Conversations With My Dead Rock Star Best Friend

Asked & Answered

January 2016

Q: Howie died thirteen years ago, how come it took so long to write this book?

A: Oh, it didn't that take long to write at all, it was pretty much written within several months, the question should be; why did it take so long to publish? I'll answer that one. The original book is about 125 pages longer than what I've released. I struggled a lot about what to include, I never wanted it to appear as though I was capitalizing on our friendship at all, that is first and foremost. But, there was little information out there and what was out there was misinformation, or from specific points of view that did not represent the Howie I know. I wanted to correct this, but I couldn't find a way to do it without revealing information about currently living people. I had absolutely no intention of scandalizing anything or to cause strife for anyone. I was surprised that some people were not correcting the misconceptions themselves, but, perhaps they didn't want to invite an argument or rebuttal, I guess they felt it would prolong the discussion. 


Q: Can you give me an example?

A: Well, I can now, in the most recent Tom Petty biography, because there seems to be a few, Tom finally admits to his own heroin use. There was a glimmer of hope when 'Running Man's Bible' came out, but he stopped short and just said it was about Howie. of course, knowing what I knew, it kind of pissed me off. So, it was a great relief when I saw he outed himself. I never would have. But you can imagine how that impacted Howie. Here he saw Tom was just as 'guilty' as he was, yet had the audacity to judge him, and ultimately fire him. That was something I really wanted addressed. Tom was the one making the schedule, of course he'd schedule sessions for his good days, That's just one example, but you see what I'm saying, That wasn't my secret to tell, Howie told me the things he did because he knew he could trust me, just because he's dead doesn't mean I get to break my vow of secrecy.


Q: Is that the secret you mention in the book?

A: Actually, no. But that's all I will say on that matter.


Q: What is in the 125 pages that didn't make the final cut? 

A: It's basically human weaknesses, as interpreted through Howie, and certainly not anything the subjects would want divulged. They may not be secrets to many, but I'm not about to point them out, we all have things we think nobody knows about us, when in reality they're revealed in our everyday actions.


Q: Are you still friends with Carlene Carter?

A: I love Carlene, I saw her last year, but only briefly. She was opening for John Mellencamp and I was having a yard sale, was up far too early and got an early start on the margueritas when she called to invite me to the show, not the best circumstances, but I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to see her. She seems to be doing so well, I am so delighted. Our connection was Howie, that last year, when 4 of the closest people in her world died within 8 months...I can't even imagine. I'm quite sure I don't bring back very good memories. I totally get that, I always think about him when I think of her. So, I don't imagine my presence would be any comfort to her. And that's fine with me. I take no offence


Q : Who are your five favorite authors, and why?

A: Currently, and off the top of my head; Alain de Botton, David Sedaris, Nick Hornby and Tom Robbins. I'll buy their books as soon as they're released without hesitation. I love their writing styles, I appreciate that they can write thoughtful, intelligent insights with eloquence and wit. I find myself often re-reading paragraphs just to absorb the brilliance of how they take a complex situation or thought and 'reduce' it to a couple of lines; though frugal with word usage, their choices are incredible. Most say far less using far more words. I also love Russell Brand as a writer, for all the reasons stated above. I particularly enjoy his audiobooks, hearing him say the words the way he intended them to sound is awe inspiring.  


Q: Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

A: I grew up in Montreal. Montreal is an incredible city, very European, very diverse before diversity proliferated. My coming-of-age years were spent there and I'm grateful for that. There's an 'esprit de coeur' in Montreal that I haven't seen anywhere else. It's very hard to describe, you either get it or you don't. Individuality is celebrated, artistic expression is rampant and everything seems to be felt more deeply, more passionately than any other place I've lived. So, of course it's influenced my writing greatly, but in ways that are hard to define. That being said, I am aware that we tend to romanticize our hometown, I don't currently live there and haven't for about 20 years, so.....


Q: What motivated you to become an indie author?

A: The alternative! Self Publishing has come a long way. I remember looking into it years ago, before Kindle; the POD option intrigued me but the cost was prohibitive. It wasn't as OD as it is now, you had to have a minimum order. The only aspect of the traditional route that appeals to me is the promotional aspect. Like many people, I have a very hard time promoting myself. I've worked in entertainment all my life and have no problem promoting other people, but I have an extremely difficult time putting myself in a sentence wherein I am the subject and the verb is praise of some sort. I am not alone in this. I used to think it was a woman thing, but I am now discovering that's not always the case.


Q: You've spent your whole working career in the Music Industry, you must have met a lot of rock stars, are there any you wish you hadn't met? 

A: Oh God yes...someone once said 'you should never meet your heroes.' That's true.  Your expectations are too high, nobody could rise to them, but when they don't, because they're human, it is such a grand disappointment, because it goes against everything you believed about them. You don't want your heroes to be mere mortals, especially if they wrote that song that 'changed your life.' However, I've been very pleasantly surprised by artists I didn't really think much about - that's probably why, I had no great expectations, but they impressed me greatly, and there are those I thought would be jerks but weren't and those I thought would be decent human beings but were instead  ginormous assholes. And no, I'm not going to name names.


Q: What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

A: I feel that once anything I'm feeling hits the page it's been exorcised to a degree. About 15 years ago I was looking at my massive collection of journals, as I was going through them I thought; I only write when I'm depressed, if I died tomorrow and this is what was found, people would think I was the most miserable soul on the planet. That really bothered me, I trashed every one of them - that was a huge mistake. I have since learned that given enough time a great healing can occur when you re-visit those pages with the benefit of hindsight. Now when I re-read what I've written and am transported back to that time, I can pluck out the lessons and appreciate that if I had not endured what I did, a lot of doors and windows would've remained closed. Definitely a great end result, definitely NOT instant gratification.


Q: What are you working on next?

A: I'm not sure, my first book was only just released, the process has been tough emotionally. You're putting your most vulnerable self out there and inviting criticism. It's extremely daunting.


Q: What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

A: My dog won't walk himself.


Q: How do you discover the books you read?

A: Happenstance. Sometimes a book has been recommended to me, sometimes I'm searching a particular subject and find there's a book that addresses exactly what I'm looking for, other times my favourite authors have a new release, there's really no rhyme or reason. In the olden days I would just go to a bookstore and peruse the shelves, that was an excellent way to discover books I may never have been exposed to otherwise. I will miss that. That said, I know bookstores still exist, and I SHOULD go visit, I just got so used to having hundreds of books in one small device.  But there's nothing like the physical act of dog-earing a page because something on it made such an impact on you.


Q: What is your writing process?

A: I am nowhere near as disciplined as most. If I force myself to sit down and write, I cannot. But when the spirit moves me, I can't write fast enough for the thoughts gushing from my head - those are the days I have very little editing to do. It's like channeling. For instance, right now I'm supposed to be writing a blog for my friend's website. I have no idea where to begin, I tried starting 4 times today and hated everything that hit the page; it didn't flow, it was forced and that was obvious to me. A lot of people don't understand that. The friend who's waiting for this blog feels I should just be able to churn it out...that doesn't happen. I can't write on command. My kingdom, such as it is, for an actual writing process!

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