Saturday, July 23, 2022

How Becoming a Barry Manilow Fan Helped Me Understand My Protagonist @zacbissonette


 LUCY BURDETTE: Today I'm delighted to welcome Zac Bissonette with his debut mystery, A KILLING IN COSTUMES. Zac and I "met" on Twitter after he made lovely comments about my DEADLY ADVICE. When I noticed he had a book coming out, I was sure you'd want to meet him too! Welcome Zac! (And do read all the way to the bottom to hear about his double giveaway...)


(September 2021: First live concert I’d been to since March 2020, to see my protagonist’s favorite singer, who I never would have dreamed of seeing before I realized he was my fictional character’s hero.)




ZAC BISSONETTE: In March 2020, I was living in New York City, and I received feedback from my first beta reader on my first novel, A Killing in Costumes. His comments were typical for a first draft. He identified major plot holes, horrible writing, undeveloped characters, and, I want to emphasize this again, a lot of horrible writing.

But this was March 2020 in New York City, and I wasn’t going to fix all that. So I focused on a more manageable criticism. My book has two protagonists and one of them, Jay, was a big Huey Lewis fan. My beta reader made a note, saying Huey Lewis didn’t seem right—“seems it should be something more retro Hollywood/no?”

Here was a manageable challenge: Who should Jay’s favorite singer be in this manuscript that was unlikely to ever be published? I don’t remember how, but Barry Manilow popped into my mind, even though I didn’t know much about him. My overall impression of him: kitschy Las Vegas, a massively devoted core of fans who called themselves Fanilows, an act as famous as a cultural punchline and a stand-in for middlebrow taste as for its actual music. Manilow was perfect for Jay, who is a former soap opera star turned Hollywood memorabilia dealer. Jay would be a Fanilow. 

So I dove into that time-honored time suck of writers terrified of the disappointment that would come from actually writing but too wary of feeling like a quitter to give up entirely: wildly superfluous research.

I listened to his greatest hits album, which I liked. Then, and there’s no way to say this other than to just say it, I bought a copy of his 1987 memoir, Sweet Life, and discovered something that shocked me: Barry Manilow is funny. And not just “humorous,” but genuinely hilarious. He’s also charming as hell, and, while the book was written more than twenty years before he came out of the closet, it manages to discuss his relationships and ambivalence in a way that feels thematically true to what he was actually feeling—revealing while still private.

From Left to Right: Perry Como, Barry Manilow


My boyfriend and I were living together in a one-bedroom apartment. Nothing was open, everyone was terrified, and I was calling him into the living room every few minutes to read him funny lines from Manilow’s memoir, shouting so he could hear me over the dulcet tones of ‘Trying to Get the Feeling Again.’ 

When my book begins, Jay is at a crossroads in his life, in his forties after a life of ups-and-downs and identity crises. Coming to terms with being gay had been hard, personally, because of his upbringing, and professionally, because of his public facing career. 

When I thought about Jay’s journey, and the obstacles he needed to overcome, it became clear why Manilow’s own rise from geek to superstar while staying true to his own unique, unhip style, would be so inspiring to him. As Barry himself puts it when introducing his song ‘All the Time’: “This song is about feeling like a misfit when you’re younger . . . I know it’s hard to believe, looking at the super megastar sex god I have turned into. But, really, I felt like a geek when I was a kid.” 

Understanding Jay’s Manilow fandom helped me understand Jay better—and hopefully make him richer for readers: Manilow is, on the page at least, a very minor part of the book—my boyfriend made sure of that. Which leads me to my one relationship tip: Find yourself a man who loves you enough to go see Barry Manilow twice in three months and to make sure Barry trivia doesn’t overwhelm your debut novel.

Readers and Writers: Do you have a favorite singer/actor/personality who’s influenced your life? Does your character? Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a copy of the new book and a script from an episode of Murder, She Wrote, signed by Tom Sawyer, a writer for the show and a longtime producer/show runner.

About Zac: New York Times bestselling author Zac Bissonnette‘s most recent book is 2015’s The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute. He is an equity analyst at a hedge fund, and lives in New York City with his partner and a tuxedo cat named Perry Como. A Killing in Costumes is his first novel.



