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Genevive Chamblee: Rock Fiction–it’s more than what you think!
Monday, April 19th, 2021

Greetings all! When I brainstorm ideas for blog posts, the first question I always ask myself is what are readers interested in and what new something about those topics am I able to bring to the table. My default answer is always: books. But what specifically about books? Romance. Yes, but that’s still vague. So, then, I began to think about the different kinds of romances—historical, regency, erotic, romantic comedy, inspirational romance, speculative romance, romantic suspense, etc. I asked myself what I could comment on each of them that would be noteworthy.

My second act when deciding on a theme or issue is to scroll through my past posts to avoid duplication of topics, unless it is my specific intention to update an older post that has become obsolete. I always want to provide fresh and interesting content, and that can be made difficult when blogging weekly, especially when one has been doing it for years. I also want to ensure that I write accurate information. There’s nothing worse than reading an article that is jammed with misinformation, incomplete, or not well thought out.

This brings me to my third question. I must ask myself if there is another material available for me to write a post that will do the topic justice. Let me tell you, this topic came extremely close to failing to meet this criterion. I’ve had plenty of blog ideas that I’ve had to nix simply because I did not have enough supporting documentation. Search engines for this subject were not my friend, and part of that has to do with the name which I’ll briefly discuss later. I wasted hours reading through articles that didn’t help. (And as an aside, this is how writers and bloggers fall down that proverbial writing rabbit hole. They begin searching for one thing and end up looking at everything else that gets thrown in their path on their search. I don’t know how many times I catch myself asking, “What’s that?” Then, off I go to chase the white rabbit knowing good and doggone well what happened to Alice. Forget finding the queen. Off with my own head. One would think I would have learned by now. But anyway…

Today was no different than any other day for me deciding on a topic, except I found myself having a hard time focusing. Nothing was popping, and everything seemed a distraction. I finally decided to revert to my handy dandy massive pile of spirals that I have stacked in a box. This is where I take notes when working on novels or important takeaways from edits. Truthfully, there’s no telling what one will find in those things. But I digress. As I flipped through one of my writing notebooks, I noticed a question that I had scribbled in the margin and had long forgotten. But I do remember the conversations that followed. An idea began to formulate.

Several years ago, I met an author who stated he wrote “rock fiction”. I frequently write to music; so, I thought to myself, “Well, I do, too.” Lots of authors are inspired by song and music. There’s nothing groundbreaking and shocking in that. However, that’s not what he meant. The more he talked over the span of months I got to know him, the more I realized he and I weren’t on the same page or anywhere close. He was speaking of a type of genre (or perhaps some prefer to call it a subgenre or a category) when he spoke of rock fiction. Maybe I should have, but I had never heard of this type of fiction.

Now, let me stop here and add a disclaimer. I’m not an expert on rock fiction, and this post is not intended to detail all the ins and outs of what is necessary to write in this style. This is simply an overview of what rock fiction is. I prepared for this article mostly by asking questions to published authors who write rock fiction regularly and notes that I had taken previously when I first discovered rock fiction to be a thing.

In order for this post to not become confusing, I’ll begin with a definition since genre may be defined differently by different people. I believe the most common definition defines genre as a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content. Thus, a literary genre is a distinctive type of category of literary composition that is determined by the content, length, technique, and tone. Since genres are broad, they can be subdivided to into subgenres to more accurately describe a work.

Now, when it comes to labeling literary genres, experts vary on how many exist. Some say five while others say seven. Still others list more than seven. For simplicity, I’ll stick with five. They are fiction, nonfiction (which includes essays), drama/plays, poetry, and folktale. What most identify as the main fiction subgenres are as follows: Christian/inspirational, crime/mystery, fantasy, historical, horror, romance, and science fiction. By this definition, rock fiction would be a sub-sub genre, as it could easily follow one of the larger subgenres. Thus, you could have a romance that can be classified as a romantic comedy. It further may be a rock fiction romantic comedy. Another way to view it would be as an independent genre or subgenre. How rock fiction is labeled isn’t really the point of this post. The purpose is to identify that it does exist in the literary world and define what it is.

