© 2013 Clive Eaton
I am Toronto-born and raised, and still live in my hometown. I have been teaching for 23 years, writing songs and books for 32 years, and live happily with my husband, and our three cats and one dog.
Book title: Behind Blue Eyes: Love Reign o’er Me (Part One of the BBE series)
Brief Synopsis: Behind Blue Eyes is the first book of a four-part series based on The Who song of the same name - from the album Who’s Next. It is the story of Ian Harrington, a young musician who has come to Canada from England to run from his troubled past and make a new life for himself. He blames himself and his father for his mother’s death, and numbs his pain and guilt with drink. He meets Sarah, a connected local singer, and together they form a band and chase their rock and roll dreams until the burden of his secrets threatens to destroy their love and their hopes forever.
What do you do to relax when you are not writing?
I like reading, travelling, and I enjoy sports like swimming and playing tennis. I am also fond of spoiling my dog with walks and park runs.
What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?
I have always written, whether it was songs, poems, or stories. I started writing in high school, and have never stopped. Marrying my love of music and books was a natural progression.
What or who inspired you to write your current novel?
I discovered Pete Townshend’s songs as a teenager, and Behind Blue Eyes prompted me to begin imagining the sad man behind those eyes, and creating a story to go with the song. It was only natural for me to include music and my love of the Toronto of the late 70s into the narrative.
Tell us three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis.
1) Pete Townshend kindly gave me permission to use his song lyrics in the foreword.
2) Every title in the series is the title of a Pete Townshend song.
3) Each of the members of Ian’s band shares some facet of my personality.
What research did you need to do for this book?
I needed to be accurate about life in the Toronto of 1978: the weather, certain days of the week, the conversion year from imperial to metric, the drinking laws, car seat and seat belt regulations, clubs and concerts, fashion, music, films, all of these details had to be checked and re-checked so that the book was error-free.
Are any elements/characters of your book based on real life experiences or people you’ve met/known?
Yes, there are what I call ‘literary Easter Eggs’ all over the book series. Some characters are modelled after musicians and friends I have long admired, and there are names and places that I used to pay tribute to friends and family, as well as actual incidents from my past. The only examples I can really give without revealing too much of the narrative are that my famous power trio (who are introduced early on) are my homage to Rush, and that my friends The Wholigans, who are a very impressive Who tribute band, make an appearance in a club in the story.
Tell us a little about your current work-in-progress.
I am currently working on my editing for book three of the Behind Blue Eyes series, which I’ve called Let My Love Open the Door. After that, there is one more book in the series, tentatively named I’m One, which is about 90% written and then will need some solid edits. I hope to have book three out in January, and then the last one in May or June. I’ve got another novel plotted out and halfway written, in a completely different direction, but that’s at least a year away while I see this project through.
What process did you adopt from inception through to the finished book?
I started writing the story in 1979 as a teenager, and finished a first draft in 1980. I realised at the time that despite a well-plotted story, I was far too young emotionally to write about characters well into their adult lives and shelved it. I picked it up again in 1996, really fleshed out the characters and tightened the story, and then shopped it around for a bit. Writing in a new genre (music or rock fiction) as an unpublished author made it impossible to get an agent interested, and so I shelved it again, continued to write book two and three, and then made the conscious decision in 2006 to plan for a teacher sabbatical for 2011 to get it properly edited and published. As it happened, e-books and indie publishing turned the book world upside down and my timing was fortuitous. I commissioned a former student to design my covers, roped my tech-savvy husband into formatting the books and to create our website, and the first book came out in January, 2012, followed by the second one, Love Ain’t for Keeping, last May.
What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?
I need coffee and music, and long stretches of time to get lost in the story. It’s hard to write when there are frequent interruptions, or when I have my teaching duties in the way of those long stretches.
What prompted you to self-publish your current book?
I wanted to do things my way, and to keep control of the process and the timeline. By making all the decisions (along with my husband), I can control how to present my ideas, and don’t have to compromise. I realise the trade-off is that we have to wear all the hats, but I am quite pleased with the decision.
What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) Finding long blocks of time to devote to writing
2) Trying to be accurate in the historical portrayal of Toronto in 1978
3) Knowing when to stop editing and being satisfied with the final product
Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?
If I am blocked, I believe it’s because something is not ready to come out and need to ferment in my brain for a bit longer. I trust my instincts, consider myself a very visual writer, and often imagine scenes and dialogue in my head. I “replay” scenes repeatedly until they seem right to me, and then will commit them to the page.
What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?
Make sure you are doing it because you love to write. The rest will fall into place.
What genre does your book fall into?
Rock music fiction (I’ve made this up! It has elements of nostalgic fiction, family drama, and romance as well)
How did you get interested in this specific genre?
I love music and wanted to write a book that was based in the rock music world.
You as a reader
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) P.D. James- the best crime novelist I have ever read. Her mastery of “the little true facts” has never wavered.
2) Herge- for giving me a love of graphic novels and comic books, and for writing such great adventures with Tintin
3) Richard Adams- for Watership Down and The Plague Dogs, both beautiful children’s books that I enjoyed as an adult and which convinced me that it is perfectly fine to read outside my age group and genre.
What was your favourite book as a child?
I loved the Asterix and Tintin books.
What is the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?
Indie: Metallic Dreams by Mark Rice
Traditional: Child 44 (and the 2 sequels) by Tom Rob Smith
What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?
Metallic Dreams by Mark Rice- The friend in question is a huge music fan like me, and I told him he would love the heavy metal slant of the narrative.
Kindle (or other e-reader) or paperback, and why?
Both. Paperbacks for home and in the bath, Kindle for travelling, commuting, and when books are big and heavy.
Hollywood is calling
You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?
I would choose two complete unknowns, because I can’t think of any current young actors who could play the two lead characters and have the required musical/singing backgrounds. Ian is like Peter Frampton in his looks, and Sarah is a fiery redhead.
The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?
Pete Townshend would be ideal for his own inspired materials, but again, I would go looking for a fresh, new band.
Drink – Water and wine.
Meal – Stuffed butternut squash pasta with a butter sage sauce and a Caprese salad on the side.
Holiday destination –Italy.
TV programme – Breaking Bad or Mad Men.
Method of travel –On foot or by train.
Sport – Tennis or swimming.
How can people connect with you?
Where can readers find your books:
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|The Alternative Booker Awards|
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|The Holiday Book Tour|
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