About A Killing in Costumes

Stardom fades fast when you’re on the line for murder, in this debut cozy mystery perfect for fans of Richard Osman and Jenn McKinlay.

Jay Allan and Cindy Cooper were soap opera stars in the late ’90s, a wholesome young husband-and-wife duo who combined musical talent with humor and charisma. When the truth about their sexual orientations came to light, their marriage and TV careers ended, but decades later they have remained friends. Together, they open Palm Springs’ chicest movie memorabilia store, Hooray for Hollywood–but no customers and dwindling finances spell trouble.

A Hail Mary arrives in the form of Yana Tosh, a ninety-year-old diva of the silver screen who has amassed a valuable collection of costumes and props and is looking to sell. But first, Jay and Cindy have to beat their competition, a vice president from a mega-auction house with ten times their resources. And when he winds up dead, they become prime suspects in the murder.

With their freedom and livelihoods on the line, Jay and Cindy desperately need to clear their names. There are plenty of other potential suspects, but they’ll have to solve it soon before they’re forced to trade in their vintage costume collection for two orange jumpsuits.



“Zac Bissonnette’s contemporary twist on Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence is sure to enthrall traditional mystery fans. At the very core of this astonishing debut is love in various forms—and especially our eternal love of, and fascination for, Hollywood in all its glamor and glitz. The relationship of Cindy and Jay is the wonderful glue that pulls it all together. I hope they have a long and successful run in this new staging of “Murder, They Write.”
—Miranda James, NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author of The Cat in the Stacks and the Southern Ladies Mysteries

“Hooray for this smashing new cozy mystery by Zac Bissonnette! Chock full of old Hollywood references, eclectic collectible information, and delightfully set in sunny Palm Springs, there is so much to love in this perfectly executed, high stakes, puzzler of a mystery. I absolutely can’t wait to join these fun and fresh amateur sleuths, Cindy and Jay, on their next page turner of a mystery!” 
—Jenn McKinlay, New York Timesbestselling author of the Library Lovers Mystery series

“Mystery readers, especially those with a taste for vintage Tinseltown movies, stars, glamor, and the music of the era are going to love this beautifully, affectionately written novel.”
—Tom Sawyer, Emmy-Nominated Head Writer/Showrunner of Murder, She Wrote

Excuse a quick interruption, but Gillian B, you are the winner of the Leslie Karst book! Please contact her at ljkarst at gmail dot com


88 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Zac, on your debut novel. “A Killing in Costumes” sounds amazing and I’m looking forward to finding out how Jay and Cindy manage to clear themselves . . . .

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    1. Thanks so much! Please let me know what you think of it! :)

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  2. Jennifer PoslusnyJuly 23, 2022 at 1:08 AM

    Welcome, Zac! Your book sounds very entertaining. I recall my dad being a fan of Mr. Manilow back in the day but I don’t think he’s listened to him in a long time.

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    1. Your dad had good taste!!!! Give him a listen sometime. I recommend Looks Like We Made It—a very sad and unusual song that people often misunderstand.

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  3. Hi Zac, and congrats on your debut novel! I was (and still am) a huge fan of Christopher Lee, who shaped my 13-year-old ideal of the perfect man into a combination of 'must have fangs' and 'must know how to swordfight.' I got over the fangs but the swordfighting stuck. Very much looking forward to reading your book along with Sweet Life.

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    1. I love that so much!!!!

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  4. ZAC: Congratulations on your debut cozy mystery! I was a huge ABBA and Barry Manilow fan as a kid in the 1970s, and then transitioned to Billy Joel in the 1980s.

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    1. I LOVE ABBA!!!

      My favorite thing is the lyrics are nonsensical and no one cares because the songs are so great.

      Like, on Fernando, there was no one in the studio to stop them at the line, “Since many years I haven’t seen a rifle in your hand” and be like . . . “Hey, can we double check that’s how your say that?”

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    2. GEEZ, I don't remember that line in Fernando at all!

      My fave ABBA songs were Dancing Queen, Take a Chance on Me, Super Trouper and the sad The Winner Takes it All.

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    3. Good songs all! I love the Cher album of Abba covers from a few years ago. Very true to the original arrangements but with her style.

