Guest Post by Mandana Towhidy
Author: Mandana Towhidy
Release date: July 8th, 2013
Genre: New Adult
Tour: Irresistible Reads Book Tours
Populated by rockers, Deadheads, misfits, skinheads, Goths, surfers, preppies, cheerleaders, and jocks, ARCADIA by Mandana Towhidy is a Fast Times at Ridgemont High for the Metal years. It's an honest story of Ronnie and her friends (Ezze, Tess, Ash, and Syd), teen girls in the heart of the Hollywood Metal scene during the late 80s/early 90s, ruling it in their own way, with or without the boys, and having the time of their lives: scrounging dimes for burritos, ducking the hallway narcs, getting stoned in the parking lot, and hitching rides to the next party to get wasted, all before noon on a school day. And in the world of Hollywood where more is all you need, Ronnie discovers happiness in Metal and friends and learning to see through the games and the "perfect-ness" of it all. Long Hair Rocks...Again!
It feels like I get asked a lot about the playlist that accompanies my novel. Where did the influence come from? Why did I select those songs? How did I come up with the idea for a “soundtrack”?
First, I guess I should say that a lot or most of these songs have been inside my mental boombox for years…they never left. They were the soundtrack to my teen years growing up in Los Angeles. There were a lot of mixed tapes with a lot of these songs on them. And we listened to them over and over and over and over. They never get old. More specifically, Metallica, Van Halen, Scorpions, Ratt, and Guns N’ Roses are just amazing kick ass bands. I never stopped listening to them. Actually, I normally listen to them on vinyl…especially when I was writing the book. A lot of the time I’d have a record spinning on one of my turntables…sometimes it was the Fisher Price portable record player from the 1970’s (I wore out the needle). The kiddie version. Listening to the record, a song would come up and it would trigger an idea and a wave of words would rush out and onto the paper (I hand scripted this book…it was my first time…400 pages of writing…I have to wear a brace on my wrist when I go to sleep now).
The idea to add a playlist was a no brainer. There could NOT not have been a list of songs for readers to check out. Without a list, any reader could plug in what they thought/think the characters are rocking out to. That doesn’t work for me. That would make the story a different one, at least that’s how I see it. All of the songs, including the non-metal variety, are very much a part of Southern California youth culture from the 1980’s and 1990’s. It was different in London and it was different in New Jersey. For LA teens, this is what we listened to…all of the time.
History also has a way of editing itself. When I became a journalist, I felt like I was racing against time to cover as much as I could, authentically, so it wouldn’t get lost at sea later on. There are so many songs by some of these bands that everyone knows. I made it a point to include some of the not-so-known songs, the lesser of the Top of the Pops chart songs…those tunes are usually way better than the big hits anyway. That’s just my opinion. Especially when I think about a band like Guns N’ Roses. The entire track lists for Appetite for Destruction and Lies are genius. Every single song is amazing. And relevant to that era. I also wanted to make sure there was something more for the readers to discover, be it a lovely ballad by Scorpions (“Still Loving You” will always always be one of my favorite songs ever!). Some of these hokey clown-y looking dudes are really amazing musicians, songwriters, and singers. Sometimes, a lot of the time, the heavy metal genre gets looked as a joke (which I have also been asked about a few times in other interviews). But when you listen to a song Sabbath did, you know it’s no joke. There are also really great little guitar bits that Eddie Van Halen does that included. All in all, I see the stories I write as a film in my head…I can see the scene…I can see what the character is going to do and what they are thinking, and I know that a song needs to pop in there. Most people love it, but it’s done in a way that if you didn’t want to listen to any tunes you wouldn’t have to. You could keep on reading.
There are also some non-metal songs in there. “Hate Surfing in HB” by The D. I. really and truly reminds me of high school punk rock surfer attitudes. I had to get it in there. I want people to learn about it, get turned onto that band from the past. There’s a disco stick song (what I refer to as disco stick) for the crowd who was going to dance clubs…it’s a song by Egyptian Lover. And it’s amazing. Each of the girls has their own songs, too. But I finally decided to not include them. There were already enough songs in the book. But each of the main character’s friends (Ezze, Tess, Syd, and Ash) did initially have a non-metal song dedicated to them…and all of those were by Trinere…a very girl/dance group with catchy lyrics. Ronnie (the main girl) has a song, too, but it’s still in there. J It’s not hard to figure out once you’ve read the book.
There’s a lot going on with the language and the rhythm and the music, the details (which people seem to either love love or hate hate)…but that’s how this particular book needed to be. It’s about a lot of teens, in a place flooded with stimuli, in an era of excess. I just cannot imagine the novel not having any kind of guide for the music. Because once you put your headphones on and you hit the link that takes you to the book’s YouTube channel, you’re right there…at the party, in the car, at The Roxy, listening to the same song they’re listening to…at the very same moment. And for me, that’s where it’s at.
About the Author:
MANDANA TOWHIDY is a writer, editor, and art director whose work has been featured in pop culture magazines Dazed&Confused, Tokion, Oyster, and numerous other print and online publications. She writes daily with her little Chihuahua, Lotte, sleeping by her side
Official Website: http://moreisallyouneed.com