It gives me great pleasure to say four words for the first time that I hope to be able to say many more times in the future:
I’ve finished my book!
A quick flashback of all that’s happened during this book’s creation leaves me dizzy. Some of my most definitive recordings – Veritas (AST), 11/11 (Rodrigo Y Gabriela), Dark Roots Of Earth (Testament) – didn’t exist when typing began. More than two hundred tour dates and incalculable miles of travel have taken place. People I hadn’t met when this book started now feel as though I’ve known them since the beginning of time while a few friendships, including some that seemed as though they’d last a lifetime, have faded away like the closing credits of a film. Cultural icons, not to mention folks I’ve known personally, are no longer living and breathing while few very young ones – offspring of friends and acquaintances – weren’t yet on this planet when the first chapter was written.
The book itself has gone through a lot of evolution. For a time, it was Escape From Berkeley, a title that made sense to me personally but didn’t fully convey the essence of the story. Escape From Berkeley became a chapter title and running theme throughout. I leaned towards a name that had come to mind in the very beginning: The Guitar Chronicles. But by then, numerous books and TV shows were using similar titles, for example: Man Vs. Food- The Carnivore Chronicles. The next title seemed to fit the story best of all and was a play on the film From Here To Eternity: From Geek to Guitar Hero. This evolved into a leaner version, the one title that has felt just right ever since: Geek To Guitar Hero.
There was one more detour with the title: a respected literary agency came on board and suggested (code word for ‘insisted’) a one word title to appeal to potential publishers. This was so it could be typecast with those numerous musician books out there, you know the ones I’m talking about: Life (Keith Richards), Red (Sammy Hagar), Slash (Slash) etc… With respect to these books – they’re all great reads – mine is not another “musician sits down with journalist, hashes out life story” book. Those are co-written and full autobiographies; mine is a self-penned, literary memoir focusing very specific stories. It reads like a novel and is influenced by writers such as Philip Roth, Hiruki Murakami and John Updike to name just a few.
Still, I begrudgingly tried to be a team player. But it wasn’t long before I let it be known that I could no longer live with the generic, one word title that had been chosen for me: Progressions.
The experience of working with this literary agency – not to mention attending book expos, meetings and other research – shed light upon a publishing world going through a tumultuous process. It was not unlike what the music business – still in a tailspin- went through few years ago. As with music, a global shift from traditional units to electronic mediums has affected everyone on all levels of the book industry; publishers and agencies have been cutting rosters, downsizing and in some cases, shutting down completely. Just as the loss of music retail giants like Tower Records and Virgin Megastores was once unimaginable, the recent termination of Borders and closing of many Barnes & Noble locations is indicative of a similar process. As with major record labels (what’s left of them), not to mention Hollywood studios, the publishing industry is suffering from a terminal unwillingness to support creative, original projects and a desperate emphasis on replicating past successes. The result is an influx of products that are predictable, uninteresting and increasingly formulaic.
Given all this, not to mention my stubborn determination to do this book my way, I wasn’t all that surprised when the agency stopped returning my correspondence. Weighing options, I decided that rather than soliciting a new agent and continuing to shop a book in a Hurricane Katrina-like environment, I would self-publish. Friends in the know confirmed that my book should have been a ‘no-brainer’ to publishers, but as things stand, it would be best to just go it on my own. And that’s exactly what I’ve decided to do.
Geek To Guitar Hero will be available as a paperbook and e-book via Amazon, iBooks other retailers. The book is in its final formatting stages as we speak. ETA is January 2013. Updated info and links to order will be here on this website. Exact date is to be determined but it is coming soon and it’s a thrill to finally announce it on SkolNotes.
Speaking of which, SkolNotes has been an invaluable platform for testing and developing this book’s content. While there are a few sections that originated here, I assure you that the content goes beyond any of these blog posts – the most personal and heartfelt words I’ve ever written. Below you’ll find synopsis of the book and a few quotes from some very discriminating and respected early readers. I eagerly looking forward to sharing this first book with the world.
One more thing: To all who have been regular followers of this blog – I could not have done this without you. Thank you!
BOOK BLURBS- FOR PRESS AND SHARING:
“Skolnick’s words are eloquent and insightful—and frequently entertaining. Geek is an engaging read, and, in the context of the author’s dutiful, DIY personality, it makes a whole hell of a lot of sense that he chose not to use a co-writer. The story is his, after all. And for someone who has battled insecurities for as long as he can remember, it’s fearless.” The Village Voice Dec 12
Geek to Guitar Hero Book Synopsis:
Alex is an awkward, introverted child growing up in 1970s Berkeley, California – a confusing vortex of shifting values, rampant drug use and social confusion. Misunderstood by his family and taunted mercilessly by classmates, he suffers from a paralyzing lack of confidence and low self-esteem. His existence is made tolerable when he discovers a superhero-like rock band, KISS, which inspires him to learn the guitar. While in high school, he auditions for Legacy – a group of hard partying, working class, twenty-something metalheads from the East Bay suburbs. After recording his first album with the group at age eighteen, he defies his Ivy League parents’ rigid academic expectations by forgoing college and hitting the road with metal bands including Slayer, Megadeth, White Zombie and Judas Priest. As his own band, now known as Testament, rises through the ranks of thrash metal, the world begins to take notice of the young guitar prodigy who, despite being fawned over by autograph-seeking metalheads, guitar fanatics and adoring female fans, still feels the pain, awkwardness and ghosts of his past. Soon, a blooming interest in jazz and literature reshapes his values and strengthens his musicianship, bringing further accolades from fans and media but causing resistance and tension from within his inner circle. These experiences cause a realization to unfold: that the scene in which he had first sought his freedom and self-identity is fraught with its own perilous limitations, while the education he’d so fiercely resisted from his family can be invaluable when sought on one’s own terms.