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    4. I did a lot of dancing to Abba in graduate school, and Saturday Night Fever!

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    5. EDITH: I can picture you dancing to ABBA songs and SNF! Me, I used ABBA songs in my 1980s aerobic workouts. Did anyone else do aerobics back then?

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  5. Zac, how wonderful you discovered Manilow for Jay - and for yourself! The book sounds truly wonderful, and that you polished it during a truly horrible time for everyone is even better.

    Joni Mitchell was formative for me. I listened to her all during my twenties and beyond. Her songwriting about love and travel and pain and a bit of hedonism resonated completely with what I was doing in my own life (well, except for the Greek isle...).

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    1. Joni Mitchell is amazing! My favorite song of hers is “River.” Barry Manilow actually does it in his Christmas show. Kind of an odd version of it. Lyrically confusing because it’s set at Christmas but is very much not a Christmas song!

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    2. Hmmm, Zac: Up here in Canada, we definitely see 'River' as a Christmas song...skating on rivers 'n all being what can be done then...
      It's coming on Christmas
      They're cutting down trees
      They're putting up reindeer
      And singing songs of joy and peace
      Oh, I wish I had a river
      I could skate away on...

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    3. So, yes—that’s the setting but I think really about the dichotomy of that and misery—it’s such a complex and unusual lyric:

      He tried hard to help me
      You know, he put me at ease
      And he loved me so naughty
      Made me weak in the knees
      Oh, I wish I had a river
      I could skate away on
      I'm so hard to handle
      I'm selfish and I'm sad
      Now I've gone and lost the best baby
      That I ever had
      Oh, I wish I had a river
      I could skate away on
      I wish I had a river so long
      I would teach my feet to fly
      Oh, I wish I had a river
      I could skate away on
      I made my baby say goodbye

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    4. Great explanation! I see the song as you do not just the literal interpretation. Your book sounds very interesting and different. Did you brand your book as “cozy” or did the publisher? I generally don’t read books with that label because they are limited by the definition and have become superficial and somewhat facile. I will give yours a try, very intriguing premise.

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    5. Kathy Boone ReelJuly 23, 2022 at 3:36 PM

      Zac, you are hitting on so many connecting notes with me. I love "River" and Barry Manilow's performance of it. Of course, I love Joni's, too.

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  6. Zac, welcome to JRW and congratulations on "A Killing in Costumes." It sounds divine! This is a terrific new take on the cozy genre. I love quirky characters and the Hollywood memorabilia is absolutely enticing. It will be interesting to see how you moderated the Barry Manilow information because it sure sounds like you went down the rabbit hole on that research. BTW, the cover is out of this world!!

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    1. I love it so much!!!! I was actually a little annoyed the cover is so amazing because now if the book sells poorly, I won’t be able to blame the artist!

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  7. Congratulations Zac! The book sounds fabulous! And I want to read Manilow's memoir. Along with my sisters, I was a huge John Denver fanatic in the early '70's when I was in high school. We sneaked a cassette recorder into one of his concerts and then staked out the nearby Holiday Inn because we had read that he stayed at Holiday Inns. No sign of him. The next morning, we got up early and went back to the Holiday Inn. When the employees told us that he wasn't staying there, we didn't believe it and continued to wait, finally going into the restaurant to have breakfast. Eventually a police officer showed up, but he didn't have to remove us because we were paying customers at that point. We promised to go home after breakfast. Later that day another fan called us (to ask to make a copy of our recording) and told us that JD and his band had stayed at the TraveLodge. That lucky fan and his friends had 'partied' with them. In retrospect, it's probably good that a group of innocent 16-and-younger girls had not found their way to that party.

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    1. What an amazing story! Such a brilliant songwriter but a pretty sad life. Did you watch the PBS documentary on him a few years ago? It was quite good.

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    2. Zac, I don't think I did. I should look for it. My sister and I, along with a group of friends, went to Monterey, Ca a few years back (for a half marathon!) and saw the marker for the place where his plane went down. So sad. He had a good heart and was committed to conservation. His love for the natural world shines through. As you said, he was a brilliant songwriter!

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    3. Such a great songwriter.

