I’ve been trying to remember when I first heard the name “Ira Robbins,” and I can’t. Ira was one of those writers I trusted to steer me toward music I would love – and wouldn’t hear about anywhere else. When I started writing about music, he was one of the few I admired – someone who could translate the experience of a live performance onto the page. When I heard he had a novel coming out – a music-related one, no less – I knew I wanted to host him. I’m sorry that we can’t meet on a real book tour right now, but please raise a glass and welcome Ira Robbins to the #NoContact Book Tour!
Tell us about your book!
Marc Bolan Killed in Crash is a historical fantasy about the glam-rock scene in London in 1972. The central character, Laila Russell, is a 15-year-old schoolgirl who inadvertently gets pulled into the world of British rock star Chaz Bonapart, whose manager is seeking a solution to his creative doldrums and waning career. His radical notion is to get a representative of the target audience (teenaged girls) to report back on what subjects her peers would respond to in song.
That arrangement leads much further than Laila could ever imagine, and she winds up with a rock career of her own.
My goal here was fourfold: to immerse myself in a musical culture emerging in a particular time and place, to explore complex questions of creativity, originality and inspiration in the world of pop songwriting and commerce, to depict the loss of innocence and idealism success brings and to indulge a lifetime passion for dialect, slang and accents.
A few bits and pieces here are based on things that happened to me, and several fictional characters were created with real people in mind. Other than the stuff I made up, the historical details are as accurate as I could make them.
What would you have been doing now to promote it? Where would you have been speaking? What bookstores would you have visited? (Feel free to add links!)
I did a couple of readings as a work in progress, which was encouraging, but as I have had to self-publish this novel (my second), and did so during the plague, I did not yet have any plans to promote beyond social media. So this is my first public outreach.
The book is only available as an E-book and print-on-demand paperback from Amazon.
Here’s the link: https://amzn.to/2WnRS0M
Are you working on anything now? Is your process or routine different?
I am deep into a memoir-cum-anthology of my music journalism, which I hope to publish as an E-book sometime this year. It’s going to be very long and contain illustrations of my work as well as memorabilia from my career.
I am also preparing to relaunch the Trouser Press website (trouserpress.com) as an archive of the magazine’s existence (1974 – 1984) and as a forward-looking online music magazine.
I have the earliest stirrings of a third novel, to be set in New York City (my home and birthplace) in recent times.
Do you think your writing will be changed by this crisis?
No, I don’t expect so. I’ve never written fiction about current events and don’t intend to change.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when we’re free to be social again?
Get back to walking the streets of my city. I retired from a radio job after 22 years in January and was just getting used to the freedom of roaming freely when lockdown began. So I would like to resume that. Ironically, I’ve been much more productive under the enforced quarantine (possibly because my wife has had to work from home as well, and we stopped going out to eat or see friends, so I am never far from my desk.)