Fender Benders was published in November, 2001. Structurally it’s much more of a traditional ‘whodunnit’ than my previous three books. It’s still chock full o’ laughs, of course, but we get a dead body by page three and they start piling up from there.
Book #5 is underway. It’s a story idea I had while writing The Organ Grinders. I’m about 40 pages into it and have it outlined to the end. Lord knows how it’ll change as I actually write it, but it’s starting out as a good one. It’s had several titles including Heartless, Cardiac Arrest, Heart Seizure, and Gimme That Bloody Love Muscle. My editor hates all of ‘em. But he loves the story (or so he tells me).
By the way, I don’t think I mentioned this in earlier Fender Bender reports, but whilst in Nashville doing research, I dropped by Robert’s Western Wear and heard the Sam Glass Band. If they’re ever in your neighborhood (or if you’re in their’s) go and hear this band. They’re great.
Fender Benders is set primarily in Nashville. The backdrop is the country music industry. The story was originally going to be in the pop/rock music industry set in Los Angeles, but my agent kept telling me to do something set in the south, so I guess this is it. Suffice it to say there are some murders, some attempted murders, and some other nefarious activities. Oh, and lots of fried food.
How the story became a novel
It’s as simple as this. I had an idea about a producer in the music business. I fleshed it out to an outline, pitched it to my editor, he loved it and told me to go. So I went to Nashville and hooked up with some of my old cronies from Jackson. J. Fred Knobloch, a singer-songwriter-publisher who knows all there is to know about writing hit country songs, since he’s done it. James Stroud, a big-shot producer who knows all there is to know about producing country hits, since he’s done a mess of ‘em. Bill Simmons who knows all there is to know about artist management, since that’s what he does for a living. And my dear old friend Colleen Miche, who told me all sorts of other things about Nashville and who is married to a studio musician gone straight.
I went to the Country Music Hall of Fame (had my photo taken on the faux Opry stage in front of the Martha White Flour sacks; to the Opry (saw Little Jimmy Dickens, among others), to the Ryman Auditorium (to pay respects), to the Bluebird Cafe (to hear some terrific singer-songwriters), to a video shoot (of The Kinleys) with their manager, my pal, Bill Simmons; to Loud Studios (to talk with James Stroud while he mixed a single); to J. Fred Knobloch’s for dinner (he made shrimp in a nice picquant sauce); to a demo recording session at County Q Studios; to the Pancake Pantry; Shoney’s on Music Row; Robert’s Western Wear; and the Loveless Cafe out on Highway 100.
I read Bruce Feiler’s book, “Dreaming Out Loud” which I highly recommend to anyone even slightly interested in country music. It is simply a great book. I also read Rough Mix by Jimmy Bowen and Jim Jerome which gave interesting details about the rise of Garth Brooks.
The title fight
We had a hard time agreeing on a title for this one. Following are a few of the proposed titles:
Gnashville (courtesy of Matthew Scott Hansen)
NashKille (courtesy of Geoff Young)
Southern Discomfort (thanks to Charlotte Brown)
Music Row (my very own idea)
Nashville Dischord (ditto)
Grand Old Opera (ditto)
Viva NashVegas (well, you know)
Nashville Predators (reaches the hillbilly-hockey fan audience)
Nashville Hit (with a bullet)
Face The Music
Grand Old Opera
Fender Benders (thanks to Tim Sandlin for this one)
The author’s research for “Fender Benders” deserves a page of its own. It’s distinctively called “Nashville research.”
For that matter, just type in whoever you like, add a dotcom, and press go. They’re all out there