      He’s also a little like Barry in that the kind of cartoonish image he had/has overwhelms a lot of the respect his songwriting would otherwise garner.

      “Calypso” is an amazing song.

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  8. Congratulations on your new release!
    My "get energized" music is the Doors long version of "Light My Fire". When I'm contemplating seasons/setting/character growth, Simon and Garfunkel's "April Come She Will" or "Sixty Ways to Leave Your Lover".

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    1. Oh, interesting! Light my Fire is a great song, though I prefer the Jose Feliciano cover of it! As is April Come She Will. There’s a great Karrin Allyson cover of that one!

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    2. Weird! My name didn’t show up but the above comment was me! :)

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  10. Congrats on the new book! Looks wonderful!
    I was the weird kid who knew nothing about the modern popular music (still don't actually) and had only ever heard the stuff my parents listened to- Beatles, Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Horton, BB King, Santana, etc.

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    1. BB King! One of the best. Saw him live when I worked at the cape cod melody tent in high school!

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  11. Oh my! This sounds like a wonderful new book. Love the cover, too.

    I'm a sucker for a crooner but they haven't really had an impact on my life. For that, I head to the quietly poetic section: Simon and Garfunkel, Dan Fogelberg, Leonard Cohen. And for a spiritual experience -- Nigel Kennedy playing Bach's violin concerto in A minor.

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    1. Dan Fogelberg is one of my favorites.

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  12. Congratulations on your first cozy mystery publication, Zak. Sounds a like fun good read. I'm off to find it. As for music influencing my life, definitely Holly Near and her song "Imagine my surprise".

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    1. Don’t know this song! Going to listen now!

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    2. Holly Near, like many of the "women's music" singer/songwriters, brought politics into her lyrics and raised consciousness while building community. Back in the days of second wave feminism.

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    3. Just listened. Terrific. Reminds me a little of Laura Nyro. Thanks so much for the rec!

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    4. Thanks for introducing me to Laura Nyro. What a talent!

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    5. Amanda! Holly Near and Imagine My Surprise - such an important part of my past. Also Meg Christianson.

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  13. Congratulations Zac on your debut novel and welcome to JRW! How providential that Lucy saw your comments about her book on Twitter and "met" you on Twitter!

    Love that cover of your book, especially that "cat" car. When I was a young child, I remember a neighbor had a similar car and because of the fins at the tail end, they looked like cat's ears to me so I called it the "cat" car. LOL

    Yes, I remember seeing photos of Barry Manilow in movie magazines? One of my babysitters loved his music. And I remember the Murphy Brown TV series. Although Murphy was not really a fan of Barry Manilow, her baby Avery LOVED listening to Barry's music. I think Barry was a guest on an episode?

    To answer your question, when I was a young child, I wanted to be either the Bionic Woman or the Wonder Woman. To me, they were my heroes. Or am I supposed to say "heroines"?? I wanted to be able to jump from the ground to the roof like the Bionic Woman or to be able to deflect bullets with my silver bracelets like the Wonder Woman.

    Two Questions:

    1) Trying to imagine who Cindy and Jay would look like. Maybe Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas from Romancing the Stone movie?

    2). Are Cindy and Jay younger or older than the Kathleen and Michael characters from the Romancing the Stone movie?

    Diana

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    1. Wonder Woman! Did you read Jill LePore’s bio of Wonder Woman? Really amazing! The guy who created her also invented the lie detector test!

      As for how I picture the characters, it’s funny: Cindy is definitely based on Suze Orman! And Jay is based on Jim Caruso, an incredible NYC singer/cabaret host.

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    2. Diana: I, too, wanted to be the Bionic Woman! Or Cat Woman, from the Batman/Robin TV series of the late '60s.

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    3. DIANA: I was another girl who wanted to be Wonder Woman or the Bionic Woman. Well, maybe not the bionics part, but being an undercover spy for the OSI sounded cool.

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    4. ZAC: I gave Jill's book to my Mom for her birthday. I have been meaning to read the book. Sometimes I am on a fiction kick. Sometimes I just want to read nonfiction or memoirs.

      AMANDA: I loved loved the Cat Woman too. Both Eartha Kitt and Julie Newmar. Eartha's daughter Kitt Shapiro has a Facebook page and Instagram account. She also runs a clothing shop in Westport ? Connecticut.

