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Music Stories: Making It Up

With readers interested in the foibles and flare-outs of rock musicians, it stands to reason that fictional musicians and music lovers are peopling the pages of novels. William Morrow merges music and fiction with the October novel Power & Beauty by Grammy-winning rapper T.I., and in January, Hyperion/Voice will publish a 50,000-copy first printing of Wayward Saints by Suzzy Roche (founding member of the Roches), about a former musician.

Coral Press specializes in “musical fiction,” novels that publisher Robert Dunn describes as “strong novels with music at their core.” Yet Dunn cautions that a novel has to offer something that a memoir or biography cannot, and adds, “We would have, of course, been happy to publish Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad—though we can hardly compete with Knopf.” Perhaps not, but the small press (distributed through IPG) does promote its books with innovative ploys. The fictional protagonist of Look at Flower (Feb.), Flower Evans, has her own Facebook page and more than 1,000 friends, as well as a tumblr blog.

Men Behind the Music

In February, Grand Central will publish Starmaker by Tommy Mottola, music mogul and ex-husband (and Svengali) of Mariah Carey. Senior editor Ben Greenberg says, “Many of the rock heyday visionaries, pioneers, and leading voices are at an age now to have a lot of perspective. It’s all about the story, of course, whether it’s the front man, the guitarist, the bassist, or the roadie. I think a lot of it is simply who saw the most, and who can remember it. Tommy Mottola’s upcoming memoir is an all-access pass to a multitude of musicians and it shows you how the whole thing worked.”

And in November, Simon & Schuster will offer a look at another titan in the industry: The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun by Robert Greenfield. Ertegun founded Atlantic Records and discovered musicians ranging from Ray Charles to Kid Rock.

The Quiet Beatle

With the 10th anniversary of the death of Beatles lead guitarist George Harrison approaching in November, two publishers are offering retrospectives of his life and work.

Abrams will publish George Harrison: Living in the Material World by Olivia Harrison (George Harrison’s widow) in October, to coincide with a Martin Scorsese documentary of the same name scheduled to air on HBO on October 5 and 6. Abrams v-p and editor-in-chief Eric Himmel says the work “draws on years of research in Harrison’s own far-flung archive of photographs, letters, diaries, and memorabilia, as well as an ambitious program of interviews with such key figures as Eric Clapton, Terry Gilliam, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr.”

In November, Quest Books will publish Working-Class Mystic: A Spiritual Biography of George Harrison by Gary Tillery. Nicole Krier, director of sales and marketing for Quest says, “Often pop culture icons’ personal spiritual paths become the impetus and inspiration for the art they create and the good work they do in the world as a result. This was true of John Lennon, the subject of Tillery’s last biography [The Cynical Idealist, Quest, 2009], and it was certainly true with George Harrison.”

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