Today’s post is a guest post by author James Brandon. His debut novel, Ziggy, Stardust and Me, released on August 8th. Since music is a central theme in the novel, I’ve asked him to tell us what theme songs he would pick for each of his characters. Ziggy, Stardust and Me is an absolutely beautiful novel about self-discovery, love, acceptance, and finding the strength to stand up for what you believe in. It is a beautiful story and I cannot recommend it highly enough, so please make sure to check it out! 🙂
What theme song would you choose for each character and why?
Such a great question! For me, music is the key to unlocking closed doors within our soul, doors we may be too scared to open ourselves or are afraid to face. This is why music is a huge part of Jonathan’s world; it’s his form of escape, his way of coping with the awfulness that continues to assault him in “the real world.” In fact, while writing the first drafts of Ziggy and discovering Jonathan’s character, I found a musicality to his voice that I think really speaks to the inner workings of his mind, and hopefully adds a more intimate connection to his personal journey.
Music of the early seventies was revolutionary: from glam rock to Soul Train, every faction of marginalized society was finding its voice in new modes of musical expression. And I wanted Ziggy, Stardust & Me to be a soundtrack of the time, a nostalgic look back at some of the greatest music ever created. So even before the initial drafts, I had a theme song in mind for each character because I knew it would allow me a deeper connection to their being…
For Jonathan, the obvious album is Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. (Ziggy Stardust is his Messiah after all.) But his theme song is “Rock N’ Roll Suicide.” I quote a lyric from this track at the beginning of Part Three because this is the song Jonathan plays on repeat as he faces some horrific battles in his life. Bowie screams, “You’re not alone,” over and over again at the end of the song, and those three words became Jonathan’s only lifeline to what was left of his spirit.
For Web, Jonathan’s love interest, his first obsession is Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side of the Moon. And for good reason: the album is frigging genius and, when listened to carefully, can take you on a roller coaster ride to the depths of your soul. It’s confident, fearless and unapologetic, just like Web. But I’d also attach “I Feel the Earth Move” by Carole King to his character; it balances his feminine side while also directly speaking to his inner journey.
For Starla, Jonathan’s best friend, the song she’s currently playing on repeat is “Killing Me Softly” by Roberta Flack. It’s soulful and powerful, spiritual and strong—all traits I think Starla possesses. I’d also add, “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar” as her theme song; Starla’s a budding activist, a true believer in making your voice heard to effectively create change. And as she steps more confidently into this part of her being, she begins to discover her own inner power.
For Jonathan’s dad, his personal soundtrack is Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” or “Dream On” by Aerosmith. (Both of which you’ll find him singing in the narrative.) For lack of a better description, there’s a nostalgic aggressiveness to these songs I love for him. Jonathan’s father longs for lost memories, clings desperately to them, and is so lost in the past he won’t allow himself to see the love that’s right in front of him.
There’s a theme song for every character in the story, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what they are. 🙂 And if you want to enjoy any of the songs mentioned in the novel to fully immerse yourself in Jonathan’s world, I created a Spotify playlist to take you deeper on the journey:
Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon
Date Published: August 6th, 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 368 pages
The year is 1973. The Watergate hearings are in full swing. The Vietnam War is still raging. And homosexuality is still officially considered a mental illness. In the midst of these trying times is sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins, a bullied, anxious, asthmatic kid, who aside from an alcoholic father and his sympathetic neighbor and friend Starla, is completely alone. To cope, Jonathan escapes to the safe haven of his imagination, where his hero David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and dead relatives, including his mother, guide him through the rough terrain of his life. In his alternate reality, Jonathan can be anything: a superhero, an astronaut, Ziggy Stardust, himself, or completely “normal” and not a boy who likes other boys. When he completes his treatments, he will be normal—at least he hopes. But before that can happen, Web stumbles into his life. Web is everything Jonathan wishes he could be: fearless, fearsome and, most importantly, not ashamed of being gay.
Jonathan doesn’t want to like brooding Web, who has secrets all his own. Jonathan wants nothing more than to be “fixed” once and for all. But he’s drawn to Web anyway. Web is the first person in the real world to see Jonathan completely and think he’s perfect. Web is a kind of escape Jonathan has never known. For the first time in his life, he may finally feel free enough to love and accept himself as he is.
A poignant coming-of-age tale, Ziggy, Stardust and Me heralds the arrival of a stunning and important new voice in YA.
James Brandon produced and played the central role of Joshua in the international tour of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi for a decade, and is codirector of the documentary film based on their journey, Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption. He’s the cofounder of the I AM Love Campaign, an arts-based initiative bridging the faith-based and LGBTQ2+ communities, and serves on the Powwow Steering Committee for Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) in San Francisco. Brandon is a contributing writer for Huffington Post, Believe Out Loud, and Spirituality and Health Magazine. Ziggy, Stardust and Me is his first novel. You can visit James Brandon at justbejb.com
Blogger Campaign Schedule:
Week One: Ziggy, Stardust and Me
August 5 – The Book Bratz – Covers inspired by favorite singers
August 6 – Goblet of Fiction – Creative Instagram Picture
August 7 – The Quirky Book Nerd – Author Guest Post: What theme song would you choose for each character and why?
August 8 – Confessions of a YA Reader – Playlist
August 9 – Velarisreads – Inspired by the Book: Makeup
August 12 – Liv The Book Nerd – Review + Playlist
August 13 – The Nerdy Girl Express – Review
August 14 – Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile – Raves and Craves
August 15 – LGBT YA Catalog – Author Guest Post
August 16 – @booksandbrandy – Creative Instagram Picture
Week One: As Many Nows As I Can Get
August 19 – Just Add a Word – Review + Playlist
August 20 – Evil Queen Books – Moodboard + Review
August 21 – NovelKnight Book Reviews – Author Guest Post: What are the benefits and struggles of creating a character-reader connection with a non-linear timeline? In other words, what is the process of writing characters that readers can become invested in while also alternating through the past and present?
August 22 – So She Tries – Creative Instagram Picture
August 23 – Thrifty Bibliophile – Playlist
August 26 – The Geeky Yogi – Creative Instagram Picture + Review
August 27 – Two Points of Interest – Review
August 28 – Wishful Endings – Moodboard + Instagram Picture
August 29 – Swoony Boys Podcast – Author Interview
August 30 – High Lit Books – Review
Week One: We Speak in Storms
September 2 – Book Princess Reviews – Books that Blend Magic and Real Life
September 3 – A Court of Coffee and Books – Moodboard + Review
September 4 – Emma Reads – Review + Inspired by the Book
September 5 – Fiction No Chaser – Review
September 6 – The Bookish Chick – Playlist + Review
September 9 – BW Reviews – Review
September 10 – Books and Wildflowers – Listicle: 10 Things to Keep You Occupied During a Storm
September 11 – Musings of a (Book) Girl – Listicle: Items you should pack for a Tornado
September 12 – ELA Everyday – Creative Instagram Picture + Review
September 13 – Book Fidelity – Review
Week One: The Stars and The Blackness Between Them
September 16 – Forever and Everly – Moodboard + Review
September 17 – The Paige-Turner – Creative Instagram Picture
September 18 – The Library Voice – Author Guest Post
September 19 – Books and Blends – Review + Creative Instagram Picture
September 23 – GladiatorGlory – Inspired by the Book: Makeup
September 24 – The Heart of a Book Blogger – Moodboard
September 25 – The Baroness of Books – Favorite Quote Graphics + Review
September 26 – Fictionally Sam – Review