      GRACE: In a way, with my Cochlear implants, I do feel like the Bionic Woman. Yes! Being an undercover spy sounds cool!!!

      Diana

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  14. Congratulations on the book -- I just ordered it before commenting!

    Simon & Garfunkel were important to me in my younger years, and I have continued to follow Paul Simon's career and be awed by him to this day. But I have a Barry Manilow story to tell.

    About eight years ago, I think, Barry Manilow was coming through Columbus on tour and at church choir one night, one of the ladies mentioned it and said we should go. So a group of us did. It was intended as a joke, really. Just a bunch of women of a certain age going for a night out to listen to a blast from our past. None of us were prepared for what an amazing show he puts on! Far from the kitschy, sad/humorous event we expected, instead we got a great show that we still talk about all these years later. One thing we all commented on was how much his audience still loves him, and how obvious it was that he drew a lot of energy from the crowd. It was truly beautiful to watch.

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    1. OMG!!!! There is a Family Guy episode about going to see Barry Manilow that is exactly this! And Barry guest stars in it! So glad you had fun!! He’s quite amazing live.

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  15. Definitely sounds like my kind of book - congratulations and kudos to you for taking your first baby from draft to publication during a pandemic - well done.

    As a baby boomer, television made me a dare devil. Seriously, I once jumped out of a second story window because Skip Johnson on Rescue 8 had done s. He did it to rescue someone on the ground below. I did it because I had a huge crush on Skip Johnson and wanted to be just as brave. I survived, the snow cover helped, I'm sure, but nothing prepared me for knocking on my own front door and explaining to my parents why I was on the other side at 6 AM in my jammies. Note to self, next time take keys.

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  16. At first I thought this post was either a late April Fool's Day joke or an early Halloween horror story. Now, I'm not being mean or anything but when I clicked the link to read the post, I scrolled down too fast and all I saw was Jay and Barry Manilow fan.

    As a confirmed metalhead, I was horrified to think someone might have just said I was a Barry Manilow fan! Then I went back to the top and read it and I have to say, I totally get what Zac was saying about the fandom being an insight into the character.

    As for the question, while there are plenty of singers or actors that I like. But I can't really say that they've influenced my life. I like music, I like lyrics, I like great turns of phrase. But while I can like some music by say Ted Nugent, because he is such an absolute piece of garbage human being, I wouldn't pee on him if he was on fire.

    Also, I don't want to let myself be influenced by someone and then be disappointed later on to find out they've done something so stupid that you can't even be a fan anymore.

    And though my primary focus is heavy metal and hard rock (Ronnie James Dio and Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson remain prime examples of powerful singers), one of my all-time favorite performers is Warren Zevon. His songs are amazing and the lyrical content is out of this world. Only he could somehow work the word "brucellosis" into a song.

    So congratulations on your book Zac...even if it is unlikely that we'll be hanging out at the Copacabana anytime soon. :D

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    1. So funny. A lot of those hard rock power ballads do just sound like Barry Manilow songs with throatier vocals though!!

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    2. Hank, he's just so damn good, right?

      Zac, yes they probably do. But that's because while in the 80's when metal ruled the world, the power ballad was an instant moneymaker for bands, a lot of them just do not age well. Especially for an unromantic SOB like me. I write about a lot of gawdawful ballads in my series The Cassette Chronicles and I'm always more surprised when a ballad actually turns out to be so many years later. You know, instead of making me retch.

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  17. Congrats Zac! It looks like a great book. I messaged you via Facebook.

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    1. Heather Harrisson hsdh1525@gmail.com

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  18. This is SO great is so many ways! First, the music idea is brilliant. It has so many ripples, and comes with so much instant backstory. Songs that get me going? Defying Gravity, from Wicked, for sure. And One, from A Chorus Line. We see the theme. Also do you know Come to Me by France Joli? And what's the Chaka Khan song, Ain't Nobody? And DEFINITELY Carey by Joni Mitchell. And Someday Soon by Judy Collins. And You Can't Always Get What You want. SO MUCH MUSIC.
    AND remember, Zac? See my next comment below!

