Monday, September 15th, 2014
A Note From Rich
I’ve been writing all my life- poetry, music, fiction. The last four years I’ve really dedicated myself to being a novelist. I’m in the middle of writing three novels about different kinds of love. The first, The Color of Home, was published in December of 2013 by Langdon Street Press, and the second, The Big Wide Calm, was published in July, also by Langdon Street. I’m about one hundred pages into the third novel, The Beauty of the Fall, which I hope to publish in 2015/2106. For many years, I’ve been thinking about writing thematically about love, and it’s been an incredible experience, spiritual really, to see the characters, story, and ideas come to fruition. I’m hoping my novels in some small way connect with people, and the characters and story lines help them look at the world from a slightly different vantage point. If all goes well, I plan to write for the rest of my life. I figure I have at least ten novels in me.
The Big Wide Calm — book blurb
Paige is a rock star. The world just doesn’t know it yet. She’s got the charisma, the drive, and, of course, the mega-musical skills. All she needs is to make her debut album, one that will change the world, inspire revolutions—and make her galactically famous along the way.
When John Bustin, a former semi-famous singer/songwriter offers to record Paige’s album for free, it feels like destiny, like the next step on her way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Guitar in hand, Paige sets off to John’s recording compound, ready to unfold her future.
But the ever-elusive John, with his mysterious history, and Paige, a big dreamer but naïve about her footing in life, clash as much as they coalesce. Before they can change the world through Paige’s music, the improbable duo must learn to work together.
A coming of age story and retrospective, The Big Wide Calm focuses on human nature and the complexities of love through the eyes of young and old on the journey of creating the perfect album.
Purchase now on:
My name is Paige Plant, and I’m a singer-songwriter. I have fourteen paintings to prove it—one for each song I’ve written. Thirteen Möbius strip watercolors where I painted the song’s story on the strip. What can I say? I was good at science back in the day. The fourteenth, done in oil and not on a Möbius strip, depicts the only love song I’ve ever written. Not that I’ve had only one lover or anything—I’m quite attractive in a B+ kind of way—but only one worth an oil painting. Plus, oil makes the other guys, and an occasional girl, work a little harder at pleasing me. Everybody wants a love song written about them; almost everyone wants to see their song in oil.
Today, I’m going to meet this guy named John Bustin. He’s older, like pensioned, and, well, from the whisper-whisper out there, he was a decent songwriter in his time. No one that most people would know, but he’s well respected in a few east coast music circles. A buddy of mine saw John’s ad online and set us up. I guess John has this million-dollar recording studio in the woods forty miles west of Boston, and he lets singer-songwriters use it for free if he vibes on their stuff. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a few paintings out of the place if things go well.
Watercolors. Not oils. I don’t do the daddy thing. Already have one of those, and he’s great. When I was five, he told me I would front the next Led Zeppelin. Even legally changed my last name to prove he was serious. “Paige Plant” he would sing over and over to a little nursery rhyme of a tune he’d written for me. I still play it every now and then as a reminder, as a future eulogy.
Main Street in Harton, the town where John lives, is a throwback to a different era. Boutique shops line both sides of the extra-wide street. A general store. A potter’s showcase. A cucina. A coffeehouse. An old marquee cinema. Too many churches and a small inn surround a large green. On any given weekend, I bet the sidewalks fill equally with townies and tourists, though there’s hardly anyone around today.
After coffee at The General, as the townies like to call it, I make my way out of the center and down country roads with sickeningly panoramic Mount Wachusett views toward John’s. Nature girl I am not. Almost miss my turn onto this long private gravel road that splits a field in two. Probably a cornfield, which is a common crop in this part of Massachusetts, though now all you can see are snowmobile tracks. After about a mile, I’m swallowed by a deep oak and evergreen forest. Inside, I wind through trees, which occasionally give way to fifty-foot-high rock formations that must be thousands, if not millions, of years old. I’m back in the time before humans—at any moment, a giant raptor might jump out from behind the rocks and keep me from my destiny. Finally, the road stops at a large clearing with a wooden building, the studio I’m guessing, which looks like a modern version of a barn. Big doors in the front. A high angled roof with solar panels. Lots of glass. A large silver-backed dog, or maybe a wolf, circles my car as if it’s searching for its next meal. A moment later, the barn doors open.
“Hi, I’m John. That’s Solly. He’s harmless.” Almost on cue, Solly wags his tail for a bit, then sits in front of my car door.
I slip out. Palm up, I reach forward and pet Solly under his chin. “Paige. Nice to meet you. I like your dog’s name.”
“Short for Solidarity.”
John is tall and wears a charcoal gray suit with a red silk tie. He’s in relatively good shape for his age, which I guess is around sixty. Brown hair with just a touch of gray on the sides. Not much of anything on the top. Probably was a B+ himself in his prime. But none of that stuff much matters—it’s his face that grabs me. John’s playing tour guide and showing me around the place, talking about this and that capable-of-sonic-wonder black box, but all I can think about is his face. It’s a steady state of sadness, like he’s seen too much, read too much, like he’s touched the big wide calm from only a few parts of his life. Maybe his children, if he has any. Or work. Yeah, work for sure. Probably a big executive for years, he’s using the money he made to do the frustrated-artist-who-is-now-a-patron-of-the-arts thing. For sure, he hasn’t reached the big wide calm with a woman. At least not for long. They’ve left him. Or he drove them away. Those deep grooves on his face are all that remain of his loves.
In the span of a few minutes, while he’s talking about Pro Tools or an Avalon preamp or his rack of reverbs, his face morphs a few times like he’s judging me, himself, or the entire world for crimes against, well, I don’t know what yet. His eyebrows scrunch down, or one side of his mouth flashes up, or his face pales. I don’t even think he knows he’s doing it. Slips into his judgment robes, does the thumbs down thing, slips back out into sadness. I bet he turns a lot of people off when the robes are on. I bet that’s why he lives by himself out in the middle of Harton Woods.
But here’s the thing. Yeah, yeah, his face is all old and brown-spotted, and when he smiles, the wrinkles around his eyes are like Grand Canyon deep, but his eyes could heal the planet if he would let them. When he looks at me and isn’t judging, even for a short time, I have to look away. It’s too much. Too much power. Too much x-ray vision. Too much something-that-scares-the-Zep-out-of-me, and at the same time makes me want more. That’s probably why one of his eyes is lazy. I mean, who wants that much responsibility? Better not to see so much. An occasional half-glimpse of something real, but mostly a view thriving on distraction. What a good title for a song.