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BLARGH: July 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Soundtrack to SWOON

In a previous incarnation, it was my job to follow musicians around and listen to the records they made and opine about that in print. It was fun, a huge record collection ensued, and the swag was interesting (ask me sometime about the chastity belt I received via UPS). The experience also informed the novels 6X: The Uncensored Confessions and 6X: Loud, Fast, and Out of Control (see OTHER WRITING).

Music remains central to the quality of my life, but when I’m writing it’s anathema, a distraction. I write in a refrigerator box, where it’s quiet and smells like paper. Still, music intrudes, as scenes or characters strongly suggest or connect to certain songs. Hence the following Soundtrack to SWOON. Have a look. Have a listen. Create your own Sonic SWOON. Share your playlist with other SWOONIES. And share it with me—maybe you'll turn me on to something new (I haven’t discovered any new bands in a long time, unless I happen to know them personally). Share, also, because it’s a contest! Mm-hmm, comment back with your personal “SOUNDTRACK TO SWOON” by 15 August 2009 and you’re entered to win a signed eight-CD edition of SWOON, the audiobook (fun on interminably long road trips and/or to torture loved ones instead of the musical selections you otherwise use to torture them).

If you’d like to hear a five-minute sample of SWOON, read by the lovely and talented Caitlin Greer, go to You can also hear a smaller snippet and download the SWOON CDs directly to your iPod at

Enter with your SWOON playlist, and if you do, please remember to email it to me at so I’ll be able to contact you if you win. (I’m still trying to find the elusive Kailtyn, winner of the “My First SWOON” contest…Kailtyn, if you’re out there, be in touch, okay?)

But enough of my yakkin'—let's boogie (bonus points to anyone who correctly identifies the preceding reference).

“Summertime Blues” — Who
The Eddie Cochran/Jerry Capehart classic. I’m partial to the Who’s version off Live at Leeds for the opening scene of SWOON.

“Goin’ Nowhere” — Chris Isaak
This is Pen’s theme, once Sin’s influence starts to take hold. She is the kind of a girl who looks better naked…

“Baby Love” — Joan Osborne
Put aside the cougar/cub thing and you’ll see how well it sums up Dice’s feelings for her boy. And on a very, very good day, Dice’s voice is kinda Joan Osborne-y.

“My Ritual” — Folk Implosion
What a groove. So seductive. And the lyrics spell out Sin’s own ritual essence.

“Mannish Boy” — Muddy Waters
Sin’s song. Clearly.

“Glad Girls” — Guided By Voices
When Sin first hits the Swonowa quad, this track fills the air. Really, he only wants to get you high…

“Peacock Suit” — Paul Weller
Such a strut! See our antihero, dressed to kill, leading his ladies into the Cutlass for the homecoming bacchanal.

“Chain of Fools” — Aretha Franklin
This is all Dice can hear when she finally comprehends the depth and depravity of Sin’s mission.

“N.W.O.” — Ministry
Kurt Libo’s song. He’s a mechanic, so maybe you think “Jesus Built My Hotrod” more apropos. But this reflects Kurt’s dream of Sin’s “new world order.” That sample from George Bush (the father) says it all.

“Red Right Hand” — Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
My flat-out favorite desperation/surrender/exhilaration song. “Microscopic cog…catastrophic plan…” gives me the shivers!!! If ever I wrote something nearly as good, I’d have to retire—my work would be done.

“We’ll Burn Together” — Robbie Fulks
It doesn’t suffice to say, “I love country music,” since what I mean by country may not be what you mean. But this adulterous little ditty seems appropriate for the Wolverine Tavern crowd.

“Storms” — Fleetwood Mac
Dice’s song, just before she gets up and pokes the fire. Hokey as hell, but so be it.

“On a Rope” — Rocket From The Crypt
Perfect for the closing credits...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

“My First SWOON” by Kailtyn

Thanks so much to everyone who responded to the “My First SWOON” series of guest blogs with stories to their own. More than 30 entrants. A lot! I don’t believe that large response was generated by a chance to win a signed copy of SWOON as much as the fact that the emotions attached to this pivotal experience are simply that strong, that moving, you were compelled to share. I relished all the stories, from the pre-school swoons to the swoon-of-fruition following a 12-year crush. Some swoonies were unabashedly romantic while others had the wry humor of retrospect. And the boys in these stories—each one swoonworthy in his own way.

Clearly, choosing a winner was no small task. I was nearly reduced to a random close-my-eyes-and-point selection process. Instead, I ultimately picked a swoon that resonated with me because it was so fresh, so immediate. Just two days before writing, a young woman of 16 had her first swoon. And dang, it was a doozy!

Only now I face a greater hurdle. A technological one. The winning “My First SWOON” was written by a girl known only to me as Kailtyn. Are you out there, Kailtyn? Are you reading this? Please reach out to me at so I can get a signed copy of SWOON on its way to you. Aside from making this direct appeal, I’m clueless how to get in touch with you. I clicked on your name, but there was no contact info. “help” was…not. This contest-having thing is new to me, so perhaps I should’ve built in a mechanism to ensure being able to locate the winner, but being dumb like that failed to do so. So if you’re Kailtyn, write to me with your address and how you’d like your copy of SWOON to be personalized and it shall be signed, sealed and delivered, pronto.

