Keep On Truckin' - An Interview with S. K. Waller

Tell us about Beyond The Bridge. What is it about?
The Beyond The Bridge series is chiefly about Gordon Hammond, a English guitar god who, with his band Tuppence, rises up from the British Invasion of the 1960s to attain fame and fortune. That’s the surface of the story anyway. Beyond that, it’s the story of a group of people and how they get through the tumult of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s while dealing with the rewards and demands of their lifestyle. Even deeper, it’s about how fame is no respecter of persons and how life deals out blows regardless of how important people seem to be.

What inspired you to write the Beyond The Bridge series?
My eternal quest for rock and roll fame! A successful life as a rock star passed me by, so I gave it to my characters. The series idea came when I set up the initial outline. The story covers four decades and I thought that by putting it into one book, a lot of the story world be lost.

How did you come up with the title?
I know that a lot of people probably picture an physical bridge when they first read the title, but it’s actually a musical term. In music, a bridge is a transition, a section that carries the song over to its conclusion. Seemed fitting.

Is there a message in that you want readers to grasp?
Maybe that no matter what we do in life, whether we’re rich or poor, famous or unknown, life is no respecter of persons and we all go through our joys and sorrows. Stars are no different than we are, except that maybe life is more complicated for them.

How much of the story is actual fact?
The events in the musical world are faithful to actual timelines of those decades, but other than that it’s an historical fiction. I like the idea of clouding the lines that separate fact from fiction and sometimes it's hard to tell if something in the books really happened, or if I created it. My characters' lives mingle with those of actual celebrities. They go to the same clubs and parties, and are part of it all.

What is the easiest part of writing your books?
The characters. I love them. They’re my friends.

What's the most difficult?
The reading and research. I'm an historian and I detest shoddy, lazy research, so it seems that every day there's something new for me to track down and confirm.

Of your characters, which one do you like the best and which one do you like least?
Well, I like Gordon best, of course. He’s a good guy, but he’s not perfect. He means well and he lives his life following his own code of integrity regardless of what it costs him. I like that. Having said that, I also adore Noel. He's the one who can make me laugh when things start getting a bit heavy.

Are any of your characters based on actual people?
The eternal question! Of course they are, but they’ve developed to where they’re not easily recognizable. Gordon is very much his own man, although he's based on a number of guitarists I know. Noel is based on an old friend of mine who played bass in a blues band we had for a while, but I wouldn't count on me revealing his identity if I were you.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I wish I could tell you that when I sit down to write, that’s it, it’s all I do. I also wish I could tell you that I’m gloriously disciplined and don’t consider it a good writing day unless I’ve written ten pages or so many thousand words, but it’s just not true. I have so many other things going on, I’m forced to write catch-as-catch-can. My best writing time is late at night—the wee hours, really—when everyone both in the home and online is asleep. Plus, I have to have something I want to write, a particular scene or something like that. I don’t work on inspiration so much as on mood and available time, but once I get into the writing thing—once the day’s work is over—I can spend 12 to 15 hours at a time, writing.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I like to harvest photos of people from the internet who resemble my characters in some way, then Photoshop them until they’re basically unrecognizable from the originals. I have a slideshow screensaver on my computer with these pictures and it makes my characters very real to me. I also make detailed character analyses, but the information on those often changes as the story progresses. Nothing is set in stone when I write; I don’t like restrictions like that. I like my characters to tell me about themselves. I allow them to evolve through the passage of their own time.

Do your characters ever surprise you?
All the bloody time!

When and why did you begin writing?
My very first piece was a poem I wrote in 1st grade about Halloween. It wasn't half bad, especially for a six year-old! In 5th grade I wrote a play—a spoof of Bonanza set in the 20th century. It was actually performed, but I didn't get to see it. It was later, in high school, that I decided I wanted to write. Music took precedence over that, however, until only very recently. Now I’ve found a way to combine the two. I may be too old to break into the music business, but I'm just the right age to share what I learned through all those years of trying.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I never didn’t consider myself a writer.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I don’t think I have one. I have favorite authors, but I wouldn’t consider any of them a mentor where this book is concerned. Perhaps in a broader sense, Robert Spryszak, for his ability to look unflinchingly into his characters and their lives, as well as his own. He’s a no-nonsense writer. People need to know about him.

Where can we purchase Beyond The Bridge?
You can always visit the Beyond The Bridge website.

The views and opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of Alla Breve Books. If you would like to re-post this interview, or any part of it, please contact Alla Breve Books at allabrevebooks@allabreve.org