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    1. Defying Gravity from Wicked: YES! Those lyrics are great.

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  19. ALSO! Remember, Zac, when we signed together at...what was it? Someplace where it was really hot. AND The guy from Lovin Spoonful was there, too? Summer in the City! That was incredibly memorable, also because that's where you and I met. And have been in touch ever since. AND you fabulous book is right here beside me. AND, Reds and readers, Zac will be on appearing live on CRIME TIME on A Mighty Blaze on August 9 at 4 PM ET-cannot wait to talk to him about his new novel, and writing, and his amazing wonderful brilliant life.! (Maybe I can him to sing...) SO excited about this!

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    1. That was such a fun trip. Though I’ll confess I don’t remember signing together! I remember you signing for a legion of admirers while I sat in the corner alone! ;)

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    2. HA! Not true. You were besieged. And the dinner, and the drinks, and photo with all of us. Wonder if I could find that...

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    3. Broward County Lit Live..in 2015! I have it! And the photo to prove it. SO funny!

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  20. Oh, and what's the song from Chess? Nobody's on Nobody's Side. Is that the title? Love that.

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    1. I love that song, too. Actually, I'm fond of that whole show!

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  21. Zac, I put a hold on this book at the library last week; excited to read it. Finding out that you are a fellow Manilow fan just makes it better! Good luck with the book.

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    1. I hope you like it! Please let me know!

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  22. I can't honestly say that a singer or a song has influenced my life but I still have enjoyed the heck out of a lot of them. My first song "crush" was The Ballad of Davy Crockett from the Disney TV show. Wore out two 45s playing it. Need something cathartic? Throw on Paint It Black. Nostalgic? Faded Love by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Janis Joplin singing Piece of my Heart will rip yours out. Back in the 90s I saw Tom Jones was coming to Cleveland. I made my snarky husband take me. We were in the lobby, waiting to go find our seats. Here came three women on walkers and Frank said, Look! His backup singers! Smartass. But it was a great concert and that man loves to sing and it shows. He can still belt them out.

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    1. Tom Jones is great.

      I worked at a theater when I was in high school and one of my fondest memories of it it is wheeling an elderly lady down to the stage so she could throw a pair of underwear at Tom Jones.

      We make a life by what we give, Pat.

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  23. Zac:
    Welcome to JRW! I wouldn’t call myself a Barry Manilow Fan, but I don’t mind listening to his music. Years ago, I worked with a woman who probably loved Barry Manilow as much as she loved her husband and children!

    I still love the Beatles as much as I did, maybe more, when I watched them on the Ed Sullivan show when I was in high school. It still breaks my heart that there’s no chance for them to get together again. In college I became a big fan of Simon and Garfunkel. And I could listen to JamesTaylor all day. I’ve had other favorites on and off over the years but these are the ones that have stayed with me.

    As for your book, I wish you the best with it! I love Tommy and Tuppence, so I think I’m going to like your book!

    DebRo

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    1. The Beatles still sound perfect.

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  24. The very first concert I ever attended was by Barry Manilow, and the fact my and my best friends parents allowed two 14-year-olds to go alone speaks to both how wholesome Manilow's music was even back then, and how ridiculously free range childhood was in the 1970s.

    Congratulations on your debut, Zac, and thanks for the heads up; now I know to get out my old Barry Manilow records and spin them while reading A KILLING IN COSTUMES!

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    1. Julia!!!!! I love that!

      Also, that little piece I interviewed you for will be running in a great outlet next month. Cannot wait for you to see it!

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  25. Zac, as you know, I adored A Killing in Costumes and I can't recommend it highly enough.

    Also, I have a spouse adjacent Manilow anecdote. When Hub was the music editor at the Tribune, he interviewed Barry and asked him how he managed to maintain his popularity in a world where fame is fleeting, and Barry said, "Because I'm fabulous, you twit." LOL. Hub cracked up, because of
    course Barry said it in the most charming way.

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    1. Gosh you’re gonna make me cry with your comments about my book. Can’t even tell you how much it means and how much your library series means to me.