Meanwhile, below, Kailtyn’s first SWOON in all its wet and wild glory…

My first official swoon happened 2 days ago. I am 16.

I was down in Tennessee on a mission trip. We went white water rafting. You had to be in groups of six and you got to choose your guide. Well, seeing as we were on a church mission trip I didn’t want to pick this one guy, who I later found out is named Cody, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus. So we picked this other guide named Cameron.

We started out and it was just raining. But then it rained harder and started hailing. I felt like I was in the coast guard or something. We hit a class 4 rapid, which is like the biggest one they have where I was at, and I fell out. Now I’m a pretty good swimmer but it was like a monsoon going on. So all the sudden I'm lifted out of the water by none other than Cody, the dreamy tanned and muscular guide I mentioned earlier.

Now the saving position is so that when you are pulled up from the water the person saving you falls back and you end up on top of them. And that’s exactly what happened to me. And I was just shocked and didn’t even get up. I just lay on top of him all wide eyed until someone asked if I was okay. That snapped me right out of my little bubble and I felt to embarrassed but he told me it was fine and it was a pleasure saving me. SWOON MOMENT :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

"My First SWOON" by Melissa de la Cruz

Thank you, Micol, for SWOONING and for being soooo punk rock. Always appreciated!

Ding-dang, we're going out with a bang on these here first SWOONS. Our final guest blogger is Melissa de la Cruz, author of a slew of stand-alone books for teens and adults and the New York Times and USA Today best-selling YA series: The Ashleys, Au Pairs, Angels on Sunset Boulevard and Blue Bloods (the latest of which is The Van Alen Legacy — unfortunately, Blogger insists that the Jpeg she sent of the gorgeous cover is corrupt!). With all that writing, she was still awesome enough to blurb SWOON for me—she declares "Sexy and deeply seductive...SWOON will make your every sense tingle" and is apparently a fan of the notorious "spanking scene." She also made time to offer this essay—and good as Mel is at making stuff up, this story is the real deal and as perfect a testament to true love as you'll ever read. Thank you, Melissa, for SWOONING...

I was a late bloomer. But I hid it. In that, the attitude I adopted all throughout my life was been-there, done-that. By the time I reached college I was a compulsive, habitual liar. I told everyone my high-school boyfriend had a tattoo, a drug addiction, and a rap sheet: kicked out of more prep schools than you could count. I was jaded and worldly, skeptical and sophisticated.

Or so I pretended. My “boyfriend” was my prom-date, a set-up. Everything I said about him was true, except for the fact that he was mine. (But I had pictures: sure they were only of prom, but didn't everyone else only have those too?)

You see: I didn't want to be anything at all like what I really was: an ordinary, suburban girl who had never been let out of the house alone! At night! Never done anything, never kissed a boy, never fallen in love. My parents were immigrants, and for the first years we were in America, they were terrified of letting me go anywhere alone. My dad drove me to dances in 9th grade. No wonder I would never be popular.

But then I went away to college, and they dropped me off in the middle of New York City, and suddenly I had the freedom to be the kind of girl I had always wanted to be: the kind of girl found in novels by my favorite writers Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney: the gorgeous mess, the unforgettable fuck-up.

So: the reinvention. Keeping up the façade of cosmopolitan indifference meant that I became a fag hag, of course: who needed silly boys? (The girls I did hang out with were way beyond college guys: they dated professors and businessmen, moguls and
restauranteurs, men who proffered sports cars and entrée to the cocktail party circuit.) When in truth I was too paralyzed to feel anything for anyone, and so inexperienced I had no idea what to do with a boy if he ever did get too close to me.

I had just turned twenty-five when I met my husband. Oh I'd had boyfriends, sure, and had turned in my V-card by then, but I had never let anyone in—had never truly swooned. I was never a believer in love at first sight either. I come from practical people, and am a practical person myself: love was messy and ridiculous. I had had enough of waiting by the phone, of angst and unrequited crushes and going-nowhere hook-ups.

Whenever I did get married, I thought, and marriage was as much a goal for me as it was to get published—both ambitions I pursed with the same amount of diligence and determination—it would be sober, practical, business-like. I was looking for a “partner,” a companion.

What I found was a good old-fashioned love affair. Complete with passion and tears and endless melodrama. It's funny now to think about the two of us back then: We were so young. (My husband was even younger than me. He was twenty-two when we met.)

We fought all the time, with a violence that bordered on the edge of danger: he threw me against the fridge, I clawed at his cheeks and spit in his face. We have screamed at each other on every corner in the West Village, hurling groceries on the street. We also made out in every downtown bar we frequented, with the kind of lewd, embarrassing PDA sessions that made our friends cringe. We were loud and drunk and affectionate and spiteful, all in the same evening.

And yet, through it all, we have also become the stable, practical couple who have built a life and a home and a family together.

It is corny to write about a love that still sustains, that still survives, that you live in every day. Much better to write of past loves and past lovers with the sepia-toned light of nostalgia and wisdom. But all I have is Mike. He's the only one I've ever swooned over. I get just as excited seeing him today as I did when I spied him across the room at the party, when I came on to him so strongly you would have thought I was starring in a heavy-metal video.

He is everything I had never known I always wanted: a kick in the head, a stab in the heart, the father of my child and the swoon of my life.

Melissa de la Cruz is the author of loads of fiction and non-ficiton books for teens and adults, her latest being The Van Alen Legacy. Visit her at