Karen Booth, author of Bring Me Back, has been my guest on the blog all week. Today I turn the tables and ask her some questions about her book and the 80s! Here’s what you need to know about the book before we get started:
Music critic Claire Abby is a single mom dreading her daughter’s departure for college and worried that turning forty will leave her career running on fumes. She’s floored when she lands a Rolling Stone cover story on 80s British rock legend Christopher Penman. She spent her teenage years fantasizing he was her boyfriend.
In person, Christopher is everything Claire feared he’d be—charming, witty and unwilling to address the rumors he’s dodged for a decade. Still, she contains her adolescent fantasies and manages to earn his trust, unearthing the truth and the devastating secret behind it. His blockbuster story is her first priority when she returns home, a nearly impossible task when Christopher starts calling and flirting. She knows she should maintain a professional distance. She knows she should focus on the story. She knows it would be best to simply walk away. But how can she say “no” to the man she could never forget?
“Fast-paced, sexy and altogether irresistible, Bring Me Back is made all the more appealing by Karen Booth’s inside knowledge of the music industry. A flat-out fabulous read!”–Celia Rivenbark, NYT Bestselling author
Pop Eighties: Bring Me Back has a music industry focus, a world that you were part of in real life. How much of what goes on in the book is inspired by your own experiences?
Karen: The main thing I borrowed from my time in the music industry is knowledge of how things work—recording, interviews, soundcheck—things like that. One of my pet peeves about rock star books is that they are so unlike the way things are in real life. It was very important to me that my book be as realistic as possible, because it’s a dream scenario. The only way you buy the dream is if you plop it down into reality.
I suppose I also used my personal experiences with rock stars when writing the book, but there’s not much to “use” there—they’re people, just like us. They put their leather pants on one leg at a time.
Pop Eighties: What interested you about this particular story overall?
Karen: The story was inspired by a very steamy dream I had about John Taylor from Duran Duran. The thing is, the dream came when I was 32 years old. This wasn’t about the teenage me pining for JT (although, believe me, plenty of that happened)—this was a dream about two very grown up people, at a time when I hadn’t thought about the man in years. When I woke up from the dream, I caught myself thinking that it wouldn’t be THAT weird for a woman to meet and fall in love with the rock star she was obsessed with in high school….just make it happen years later, when he’s on the downside of his career and she’s less likely to be blindly swayed by his charms.
Pop Eighties: How would you describe Claire’s personal journey throughout the book?
Karen: One thing that surprises people about “Bring Me Back” is that it isn’t just about the love story between Christopher and Claire, although that is the central storyline. It’s also about single mom Claire coming to grips with the fact that her only child, Samantha, is a year away from college. There are a lot of growing pains and Samantha is moving much more quickly than Claire is, mostly because Claire is digging in her heels.
The other important storyline is between Claire and her father. Claire’s mom passed away before Samantha was born and Claire is still grieving for her, even after seventeen years. Claire’s father isn’t doing any better. They have always had an odd relationship—I’d call it falsely affectionate. Her dad doesn’t know how to have a real connection with her and Claire thinks her dad will always regard her as the daughter who comes up short. They have a lot to work through over the course of the book.
The love story isn’t a traditional one. Claire and Christopher both grow a lot through it, and it’s painful at times as all personal transformation is. I think Claire’s journey, for the most part, is about letting go.
Pop Eighties: Tell us about the character of 80s rock legend Christopher Penman.
Karen: Can I tell you that simply reading his name brings a huge grin to my face? It’s unavoidable. Christopher could charm anyone, especially with his British accent and brilliant smile. He’s that at-ease, totally in control, witty and flirtatious guy. He’s ridiculously handsome too—tall and lanky, with unforgettable green eyes and a thick mop of reddish-brown hair. Frankly, Claire never stood a chance.
His band Banks Forest was huge in the 80s (well, at least in my head…and in the book). But over the years, Christopher’s many shining attributes have become the public persona, the mask he must wear to deal with the world he lives in. When you start to get to know him, you realize that those waters run deep and he’s a very sentimental and emotional guy. Despite unbridled success and musical triumphs, much of his life has been about having everything except the things he really wanted.
Pop Eighties: Who is your personal favorite 80s musician?
Karen: John Taylor for Duran Duran, of course! I can honestly say it’s much more than his enduring good looks, although the man has aged insanely well. Duran is not only my favorite band from my youth they’re in my top five to this day. I had the chance to meet the band twice on the last tour and that was certainly a dream come true. I have the photos to prove it!