Now I’ve got a real treat for you this time. A writer who, if she started name dropping, would put Michael Parkinson to shame. In fact, to put me in the mood I’m gonna type up this interview whilst listening to Children of Bodom’s Hate Crew Deathroll. . . .
Say hello to Hilary Mortz, author of the Rockline novels.
Q: You’ve written two novels and you’re working on a third; what started you off on this writing/publishing road?
A: We got lost in the Derbyshire countryside on the way from a rock festival – a bit like Sid and Mel from Appetite For Corruption. We saw a small manor house in the middle of nowhere, it gave me the willies and started me thinking what if rock fans were lured away by other worldly parasites and their positive energy was stolen? What if all the rock disasters in the past hadn’t just randomly happened and were being orchestrated for someone else’s benefit? After that the floodgates opened and the world was my lobster.
In Appetite for Corruption a lot of the protagonists are from the north east. Is that your own hunting ground?
Yes, I’m a ‘Sand Dancer’ a native of South Shields, a little seaside town a few miles from Newcastle upon Tyne. The North-East has always been the cradle of live rock music, especially in the 1960’s and 70’s. You could go and see Jimi Hendrix for the equivalent of 25 ‘new’ pence in South Shields in the late 60’s.
Why did you choose to write about rock music?
Tell a prospective literary agent or publishing house that you write ‘rock novels’ and they are going to run away from you screaming. The rock novel has a bad rep, there’s a genre of rock star/groupie erotica that’s mostly to blame for that. I’m quite often asked if my books are a bit 50 Shades of Rock Star.
The whole thing about rock musicians are that their lives are stranger than any fiction writers could come up with and it fascinates me. Just read Motley Crue’s ‘The Dirt’ – you couldn’t make that stuff up. There’s a rich vein of human interest just waiting to be mined from the pages of rock history. Its a bit like Philippa Gregory or Hilary Mantel fictionalising Henry VIII. I class my books as ‘historical novels’ and I write to appeal to music fans who are in on the joke but also to people who wouldn’t recognise a Black Sabbath or GnR song if their life depended on it and just want to read a story.
Away from the cameras, are the members of Steel Panther as barmy as they appear on video?
Pretty much – the drummer’s always worst though, right?
You’ve had encounters with Dream Theater and Nightwish, who else can you tell us about without being sued?
Lets put it this way, we like being put On The List for gigs and festivals so no comment.
My favourite daft rock star prank is no secret though. Our mate Jizzy Pearl from the LA band Love/Hate once crucified himself on the Y of the Hollywood Sign for a publicity stunt. The LAPD left him hanging there all day to teach him a lesson.
When you’re not writing who do you read?
As I’m getting older I’m finding myself reading more mystery and thriller type books, but I like biographies and chick-lit as well. My favourite author and god like genius is Stephen King.
What would be your ultimate Download line up?
I can have anyone dead or alive, right?
Off the cuff it would be (headliners at top)
AC/DC with BON SCOTT
Van Halen with YOUNG Dave Lee Roth
Free AND Bad Company
What plans do you have for future Rockline novels?
I am writing Part Two of Nevada Mind The Bollix at the moment and just go where the characters take me. Part One ended on a cliffhanger and there is a massive whodunnit to be resolved. I have no idea who fecking did it but I’m certainly going to enjoy finding out.
Apart from the eyeballs what’s the most painful part of the body to have tattooed?
Its going to hurt everywhere if you don’t relax and chill, bitch.
Did anyone break out in a sweat when they heard you were writing novels about the rock music business?
We’ve got a friend who was in a popular soft rock band in the 1990’s and who is a well known music producer these days. He knows everyone from Jon Bon Jovi to One Direction. He managed to reign me in when he thought I was being gauche or going too far. Its pretty obvious that ‘Sammy Goodman’ is actually Andy Copping, the boss of Live Nation and Download Festival. He’s got the books and hasn’t taken me to court yet so I think he might be quite chuffed.
Without going into spoiler territory, a couple of the more painful episodes in Appetite for Corruption are based on real life tragedies. I did a lot of research, spoke to eye witnesses and thought long and hard before writing about these things and hopefully I haven’t caused any distress to survivors or relatives. I tried my utmost to be sensitive. But perhaps sad events should be commemorated and retold in song or writing.
Who or what was the inspiration for the character of Geordie Selwyn?
Its pretty obvious who the main inspiration for Geordie was, he is really a composite of several old time rockers but like all good characters he is morphing into something else these days. He even has his own Twitter account @GeordieSelwyn even though he doesn’t quite know what to do with it. Geordie is the most popular character in the Rockline Novels and I think if his real life counterpart was to read the books he would realise the affection and respect I have for him. I’m also shit scared of his wife.
Best concert you ever saw?
Oh god – I’ve been around a long, long time and there’s been so many. You always think the last one was the greatest. Put a gun to my head and I might say AC/DC at Download in 2010. You have to love a band who are so lost in rock and roll that they have to have a separate stage built for them next to the giant festival Main Stage. Black Sabbath in 2012 was special as well – the year that Tony Iommi made his comeback when in remission from potentially death sentence cancer.
What’s your writing method from initial idea to the finished novel going on sale?
Day dreaming, night dreaming, scribbling in a pad then seeing it all change on my computer screen.
Multiquestion: How effective has your marketing and promotion been? Any tips? Have you discovered one method to be more effective than any others?
I’m no Jo Rowling, I’m happy just having a cult following. I’ve tried Nook etc but have come back to being exclusively on Amazon. Not everyone’s choice but it suits my purposes at this point in my career.
And finally: what’s the most profound thing a member of Steel Panther has ever said?
“I get up in the afternoon cos I ain’t got a stupid job…” We try and base how we live our lives on that.
Big thanks to Hilary for taking the time to answer the questions and sharing the images. (Including the featured image of ‘man with tongue,’ Steel Panther’s Stix Zadinia.)
Author page: Hilary Mortz at Amazon
Click the covers to buy the books: (Links open in a new window)