or spelling errors (Polyphone Records, Capital Records) are the only missteps in this, the author’s initial effort.
Yes, there’s sex, booze, and drugs in Seven-Inch Vinyl. As I said, it’s an authentic look at the business and the time, but rock’n’roll remains the focal point throughout. Historical facts and noteworthy events from the music scene and the world in general are woven into the fabric of the work, allowing readers to absorb the story in proper perspective. Overall, Seven-Inch Vinyl is a well-crafted and appealing read from start to finish, worthy of four stars.

Readers Comments:

1. Phil R. says:
I was privileged to read Donald Riggio’s manuscript, and was amazed by the quality of the story which intertwined the early era of Rock & Roll music, with the history and culture of that era. The characters are very believable; how business was conducted behind the scenes was educational..all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed “Seven-Inch Vinyl”.

2. Linda P. says:
July 11, 2011 at 1:01 am
A must for anyone who remembers the 50′s with fondness and wants to relive the early days of rock and roll. There is more to this book than meets the eye and it will keep you engaged for more than just a “one time read”. Looking forward to the sequel…

3. Harriet C. says:
July 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm
Ah, the halcyon days of the 50s and the birth of rock and roll. A wonderful, nostalgic read!

4. Chris C. says:
July 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm
Donald Riggio captures events from a unique time in our social history. Combined with current events and the music that was part of our lives, he captivates the reader. For those of us who lived through these precious moments, it transports us back in time and for those who had not, it provides a window to a glorious past. Looking forward to his continuing the journey.

5. Annie F. says:
July 13, 2011 at 4:22 pm
Outstanding!! Even for a die hard fan of Rock and roll, I found things I never heard from!! I am waiting for the next one, thanks Donald.

My thanks to Todd Baptista and all who took the time to comment.