At first hearing it, rock fiction sounds like a story about music. Well, it is, and it isn’t. See, rock fiction is not necessarily about a character who is a musician or about music in general. For example, a book about Elvis, probably wouldn’t be considered rock fiction if the plot was only an imagined account of his life. It would have to entail more than just mention of his life and music. Rock fiction is more about the approach to storytelling and the inspiration of a story. Basically, it adapts the lyrics, concepts, and titles of a song, album, or an artist’s/band’s collection of work to a piece of fiction. The storylines, plots, and character arcs are taken directly from the music. A close example of rock fiction would be the rock opera, Tommy, which was adapted from the music of the band The Who. The difference is that Tommy used film as a medium while rock fiction is in book (e-book) form. Rock fiction goes beyond just being “inspired” by music because the author includes much of the music in the story.

This does not mean the author is plagiarizing the work of the musician. On the contrary, the author uses the premise of the music to create the character and world of his story. For example, if an author was to use John Denver’s Country Road as the inspiration to write a rock fiction story, the story may be set in a town in Blue Ridge, Virginia with a main character named Jonathan, a retired coast guard officer, who works to maintain the marine life in the Shenandoah River. While working, he falls off a barge, hits his head, and has a Wizard of Oz-like experience where he must follow a country road to get to a magical kingdom where a Warlock has the power to send him home. Clearly, all of this is not in or implied by John Denver’s song. However, the elements of his song have been expanded to create a story. Of course, this is an overall simplification of an example of rock fiction to illustrate the point. Some rock fiction stories may have obvious references as in the example, or they may be more subtle—nearly undetectable. It is not necessary for readers to have prior knowledge of the referenced musical material in order to understand or enjoy the story.

Furthermore, rock fiction does not have to be “rock” music. It could very easily be country, rap, classical, bluegrass, jazz, hip hop, R&B, or any other genre music. As long as the author uses the music as a central base of the story, then it’s considered to be rock fiction. Yeah, that part was a little confusing to me, too, but when I thought about it, it made sense to have a broad name to capture it all. Otherwise, one would end up with all kinds of subgenres—metal fiction, folk fiction, alternative fiction, K-pop fiction, swing fiction, etc. The list would be endless. And I suppose someone thought using music fiction as a classification would be too general. I don’t know why it is named what it is, but there’s where it is with that.

I discovered rock fiction years ago and found it to be an obscure topic. To date, there continues to be little written about the topic of rock fiction as a literary genre, subgenre, or category. The term still appears to be used greatly as a catch-all phrase to describe any book about music or musicians. Typing rock fiction into a search engine will generate plenty of results, ninety-eight percent which are useless for this topic. I would imagine this can be frustrating to authors who write in this style. And who knows how many authors there are who write rock fiction and do not realize that they aren’t alone? It almost seems that a reader needs to know the name of the author in order to pull up books in this genre/category. However, if that’s the case, how are readers supposed to learn who the authors are if they topic doesn’t generate in the search engine. It’s a catch twenty-two. Until the term becomes more popularized, this likely will continue to be an issue.

So, why did I decide to write about rock fiction? I’m a writer and author, but I’m also a reader. As a reader, I enjoy finding new bands and style of materials to read. After all, variety is the spice of life, and diversity makes the world go around. (Yes, they are clichés, but I think in this instance they work.) When I learn or find something new (or new to me), I enjoy sharing it with others. What is the fun of keeping it to yourself? I have discovered some of my favorite authors due to recommendations or mention from others. Additionally, I’ve tried new things—things that I would have never conjured on my own—because someone brought it to my attention, and I thought why not share the concept of rock fiction. Again, rock fiction isn’t something new. On the contrary, it has been around longer than most people can recall, but it’s something that does not appear to be discussed much and that many readers may not know exist.

I’ve read a few romantic rock fiction books which have been fun, but honestly, I didn’t get most of the music references initially. It wasn’t until after I knew who the artist/musician/band was that I was able to spot all of the Easter eggs scattered in the story. I found that to be fun because I love a good Easter egg hunt. Anyone who has read any of my stories know that I like to hide a few eggs myself. For me, Easter eggs are like adding sprinkles atop the cupcake. It makes it just that much more special.

Well, that’s all I have about rock fiction. What do you think? Did you learn something new? Did you find any of this information surprising? Do you agree or disagree with these points? What advice do you have on the subject? Did I omit something that should have been listed? Have you read any rock fiction books? If yes, what were they and who was the author? Did you like them? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comment section. Also, let me know if you would like me to cover more of these types of topics or dive deeper into this one. If you like this post, please click the like button and share it. If you’re not following me on Creole Bayou blog, what are you waiting for? There’s always room at the bayou.

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For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.

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Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Laissez le bon temps rouler.