      That Barry story is amazing and sounds just like him—he has a very sly sense of humor and is quite vulgar haha

      My favorite story from his memoir: he and Bette Midler, who did a gay bathhouse act together before either was famous, were playing a dinner show they’d somehow been booked at at a family restaurant in Jersey and their act was not landing at all. Total flop. And there was some 8 year old in the audience, who was sitting there falling asleep, and Bette walked up to her between songs and said, into the microphone, “don’t slouch, honey. It makes your t**s sag.”

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  26. Congratulations on your debut, Zac! And on such glowing recommendations from my fellow Reds! It sounds like you have a real winner and I can't wait to meet Jay and Cindy.

    The Beatles were my very first crush and I never got over them. Our parents took me and my sixth grade friends to see them in Dallas (see being the operative word because you certainly couldn't hear them over the screaming!) I've seen McCartney live a couple of times (many years later!) and his energy and talent never fail to astonish me. I've even done the Beatles tour in Liverpool.

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    1. 1.) I love your books and it’s an honor to have you commenting on this. 2.) cannot believe you saw the Beatles!

      And funny on the screaming. Funny story: Perry Como’s father got to see him perform only one time after he became famous—but only for a few minutes. The screaming girls scared him and he ran out of the theater, and decided to just be proud from afar!

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  27. Kathy Boone ReelJuly 23, 2022 at 3:34 PM

    Oh, Zac, I am a mess of emotions right now. Barry Manilow was such a big part of my college years, going to his concerts and singing along with great angst to his songs. I think too many people write him off as not being a serious musician, but that it so wrong. He has some beautiful songs he wrote, lyrics that reached down to my college-aged self and touched my soul. His piano skills are amazing. He might not be the best vocalist, but, again, he got to me every time I heard him sing. I love that he got his start with Bette Middler, too, and he brought that high-octane entertainment ability to his own act. Alas, I got married right out of college, and I didn't pursue my love of Barry Manilow much after that, only to listen to him still. I never considered myself a Fanilow, but I was certainly smitten with him. The college days are such wonderful days of finding oneself and exploring ideas that were far from the little town fare. That Barry Manilow was a part of my youthful freedom is just very special to me.

    Now, let me say congratulations on A Killing in Costumes, Zac. You can be sure I will be reading it.

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    1. Kathy Boone ReelJuly 23, 2022 at 3:39 PM

      I should have mentioned that my college years were 1972-1976. Carole King and Carly Simon and James Taylor were also big for me, although it was Barry Manilow I had a crush on.

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    2. Agree on all that!

      It’s always interesting how certain artists have such a powerful impact on a certain group of fanatical fans. Jimmy Buffett, Grateful Dead, Barry Manilow. . . For whatever reason, it speaks to a certain segment. In Barry’s case, I think it has something to do with feeling like you don’t fit in.

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  28. Hello, Zac. Your book sounds like so much fun--I'm looking forward to reading it. And thanks for making me laugh, because I agree with you completely: "that time-honored time suck of writers" who don't want to buckle down to the day's writing is definitely superfluous research! I am guilty of this all the time.

    As for a famous person of my day that I really looked up to, that would be Joan Baez. I knew all the songs on her folk albums by heart, I thought her voice was amazing, and I respected her politics. I still feel a lot of affection for her.

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    1. I love Joan Baez! This is a video of her with Judy Collins that I adore: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xZGNTT6dKB8

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  29. I'm a fan but not fanatic of many talented people including Barry Manilow. I have records from classical, country, pop, Broadway, etc. Your book sounds interesting. Thanks for the chance.

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    1. Variety is important!!! I’ve always admired people who like a wide range. Hard rock icon Dave Grohl is a huge Fanilow! Here’s his amazing cover of Copacabana: https://ultimateclassicrock.com/dave-grohl-barry-manilow-copacabana/

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  30. When I was in college, it was Olivia Newton-John all the way! Her singing, her looks, her accent! She is just such a nice person that I still admire!

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    1. She’s so great!!!!! There’s a nice live at the flamingo album from her not that long ago. Fun to hear live/more contemporary arrangements of those songs.

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    2. This was zac btw.

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  31. Way back when in high school I wanted to be Barbara Streisand. My dream was to be a singer. I was in choir for years but didn't have her voice. I'm still singing though.
    Can't wait to read your book.

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    1. Sing like no one is listening! :)

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