Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Indie Author Spotlight: BJ Knapp

 When Brenda Dunkirk mails a piece of fan mail to her favorite 80’s metal band, Hydra, she never expected them to not only respond, but to take up residence in her house to record their comeback album. She’s willing to go with it, though, if it means hearing all their new songs firsthand before everyone else and being a muse for the people she’s admired for so long. While she might be living a dream, her real life is starting to fall apart around her. Her marriage is failing and her boss is threatening to fire her if she can’t get things together. Will she choose to get ahold of her life again, or will the allure of the rock and roll lifestyle change her life forever?

I loved the concept of this book. You just don’t see a lot of stories like this. That alone made me excited to read this book. Aging 80’s metal bands getting involved with the normal world is always entertaining. It was just a fun ride to see Hydra slowly put an album together, and even when I thought I knew what was going to happen, something jumped up and surprised me. It was a really easy read full of fun and entertainment. A lot of enjoyment for anyone who likes this genre of music. Really, anyone in general could get into this one.

Buy Beside the Music here!

Now let’s meet the author!

As a former college radio station DJ, BJ was inspired to write this book after asking herself “Whatever happened to all those 80’s rock stars and one-hit wonders?”  Her writing career has contributions to RI Fit Magazine.  But her prouder achievements are her original angry chick rock songs, usually about bad boyfriends, accompanied by her out of tune guitar.  She blogs at

BJ resides in Rhode Island with her husband, Todd, and dogs Nemo and Potter.  She is an avid sailor and scuba diver, and also enjoys pretty much any outdoor activity such as hiking and geocaching as well.  She has also single-handedly orchestrated hundreds of failed attempts at cooking.

First up, give us a Twitter synopsis of the book (140 characters or less):

What happens to a marriage when an 80s metal band moves in?  Brenda Dunkirk will find out that it is impossible to be one man’s wife and another man’s muse.

Where did you come up with the idea for Beside the Music?

I am an 80s metal junkie.  But there have been so many bands that have not stuck around for the long haul.  What happened to them?  Then I had this scene play out in my mind of these rockers getting called into a conference room at the label, and they all stroll in with their eyeliner and leather on, and get told that the bank accounts are empty and they must now get office jobs in cubicles.  Then I thought about what would happen to a band that then decides to modernize and try to stick around.  That's how Beside the Music came to be.  I actually had that scene in the book originally, but I couldn't get it to fit in because I wanted to have a first person perspective.

Do you have any personal experience with the content in this book?

Everyone asks me this.  If I had a nickel... The only part of this story that bears any resemblance to my real life is the story about how Brenda and Tim met.  That is exactly how my husband, Todd, and I met.  I used to play the open mic nights and eventually opened for his band.  We became friends.  Then we became more than friends.  Everything else in the book is pure fiction.  Especially the meddling mother in law.  My mother in law is very cool, she wouldn't even dream of pulling the stunts that Portia does.

Who is your favorite 80’s metal band (beside Hydra, of course)?

I love Rush.  Neil Peart is my boyfriend.  And I love Midnight Oil too... Peter Garret is also my boyfriend.

Who was your side favorite character to write?

Portia.  By far.  She's so totally over the top.  So much so that a manuscript coach told me to dial her back, but I said no way.  I wanted her to be that character that shows up at the most inopportune times to annoy Brenda.  Remember that movie Better Off Dead?  The paper boy who always seems to pop up demanding his $2?  I wanted Portia to be that... only more demanding.

Who is your biggest writing influence?

Janet Evanovich.  Her book "How I Write" is a great kick in the butt.  I've listened to it a few times on audio.  It's like she comes in through my earbuds, grabs me by the hair and says "Sit down and write and don't move from that spot until you're done."

What can we expect next from B.J. Knapp?

I am muscling my way through a first draft about a couple that wins the Powerball lottery.  I think I need to get Janet's help on getting myself to sit down and write it.  I had an idea of how the story would go.... but then I changed my mind and I am going rogue straying from my outline.  Let's see what I can do with it.

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