After the success of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, what was it that inspired you to move so far away from the glitz and glamor of Hollywood to the more grungy and chaotic world of rock and roll? Did it start with an idea of the plot, or a character or just a sense of atmosphere you wanted to create?
I think the glamour of Hollywood was exactly why I wanted to move toward the dirtier space of rock n' roll. I wanted to inhabit a different part of our culture. Hollywood is gorgeous but rock is messy. I knew from the outset I wanted to write a pretty tortured love story, something that felt necessary and yet impossible. I loved the idea of making it a story between all of these musicians who create incredible art together but, as we know from the outset, they are doomed.
Daisy Jones and The Six is very much set in the 70's LA music scene, and you reference much of the great musical talent of the era - was that something that was already part of your life or did you end up having to do a musical tour of the generation? Do you have a playlist, real or mental, that goes alongside the book?
We do have a playlist! Which you can find on Spotify and Apple Music under Daisy Jones and The Six. That playlist is really an outline of my research into this book. I came into this story as a child of the 80s. I did not listen to a lot of classic rock until I started researching. But I started my research with The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac and let it grow from there. That's how I fell in love with Linda Rondstadt, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, The Kinks, Dire Straits, Eric Clapton, Patti Smith, and a host of other incredible bands that, quite frankly, I'd been sleeping on.
I found the "question-less" interview transcript style really added to the vibe of the story, and was really engaging... Did you set out to write the novel this way? Or did it evolve into that as you were writing?
I knew before I typed the first word that it had to be told as an oral history. It was the only way I could think to put the reader into the middle of the chaos. It was really important to me that this book transport you there -- so I wanted the reader to hear directly from all of the characters. It was some of the most fun I've ever had writing a book, in some respects, because of the direct relationship to the reader. There's a lot of reading between the lines that can be done in the book since each character has biases that you come to understand.
The format and your characters are just so convincing that I had to keep reminding myself that it's fiction, but it was the atmosphere in particular that I found so evocative of the time and place; how much time did you get to spend hanging out backstage with rock stars in the name of research?
None! I'm far too much of a dork to be able to hold my own around real rock stars. Although, I will say I spent a half minute my senior year of high school dating a bassist who was doing a regional tour. I had my "girlfriend of the band member" moment. I'm not sure I was very good at it. I mostly just sat around.
I think the atmosphere of the book comes from reading about what it was like with those big bands back in the 1970s. The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band, The Eagles, etc. I tried to absorb as much as I could through Youtube videos, Rolling Stone articles, biographies, documentaries, and any other medium I could get my hands on. I lost myself in 70s rock for a few months there. I consumed nothing but this story for a while. I think I stopped remembering I wasn't actually a 70s rock star for a minute there.
The inclusion of the album lyrics is a great touch. How easy did you find it to write them? Did you find that you wrote them "as" songs with an idea of how they would sound?
It was a whole new challenge for me. One I'm still finding my confidence in. But I thought it was important for the reader to have a lens into what, exactly, what being written during that time. So I dove in. I started out trying to write new lyrics to songs I loved, but that quickly grew far too restrictive. I just sort of threw caution to the wind and found patterns I liked and went with it.
Obviously the premise of the book is tied heavily to the ending - the multiple narratives on the night of the break-up of Daisy Jones and The Six, and the fallout from that - but did you know the details from the very beginning, or did it develop throughout the process? Were there ever any alternate endings?
I knew what we were moving toward from page one. I usually start a draft knowing how something begins and how it ends and the middle is a free-for all. So I knew how the main storylines came together when I started writing. And the main question of why one particular person leaves the band was baked into the premise for me. I could not have written this book any other way.