Write-Up in Blues & Co. Magazine, and the Opening of Doors...
...let’s crack into this interesting series of events, shall we? We are at a time where I am getting events set up, and still working my ass off to pay my bills, and in the midst of this, I’m supposed to be...writing?
Well a lot of it’s in my head at this point, but that’s also part of the package deal. You write all the time, and up there is where it begins.
I’ve been sidetracked by the work hours, and other mad things that come along, but at least I feel a bit ahead of the game, in terms of what I have accomplished, and what comes next.
Yesterday, I arrived home to find this in my mailbox. Blues & Co. is a French-language blues magazine; I’d done an interview with a fellow named Erick a couple months back.
I did not expect what I saw...
How about that? All respect to Paul Oscher, a legend, and then looks at the names on the cover. This magazine reminds me a lot of Big City Blues, a thorough, detailed and extensive publication, and they do a great job at covering the artists most don’t remember or know about.
I also didn’t expect this...
Look at all that...two pages, and some good shots. Some of those were done by Alice Potteiger; I do not recall who took the book signing shot, that was in Carlisle in 2016.
Erick asked some basic questions, and let me run with them. Mostly these were about “Searching for Roy Buchanan,” but also detailed my radio career, and my connection to the music.
This publication is exactly the kind of press I need. Not just for my writing...but for the expansion of the blues to an audience that might not know the roots to the music they love.
We are going to open doors to music, for people to get the roots of it all. Not just blues, but to the other forms that are ignored by commercial industry as oddities or rarities.
That’s why I do my radio program, and it’s also for my own appreciation and respect to it.
I take great pride in the work I’ve done, and the music is a huge part of it. This is my give-back to the blues community, and I hope we can take it further.
I hope you’ll give “Searching...” a test drive, and let me know what you think. I’ve gotten some really nice reviews lately, about the story, the style, and what I’m trying to get done.
I may not make the bookshelves of big stores (yet!), but that does not matter. My job is to put out a work that’s un-fucked with, and that I’m proud of.
Hope that comes through.
PS: here's the transcript of the interview (in English)
Could you briefly introduce yourself (origins, studies, hobbies, etc…?) – My name is Tory Gates; I was born in Vermont, and grew up in a small town called Cambridge, on a dairy farm which my family still operates. After high school, I studied Communications at a small school, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, and graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor’s degree. During that time, I became involved in radio, and that’s been my career. I worked for stations all over New England, before I moved to Pennsylvania in 2000. I worked for XM Satellite Radio from 2004-09 as a traffic reporter and announcer. Currently I’m a jobber; I work for a statewide news network in Harrisburg, where I now live, I do news and announcing for two other radio companies as well. I host program for authors on the BookSpeak Network, the “Brown Posey Press Show,” and host a blues program, “The Music Club” on Radio-Airwaves Station. – Writing was always part of my interest in literature, and it is a necessity in broadcasting, when you write everything from news copy to commercials. – I sang, played guitar and wrote songs for a band called Ahltyrra, from 2006-10, and later in the Dharma Fools from then till 2015.
You have a lot of a activities for one man: radio host, musician and author-composer. Which one takes priority, if there is a priority? – Radio and broadcasting in general, partly because it is my source of income, and it really was the first love of my life. I well remember having a strong interest as I grew up, because in days before cable TV and the internet, your sources of communication were pretty limited. Radio made a huge impression on me, but I’d honestly never thought as a kid I’d be doing it! – The other things I do are an offshoot of that, and writing became something that I finally pushed myself to do, rather than just think and talk about it.
You have written four novels. Could you tell us when and how the vocation of author came to you ? – The craft was something I played around with for a long time, but never really thought I could do. After a lot of tries and false starts, I suddenly got hit with a burst of creativity, plus I had the time to really think and work out what would become something larger. I wrote my new book, “Searching for Roy Buchanan” for the first time in 2007, and that went through a lot of changes, as did everything else. I just haven’t stopped writing since.
The readers you address through your novels are particularly young adults, many of whom have abandoned paper books in favor of screens (phones, tablettes, etc…) Isn’t that a bit old-fashioned, or even risky ? – I never really thought about a target audience at first, but I realized that a lot of my stories begin with that audience, the adolescent headed into young adulthood. They start with the young idea, and my protagonists are generally what I like to call, “Young people dealing with grown-up problems.” A lot of the themes at their base are familiar to all ages, but especially young people because they feel them most intensely, at least I did at that age. – In answer to your question about technology, I don’t think they completely have abandoned the old ways. I have found people use e-readers or their phones for a lot of things, and reading is one of them. That’s fine with me, but to my surprise, there’s a young population out there that loves the feel of a book in your hands, just as older people do. I don’t think that will never go away.
