Interrogation—Tyson Cornell

 Tyson Cornell 2015Who: Tyson Cornell

What: Founder of Rare Bird Lit, a company specializing in book marketing, promotions, and design for authors and publishers; and Rare Bird Books, a PGW-distributed independent publisher that releases thirty-five books per year on its various imprints. He was once the longtime marketing and publicity director of Book Soup bookstore back when it was the CBGBs of independent bookstores, and he has toured extensively around the world playing with hair metal musicians.

Where: Los Angeles

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

I swear this interview is going to be about you—but first I want to hear all about the Chuck Palahniuk vinyl audiobook that Rare Bird Books just put out. How did that project happen?

CP VinylThe Palahniuk vinyl audiobook is something that we’ve been extremely excited about. We had the idea of starting a vinyl audiobook line a few years ago and, until this initial release, have just been consumed with the practical elements of how we might roll vinyl audiobooks out. The most important component we’ve needed to take into consideration is simply how to fit an entire audiobook on so many pieces of vinyl. The first contractual vinyl agreement was for Jerry’s Stahl’s PERMANENT MIDNIGHT—unabridged, read by Jerry, featuring a full 11.5 hours worth of musical accompaniment by The Icarus Line. We did production on that last year, and it’s scheduled for release later this fall/winter. The Stahl project is the one that I originally mentioned to Palahniuk’s people (David Hyde at Superfan and Todd Doughty at Doubleday), which quickly evolved into the vinyl release of EXPEDITION, a 56-minute FIGHT CLUB prequel story read by Chuck with music by Rob Campanella of The Brian Jonestown Massacre. We’re working on others now for release next year and beyond.

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Interrogation: Frank Portman

PORTMAN 1Who: Frank Portman (a.k.a. Dr. Frank)

What: The singer/songwriter/guitarist of the Bay Area punk band Mr. T Experience and the author of three young adult novels including most recently KING DORK APPROXIMATELY, a sequel to the coming of age cult classic KING DORK.

Where: San Francisco

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

You published your debut novel, KING DORK, in 2006. What made you want to write a Young Adult novel at that time? Do you think you will ever write a non-YA novel?

In 2004 my band released it’s final/most recent album and attempted to tour on it and promote it in the usual way, not realizing that in the time since the last time we’d done that the world’s music consumers had all gotten together and decided not to buy records anymore.  The tour disintegrated at the end as they always do, leaving me at a loose end and running out of ideas now that recording another essentially valueless album and touring to promote its valuelessness was out of the question despite it being pretty much the only thing I knew how to do.  Writing a YA novel was suggested to me by an agent who was a fan of my songs and who thought the sensibility in them could work in fiction.  I had nothing but time so I gave it a shot.

King_Dork_coverThere’s a lot of arguing over “what is YA” these days (similar to the “what is punk?” trope that used to bedevil me way back when.)  Teen fiction is certainly where I feel most comfortable, and is a logical place to go from rock and roll, which is teenage music if it’s anything.  As a frame for fiction, exploring the teenage self coming of age has a quite a bit going for it, as I am certainly not the first person to note.  And this tradition is a long and great one that I’m pleased to be a part of.  That said, what makes a book YA is that it is marketed that way.  I’m fortunate that this marketing has worked so well for my books, but even in a different marketing category I’d write them the same way.  Which is a roundabout way of saying, I guess, that I don’t see the great gulf between YA and “non-YA” that the question assumes.

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