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The Sirens of Suspense

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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The son of two librarians, Mark Stevens was raised in Lincoln, Massachusetts. He graduated from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in the suburbs of Boston and from Principia College in Illinois. He worked as a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor in Boston and Los Angeles; as a City Hall reporter for The Rocky Mountain News in Denver; as a national field producer for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour (PBS) and as an education reporter for The Denver Post. After journalism, he worked in school public relations before starting his own public relations and strategic communications business.

In September, Mark released Lake of Fire, the fourth installment in his Allison Coil Mystery Series. and earlier this year, Mark’s novel Trapline (third in the series) received the Colorado Book Award for Best Mystery and the Colorado Authors League Award for Best Fiction. He lives in Denver with his wife and has two grown daughters.

Find Mark on Facebook and Twitter.

http://www.writermarkstevens.com

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1. Back in the 1970’s I hung around a band in Boston by the name of Orchestra Luna. That band included a magnetic singer named Karla DeVito. She went on to her own solo career. She also married Robbie Benson. Once she was on tour with Meat Loaf in Los Angeles and so I got to meet him in a hotel room. Yeah, Meat Loaf. The “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” dude. Nice guy.

2. Also in Los Angeles, where I lived for two years in the late 1970’s, I once had a couple of dates with Rae Dawn Chong. Yes, the daughter of Tommy Chong. Of Cheech & Chong fame. She was very friendly and kind. And beautiful. This was right before she went off to film her first movie, “Quest for Fire.” This is the only item in this list that doesn’t have anything to do with music, but she had just broke off a relationship with someone famous—a very well-known musician from way back. Gotta leave it at that.

3. I once interviewed David Byrne. It was 1977. I asked him for lyrics so I could understand them better and he jotted down three songs on notebook paper for me. I kept the paper. In 2004, he signed the same paper. He recognized his handwriting. He didn’t remember the interview. One of the lyrics he jotted down was one of my faves, “Stay Hungry.”

4. I once saw Frank Zappa walking down the street with a friend in L.A. They were talking. I didn’t interrupt. He was a pretty hard guy to mistake for anyone else.

5. I interviewed legendary Irish blues guitarist Rory Gallagher three times. Let me just say this: n-i-c-e-s-t guy ever. And what a player.

6. I once flew to Alaska to see my favorite band, Cracker. (I had friend with frequent flyer miles to burn.) I also once drove to Chicago for the same reason. When the guys in the band wondered if we might have done something crazy like that, we denied it. To their faces.

7. I once interviewed Ice-T in the late 1980’s. Well, I was the producer for the TV interview. We spent a few hours with him. He was one of the smartest, sharpest and most thoughtful commentators I’ve ever met.

8. Before they hit it big, The Cars used to play The Rathskeller in Kenmore Square, Boston. It was pretty much a dump. By that I mean, incredible. I saw The Ramones there, too. A bunch of times. Anyway, my older brother had a date or two in high school with the girl who went on to marry the keyboard player for The Cars. His name was Greg Hawkes. Greg once played in a band called Teeth. The Cars were amazing. So was another Boston fave, Willie “Loco” Alexander & the Boom Boom Band. Willie is 72 now. That’s really hard to fathom.

9. Speaking of rock musicians, one of the guys who helped me edit “Lake of Fire” (Allison Coil Mystery #4) was once a fantastic and dynamic lead singer of a Denver-based band, Leroy X and the Excitations. He was an incredible editor, but he was an even more amazing lead singer. He would have liked Willie Loco. The Excitations covered a song by The Flamin’ Groovies. Cracker covers that band, too.

10. The cover band I used to play with once opened for Styx in Olathe (Colorado) at the Corn Festival. We were called Toast. The stage amps behind Styx were all props. Little red lights made the audience think the amps were “on.” They were all shell, no speakers. We played for about 20,000 people. For all of about 36 minutes. We got to eat back stage, but we were separated from the headliner. We were given the buffet on one side of a fence. The Styx dudes ate on the other. The fence was a boundary, kind of like the River Styx between earth and the underworld. You know, hell. I think they got salmon. We had cold cuts. Or something.

11. My favorite Cracker album is all of them. But the new double disc is really good. It’s called “From Berkeley to Bakersfield.” One of the saddest songs you’ll ever hear is on there, “Almond Grove.” I think David Lowery and Johnny Hickman are two of the finest songwriters on the planet. So there.

12. I once interviewed Bonnie Bramlett. She knew Eric Clapton and that whole scene. At the interview, I drank too many beers and passed out. This was not a very professional thing to do. The next night, I rode around in Bonnie’s limo and we went to a club in Cambridge called Jack’s. The band let her sit in. (Of course!) Bonnie and I met later in Paris. No time here to tell that story, but it was all G-rated.

13. The drummer in my Los Angeles cover band was a guy named John Kehe. Among many album covers he designed, he did the one for ELO with Dorothy’s ruby slippers. Pretty cool! (ELO rocks.)

14. When I lived with Orchestra Luna the band back in Boston days (1977-1978 or so) one of the bands that would visit was The Shirts. I still have some of their vinyl. Their lead singer was the super friendly Annie Golden. Now she plays the nearly mute Norma Romano in “Orange is the New Black.”

The title of my fourth mystery, “Lake of Fire,” was inspired by the song written by The Meat Puppets. “Lake of Fire” is a reference to hell, only worse. It’s also a phrase from Revelations. I was a big fan of The Meat Puppets and only saw them play live once. Nirvana covered “Lake of Fire” on the album “MTV Unplugged in New York.” That’s the Meat Puppets playing behind Kurt Cobain on that song and two others, if you watch the video. So there you go, Meat Loaf to the Meat Puppets. I love mysteries and good novels of any kind, but rock and roll is a very close second.

 

 

 

WHAT MUSICIAN WOULD YOU LIKE TO MEET? Tell us or leave a comment on the blog below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win a copy of LAKE OF FIRE! (US entrants only, please.)

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