Posts Tagged ‘Dan Schell’

Rocktober3avatar S RED

This is one for you horror fans. Sorta reminds me of a bunch of other books that’ve been set in the club scene, and/or had a horror bend to ’em. Dave Butler’s Hellhound on my Trail. Voice, definitely. Even some Ladies and Gentlemen… the Redeemers or The Road to Fluffer. And of course, if you’re into horror with your Rock Fiction, you know how I feel about The Armageddon Chord.

So this should be a slam-dunk, right? Check out the description:

During the reign of the Beatles and on the back of the Mersey beat revolution, other rock and pop bands emerged. Some of these bands were successful in gaining worldwide recognition, while others were not quite so lucky.

Ray Evans joins one of these emerging bands and the story plots the rise and fall of the band Satan’s Whiskers.

The band turn out to be quite a successful locally, although a dark shadow hangs over their movements after a child is discovered, murdered and hidden inside a cardboard box .A vigilante killer tracks down the culprits and extracts his form of retribution. This is the start of a killing spree which lasts in excess of a year.

From the very outset the police suspect that one, if not all, of the band members are involved, as the killings appear to follow the movements of the band. Is the killer really a band member? The story will keep you guessing until the very end.

Now, here’s my reservation: the back cover copy isn’t very good. It smacks of amateur self-pubbed book (sorry, Roy). And it leaves me hoping the inside is better, but truth be told, I have a bad feeling I’d set this one down and bang my head on my desk for awhile because if Roy and I had hooked up as editor and author, it’d be a better book.

Still, I’m open to finding out, of course. Rock Fiction is what we do over here, and I’m always up for some horror fun.

Oh, and I love the time period this is set in. Slick move, going back in time a bit.

Out of the blue, Kevin R Doyle dropped into my inbox, asking if I’d review his short piece, One Helluva Gig. I was right on the tip of launching The Rock of Pages, but he was willing to wait for me to switch things over.

What a treat, to have something brand new to review – and in a timely fashion, too! – for my brand-new home of Rock Fiction.

I hope this is a sign of things to come because I absolutely adored One Helluva Gig. Kevin sent it over and, knowing I’d have time to kill while I waited for my kids, I loaded it onto my e-reader and devoured it in less than an hour, including interruptions. Jett never stood a chance with this one!

In other words: this isn’t a long read (I want to say it’s 14,000 words), but man, is it a good one.

In a nutshell, it’s the story of Frank Peters, a reporter whose career takes off when he writes a review of a band playing his college campus. The band is fronted by a charismatic guy named Rob Jeffers.

It takes a couple of years, but the two cross paths again. Again, Frank writes a review. Again, it gets noticed and he moves up the journalistic ladder, finally hitting his peak at the LA Times.

While he’s doing that, Jeffers is also climbing the ranks.

This is no fairy tale, with Jeffers riding high and Frank just so magically happening to do the same. Jeffers loses his hair and resorts to a comb-over. His waist expands beyond a middle-age spread. In a sense, there’s a feel of Elvis about his destruction, which Frank acknowledges. But there’s more, and it’s this more that sets this novella apart from so many other works of Rock Fiction.

It’s the contrast between Jeffers’ public and private personas. Author Doyle has succeeded in creating a very real private person, one who is vastly different from the person we’d like him to be. Yes, we’ve seen this person before; the scene with Frank and Jeffers during Jeffers’ birthday party isn’t new. It’s what Doyle does with it, the kinship between the two men and their acceptance of their lives that is this story’s selling point.

These two understand each other on an intuitive level. They’re men who have realized their dream, only discover it’s different from what they’d hoped for. And while that sounds depressing and pathetic, in Doyle’s hands, it’s not. It’s real, and it’s touching, and it’s the sort of thing that lingers with a girl long after she puts the e-reader down and steps back into her life, a life that somehow seems rosier and yet diminished, all at the same time.


A West of Mars Recommended Read that brings to mind Adrian in Jessica Topper’s Louder than Love, Merle in Michael Neil Smith’s The Drummer, and Darrell in Dan Schell’s The Road to Fluffer – and all for different reasons. Check it out.


One final note: Doyle says this is a departure from his regular fiction. So don’t pick up his other titles expecting more Rock Fiction. But you can — and should — expect more of the great writing and character building.

This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being posted here, at its new permanent home.

Author Dan Schell found me and asked if I’d be willing to review his novel, The Road to Fluffer. It’s about a journalist, he said, a rock journalist, who is assigned to go on the road with this band, Numb Skull, and follow their adventures as they try to gain enough exposure and experience to gain a sponsorship from an adult energy drink.

Sounds perfect. It got better, too, once I started reading and realized that the Fluffer of the title is, indeed, the adult energy drink. Fluffer. As in the slang term used in the adult movie industry.

The sly laughs don’t stop there. The band is named Numb Skull. Its lead singer is named Chester Drawers, and he can’t say anything without tacking on an “All right!” at the end.

Slam dunk. This is one fun read.

But it’s not without its flaws. Lead character and music journalist Darrell is a nice guy. Maybe too nice. He sort of floats through the novel as his marriage crumbles. He’s not fighting for it, nor is he fighting for his job with the sort of passion one would expect when faced with losing one’s marriage AND one’s job. You gotta salvage one or the other so that, at the end of the day, you’ve got SOMEthing, right? Maybe not, but it’d have been nice to see a bit more fight out of our lead character.

The band bumbles along in a very real way. They’re inept, but also a bit too passive. They say they want this, but their passion isn’t shown. And there’s not much at stake, overall: the band either will or won’t get the sponsorship, but nothing bad will happen if it doesn’t happen.

That said, this is a greatly fun read for anyone who loves the Rock Fiction genre. Schell’s got the chops and the details to bring life on the road to vivid life and give the reader a taste for what it feels like to be out there, a struggling band who can’t make it from Point A to Point B on what they’re earning each show.

There aren’t a lot of glimpses of this part of the road. It’s like writers: most people assume that if you’re in a band that’s touring, you’re raking in the bucks. The truth is far from the dream, and at the end of the day, that dream is what fuels so many of us to keep going. Schell’s managed to let us empathize with the members of Numb Skull while educating us, all at the same time.

A West of Mars Recommended Read, simply because it’s a fun one, even though it stopped short of being great.