Could you briefly present your three previous novels ? – “Parasite Girls” is self-published through Amazon.com – I put that out in 2013. It is pretty much straight fiction, about a burnt-out journalist who is trying re-evaluate his career and life. He tries the solve this problem by going to Japan on a whim, and meeting up with an old college friend. This woman and two of her closest friends are considered as being on certain levels of a thing called the Parasite Single, that is women who stay at home a lot longer than most, don’t get married, and just stay. The true reason for their stories comes out, and all meet their crossroads at the same time. – My first book for Brown Posey Press came in 2016, with “A Moment in the Sun.” I kept with the Japanese theme, and focused on the hikikomori, that is people who suffer from Acute Isolation, they don’t feel they fit into society and so rarely (if ever) leave their homes. The story is about Rei, a young woman who was this way for several years of her young life, until she finds a way out. She then meets other survivors, and discovers a missing friend from school is now one of what she was. Rei must deal with her past before she can consider any type of future, and the story deals with that. – “Live from the Cafe” was released in 2017, and is about the strangest, most uncorporate coffee shop on Earth, in a tiny town in Quebec. I drew on growing up in my hometown and also because we lived near the Quebec border. It is about living in a small town, the people who own the cafe, the young folks who work there, the characters about town, and the mysterious and often famous people who show up to drink coffee and play music!
Why did you choose the title Searching For Roy Buchanan for the fourth novel ? And why Roy Buchanan in particular ? – Music has always inspired my writing, and I grew up with a great appreciation for the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, thanks to my older brothers! The blues came a little later, and that has been my music. Roy Buchanan was a well-known (to other musicians) guitarist, whose innovation and pyrotechnics often brought comparisons to Jimi Hendrix. The title stuck with me, along with the elements of young adult fiction, Japanese culture, and time travel. I can’t even begin to explain how that all came together, but it just did!
For our readers could you resume the plot of the last novel and explain to us the link between the blues and the three young Japanese ? – This is something that kind of told its own story, and I admit I was not even sure what I was trying to get at when I began. I had just these threads: Aki is a 15 year old girl who has inherited the ability to time travel, but doesn’t know how to use it. Her mother passed the “Amida Syndrome” to her daughter, but the lady and her husband were killed before Aki could be instructed. An element of the issue Aki has is recurring nightmares, but in this, comes this strange, simple musical progression she doesn’t get. When she and her brothers have a vehicle breakdown outside an unassuming house, they hear this wild music coming from it. Aki realizes the music is in her nightmares, but is not afraid. They meet a retired bluesman named Kazu. He offers to teach Aki’s brother Hiro guitar, and later reveals he knew their mother, and a lot more... – The link that comes through Aki’s time travel is the music, its inspirational and healing power. Aki realizes this music binds all humanity; it doesn’t matter what you call it, or where you are from. The blues is the root, or one of them.
How do you elaborate and organize your writing and what particular difficulties do you encounter ? – That is a process I had to teach myself, in terms of what works. I can be really impatient, and just start writing without any idea of where I’m going. That works for songs and poetry sometimes, but not books. When I have an idea, I allow it to “cook” upstairs in my head for anywhere from three months to a couple of years. While that happens, I write down character sketches, plus a full storyline. When I have those completed, and I feel this will work, I write. And then I don’t stop till the draft is done. – I don’t really have issues like writer’s block, because if the words aren’t coming, you can still think it out. The hard part is trying to make the next story better than the last, and also different. I do kind of write to type, but I try very hard to make my characters as real as I can. Most characters are combinations of people I know or have come across, but first I get in my mind. I “see” someone, and wonder who it is. I’ll get a brief sketch in my head, then I just go from there. – The important thing is when you embark on the project, write it. Make a specific time for yourself to do this, even if it’s just a short period. Do it every day, or as close to every day, and before you know it, you’ve done it. It’s a very cool feeling to know you’ve accomplished something you might never have thought you could.
What part of your life does the blues take up ? – That music is the roots of rock, where as a small child I heard the artists I mentioned before, and others. My introduction to the blues was Johnny Winter when I was 12. It made one hell of an impression on me, and I eventually worked backwards to find the roots of the music, and I just don’t find another genre that moves me as much. I like most kinds of music, but blues or its off-shoots I always turn to first. Even if you don’t know who is playing the music, if you listen, you get something you’ll recognize, and then the feeling hits you.
Will your books be translated into French ? – I don’t know at this point. Brown Posey Press does not have a translation agreement that I know of, but I would hope we might be able to get our books into other languages.