I’ve had some letdowns in my life, but one of the biggest is the author KL Going.
It wasn’t the teen novel, Fat Kid Rules the World that was disappointing. Far from it. I loved that book. I might even stick my neck out and say the Fat Kid Rules the World was the book that actually made me want to give up everything and write a young adult novel about being in a band.
Not that I had much to give up.
Take a look at the main character, Troy Billings. He’s an overweight teen with nothing going for him. He can’t play sports, he’s no good at school, and as for girls, they’re not even on the radar. Then one day, right out of the blue, he stumbles into playing music for a punk band, and everything begins to change for him.
For me, Troy is not just relate-able. He is me as a teen. That is my story. Even the stunt where he throws up all over the stage (at least it looks like a stunt) is not so different from the way I used to pretend to have a seizure while playing a sax-solo.
I liked the book so much that I read it a second time. The events take place during the height of the punk era in New York. This was the nineteen eighties. I did some quick calculation. KL Going was by now an overweight ex-musician in his mid-forties.
I had to meet him.
He had to be the kind of guy that enjoyed a glass or two of beer, and maybe a slice of pepperoni pizza. Perhaps even several glasses of beer and several slices of pepperoni pizza.
We would meet once a week or so, and hang out in seedy bars in New York’s East Village. I would show him excerpts from the book I was writing, about my own time in a punk band. He would critique them, give me some pointers on improving my style, share some ideas with me. His name was probably Kenny or Keith, but I’d still call him “KL,” and we would be best writer-ex-punk-rocker buddies.
Eventually I did get the opportunity to meet KL Going. The amazing KL was booked to be a speaker at a writing conference I was attending. I sat right at the front, and I was as nervous as if I was going on a date. Maybe KL would have turned his back on punk rock, and would be wearing a suit. Maybe he’d have embarked on a health-kick. No more beer. No more pizza. No more excess body fat.
In the event it was worse.
First. The “K” of KL did not stand for Kenny or Keith. It stood for Kelly. The female kind of Kelly. KL Going was not an overweight, beer-swilling, ex-rocker. She was a slender and very pretty woman in her late twenties. The kind of person who would not merely not want to hang out and have pepperoni pizza with me, but would probably not even look at a slice of pepperoni pizza.
Nevertheless I stuck my hand up and asked her about her time in a punk band. Much to my amazement she not only answered me, but gave me a nice smile while she did so.
Turns out, not only was she not fat and not male, she had never even been in a band.
And yet the way KL Going writes about the rock-n-roll experience in Fat Kid Rules the World is so realistic I still find it hard to believe that’s she’s not somehow keeping her punk years a secret. Maybe one day it’ll burst out the attic like Mr. Rochester’s first wife.
So much for writing what you know. If you have a good enough imagination you can probably write just about anything.
You’re probably wondering what kind of crazy person would be disappointed to discover that a beloved author is an attractive young woman rather than an iffy-looking older man. What can I say? I’m being selfish. Writing can be a lonely calling, and it’s not often you meet a real kindred spirit.
One day I’m hoping I’ll get to meet Frank Portman, the author of the very wonderful King Dork.
I just hope he turns out to actually be a guy.
Ed Briant grew up in Brighton, England, but now lives just outside Philadelphia, where he writes, illustrates, and creates the popular comic strip "Tales from the Slush Pile." He has two daughters, teaches creative writing, and plays the alto saxophone (quite badly). Choppy Socky Blues was his first book for young adults. He can be found online at ebriant.com.
Who doesn't love Ed Briant? After all, not only is he hilarious, but he made a Jane Eyre joke in that post!
Plus, I have a copy of his novel AND a nifty new guitar pick up for grabs!
Toby and Zack’s first gig could make or break their Beatles cover band, the Nowhere Men. But ever since getting dumped by his girlfriend, lead singer Toby can’t quite pull off the Beatles’ feel-good vibe. When Toby finds a note hidden inside his brother’s bass claiming the instrument was stolen, he embarks on a quest to find the true owner—and hopes a girl named Michelle will help him recover his lost mojo along the way.
How To Win:
[mandatory] fill out the form below
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 copy of I Am (Not) The Walrus up for grabs
 guitar pick up for grabs
 winner in the U.S. or Canada
ends July 18